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Travel Guides’ Kevin and Janetta | Escape’s My Travel CV


We are currently based in…

Both: A little town in Central Victoria – Maldon. It looks pretty much like what it did during the Gold Rush of the 1860s when it was founded.  We moved here permanently from Abbotsford when we retired and love country life.

I grew up in…

Janetta: Malvern – A suburb of Melbourne

Kevin: Mount Waverley – a less salubrious suburb than Malvern.

I got my first passport when…

Janetta: I was a late starter as a traveller and my first passport was issued to me at the age of 28. That was back in the day when passport stamps were things to collect.

Kevin:  If I could have arranged it, I would have had a passport at the age of five but I was actually 18. I considered it my ticket to ride.  I filled that first with stamps before its expiry date.

London, England.

London, England.

My first holiday memory is…

Janetta: As a child, I’d travel around the country with my parents and sister in a caravan (I know, ironic, right? Me in a caravan!)

Kevin: My first real holiday was while I was working for TAA (carbon dating me) in 1975. At the very first opportunity I flew to London and drove around the UK for a few weeks. I never lost the taste of travel from that first trip.

See also: Travel Guides holiday snobs’ secret to saving $1000 on a cruise

I’ve been to…

Both: Well it’s probably easier to list the countries we haven’t visited. Zambia’s one of them. Actually, the world’s so huge, there’s still plenty more to explore. When you’ve cruised all over the world, the countries and cities add up pretty quickly.

My favourite place in Australia is…

Both: Sydney. We just love the beauty of the harbour and the vibe of the city, So, why haven’t we moved there? There’s still time.

The place I’d love to visit in Australia is… 

Kevin: We’ve both always had the urge to visit the Flinders Ranges in South Australia, but we’ve never been. It’s a destination we’d like to drive to and we’ve always said that our road trips will be during our retirement. We’re retired now so we have no excuse. But if we have to camp, it better be top of the range. 

The thing about travel I missed during self-isolation is… 

Kevin: The smell of aviation fuel. It’s the sweet perfume of travel.

Janetta: Some may find this strange but I miss the research, planning and packing – they’re an adventure in themselves. And then of course is the actual trip.

If all the international borders were lifted tomorrow, the first place I’d want to go is…

Kevin: We both agree on this. While we’ve been to Spain a couple of times we want to explore further. Now, San Sabastian is high on our hit list. 

Janetta: I always believe food from a certain region tastes better where it originates, and I can hear the Basque Cheesecake calling me.

These self-professed “holiday snobs” hate settling for anything second-rate.

These self-professed “holiday snobs” hate settling for anything second-rate.

The place I’ve visited most often is…

Both: We both love Sydney and can’t get enough of that beautiful harbour. We honestly couldn’t count the number of times we’ve visited either for work or pleasure and loved it every time. When we research a hotel in Sydney, a harbour view is essential.

The place that most surprised me was…

Kevin: While filming Travel Guides, we were blown away by Israel. It sits on the forgotten side of the Mediterranean and is so liberal, inclusive and beautiful, and so are the people. It wasn’t what we expected at all. 

Janetta: And the shopping and fashion? – well that’s just another thing to love about the place. 

View over the beach in Tel Aviv, Israel, Tel Aviv. Picture: Reiseuhu/Unsplash

View over the beach in Tel Aviv, Israel, Tel Aviv.

The place that didn’t live up to expectations…

Both: Surprisingly, it’s Venice. When we arrived, the city was drowning under the weight of a couple of million fellow tourists. The shops were filled with tacky foreign-made souvenirs and it was difficult to see the city’s beauty. The second visit however, proved us wrong…we succumbed to its magnetism.

The advice I’d give to young travellers is…

Both: Adopt the NIKE tag line – Just Do It! The older you get the richer you become from travel experiences. Building your travel wealth from an early age is imperative. The things you do as an 18 year-old traveller are very different from that of a 60 year old, but just as rewarding. Start travel banking now.

My holidays are mostly devoted to… (eg, the outdoors, eating and drinking, history, arts and culture, adventure)

Both: We’re not adrenaline junkies or thrill-seekers but we love exploring on foot. We can spend hours walking around a new city and love turning a corner to find a new food or wine treasure. It’s a way to burn off the calories that travel seems to bestow. Many of the European cities are crammed with incredible galleries and museums. It’s hard not to be pulled in by their booty. 

