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How I travel: with Kathy Lette

Celebrated Australian–British writer and humorist Kathy Lette is always up in the air and on the road, whether it’s for a book signing or a charitable cause. Here the author shares her travel tips with IT

What is your first memory of travelling?

Learning to body surf down the coast with my darling Dad. He taught me how to hurtle shoreward like a human hydrofoil.

What do you absolutely love about travel?

Holidays are like men – never long enough!

I love discovering new cultures, cuisines and cultural facts. I left school at 16; the only examination I’ve ever passed is my cervical smear test. I’m an auto-didact (it means self-taught; obviously, it’s a word I taught myself).

Travelling is my education; the world – my university.

What is the next destination you are planning to visit?

Cruising from Vienna to Budapest. Scenic Tours have asked me to be Godmother of their new luxury cruise liner.

I agreed as long as I could have a leopard-print-mini-skirted figurehead in a push-up bra.

Now I can finally say that I have prowess. And, of course, a really big bust.

Do you predominantly travel for work or for pleasure?

As I write a lot of travel pieces and go on book tours, often my business is my pleasure and vice versa.

I also travel for charities, such as Plan International, who sent me to the favelas of Brazil (I know, it’s a long way to go for a wax!).

Have you mastered the art of travelling light?

I think it’s always best to leave your emotional baggage at home.

Cities or beaches?

Beaches, preferably in a resort so exclusive that not even the tide can get in!

Where is your ultimate dream location?

Lying ’neath a tropical palm on a deserted island, while Brad Pitt licks the roe of virgin sturgeon from my navel and tells me how much he loves my novel, which just won the Pulitzer Prize…

(In real life I’m going to re-name my son Pulitzer, just so that I can say that I have one.)

What can you absolutely not leave home without when you travel?

My swimming goggles. At least if I’m going to be eaten by a shark, I can see it coming.

What is your favourite travel souvenir?

My favourite souvenir is my daughter Georgie, conceived in the Hotel la Colombe d’Or in a medieval French hilltop town.

She’s 21 now and resides at London University where she got a double first in politics and history.

Bespoke luggage or backpacks?

Backpacks. A traveller never knows when she will need to run. (And you thought the only thing I ran up were bills!)

What do you pack into your carry-on for a long-haul flight?

I’d like to say Ralph Fiennes, who joined the Mile High Club with a Qantas air stewardess as soon as the captain turned off the ‘You may now unfasten your pants’ sign.

Sadly, I’ve only ever joined the Foot High Club… in a train.

Do you have a secret for beating jetlag?

Champagne; nature’s penicillin.

What is your favourite hotel?

The Savoy, London. As Writer in Residence I moved in, lock, stock and Jimmy Choo shoes.

But parting was such suite sorrow.

What was the last book you took to read on your travels?

When travelling, I like to read books about travelling. Travels with my Aunt by Graham Greene is a particularly zany, funny favourite.

Which city do you always go back to?

Paris, although I’m always worried I’m going to be arrested at Gare du Nord by the chic police for not being quite suave enough.

My fashion sense is tongue-in-chic.

Do you have any tips for travelling with kids?

Just keep drinking.

Luxury or adventure?

Both – adventure then luxury.

After roughing it in the slums of São Luís, I did the only thing a girl could do and checked myself into the five-star Copacabana Palace and mainlined Caipirinhas.

What’s on your long haul playlist?

Bach, Mozart, Mahler and box sets – Breaking Bad, The Bridge, Girls etc.

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This article appeared in issue 17

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