Helped by its massive natural resources, Australia has weathered the global financial crisis better than other Group of 20 economies. In 2012, its economy grew 3.1 per cent, compared with 1.6 per cent in the United States and 1.1 per cent in Canada.
Jet set: Les Stroud
What kind of traveller are you?
I'm an all-kinds-of-traveller really. I just got back from Thailand and Malaysia, Fiji, Australia and Borneo. I love cultural travel as much as adventure travel, so I'll plan trips where I sea kayak, hike or climb, but then I'll visit villages, markets and temples too.
Which place will you always return to?
I finally got to Borneo last month. I loved it and will go back. When I was there I did the diving thing, but when I go back I want to visit the interior.
What is your most memorable travel experience?
Ecuador and the Amazonian jungle is a tie with Papua New Guinea, because in both places I got to interact with native tribes that are still not too far removed from Stone Age times. I found it fascinating to be in the jungle with people who still live by the spear.
Given US$100,000 to travel, how would you spend it?
I would spend it on diving - going to the greatest diving destinations in the world and getting way out there, getting right in and living in some very great cultural situations. Then I'd stay at some beautiful five-star hotel to clean up and feel good.
What do you never leave home without?
I never leave home without my harmonica. On almost every show I pull it out and play it.
What is the best way to make the most of a city?
Get to the local markets and try to get a taste for the local food. It's a great way to connect with the locals.
What's the best seat on a plane?
Always the aisle. There's more legroom, it's easier to get up and go to the bathroom and it's less claustrophobic. Otherwise, near the front of plane as you can get off quicker. If I'm upstairs in a 747, then it's the window seat because you get a ledge beside the window to store your belongings.
What's your travel horror story?
I find that one out of every four flights has some kind of problem, which can be exasperating if you are not an experienced traveller. On the way home from a trip to Malaysia, I had a three hour layover in Los Angeles. It was delayed by an hour, then I got on the plane and they had a problem with a wheel, so we got off. Then we got back on and they had a problem with a door, so we got off. Then we got back on and they had a problem with another door, so we got off. Then we waited and waited, and then they cancelled the flight and we all had to arrange to get on the next flight. All in all I lost nine hours and I had already been travelling for 25. It was another 10 hours to get home, so the whole trip ended up taking 44 hours.
What are your quirky plane habits?
I always give back the napkins they insist on giving you with every tea you order. On a long trip, I do yoga stretches. If I'm not in first class, I always wait to be the last one to get on the plane. I ask the stewardess' name - it's nice to call people by name and you get better service. I wait until the crew give me heck before I turn off my laptop or my BlackBerry and I always put my seat back to recline once they walk away - but don't tell anyone.