The sickest I’ve been on holiday…

Janetta: We were on a European cruise and I was struck down with Norovirus which ran through the ship. Staying confined to our cabin for three days was torture. The world was literally passing by me and Kevin kept reporting on the magnificent meals being served in the magnificent dining room. So compassionate!

Kevin: I fell victim to a dodgy ice cream in India (I know, it should have been a vindaloo) I felt like a visiting Australian cricketer- knocked for six by India! 

The souvenir I always buy…

Kevin: If we had bought souvenirs from all the places we’ve been to, we wouldn’t be able to move in our house. 

Janetta: However, that gives me licence to seek out the local fashion. Some of my favourite ‘souvenirs’ are clothes I’ve bought along the way)

Catch Kevin and Janetta on Travel Guides.

Catch Kevin and Janetta on Travel Guides.

The worst thing that’s happened to me while travelling…

Janetta: My first overseas trip was to Japan, on a cruise. I packed way too many bags and wore the most inappropriate shoes. Of course, I tripped and sprained my ankle badly. Carrying all those bags on my own after that was not fun.

Kevin: I was robbed while working as a travel writer in Ireland. I lost everything – passport, cash, computer, all my work. My entire travel life support system probably ended up in the River Liffey.

The most interesting person I’ve met on a plane is…

Janetta: I was chatting to a man sitting next to me in First Class from LAX to MEL but never got his surname until he gave me his business card on arrival. He was fascinating and said he was a confectioner. I asked him if I could give him a lift into town when we landed which he politely declined. His card read: JF Mars. I think he could afford his own lift into Melbourne.

Kevin: We managed to score an upgrade to first class from Dubai to Melbourne a year or two ago and was sure we’d be rubbing shoulders with at least one huge celebrity. Alas, the cabin was empty except for us. Sigh. Still waiting to meet someone interesting. I worked at Perth Airport back in the eighties. My office was airside. Charles and Diana were arriving at the airport without an official welcome party. With airside access, I stood at the steps of the aircraft with one of my colleagues, held my hand out and shook both their hands. The Royals must have thought we were someone special.

The best/weirdest things I’ve eaten while travelling was…

Kevin: In Argentina, we dined on Piranha. Oh well, better to eat them than be eaten by them!

My go to dish for room service is…

Kevin: Well that depends on where we are in the world and what sort of a hotel we’re staying in. If the local speciality isn’t on the list (and most room service menus are so homogenised these days) we’ll resort to a club sandwich. It’s been a bit of a quest for us to find the world’s best club sandwich. The Peninsula Hotel (one of our all-time favourites) in Hong Kong is the current award winner. Footnote: A good club sandwich must come with a side of mayonnaise.

The best hotel I’ve ever stayed in…

Janetta: The Peace Hotel in Shanghai. This is an incredibly old and grand hotel with more history than the ancient Greeks. The walls could tell a million stories. Its glory is a little faded now but that’s its charm. In the basement is a famous jazz club that comes alive every night. The musos would have been in their 80s and were sensational. We loved every minute of the stay.

Always bring your ziplock bags.

Always bring your ziplock bags.

The travel tips I’d like to share are… 

Kevin: First – pack ziplock bags in a range of sizes, they’ve got so many uses. Second –adjust to the time zone as quickly as you possibly can – there’s too much to see and do and plenty of time for sleeping when you get home. Learn a few commonly used words in the local language – even though you’ll probably be answered in perfect English, at least you’re trying to assimilate. Be a traveller not a tourist.

Janetta: The most useful tip? …If you’re trying to smuggle duty free booze onto a budget cruise ship, decant it into smaller plastic bottles. They have x-ray machines that detect alcohol bottles and will confiscate them. The ignominy of retrieving your suitcase from the ships lobby with a huge “ALCOHOL” sticker plastered over it is the travel equivalent of a public flogging. (Of course, we’ve only been told this tip, not a firsthand experience. No, of course not!)

Travel has taught me…

Kevin: More than any school or university could. Things have to be seen and experienced firsthand to round out an education, and the world offers plenty to see. 

Janetta: And we’ve still got a lot to learn.

Travel Guides airs Wednesday 7:30 on Channel 9 and 9Now.





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