Have you got a bucket list? We sit down with Trafalgar’s global brand ambassador, Patricia Schultz, whose travel suggestions have inspired millions, for some great insights. Shultz is currently visiting Australia on behalf of Trafalgar and appearing at a range of events in Sydney and Melbourne to discuss her top travelling tips.
Have your travel interests changed as you’ve grown older?
Both my travel interests and outlook on life have changed over time in that I am more appreciative and respectful of other places and people. I try to be more tolerant and accepting. I'm blessed with having an inherent and natural curiosity about things – whether I am home or in some remote corner of the globe. We are all on a journey, but one that kicks into high gear when we remove ourselves from our comfort zones.
How do you balance the varied interests of old and young in 1000 Places to See Before You Die?
Travel is such a personal passion – I am not sure that age enters the equation that much. In the book I include certain destinations that invariably appeal to a younger traveller (and which I loved myself) – great surfing destinations such as Jaco in Costa Rica or popular long-distance hikes on the Mediterranean island of Corsica.
1000 Places to See Before You Die was originally published in 2003 and went on to have over 3 million copies in print
But I think that is the beauty of (and my natural approach to) a book of this nature: I wrote from the heart and about what I loved, and in doing so found that I had created something for everyone regardless of age, budget or interest.
Best travel experience when you were young?
I attended university in Washington DC, where a third year program in Madrid was greatly encouraged. It opened my mind in ways that influenced and would shape the rest of my life. It was my base for a good deal of travel throughout Europe as well as in northern Africa and the Middle East. It was also an invaluable opportunity to live in a place like a local, a chance to experience total immersion in another culture.
Madrid is a magnificent city – special, fun and welcoming then and now – and attracted students from all over the world. I often wonder what course my life would have taken if not for the long-term impact of that one very special year.
Best recent travel experience?
I just returned from the Balkan Peninsula – the (mostly) ex-Yugoslavia countries between Austria and Hungary in the north and Greece in the south. They suffered turbulent times in the 1990s, but they are open for business now with a welcoming and gracious people and a stunning interior and gorgeous Adriatic coastline.
Patricia Schultz, pictured here in Iran, has travelled across the world and says the locals are always the highlight of any country
I also recently returned from a trip with Trafalgar exploring Prague, Vienna and Budapest, a perfect blend of the old and new world.
As a storyteller I find it rewarding to take time to engage with locals and hear their tales. The 'Be My Guest' experiences on offer allow you to learn and truly take something back from your journey. By dining in the home of fascinating locals you can fully immerse yourself in their culture and expand your mindset.
Favourite place in Australia? Why?
I have very vivid memories of sailing the Whitsunday Islands. Whenever I see lists of the world's most beautiful beaches, I never question why Whitehaven Beach scores top-of-the-line. I have never made it (yet!) to Tasmania and know that I would love that corner of Australia just as much.
Favourite place in the world? Why?
My list of favourite places is one thousand places long! But – if hard pressed – I would have to say Italy. If you have been, then you know why it is my grande amore. If you haven't been, you shouldn't put it off another moment!
Italy’s food speaks for itself and so I am determined to embark on a Flavours of Italy culinary adventure to test my taste buds a little more.
What are you looking forward to?
I am looking forward to a return trip to Ireland with Trafalgar in July. The Emerald Island never ever disappoints – it is regularly rated as one of the friendliest destinations in the world. And a dreamy overnight stay in the newly refurbished Ashford Castle is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It might be Europe's most special castle hotel.
Pet peeve when travelling?
A lack of respect for the country you are visiting. We are the guests and the interlopers. Without curiosity and respect for your host country, you may as well stay home (or at least keep your short-sighted opinions to yourself!).
Ireland's Ashford Castle offers both medieval history and modern luxury as a revamped 5 star hotel
Top tip for over 50s when travelling?
The same that I would give to any traveller: travel as soon as you can, as much as you can and as far as you can. We live with this bet that we will live to be a fine old age and still be active and healthy. The reality is that all we have is today and there are no guarantees. Carpe diem!
Life does get busy so if you find yourself craving another adventure but just can’t find the time to organise one for yourself, I highly recommend looking into a guided holiday. Seamless travel is the new sexy. All you have to do is focus on the journey ahead.
Never leave home without?
I bring duplicates and back-ups of things that don't weigh much or take up much room in my suitcase if there is a chance they can save the day – cellphone chargers, eyeglasses, lipstick. I bring copies of my passport (as well as one saved on my cell phone) and credit cards.
And I never travel without a small neck roll pillow; it gets stuffed into a corner of my suitcase. Hotel pillows can be a traveller’s nemesis – and if my neck is unhappy, I am unhappy.
My travel dream now is…
To stay healthy enough to keep going until I have to be rolled around. I met a 90-year-old woman in Machu Picchu. It was her first passport and her first stamp. She left me with these two thoughts: you have to do the difficult places first. Your knees, she reminded me, have expiration dates!
What's your favourite place in the world to travel to? Share your stories here!