Avid traveler Christel Khalil (“Lily”) doesn’t just gallivant around the globe: The Young and the Restless star revels in leaving her own world completely behind to see how others live.
“I love doing anything that takes me out of my comfort zone and gives me a full cultural experience,” Khalil explains. “I love the culture shock of traveling! So for me, anywhere exotic that’s very different from home is my favorite.”
The last destination that threw her for a loop was Tokyo, Japan. “That was so bizarre!” Khalil says, a grin spreading across her face.
For Khalil, traveling is all about immersion, which means different things on different trips. “In Tulum, Mexico, for instance, I didn’t go see anything,” she shares. “I just hung out at the beach, ate amazing food, and got a great tan. But when I went to Bali, I visited the Monkey Temple, did the rice paddy fields, went hiking, rode an elephant and played with a traditional Balinese Orchestra.”
For all her globetrotting, the Los Angeles native still has one major country to tackle. “I need to explore America,” she admits. “I’ve never seen the Grand Canyon or been to Yosemite, Nashville or Austin. There’s so much to see! I just visited Chicago for the first time, but when I want to travel, I think international.”
And she’s already thinking about her next destinations. “I’m dying to go to Croatia and Italy,” Khalil reveals.
Whether traveling with an insider or breaking off the beaten path on her own, Khalil’s focus is on meeting locals and seeing what life’s about in each place she visits. “I’m not as into the nature of places,” she explains. “I don’t mind it, but I don’t seek it out. I’m more into the people.”
While Khalil will happily veer far from her comfort zone for a new experience, she always finds a nice place to lay her head at night. “When I’m going on my excursions, I love the gritty and the dirty,” she says. “But not where I sleep! I love fancy hotels and being comfortable.”
Thanks to Y&R, she can afford to be. Khalil, who’s spent almost half her life in Genoa City and grew up before viewers’ eyes, doesn’t take her day job for granted. “When I first got on Y&R, I didn’t realize what I had,” she confesses. “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to appreciate and understand what an amazing job it is. I work, but I still have time for my son. I don’t have to worry about leaving town for shoots, like other actors do, there are no night shoots and I can travel. It is the best job.”
Most people aren’t so lucky, which means it’s not always easy to find travel partners who actually have the time and money to hit the road with her. Luckily, her little man, Michael, 6, enjoys seeing the world, too. “I took three big trips last year and he came with me for two of them,” Khalil says of her son. “I took that trip to Tulum without him, recently, and that was amazing. It’s great to have adult time. But now I want to go again for my birthday and I definitely want to take him with me when I go back. It just depends on the trip.”
As a working mom, Khalil sometimes needs a quick reboot between trips and for that, she turns to LA’s local music fest scenes. “I’m a festival queen,” she shares. “I go to at least five or six a year. They’re the best. A festival is it’s own little world. You escape reality for a few days and it’s amazing.”
Surprisingly, the Y&R star isn’t often recognized during her adventures, locally or abroad. “Even when I go somewhere I get recognized ‘a lot,’ it’s not a lot,” she says with a laugh. “I’m not Brad Pitt! And I don’t mind being recognized. I’m just happy people still watch the show! It’s really nice.”
These days, the soap star is looking into the idea of parlaying her passion into a paying side-gig. “I recently asked myself, ‘What makes me happy in life?’” she recounts. “Traveling is pretty much the only thing that makes me truly happy and where I feel very connected to who I am, as a person. So then I thought, ‘Well, how can I get paid to do that?’ Host a travel show! I would love to do that. It would be incredible to cover the festival circuit, traveling to events around the world. But really, I’d love to do a show that focuses on any type of travel — food, culture, partying…”
We’d certainly tune in! In the meantime, if you think you see this beauty walking your streets, you just might be right — but be warned, she’s turning the tables on you. By day, she her job is to share Lily’s world with viewers around the globe, but when she’s on the road, she’s the one watching you!