What I pack: Scott Wilson

Scott Wilson. Photo / Supplied
Scott Wilson. Photo / Supplied

Do you travel light or heavy?

The more I travel, the lighter I travel. I learn what is absolutely necessary and carve away at the rest. That being said, I have also gone too far and regretted NOT bringing warmer things, extra this or that. In the end it's all about learning and adapting.

Cattle or first class?

The first time I was bumped to business class I thought I had died and gone to aeronautical heaven. However, there is more character to cattle class. It's the way 80 per cent of us travel, so to really get the experience most of us get, the adventure truly does start sandwiched between an overweight American tourist, a crying baby and knees pressed firmly against the seat in front of you. Look at it this way, it'll make that bland, over-microwaved meal taste that much sweeter.

I can't travel without...

A watch. I am a stickler for always having to know what time it is. What is the local time? The time back home? ETA? UTC/GMT? All questions answered with one of my collection strapped to my wrist.

What type of suitcase do you carry?

Backpack. If I can't strap it to my back it doesn't come with me. All these frilly wheeled boxes etc. I just never understood. If I'm spending 28 hours in transit getting somewhere, it always feels good lifting 40kg on to my back and getting some exercise finally.

What's always in your hand luggage?

iPod. Music can get me through anything. I have always connected music and travel ever since my parents road-tripped me across Canada and back at age five listening to Bruce Springsteen, Dire Straits, CCR and more. Every journey since has its own soundtrack.

Are you a planner or last-minute packer?

Both in a way. I now plan last-minute... really last-minute. But I feel I have perfected the science. I never seem to have that strange feeling like I forgot something anymore.

What's the best thing you've brought back from a trip?

Myself. After many close calls on the road doing crazy things, and even surviving a plane crash into the ocean earlier this year, I never ask for more than a safe arrival, with my butt still attached.

Favourite or most exciting airport to land in?

Being an aviation nut and pilot in training, I would have loved to have experienced the crazy approaches to the old Hong Kong airport (Kai Tak). But I think landing in and getting off the plane in Pyongyang, North Korea, will be one that sticks with me; A C-130 Hercules landing on gravel in Antarctica being a close second.

Best packing tip?

Passport - check. Wallet - check. Everything else can be bought on arrival, so the rest is gravy.

Most memorable trip?

There have been so many that meant so much. One that made a huge impact was being on Ascension Island in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. It was a place I found late one night looking at a world map and thought "Huh,I wonder how you get there?" And less than a year later, exploring it on foot was a mind-blower.

What do you do while on the plane?

I am cursed with the inability to sleep on planes - ever. The seats are scientifically perfected to angle back to the point most uncomfortable for the human spine. I have it on good authority that trans-Pacific flights in cattle class are actually a long-term sleep deprivation study for Nasa.

So again, I resort to music to get me through. Occasionally there are moments of zen as the right track times out with the sun breaching the horizon as it rises over a new continent... though the beauty could be accentuated by the high O2 content and lack of sleep.

* Scott Wilson appears in Departures, at 8.30pm on Sunday nights on the Travel Channel.

- NZ Herald

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