Where was the first overseas trip you ever took, and what are your strongest memories from it?
The first overseas trip I took was the classic kiwi kids first overseas experience — a family trip to the Gold Coast. I remember every year my school friends would come home with cheap Australian gifts and photos of them holding a koala.
When I turned 15 it was finally my turn. It was when my Mum was diagnosed with cancer, so we decided to take a big family trip together. It was a really lovely time and I have very fond memories of spending time with my family there. I have a very vivid memory of sitting in the motel spa pool and looking up at bats flying across the dusky evening sky.
What was a standard family holiday like when growing up?
It was always a road trip down south. I'm from Christchurch, so we often piled all 5 of us into the car and took off to Timaru, Twizel or Arthur's Pass where we would hire a little dottery bach and spend a few days there. We did a lot of walks, board games and swimming in lakes and rivers.
As a kid I was envious of all the kids who got to go on fancy overseas trips, but looking back, I wouldn't take back the way we holidayed, as it allowed me to see some of the most beautiful parts of our country.
Who has most inspired your travels?
My dear friend Eddy used to work for Air New Zealand, and he was kind enough to take me and our friend Chris on some trips with him on his buddy passes, so I was able to travel to places I wouldn't be able to afford to travel to otherwise. I am so grateful for this!
Also, I love this family on YouTube called the Bucket List Family. They are a rad family who take their three little kids travelling across the world.
What is the greatest trip you've ever been on?
Europe during the Christmas holidays of 2016/2017. My two best friends and I went on a whirlwind trip around Europe. We visited five countries in 12 days. It was so cool to experience a wintry Christmas! I still have fond memories of sipping mulled wine and watching people ice skate in central Amsterdam or seeing the Prague castle covered in snow.
And the worst?
In 2011, my high school friends and I went to Sydney and on the first day we got pickpocketed, losing cash, credit cards and I.D. — Lesson learnt!
What's your approach to packing for an overseas trip?
I'm a notorious overpacker, so my new method is pull everything out I want to take — and then half it. You never need as many clothes as you think you do!
What is the destination that most surprised you — good or bad — and why?
Last year my partner Adam and I had a couple's trip booked for Tokyo, Japan. But then about a month out, Adam got offered a really cool job, so we decided it was best for him to stay.
I was scared, but I ended up deciding to just go alone and see what travelling solo was like. Japan turned out to be the BEST place to travel solo, especially for a woman.
Everyone there is so friendly and helpful, and the best part is, the city is actually made for people to be there alone. Most restaurants have either bar seating, or your own little booth that you can dine alone in and not feel like a loser. The city is so alive with people, even late into the night, so you never feel like you are by yourself.
I would highly recommend Tokyo as a travel destination if you are planning on going solo (or with others). It's the best place.
Where was your most memorable sunrise/sunset?
The sunrise on the morning I walked the Tongariro crossing.
What's the first thing you do when you get home from a long trip?
Eat a plate of broccoli. While travelling I allow myself to eat whatever I like (which is awesome) but by the end of it, all I feel like is a healthy meal.
What do you miss most about home when you travel?
Just New Zealand in general. Our country is so beautiful and smells so fresh and nice.
Where is the one destination you must see before you die, and why?
Florence, Venice or rural Italy. I went to Rome briefly for 3 days and man oh man, I loved it. Gotta go back to Italy and explore further.
What's your favourite thing about travel?
Coming home with a deeper appreciation of what we have routinely, and the comfort and ease of the familiar. But with a refreshed new insight about the world.
Also the food.
Brynley Stent performs in Lust Island from 3—7 March at Basement Theatre as part of Auckland Fringe.