Sandy Papas is an Australian based Gen X travel blogger and her website, Tray Tables Away, is pitched at middle aged mid-luxury travelers. She got the travel bug as an airforce brat back in the 70's with constant relocation and a carefree childhood exploring Australia. She went on to have a successful corporate career across HR, Finance and Project Management, and became a full time blogger in May 2018. Her husband has a construction company and their travels often involve trade shows. They both have a great love of architecture and design, as well as 3 young adult children and a very old dog.
TA: How many years have you been traveling and what got you hooked?
Sandy: My first flight was when I was about 7 and it was solo to visit my grandparents on the other side of the country. My Dad was a pilot and the nomadic airforce life got me hooked.
TA: Do you specialize in a particular type of travel?
Sandy: Mid-luxury and often to lesser-known places. I also specialise in Greek content as my husband is Greek.
TA: What is the best vacation you've ever taken?
Sandy: Boy, this is always tough. It's probably a toss up between our 50th birthdays on the Greek island of Paros with 40 of our friends and family and a trip to Cuba this year.
TA: If you could only give a traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
Sandy: Don't put it off. Anything could happen tomorrow and you only get one life!
TA: What are some of your favorite travel blogs and communities?
Sandy: Grantourismo was one of the first websites that made me realise good blogs are hard to beat. Ditto for 2 Aussie Travelers, Beer and Croissants, and Mapping Megan. I think Jan at Budget Travel Talk is doing a great job and Sydney Expert has built a cracking destination site. There's so many really.
TA: Where was the most unusual place you've ever stayed?
Sandy: Pumphouse Point in Tasmania is a boutique hotel in a converted pumping station on Lake St.Clair which used to be part of the massive hydo-electricity scheme. You can stay right out at the end of the jetty in the middle of the lake surrounded by complete wilderness.
TA: Do you have any good airport or flight hacks for people traveling by plane?
Sandy: If the arrival hall is packed, head to the end queue next to the one for elderly/small children or diplomats/staff. When they are quiet they will take passengers from the adjacent queue.
TA: Is there something you think most travelers worry too much about?
Sandy: A lot of vaccinations are only recommended for many countries and not always required. If you have had several in the past they are often good for up to 10 years. Speak to your regular doctor not a 'travel' doctor.
TA: What's a travel scam travelers should be wary of?
Sandy: In some countries, particularly Asia, seemingly helpful people will tell you that certain monuments are closed for a special holiday or similar. They will offer to take you to a secret alternative that is much better but will probably also involve a visit to a carpet/gemstone/jewelery/other shop that just happens to be nearby (and they get a commission).
TA: Which country has surprisingly good food?
Sandy: Indonesia has fabulous food, especially in and around Bali where so many incredible Chefs have relocated from all around the world. On Nusa Lemongan you can eat at a French restaurant on the beach owned by a young Chef who had a Michelin star back in France!
TA: Have you ever taken a class while visiting a foreign city? If so, can you tell us a bit about the experience? And would you recommend people take that class?
Sandy: I've done cooking classes in Bali, Vietnam and Thailand. One I did in Ubud, Bali was in the people's own household compound so it was also a great insight into how they live and work. Plus they were great characters and the food was fantastic. And cheap! (Peon Cooking school.)
TA: Which underrated destination deserves to be more famous?
Sandy: Cambodia has a lot to offer. Incredible monuments and world heritage sites (Angkor!), great food, beautiful, gentle people, and it's incredibly affordable and not yet crawling with tourists.