After hopping around the world for nearly 20 years as a travel journalist, I’d like to think that I’ve picked up some insider information about the ‘business’ of travel that’s worth sharing. While I don’t profess to be a maverick adventure traveller or an ‘off-the-grid’ kind of girl – although I’ve tried my hand at both – I am on the road at least once a month and I’ve learnt a few tricks along the way. Here’s a few tips for those, who, like me, are just as passionate about travelling the world.
1. If someone asks you to say hi to a friend when you are travelling – do it
Years ago, I was heading out on a mega-assignment to Brazil. I was going to Sao Paolo, first, and then on to Rio. It had been a life-long dream to go to Latin America, and, even better, I had a personal connection with my story – which was investigating the history of Sao Paolo’s expansive Italian community. The Brazilian-Italian culture had captured the popular imagination in an historical telenovela, which was on TV across the country at the time, and which had been filmed in Rio. As a daughter of an Italian immigrant myself (albeit in London) – I was thrilled that my editor agreed it was a story worth covering.
At the time I was on staff on a well-known travel magazine, and as I was about to leave the office, a colleague stopped me and asked me to do him a favour. He wanted me to take a card and a present to an old friend in Rio. “You’ll love her,” he said. My heart sank.
When I eventually got to Rio, I decided to call her immediately and get the ‘ordeal’, as I saw it, over with. The phone conversation, it turned out, ended up being the best thing that happened to me in this thrilling – but intimidating – city. After not being able to ‘get out’ of a persistent invite to dine with the lady – who turned out to be called Patrizia – we ended up meeting just a few hours later. And here the story changes. Not only was Patrizia married to a well-known restaurateur (the gorgeous eatery we went to actually belonged to them and I was treated with dish after delicious dish), but, best of all, they were wonderful company and overwhelmingly generous in their hospitality, especially considering I was a stranger.