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Traveller’s Tales: Sonia

I work full time in a hospital and see lots of sad things around me. I think this is one of the reasons that I like to grab Life, as you never know what’s around the corner.  I love being in new places with very different cultures, meeting new people, joining in on as many outdoor adventure activities as I can, and very much love holidays based around wildlife adventures. 

 

Number of countries visited:  63. This is one of the first times I have actually counted the countries…still a lot to go!

Aisle or window: For long flights especially overnight, I prefer the aisle.  But for shorter flights, or if a great view is expected, I prefer a window seat.  I also google to see if there is a ‘best’ side to sit on to make sure I get the best view on a flight.

Plane, train, boat or car: I like small expedition boats, and have done Galapagos and Antarctica. Travelling in small road transport, like 4WD or small vans with someone else driving is good, so I can enjoy the scenery.  I’ve done a few overnight train trips, in China, Vietnam, India, Tibet, and that is a great way of meeting people from the area.   I also like to explore the local public transport in a new place, as it is fun to see where you end up, and again it’s a great opportunity to meet interesting people! If it’s possible and safe I like to get public transport from the airport, as I like to start my adventure straight away!

My last travel destination was: I spent the 4 day Easter weekend in Kaikoura New Zealand for a few days of whale watching, kayaking with seals and swimming with dolphins. But earlier this year I went to Egypt and Oman.

My next travel destination is: Later this year, I am heading to Madagascar for a 2week trip with Intrepid, and then Zambia which I am doing solo and just organizing transport between a few nice little lodges.

Other than the basics, I never forget to pack: travel adaptors, a few books, my travel diary and a phrase book or google translate.

I love to travel because: I think the origins are that my parents were born in Italy, and they took the most amazing unknown adventure immigrating to Australia – a land they didn’t know.  So I think it is in my blood to travel to the unknown, meeting people from different cultures and lifestyles, the amazing history of many countries, doing outdoor adventures, and having encounters with incredible wildlife. Everything is an adventure!

First thing I do in a new city is: I go out for a local walk to help me get oriented. Depending on the time of day, I take my map and start exploring straight away and likely don’t come back to the hotel until after dinnertime.  I don’t like to waste any time!

Worst place I’ve been lost was:  I’m not sure if I have ever been terribly lost.  I usually carry a map with me, and my hotel card, so eventually navigate my way back I think

I can’t stop going back to:  Nepal has drawn me a couple of times for Himalayan trekking, and the Nepali are just such beautiful people. Africa, as a continent, keeps drawing me back also.  I have spent a few holidays there, mainly for the amazing wildlife, including 7 weeks of volunteer work with wildlife.  And yes I’m going back again later this year!

I’ve always wanted to go to: the Arctic. I have been fortunate to have spent 3 weeks in Antarctica some years ago, and now I am planning for the Northern Polar Region.  I would love to see a polar bear in the wild, and kayak amongst amazing icebergs again like I did in Antarctica.

I’ve never wanted to go to: nowhere really. I think every country has incredible things to offer, but I do prefer countries where the culture and language are very different from ours.

A must know phrase in every language is: Hello, thankyou, please. I like to learn some basic words for all the countries I travel to, as I think it brings a smile to everyone’s face as they know you are at least trying. I even try to learn the alphabet e.g Cyrillic so I can decipher and pronounce street names and other things when I’m exploring.

My number one tip for travel is: do some research into the destination to make sure you see and do all the things you want to do in case you don’t get back to that country again.  But also allow time and flexibility to just explore and absorb.