As a freelance musician, there are many perks to my job. I feel very lucky that my work enables me to travel the world while playing the piano — two things I adore. Having been based in London for the past six years, I've been fortunate enough to perform and explore many beautiful and interesting parts of Europe. My work trips are usually short, around two to four days, and are planned around the concert I am giving.
Performing immediately after arriving in a new country can be quite daunting at first, but after years of travelling, I feel comfortable with fitting in quality time to explore during my business-trip travels.
Music has taken me to many different parts of the world. I have performed in France, Italy, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Poland, Armenia, Slovakia, Norway and all throughout the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. I have been on some incredible holidays too, my favourite place being Hydra, a gorgeous Greek Island with no motor vehicles, just donkeys. Through my series of short trips, I've experienced wonderful glimpses into different cultures through art, music and food. Luckily, language has never been an issue for me — as musicians we are fortunate to be able to communicate with all people and cultures through the universal language of music.
If you are planning a short condensed trip while also juggling work, I have a few tips that might be useful during your travels:
• Learn basic words and phrases like 'hello' and 'thank you'. The locals really appreciate it and there will be smiles all round (I've had many free beverages).
• Indulge in the local cuisine. I love researching the local eateries before travelling to a new city (Tripadvisor is super helpful). There's no better way to explore a new place than tasting your way through it.
• Get a multi-currency card that you can load with different currencies and use all over the world, with no bank fees.
• Book popular sightseeing activities in advance. I recently had 24 hours in Milan and was able to visit the Duomo di Milano, two museums, Pinacoteca di Brera — my favourite art gallery in Milan — (twice) followed by an opera at the Teatro alla Scala.
As a seasoned long-haul traveller to NZ, I have three things that I never fly without: noise cancelling headphones, HumidiFlyer (an amazing mask that retains your natural humidity and air temperature levels and uses them to condition the dry cabin air you breathe) and a scarf to keep me warm.
It always feels like the world stops when I'm in the air. I like using this time for self reflection, writing in my journal or binge-watching a Netflix series. We live in an amazing world and I urge you to hop on a plane and explore. Immerse yourself in the culture, art and food. Happy travels.
Somi Kim will be performing with NZTrio on their Tectonic Impact series at Matakana's The Sculptureum on October 11, Auckland Art Gallery on October 13 and Blenheim's ASB Marlborough Theatre on October 15. nztrio.com