“One of the more surprising aspects of travel, and something that still occasionally catches me off guard, is the confessions that people make to strangers when they are far from home. I have heard deep personal revelations from people whose names I didn’t even know.”

It’s ironic that Andrew McCarthy should make such an observation in his new book, The Longest Way Home, out this month. Most everyone knows his name thanks to his work in films such as Pretty in Pink, St. Elmo’s Fire, and Less Than Zero, but over the past several years, the actor has morphed into an award-winning travel journalist. “I didn’t set out in any way to write a travel book—travel is just the outward frame of the internal journey,” McCarthy says. “I use travel to figure out what is going on with me.”

Through tales of seven trips to places as close as Baltimore and as far-flung as Patagonia, the Upper East Side resident delivers a deeply revealing memoir about settling down, both with a woman and in his own skin. The Longest Way Home is an unflinchingly honest examination of his life as an actor, son, brother, husband, and father, as well as his struggle with committing to a woman in his life whom he plans to—and does, by the end of the book— marry in Dublin. Alcoholism, infidelity, the dark side of celebrity—McCarthy holds nothing back. “Once you do it, you realize, what’s the big secret, everybody’s human, everybody goes through it,” he says of these personal revelations. “Then somebody says, ‘Oh I have that too,’ and suddenly you’re less alone. And that’s what everybody wants, that connection.”

Of course, there’s a part of this book that is pure travelogue, and McCarthy skillfully brings the locations and their characters to life. “If I have anything to offer as a writer, it’s that as an actor I was trained to observe people—it’s how I see the world, through character and dialogue and story,” he says. “To me, [acting and writing are] the same thing, just a different format of the storytelling. You just have to pay attention.”

Like the best travel, accompanying McCarthy on his road toward self-awareness and the woman he loves is much more about the journey than the destination. “I do have that feeling of endless possibility when I set out—I’m in motion, things can happen,” he explains. “I experienced things on the road, and I made sense of it in the writing. You live your life forward and you figure it out backwards.”

ABOVE: For McCarthy, “Travel is just the outward frame of the internal journey.”

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