Paula Morgan is an experienced traveler and an expert on Sydney, Australia. When she's not taking trips of her own, she's helping people find the best things to see and do in Sydney through her site SydneyExpert.com. Paula took the time to answer some of our questions about her work, her interests and her opinions on traveling. You can read the full Q&A below...
TA: Tell us a little about yourself and your business.
Paula: I have been working in tourism based roles in Sydney for over 25 years. I began my Sydney Expert site in 2011 after a stint as a freelance writer working on online travel sites. The site is designed to help people find the best things to do and see in Sydney. I love helping people find local experiences. When I am not working on the site I am a volunteer with Sydney Greeters.
TA: How many years have you been traveling and what got you hooked?
Paula: Over 25 years. My first trip to New Zealand in my early 20s got me hooked but it was not till I was 30 and had my first long overseas trip that I was well and truly addicted.
TA: Do you specialize in a particular type of travel?
Paula: We like to help people navigate cities using public transport and get an insight into local cultures by choosing experiences and visiting places that provide opportunities to interact.
TA: What is the best vacation you've ever taken?
Paula: We spent 6 weeks in Spain in 2016 and I loved every minute of it. The luxury of that much time meant we got to see a mix of big cities and smaller villages and communities.
TA: What's one place you've always wanted to visit?
Paula: Ireland, it's the home of my ancestors.
TA: What's one thing you ALWAYS pack when you travel?
Paula: An eye mask! I can't sleep with even the littlest bit of light.
TA: If you could only give a traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
Paula: Read something about the country you are visiting before you go, not necessarily a history book, but something that might give you a bit of insight to the culture, the way of life. I feel this can really enrich your experience.
TA: What are some of your favorite travel blogs and communities?
Paula: I love food and travel blogs like 2footrippers and Migrationology because food is such a big part of my travel experiences. I also enjoy Make Time To See the World which has great local guides. Two Facebook travel communities I love are Japan Travel Planning group by Pretraveller and of course the Sydney Expert Facebook Community, both groups are really friendly and full of information to help plan your own trips.
TA: What would be your #1 recommendation for a place to travel in 2019?
Paula: Portugal, while Spain is one of my favourite countries, Portugal is a surprise for many people. Its landscape is beautiful and there is an abundance of well preserved architecture.
TA: What are the top 3 websites you use for research/inspiration when planning a trip?
Paula: I use Pinterest in the early stages of my trip planning to find good travel articles and get some background information. I then start to rough out my itinerary using Rome2Rio which shows you so many different ways to travel between places and then once I know where I am going I use Instagram to look at specific places to visit or eat.
TA: Do you have any good airport or flight hacks for people traveling by plane?
Paula: Don't dismiss the back of the plane if you are flying economy anyway. There is much more chance of some empty seats around you once you get into row 70 (LOL).
TA: What is the best piece of travel advice you've ever been given?
Paula: Check if the city you are visiting has a Global Greeter Service. The Global Greeter Network is a volunteer organization that operates around the world. Locals meet up with visitors and show them a part of their city. The Local Greeters enjoy sharing their time with visitors and helping you find the hidden gems in their cities. They are not tour guides, they are like long-lost family or friends. I helped the local greeter service in Sydney get up and running and I still volunteer today. It's a fantastic way to see a city, even your own, in a different light.
TA: Is there something you think most travelers worry too much about?
Paula: Yes, I think it's a mistake to map out a tight day to day itinerary. I like to schedule one thing to do each day but keep some of the day free for serendipitous strolling because that is when the magic happens!
TA: Which country has surprisingly good food?
Paula: Australia! We have such a multicultural society in our capital cities particularly that we can find good versions of almost all cuisines here. That and good quality local ingredients is a match made in heaven.