Travelling with my family is always at the top of my list. Last year we celebrated my daughter Charlotte’s 10th birthday on an uninhabited island in the Duke of York Islands off Rabaul in Papua New Guinea. It’s a stunningly beautiful place. Not exactly a conventional birthday, but one that we will certainly all remember.
Villagers from the neighbouring island taught us how to hunt and gather food, so Charlotte grated and squeezed the coconut milk for her own birthday feast of fresh fish, crabs, yams and bananas.
And the worst?
Getting carjacked in Naples would be a low-light. I was 21, so it was actually a great learning experience and we managed to get away without too much fuss.
It did unfortunately put me off Naples for a while, until I went back and fell in love with how much the Neapolitans embrace la passeggiata – (the evening stroll); when Italians head out to enjoy the evening, the balmy weather and each other’s company. Mind you, I haven’t ever tried to drive in that crazy city again!
What is your favourite country abroad and why?
I know that this is a bit of a cheat, but it’s generally somewhere that I haven’t been yet. I love the idea of trying new places, seeing new things and throwing myself into something unexpected.
Where was your first overseas trip?
Like many Australians, my first overseas trip was a wonderful and memorable family holiday to Fiji and I’ve returned there from time to time over the years.
In fact, I actually spent some time in Fiji last month, checking it out as a destination for our Butterfield & Robinson clients. It’s incredible to see how Fiji has developed as a destination, with some really first-class properties and luxury experiences.
The most notable consistency is the amazing people, who just exude friendliness, hospitality and a laid-back happiness that makes you relax from the very first ‘Bula’.
Which destination is on top of your bucket list and why?
Southern and Eastern Africa are always at the top of my bucket list, because I just haven’t been in such a long time. My kids are at an age now where this sort of trip will really inspire them, so I can’t wait to take them there.
What is your best travel tip?
Remember that the reason that you’re travelling is to see something different from what’s at home. Embrace the differences, step outside your comfort zone, learn a few lines of the local dialect, eat something crazy that you’ve never tried before and engage with the people around you to see how the world looks through their eyes.
What do you think will be the ‘next big thing’ in travel?
It’s not exactly new, but I think that multi-generational travel is just going to get bigger. We’re certainly seeing a lot of this at Butterfield & Robinson – three generations all spending time together exploring a destination.
It’s the perfect way for kids to connect with their parents and grandparents in a slow, relaxed environment away from the chaos and business of normal life. In particular, villa stays and African safaris are popular with our clients at the moment.
Who would you most like to sit next to on a long haul flight (living or dead)?
Captain Cook. Now there was a man who knew about stepping outside of his comfort zone! He rose up through the hierarchy the hard way and became one of the world’s most intrepid travellers.
He was a man who really noticed what was happening around him, who seemed to admire the different people and cultures he came across without looking down on them. He was a skilled navigator, excellent leader of people and an astute observer of all he saw.
What makes a tour with Butterfield & Robinson so memorable?
Well, it really comes back to what I was saying about connecting with your surroundings. We make it easier for people to slip quietly into a culture, rather than just observing it from the outside as you whiz past on a tour bus.
Being on a bicycle seat or walking through a village gives you a completely different perspective. It also allows local people to engage with you on a different level.
There’s nothing better than sharing a homemade Limoncello with a Nonna that you’ve met along the path in Amalfi and seeing the lemon trees in her garden that bore the fruit. Bellissimo!
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