When Golden Globe winner Tracee Ellis Ross turned 18, she took the trip of a lifetime. Her mother, Diana Ross, was invited to walk in a fashion show in Paris, and she snagged her aspiring model daughter a spot in the show. As if that wasn’t an awesome birthday gift already, Ross also got to travel on a plane with legendary supermodels Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, and Christy Turlington.

“I would long to recreate the core of that trip — to take a trip with my mom to Paris just for a couple of days to do something fabulous,” the Black-ish star tells us. “We went to one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I would love to recreate that one day.”

While Ross dreams of a throwback to the glitz and glam of her epic 18th birthday trip, her roots with travel go even deeper than those memories… so deep, in fact, that she credits childhood travel with much of who she is as an adult. Ross attended boarding school in Switzerland, and while she made some trips back and forth to Europe with her sisters, she often made the journey alone too.

“I think that was a big growth opportunity for me as I was coming of age and learning how to be on my own,” Ross says. “I’m very comfortable traveling alone and being my own best friend.”

Ross is a big believer in the power of traveling solo, even for women who have long outgrown boarding school. Doing so, she says, gives you a chance to test your comfort zone and to start to see yourself as a citizen of a world full of people who are more alike than they are different, rather than just a resident of your city, state, or country. If traveling alone sounds terrifying to you, Ross recommends that you take baby steps in the form of solo dinner dates.

“I would experiment going to a restaurant at 8pm on your own on a Saturday night to see how it feels,” she suggests. “You start to get a sense of what it is that you’re comfortable with.”

Once you’re acquainted with your comfort zone, you can begin to push yourself out of it, a process that Ross has been engaging with for much of her life. Recently, her passion for seeing the world inspired her to partner with Chase and United Airlines for the relaunch of the United MileagePlus Explorer Credit Card, which offers double miles as a reward for dining and hotels, along with plenty of other perks any wanderluster will appreciate.

“Not only do you get rewarded for travel, but for shopping,” Ross says. “And we all know that I’m a big shopper!”

Ross — who recently gave an inspiring TED Talk called “A Woman’s Fury Holds Lifetimes of Wisdom” — brought her passion for empowering women to the set of the commercial for the Explorer card. The production was female-led, and the team worked to hire women into as many key roles as possible.

“It felt really good and really exciting,” Ross says. “It was a really great working experience.”

Travel, shopping, and an empowering work environment run by women? What more could you ask for?

What’s your favorite travel memory? Tweet us @BritandCo!

(Photo via Catie Laffoon)