By Tanner Saunders
November 26, 2019
Credit: E! Entertainment / Getty Images

It’s not a joke, y'all: Busy Philipps is really, really, insanely busy. And as a mom to two kids, an actress, activist, and New York Times best-selling author, it’s not always easy for the Instagram darling to plan an extended vacation with her family.

But that doesn’t mean the star and her family don't make it out to see the world. They choose to embrace spontaneous trips when the timing happens to line up exactly right. And to share her love of spontaneity, Philipps teamed up with travel app HotelTonight to help people embrace that “pack your bags, let’s just go” mentality.

Even better, she and the app are sending five of “America’s Biggest Planners,” the folks who have every detail ironed out a year before they scan their boarding passes, on a truly spontaneous getaway in January.

We sat down with the actress to ask about her own favorite last-minute trips, her family’s obsession with Disney’s churros, and her advice for people looking to take an impromptu trip, with or without churros.

Travel + Leisure: Do you have a wild spontaneous trip memory?

Busy Philipps: I mean, here's the thing: I do think that people sometimes mistake spontaneous for crazy and wild. Like spontaneous isn't always going to Vegas at two in the morning and getting married. Although one of my first very spontaneous trips was kind of crazy when I was 17. My friend Katie called me at my hostess job at a restaurant and she was like, “Let's drive to San Diego tonight.” We lived in Arizona, I grew up in Scottsdale. "She said, 'Let's drive to San Diego tonight and spend the weekend at the beach.'” And I was like, "sure." And so I went home and told my mom and packed a bag and we drove all night and checked into some weird motel in the morning.

Besides “weird motels” in San Diego, how are you spontaneous in your travels now?

My husband and I do a lot of spontaneous trips with our kids. I always give it like about a two hour travel time. So we can drive there in two hours or it's easy to fly to around two hours, which even includes like Cabo or San Francisco for us. And we've taken tons of those in the last several years [because] it's hard to really plan big vacations with two people that are working and children. But what is kind of amazing is having those [moments] where you have the realization that your kids have Monday off school. You haven't planned anything. There's nothing to fill the weekend.

How do you incorporate HotelTonight into your spontaneous trips?

The thing with HotelTonight, which is when they called me and asked if I wanted to partner, I was like, wait, we use it all the time. This is like a true, "yes." This is like a true integrated brand authentic partnership. We both have the app on our phones. We've used it multiple times in the last few years.

What sort of trips do you enjoy taking?

I tend toward relaxing trips, I need something with a body of water, a pool, or the opportunity for a pool or a beach or something like that. A lot of our friends go mountains and snow, but I just am not interested in being cold.

From Instagram it seems like your family really loves Disneyland? Is that an easy, spontaneous trip?

Well, Disney is never easy. You know, Disney is like running a marathon. My friends and I call the day after Disney “the Disney hangover” because your body hurts, your feet hurt, like you're worked. You've eaten a lot of sugar and you feel like it was like a night out in college. But we do love Disney so much and we do go there.

Your Instagram also has a lot of Disney churros.

Who doesn't love a churro? It's a long, skinny donut covered in cinnamon and sugar. Disneyland's churros are just kind of legendary.

Does your 6-year-old daughter Cricket have a secret way to eat those Disney churros?

Why was she eating it like Justin Bieber? That was like a prank. I was like, you're pranking me. She's like, “What? That was the best way to eat it.”

Do you have any dream trips you’d like to take?

I've never been to Tokyo. I would love to spend a little bit more time traveling in Asia if I could. And then Birdie, my 11 year old, was really trying to get us to take her to Bora Bora recently. She's been influenced.

Can you tell us more about the surprise trip you're sending some over-planners on?

Five people are going to get a trip. It's going to be a spontaneous trip and they're not going to be told until right before where they're going so that they can pack appropriately. But they just have to, like, roll with it. And we're going to try to show how the thing that I know to be true, which is that spontaneous trips can be super fun, incredibly enjoyable, very bonding for whoever you're traveling with — and sometimes become your favorite trips that you've taken.

Do you have any advice for those people to get in the right mindset before their adventure?

I think you just have to be open to possibility. You know, one of the greatest things is that when you have no expectations set, everything's going to exceed it. So you always are going to have a good time.

Enter here before Dec. 4 for a chance to win your own spontaneous getaway from HotelTonight.

Note: This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.