Tracy Collins has lived and worked in 7 countries on 4 continents and travelled to over 50 more. A qualified secondary school teacher with an interest in history, culture, reading, photography, nature and wildlife she is always planning her next trip (preferably by train) Through down-to-earth stories, tips and advice (based on her own extensive knowledge and experience of life as an expat) she aims to support new and prospective expats to survive and thrive in Australia. With friends all over the world she is also able to share genuine insider guides to help you travel authentically to some of the most beautiful places on earth. Be certain to check out her website Tracy’s Travels in Time.
Tracy was kind enough to spend time answering our questions below.
TA: How many years have you been traveling and what got you hooked?
Tracy: 51 years and 7 months – my entire life. My grandmother first inspired me at aged 7 to travel by buying me a pack of cards with 52 photos of amazing places around the world. My late stepfather also played a large part as he was often away working in Africa and the Middle East and I always wanted to go! The places seemed so much more exotic than Northumberland where I was born (though I appreciate now what a beautiful place it is!) Two other inspirations for me were Gerald Durrell and Michael Palin. They were my hero’s when I was a teenager!
TA: Do you specialize in a particular type of travel?
Tracy: I have tried every type – solo in my 20’s, as a single parent in my 30’s, family travel in my 40’s and now we are an empty nest couple in our 50’s! I guess the expat thing makes me rather unique especially as I have experienced it both from a child’s and an adults perspective. I also have friends all over the world so love sharing their insider tips!
TA: What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
Tracy: Oh dear that is a really difficult question! I adore Malta and love Italy! But Croatia is wonderful and so is Canada!!! We were very lucky to spend some time visiting Uluru-Kata Tjuta earlier in the year and that is the most special place I have been!
TA: What’s one place you’ve always wanted to visit?
Tracy: New Zealand (and Thailand but I eventually got there last year!)
TA: What’s one thing you ALWAYS pack when you travel?
Tracy: Comfortable shoes!
TA: If you could only give a traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
Tracy: Travel by train – it’s a great way the see the world and meet people!
TA: What are some of your favorite travel blogs and communities?
Tracy: I love reading posts from Angie of Feet Do Travel, Katie from Creative Travel Guide and Dalene and Peter from Hecktic Travels. I really enjoy blogs written by people traveling the world slowly and sharing their stories, tips and experiences (just like me!)
TA: Where was the most unusual place you’ve ever stayed?
Tracy: In a mud hut in Lesotho! My friends and I decided to go pony trekking in this tiny landlocked African country. It was winter, absolutely freezing and I had a horse whose main aim in life was to try to kill me. Lesotho is mountainous with some pretty scary drops. These are only made more terrifying when your horse stops, looks down and tries to throw you over its head! We eventually made it to our hut, set a fire and rested our aching legs and sore bums!
TA: What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten overseas?
Tracy: Crocodile! Though crocodile is pretty common these days I had my first bite when staying in Kariba in Zimbabwe about 35 years ago! I spat it out rather unceremoniously and have not tried it again!! I am pretty adventurous with food and will try anything once! I lived in France for 2 years working for an amazing cook and learnt to appreciate food in a way only the French can!
TA: Do you have any good airport or flight hacks for people traveling by plane?
Tracy: Pay for the best seat you can! I hate flying and will only fly with airlines with a good safety record. I had a very scary experience 30 years ago and don’t take any chances.
TA: What is the best piece of travel advice you’ve ever been given?
Tracy: Learn some words in the language of the country – I speak French (and obviously English) and it’s amazing how useful that has been!
TA: Is there something you think most travelers worry too much about?
Tracy: Worrying they will miss something so cram too much into their trip.
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!
Tracy: We were caught out in Rome about 15 years ago when a taxi driver took us on a magical mystery tour rather than directly to our hotel (which turned out to be 5 mins away) What made it worse is that I paid him with €20 notes which he then swopped for similar looking €5 by distracting me. Now we carefully count out any cash payments with both of us paying attention!
TA: Which country has surprisingly good food? (And what are some good things to eat there?)
Tracy: Not really surprising I think but I love South African food. In particular the national dish of bobotie is my favourite. A sweet curry served with rice, banana, chutney and coconut it is delicious!
TA: What was the most romantic place you ever visited with a partner?
Tracy: Imagine your very own luxury treehouse in the ancient rainforests of Australia – amazing wildlife surrounds you, a luxurious double spa bath to relax in and lots to do and see in the area! This very place can be found at Pethers on Tamborine Mountain an hour south of Brisbane. It’s our favourite place to go for a relaxing break!
TA: What is the most beautiful and affordable city you’ve ever visited? (Any specific locations people need to see there?)
Tracy: Split is my favourite city in the world to visit! Stay in the old city which effectively means you are residing in the remains of the Roman palace of Diocletian. If you love history this place will enchant – it’s the most atmospheric place I have ever been! Stroll the narrow alleys and enjoy breakfast in one of the squares. Also head to the cellars underneath the palace for a spot of shopping!
TA: Have you ever met someone while traveling who changed your life? Who were they?
Tracy: Wow! I have met so many wonderful people all over the world who have all had an effect on me. My friend Susanne is one such person – we met 30 years ago when we were both working in France as au pairs. We remain friends to this day – I love the Danish outlook on life.
TA: What are the best places to travel solo and why?
Tracy: Anywhere you want – it’s all a matter of planning and preparation. It’s a lot easier now with modern technology and social media to let people know where you are.
TA: What’s something that other tourists do when traveling that drives you crazy and why?
Tracy: Refusing to try the local food! If you want egg and chips every day stay at home!!!
TA: Which underrated destination deserves to be more famous? Please explain why.
Tracy: My home county of Northumberland is beautiful yet many visitors to the UK only head to London. If they head north it tends to be to the Lake District or Edinburgh. A real pity – Northumberland has a stunning coastline, wonderful islands, the remains of a Roman Wall and the most castles of any county!
TA: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to travelers your age?
Tracy: Life is too short to wait for retirement! If you want to travel – do it now!