Tara Moss’ Travel Tips

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Feb 29, 2016

by DI WEBSTER, Managing Editor

Here’s how author and UNICEF Australia ambassador Tara Moss keeps her travels stress free… 

Where she’s travelling: Fiordland, New Zealand

What are you doing in New Zealand?

I’m doing a three-day hike on the Hollyford Track with my husband. You camp along the way in lodges. They’re basic but still a luxury because you don’t have to carry your own tent. I live in the Blue Mountains [in NSW] and we hike every week as a family. 

What’s your secret to a stress-free journey?

I usually read a book or work on a book that I’m writing. Travelling with my five-year-old daughter, Sapphira, is a little more challenging but she’ll get absorbed in a book or, because she doesn’t watch a lot of TV, get excited about watching cartoons.

How far out from a trip do you start packing? 

A couple of days before, I’ll have a good look at what I need to bring and make sure everything is clean and goes together. I don’t like to bring things that I don’t wear.

Do you travel light? 

Last year I travelled with UNICEF to Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon. I only had a backpack, Doc Martens, jeans and a UNICEF T-shirt for a five-day trip! But generally I don’t like to travel too light. We’ve all arrived somewhere and bought things that aren’t suitable for our normal world. All of those sarongs; what do you do with them when you live in the mountains?  

But is it possible to pack light and be stylish?

Absolutely. You just need to plan. Not many shoes, one good coat, silk scarves and a few pieces of jewellery. Scarves take up very little room but they change an outfit instantly – you can wear the same thing the next day and look different.

Do you roll or fold?

I fold, not for any logical reason, just out of habit. I understand rolling is better but I’ve just never done it.

What do you never leave home without? 

Usually, half my suitcase will be filled with a contoured latex pillow. It seems like a luxury but I have scoliosis. I can do without the bare basics and the bed can be hard but my neck has to be in the right position, otherwise I’ll get a headache or wake up feeling crunchy.  

What do you wear on the plane?

Clothes I feel happy in. I want to feel like myself and I don’t dress down very much. I’ll wear something that’s comfortable and stretchy but smart-casual.

So you don’t wear the pyjamas?

If pyjamas are provided and I’m on a long flight, I’ll slip them on but I’m rarely in Business class.

Aisle or window?

I’m a window person because I want to watch the heavens and the city come into view when I’m arriving. I want to see the world from a different perspective. It’s also good for falling asleep. You cuddle into the corner and are left alone.

Are you a chatty seat buddy?

I tend not to be. I’m friendly and I’ve had some wonderful conversations but I take that time to be quiet and introspective while there’s not much else to do.

How do you deal with jet lag? 

I try to stay awake as long as I can but I’d rather have a nap than pump myself full of caffeine or artificial drinks to try to keep going. Sometimes I’ll take [the hormone] melatonin if that’s available but I’ll naturally get into a rhythm. The key is drinking a lot of water and getting what sleep you can.

What’s the last book you read on a plane?  

Stolen Glances, an academic book by Tessa Boffin and Jean Fraser that is part of the PhD I’m doing. It’s a book on LGBTI subversion of mainstream iconography. 

And the last movie you watched? 

It might have been Ex Machina, the sci-fi thriller that came out last year. It’s quite disturbing, thought-provoking and a bit bizarre, which I always like.