As a child I would watch Tin Tin cartoons and dream of accompanying my hero and his dog Snowy through the ancient world as we discovered tombs and hunted for ancient treasures. While I still love Tin Tin and the odd Indiana Jones repeat, my love of ancient history bloomed in my adult years when I undertook a history under-grad degree. After university, I travelled through Europe for a few months and visited many of the cities and sites that I had spent years studying. From Pompei to the Acropolis, I relished the opportunity to put my knowledge into practice and annoy my friends with fact after fact. The pinnacle of this trip was the week I spent in Rome. After a couple of days dragging my mate around to old temples and archaeological sites throughout the city, I was encouraged to spend the remaining days on my own (the novelty of a free tour guide had well and truly worn off!). For me, Rome was, and still is the centre of the ancient world and provides a snapshot of the people who shaped the modern world as we know it.
The Roman Forum.
Family Road Trip Across the USA & Canada
When I was 15 years old, my parents, my sister and I packed our suitcases and flew to L.A for what would be the adventure of a lifetime. After a flight to New Orleans, we hired a car and spent three months driving from the deep south all the way up the east coast to the Canadian border and then from Montreal across to Vancouver. Obviously the sights that we saw along the way were unforgettable but the most precious thing I took out of that trip is the memory of truly getting to know my nearest and dearest. There were times when we laughed, there were times when we were at each other’s throats but in the end, spending all that time in a car and exploring towns and cities we had dreamt of visiting is something that I am truly blessed to have experienced.
For those who have been lucky enough to visit India (or unlucky enough, depending on your outlook on life), you will understand that you do not return from this country without being changed in one way or another. I visited India as a 19-year-old and for me, the experience brought out the best and the very worst in me. I learned what it really meant to be trapped in a crowd. I learned how to be more tolerant of others. I saw what true poverty looks like and I experienced how an upset stomach can make you believe that you are in fact dying! While I have memories of being pick pocketed and staring into the eyes of a homeless child as they begged for my money, I was able to see the beautiful side of the place that over 1 billion people call home. There is no place like India. You cannot get that same feeling of complete chaos in any other place on this earth.
Fluro painted Elephant in traffic: You will only see this in India.
I once spent a few months travelling overland from Bangkok, through Cambodia, into Southern Vietnam and then up into China (all the way to Beijing). This trip had so many standout moments that I would need to write a book to include them all, but the one place that I still think back to more than the others is Cambodia. The islands off the coast of Cambodia are beautiful, the food is unique and the history is complex, but it is the Cambodian people who left their mark on my mind and my psyche. The Cambodian people have suffered through what ranks as one of the greatest crimes against humanity in history yet they manage to still smile. They welcomed me into their villages and homes and made me realise how lucky I am to live in a country where I am free to live a life of my own choosing. While they still struggle with the history of their fractured country and the genocide that they were brutally forced to live through, their outlook on life is second to none. They taught me that those things in life that make you happy cannot be bought.
Cambodia has its fair share of temples, but it is the people I remember most.
Road trip to Northern NSW
I have travelled a lot in my small amount of time on this earth however there are not many experiences that compare to a road trip up the east coast of New South Wales in Australia. I am lucky enough to call this area my backyard and try to get away as often as possible. The beaches, mountains and wildlife are pristine and seemingly untouched in a lot of places and for surfers, it doesn’t get much better than uncrowded waves all day long, followed by a few beers around a campfire of an evening. Over the years, road trips up the coast with my mates and my family have moulded my understanding of the world, given me an appreciation of the natural habitat and also some unforgettable encounters with wildlife. On these road trips over the years, I caught my first wave as a 10-year-old, I shared my first beer with my dad years after that and I hope to one day share these experiences with my own children.
Sunset on the NSW North Coast.
Rome: Giant Louie or little car?