Forms of identification: Rob Flynn
Rob Flynn: all in the name of research -- in St Jean d’Angely, France.
Irreverent responses from our favourite travel ninjas.
1. Where would you rather be right now?
On a sailing boat with a group of friends, anchored off a remote beach on the island of Ithaca, Greece.
2. Famous person (dead or alive, real or fictional) you’d most like to go on a trip with:
Michel de Montaigne: he was resourceful, unflappable, insightful and companionable, and would probably make a trip to the grocery store an exotic travel experience.
3. Tourist must-see you think is actually a “must skip”:
How much space do you have? Whole destinations: Dubai, Las Vegas, Singapore. Iconic sites: Fisherman’s Wharf, Buckingham Palace, the Champs Elysees, the Blarney Stone. Anywhere at all with the word “land” or “world” attached. I could go on.
4. Everyone asks what’s #1 on your list of places you want to go before you die. But what’s your #3?
My #3 is a remote island double-header: Tristan da Cunha (in the south Atlantic Ocean) and its evocatively named neighbour, Inaccessible Island
5. You’d be mortified if people knew you did what when you travelled?
I often carry a miniature teddy bear in my backpack – courtesy of my eight-year-old daughter, Grace.
7. Travel-related invention you wish existed:
A smartphone with reasonable roaming charges
8. Most unique souvenir:
An authentic non-returning hunting boomerang given to me by the Pitjantjara clan I spent some time with in Australia’s central desert in 1988.
9. Best celebrity encounter while travelling:
I don’t often indulge in perks of the trade, but on one occasion in India I was unexpectedly upgraded to the premium suite in a very high-end hotel. “I hope the suite is to your liking,” the manager told me. “You’ll be sharing the bed with Mr Mick Jagger and President Musharaff of Pakistan.” It took me a moment to realize they were previous occupants of the suite, not my bed partners for the night. (That would have been a different story.
10. Most unusual item you have travelled with:
On my first trip to India I was browbeaten into buying a sapphire engagement ring -- I didn’t have a girlfriend at the time, let alone a fiancée. I spent the next three weeks worrying about losing it. I later sold it to a woman I worked with.
11. Coolest mode of transport you’ve taken:
I once convinced (ie paid) an auto rickshaw driver to let me drive him around Hyderabad for the day while I was researching a guide. Once I figured out how to use the horn and he overcame his mortal fear, we both had a great time.
12. The place you don’t want anyone to know about but are willing to divulge here:
13. Travel-related film or book that inspires you to pack your bags:
Peter Matthiessen’s books have always been a strong influence, especially The Snow Leopard and The Tree Where Man Was Born, with their mix of travel, natural history, Zen and compelling personal narrative.
14. Lay on us a priceless bit of travel advice or wisdom:
A few moments feeling foolish is a small price to pay for a challenging experience. Regret, on the other hand, pays back over years.