Combining business with travel can open you up to exploring the world. You might also have the chance to meet some global celebrities and royalty. Find out more about someone who did in this travel blogger interview with Anna Parker of Travel With Penelope And Parker.
What is your name?
Which country do you come from/call home?
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
Recently a lot of my travel has been on business, but the highlight is using my annual leave and weekends and making the most of short-term luxury travel.
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
Work to live – travel is our treat for working blooming hard and the more of it the better.
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
We went to France, Cornwall and Norfolk frequently when I was little and so they all merge into a happy childhood (but it frustrates my parents I don’t realise I have been to places until I go back…) The first trip I remember clearly is my first flight. It was during my university days – I was racing on a yacht and our crew of 20 were flying to a regatta in St Tropez. The rest of the crew thought it was wonderful that I had never flown before and for the duration (thank goodness it wasn’t long-haul) they kept pointing out potential issues with the plane and its wing. I was very glad when we landed in Nice!
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
Greece. I had long petitioned against going to Greece on holiday as I didn’t want to be on a party island or somewhere full of tipsy Brits (I lived in Mallorca for a few months after university and saw that side of it on occasion…). Then last October we spent a week in the Peloponnese and it was just incredible – a sedate way of life, fantastic food and drink, stunning scenery, a real time out from the humdrum, and not a nightclub in sight!
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
We had a terrible time when we visited Ireland and Northern Ireland last year as I ended up in hospital – but from any bad experience you remember the good: the incredibly kind people we were with that looked after us even though all we wanted was to be home; and the downright gorgeous Donegal and Derry-LondonDerry.
Do you have any funny travel stories?
Flying back business class from Jamaica and I sat diagonally across from a man in a suit, and he kept the suit and tie on for the duration of the overnight flight… I found out after the flight that he was British royalty, I just didn’t realise! He coped admirably, and better than me, when the drinks trolley came round and the cabin crew announced there was no champagne left… I can only imagine what the party-plane outbound to Jamaica must have been like!
We were sat in the Concorde Lounge at Heathrow a while back and a man with big hair walks in, perfectly coiffed. I thought I knew him, but only from the big screen – it was Ben Stiller. Mr P was working for the British Government at the time and with champagne-based courage he introduced himself and got into a great discussion with Ben, ending with him welcoming Ben to the UK on behalf of Number 10… He got his photo taken too and it was only when we were leaving the lounge that I saw a smirking Damien Lewis (of Homeland fame) and realized we missed out on a 2nd spotting!
Where is your favourite place in the world?
I am tempted to say it is my bed, because as much as I travel I love nothing more than coming home and crawling into my own bed. But truly – I would say England – I love my home as much as I love discovering new places abroad. Cornwall and Norfolk are personal favourites as I was lucky to spend a lot of time in both growing up. But then there is Snowdonia, the Solent and all the sailing on offer, the New Forest…. Such variation of gorgeous places and all in easy reach.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
I need to update my bucket list – I pin things to a wishlist on Pinterest as I see them which means it is growing, fast! Sadly I haven’t managed to visit anything on the ‘list’ this year but we did stay in a lighthouse on a private island in Maine this June which was a long-time dream, so I’m in no way disappointed. I need to re-consider the list too – Israel, India and Norway (for the midnight sun) are places I am desperate to visit in 2016…
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
Well I am an accountant and work full-time for a global professional services firm, travel is just what I do the rest of the time. My job takes me to some interesting places – in the last 12 months I have done most of the east coast of the USA, visited India and I’ve been to Switzerland so many times that on the last occasion through UK passport control when asked where I was en route back from I answered Zurich, rather than Geneva which would have been the correct answer. Fortunately the border police saw the funny side and understood my confusion!
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
Travel with Penelope and Parker – www.travelwithpenelopeandparker.com I take the persona of Penelope and my husband is of course Parker – just like in Thunderbirds.
When did you begin your website?
I started off writing for A Luxury Travel Blog about 2 and a half years ago, really enjoyed writing and decided I needed my own space on the www. I think it must have been about 18 months ago now that I logged onto wordpress and started out (with plenty of support from my travel blogging buddies) and then in January 2015 I finally went self-hosted.
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
I write for fun. We travel a lot and we are lucky to be able to do that. As a result we have great recommendations and tips of places to see and friends often ask about places we’d been and would recommend. I got a bit bored with Facebook and so decided that my own blog would be a great place to log all our memories but also a great tool for others to use. Since I started writing I’ve found a wonderful online community of other bloggers – so now it really is a favored hobby and social tool!
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
I think it is fair to say we have varied tastes so I hope that my blog is interesting to people. People should read it if they are looking to do, stay or visit somewhere a little different – unique and special, off the beaten track. I’m as happy in a self-catering cottage as a 5* hotel as sailing offshore and I write about it all with my own spin.
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
A while back I wrote a post called ‘why travel’ which was incredibly popular. I was having one of those pensive days and it was fascinating to think through all the different reasons we travel and the different places those needs take us to – be it to relax, to see friends, to commute or go away with work. I have only done a few hotel reviews on my own website and these are always incredibly successful – with a big spike in readers when the hotel shares the post on social media.
What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
I love nothing better than sitting in an airplane with my nose on the window watching the world go by below, but my favourite way to travel is in a sailing yacht. Progress is slow and rarely luxurious, but it is fun, there is always a view and it’s very much offline!
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
Travel in the shoulder-season. The weather may not be quite as good as in high-season but less tourists means a more relaxing and genuine visit. Flights and hotels are cheaper too, which is always a bonus!
What has travel taught you?
To look, listen and absorb rather than rushing from place to place ticking off a list and not seeing anything of the country and culture. I am not the most observant in everyday life and have quite a short attention span, but when I am away I like to observe and take in the sites, sounds, smells and I can normally stare at a beautiful view for hours.
What does luxury mean to you?
I think about this an incredible amount when I am planning a trip or a weekend of activities. It has absolutely been a real luxury to stay at places like Cliveden House and the Chedi, but not something we do often! Luxury to me is far more about have the time for relaxing, getting offline, reconnecting with my husband and enjoying the fresh air and visiting beautiful places. Time is never on our side – life is too busy – so to find that time, that’s the real luxury.
Hotel or self-catering?
There is a time and a place for everything – a luxury hotel is a treat and something to enjoy for a couple of nights on an occasional basis – something special that is a real treat. But if we have a week away then a remote little cottage with a view is oftentimes far more relaxing and enjoyable.
How do you start planning a trip?
Often we start with finding out what airmile flight availability there is if we don’t have an inkling of where the destination will be. Once we know where we are going, then I like a list, and better still an excel-based one. The list is compiled through web-research – google, blogs, pinterest, trip advisor etc etc and is of course unreasonably long. Mr P then gets hauled in to assist and we cross things off until we are left with the winner. I have given up planning trip itineraries – I used to, and would stick to them diligently, but now we tend to just follow our noses or take local advice when we are there.
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? British Airways
Favourite country? The UK
Favourite city? Singapore or Washington DC – I can’t pick between them
Favourite beach? Scolt Head Island on the north coast of Norfolk
Favourite food? Yorkshire pudding, champagne is my favourite drink – I can’t believe you didn’t ask!
Favourite language? I love listening to Italian, but I don’t understand a word of it!
Please provide the following:-
Website url? http://travelwithpenelopeandparker.com
Twitter handle? @aeparker81
Facebook page? @Penelopeandparker