Paula McInerney and Gordon Arthur are destination and experience influencers and marketers of Australian extraction. As award-winning professional travel writers at Contented Traveller, they love to travel and to share their expertise.
Paula and Gordon have been travelling together for 13 years, and independently for a lot longer than that. They have both come from successful long-term careers -- Gordon as a mining engineer, and Paula a teacher in a senior executive position for many years. They immerse themselves in the very culture of the places they are visiting and then share that with their readers. They love food, art, people watching, and writing about experiential travel.
And Paula was kind enough to answer a few of our questions.
It's all about serendipity.
TA: How many years have you been traveling and what got you hooked?
Paula: Independently for a long long time. Together, since 2003. I got hooked by reading Somerset Maugham. Gordon got hooked because his family was often on the move due to his dad's job.
TA: Do you specialize in a particular type of travel?
Paula: Experiential is probably the best answer. If we can watch and interact with locals, eat local food, do local things, we are happy.
TA: What is the best vacation you've ever taken? Where did you go and why did you love it?
Paula: The impossible question, right? The best vacation is when we come home to our beachside apartment in Wollongong, Australia. Our second home is Nozawa Onsen in Japan where we have been going (skiing) for over a decade. The rest is work as opposed to a vacation, and we are not complaining and have had some of the most unique experiences like Raja Ampat etc.
TA: What's one place you've always wanted to visit?
Paula: South America -- probably Chile, as my friend is Chilean.
TA: What's one thing you ALWAYS pack when you travel?
Paula: Gordon, and my phone and computer. I am a workaholic.
TA: If you could only give a traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
Paula: It's all about serendipity. You will probably remember the stuff-ups more than everything that went perfectly to plan. These are what stories are made of.
TA: What are the top 3 websites you use for research/inspiration when planning a trip?
Paula: booking.com, skyscanner.com, tripadvisor.com.
TA: Do you have any good airport or flight hacks for people traveling by plane?
Paula: If travelling as a couple, book a window and an aisle seat and hope no one sits in the middle. If they do, then just swap it out.
TA: What is the best piece of travel advice you've ever been given?
Paula: By Gordon: "It's all about serendipity."
TA: Is there something you think most travelers worry too much about?
Paula: Over-planning. Go with the flow.
TA: What's a travel scam travelers should be wary of? And if you've ever had someone try to pull a scam on you while traveling, please share the story!
Paula: Of course we have been scammed. Water that is straight from an unhygienic source but the seller has a water bottle sealer. Being taken to a cousin's cousin's brother-in-law's factory in Thailand. Here is a link to a story we did on this.
TA: Which country has surprisingly good food? And what are some good things to eat there?
Paula: Australia. We are very multicultural so we can eat a different cuisine everyday. Greece is good too.
TA: What was the most romantic place you ever visited with a partner?
Paula: Corny, but Gordon took me to Place du Trocadéro to see the Eiffel Tower at night for the first time. It was lovely.
TA: What is the most beautiful and affordable city you've ever visited?
Paula: Hoi An, Vietnam.
TA: Which underrated destination deserves to be more famous?
Paula: Difficult. Perhaps Morella in Spain -- officially recognised as one of the prettiest villages in Spain. It is perched high a cliff and we were some of the very few 'tourists' in this charming and friendly town.