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Shay Mitchell on traveling with kids, what she stuffs in her bags (including this salt)



Shay Mitchell on traveling with kids, what she stuffs in her bags (including this salt)

In a new weekly series, USA TODAY’s The Essentials, celebrities share what fuels their lives.

Shay Mitchell is blending travel and alcohol to make the ultimate cocktail: her show “Thirst with Shay Mitchell.”

The actress already cemented herself in both industries with her Béis travel accessories company and tequila brand Onda, and she’s taking it a step further with a show focused on trying different beverages around the world.

“It’s combining both of my loves of traveling and drinking, and not even just drinking alcohol, but consuming beverages, learning more about a culture, the history (and) the people that live there through the lens of the beverages,” Mitchell says of her new Max four-episode series, which premiered May 23.

While fans were obsessing over her character Emily Fields on “Pretty Little Liars,” she was using the breaks from filming to jet set. “When I was on a TV show in my 20s, every time we’d go on hiatus I would be taking off to a different place,” she says, modestly referring to her time on the ABC Family (now Freeform) hit from 2010 to 2017.

Now, as a mom-of-two, world exploration looks different for the 37-year-old actress.

Shay Mitchell’s ‘Thirst’ is for a spicy skinny margarita

Mitchell just launched a reposado of Onda, perfect for her go-to cocktail: “A spicy skinny margarita … Extra spicy.”

She also expanded her beverage palette filming “Thirst.”

“Cachaça (was my favorite spirit) and that was from Brazil, and I loved it. I learned it’s one of the top five spirits there is and yet 99% of it is bought within Brazil itself, which is kind of crazy.”

Traditional Peruvian drink emolienteit surprised her the most. “It’s very fibrous because of the chia seeds that are in there and it was a lot thicker of the consistency than I expected. … Not bad by any means, just unexpected.”

Shay Mitchell’s hangover cure

“I come home, chug a bunch of water, take two Advil liquid gels and I have a greasy little meal before I go to bed and then I wake up perfectly fine,” she says. “If I don’t, then I order pho and spring rolls.”

Shay Mitchell accepts traveling with children is ‘not going to be relaxing,’ and that’s OK

Mitchell and partner Matte Babel share daughters Atlas, 4, and Rome, 2. As summer break approaches, she has plans to visit her parents in Vancouver.

“I bring activities. Atlas is an avid colorer and drawer so I always have her coloring stuff and her books. Rome … there really isn’t any sort of like tip or trick that I’ve learned for her. It’s just WWF (now WWE) the entire time, she’s just wrestling me. She’s standing. She’s sitting. I can’t even lie, the second child for me is just nonstop. I just have to know that it’s not going to be relaxing time and get over it,” she concedes.

For parents traveling with young children, Mitchell says, “don’t stress out if your child is having a little fit” or “get down on yourself if they’re not being quiet.”

“That was something that as a new mom … I was always freaking out like, ‘Don’t make noise.’ And now I’m like, ‘Sorry, they are kids.’ I’m going to do my best, and they’re not kicking seats by any means, but you do what you can.

“When we were shooting ‘Thirst,’ Rome was only 5 months old, and that was really difficult because we were gone for a month,” she says. But something that I heard that really stuck with me is ‘It’s my first time living, too.’ These are things that I have always wanted to do. … This is my passion. I know that when I came home, they could tell that I was excited about it.”

Shay Mitchell’s bags are like ‘Mary Poppins’ when it comes to travel

“I have (the) Mary Poppins of travel bags,” Mitchell says, noting she keeps all the “essentials” from medicine to Maldon salt for a little extra seasoning to airplane food.

“It’s the best salt,” she adds, pausing to search for the correct spelling.

Shay’s airplane essentials include:

  • Medicine.
  • Makeup.
  • Face mist.
  • Hand cream (“I don’t like that feeling when your hands get dry in the airplane.”).
  • Extra socks.
  • Neck pillow.
  • Sleep eye mask (“That’s a necessity.”).
  • Earplugs.
  • Maldon salt.

During her downtime, Shay Mitchell is watching ‘Is It Cake?’

“I love ‘Is It Cake?’ I swear I think I get it right like 80% of the time. I wish there was an app (connected to the show) and you can make friendly bets. I think I’d be in the top 10 because I’m pretty good at sussing it out. I love that show,” she says with passion.

The “Thirst” star also loves watching reruns of “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” and “Sex and the City.”

Recently, she finished “The Gentleman.” “So good … the show, not Theo (James). I’m not just saying he was good, I’m just … It was good,” Mitchell says jokingly of the Netflix series.

“I’m trying to read a lot more. I have my little Kindle. I just finished ‘It Starts With Us.’ That took me a very long time, but now being a mom with two kids and doing quite a bit of traveling, it’s hard finding that time to read. I’m going to pick up ‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.’ And then every once in a while I’ll read one of my older books like ‘Mastering of Love,’ which is my favorite. I’ve probably read it 10 times.”

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She celebrates her life ‘no matter how mundane’ the day is

“In the morning and at night I go through all the things that I feel grateful for. People could roll their eyes, but I really do,” the “You” actress says, adding her days are special “no matter how mundane” it is because it means “nothing bad happened.”

“Even with birthdays and getting older, people are like, ‘Are you scared of coming close to 40?’ Absolutely not. How fortunate am I to be able to hit 40? I’m really excited for what’s to come,” Mitchell adds.

Her grandmother Romaine, who died in 2022, was instrumental in her positive outlook on life. “She’s with me at all times and I think that’s also been something that has given me a little bit more confidence. … I just think (about) what she would tell me if she was here and she’d always say, ‘OK, I’m going to say a little prayer for you.'”

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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