Winston Aldworth says goodbye as Travel Editor this week. Reflecting on the dream job, he shares some parting memories of his best holidays.
What was your greatest holiday?
The South Island — boring answer, huh? I mean, I'm the guy who gets to go everywhere and I basically choose home.
Which is not to say other places haven't been amazing. In seven years as the Herald's Travel Editor, I've encountered a grizzly bear in the wilds of British Columbia, chatted to an Apollo 13 astronaut in Houston, cycled through safari parks in Tanzania and tangoed into the wee small hours in Buenos Aires. But, I mean, Wanaka?! Come on! ...
I've always wondered if we should throw out this question from the "My Holiday" Q&A, because so many trips are so great. A more interesting question might be, "If you could visit one country as many times as you wanted to for the rest of your life, but you can never again visit any other country, what country would you choose?"
It's a bit of a mouthful, but all right then — if you could visit one country as many times as you wanted for the rest of your life, but you can never again visit any other country, what country would you choose? America. It's awesome. It's huge, the people are friendly, the museums are stunning, the outdoors is staggering, the music is amazing and different states are like different countries. Frenchmen Street, Southern Utah, Seattle — these places are like nowhere else.
What was your worst holiday? Me and my mum got ripped off by a dodgy hotelier in Rome many years ago. So, the Italian capital has struggled for good coverage in Travel over the past seven years.
If we bump into you on holiday, what are you most likely to be doing? When I'm travelling for work, I do it all: up early to jog, then galleries, guided tours, museums, food, wine, mountain biking — whatever brilliant activity I can find.
But when I'm travelling with my family, all I want to do is fly-and-flop — to lie down with a cold beer and relax. This is unfair on my family, and now I'm not travelling for work so much, I look forward to making more of family trips.
My golden rule for packing light: Don't. Take as much stuff as you can, not as little as you're able.
Comment: Sound of silence not all it's cracked up to be
If we could teleport you to one place in New Zealand for a week-long holiday, where would it be?
Like I said, the South Island rules — but I've always wanted to do the nine-day Rakiura tramp. And how is it that I've never got myself to the East Cape?
How about for a dream holiday internationally? After seven years in this job, there's still a massive list. One thing I've realised, though, is that great travel is more about what you do and who you're with than where you are.
What's the dumbest thing you've ever done when travelling? Quite a bit that's not for print. In time, I'm sure I'll come to think that quitting my job as Travel Editor was the dumbest thing I ever did.
Aisle seat or window seat? Aisle seat. Every time.
Complete this sentence:
I can't travel without . . . missing home. Like really missing it ...
What's the best travel tip you've ever been given? There have been many great ones, but a couple stand out: always take a photo of the number on your hotel room door; put one shoe in the hotel room safe; a neck rest and a sleeping pill are the poor man's Business Class; and it's not really final call until you hear your name on the PA system.
What was the most memorable meal you've had while travelling? So many ... This crazy fish sambal thing at Taj Connemara, in Chennai; yum cha in Hong Kong; the hot dog at Ben's Chili Bowl in Washington DC; pretty much every single steak in Buenos Aires. And I'm here to tell you that Champagne tastes better when served in First Class.
What's the best thing you've brought back from a trip?
Travelling so much for work, I had to set firm rules about presents, otherwise the kids would be spoiled and I'd be broke. But the day I walked into the gift shop at Nasa, in Houston, the rules went out the window.
My wife and I got some great coffee cups in Tokyo years ago; one of them now has a crack in it ... you know what that means.
Favourite airport to land at? I've gotta say, Auckland Airport is absolutely amazing.*
What's the next trip you've got planned? Camping at Opoutere over the New Year. Can't wait ...
* Winston Aldworth leaves the Herald this week to take a new role at Auckland Airport.