Bedbug

Jetset: Robin Esrock

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 July, 2009, 12:00am

What's one destination that's always eluded you and why?

Antarctica. My busy season is April to October, and I can't seem to get down to the tip of Argentina to take that ship to my seventh and final continent. I've almost been to Cuba a couple of times, but something always comes up, most recently the apparent 'loss' of my media visa.

What are three things guaranteed to be found in your carry-on luggage?

A notebook and/or laptop, my iPod, and a little plastic toy of Robin the Boy Wonder pointing to his eyes, telling me to keep them open. I've had it since I was 14. It's been to almost 90 countries.

What's your travel horror story?

Bedbugs are nasty little creatures that eat your mind long after they've eaten your body. You never really get over those bites when life has you spending most nights in hotels. The nastiest bus ride of all was a 16-hour journey into hell, courtesy of four chain-smoking men in front of me and an adjacent bus toilet with a broken door, flooded with you know what, that practically soaked me every time we took a right turn.

What's your first stop in a new place?

I secure the valuables at the hotel and then go for a walk. Little things, such as advertising and posters, fashion, licence plates, smells and signs, all serve to acclimatise me to the fact that I'm somewhere new. Automatically I start looking for the similarities. How do you get the most out of a new city in a limited time? Put sleep at the bottom of your priorities. A good guidebook - or travel websites - will save you lots of time. Ask for directions and advice from the local people. Smile at everyone. Look for crowds and ask the people where they're going. Walking around on your own is the fastest way to ensure that something cool will happen.

Tipping - good or evil and why?

Good, bad and ugly too. Without knowing the acceptable local customs, tipping can leave you frustrated and it's open to abuse. But locals often rely on a few pennies for their livelihoods. Budget for tips, and you'll be surprised at how effortless it becomes - and how much it is appreciated. What's your most memorable travel experience? There's a book or two worth, but it all comes down to what I call the travel buzz - a feeling of warm, blissful exoticness that blasts goosebumps through my body. I felt it bouldering in central Mongolia, exploring the desert by horseback around Petra, dog-sledding in the Yukon, and floating at night in a warm Nicaraguan crater lake.

What's your next big trip and why?

I'm visiting 13 countries in the next five months, filming the third season of Word Travels. I get to choose the countries and I've given my producers a real headache this year, with Ghana, Papua New Guinea, Finland, Portugal, Georgia and northern Australia - I'm filmed being a travel writer, so the best stories will hopefully end up on both TV and in newspapers like this.

How do you record your travel experiences?

I write a blog report every week and select the 30 best photos of the week. Sometimes I make YouTube clips and then there's Nat Geo Adventure.