The World According to Brian Thacker

Author of Sleeping Around: A couchsurfing tour of the globe gives us his peculiar take on the world

3 mins

Mountain/desert/jungle/ocean which are you?

The Eiger – from the German 'eigen', meaning 'characteristic.'

First travel experience?

When I was about 12 I got in a rubber inner tube and floated about 15 kilometres down the Ovens River in the central Victoria, then hitch-hiked back to my very worried parents.

Favourite journey?

The next one.

Top five places worldwide?

Paris, the Swiss Alps, Rio, Ubud in Bali and Alofi Island (uninhabited island paradise in Wallis and Futuna).

Special place to stay?

Raffles Hotel, Singapore (particularly when you have your own butler).

Three items you always pack?

iPod, notebook, thongs (no, not those thongs – I mean flip-flops).

Passport stamp you're proudest of?

Resident visa in my British passport so I can get back into Australia.

Passport stamp most like to have?

Diplomatic immunity (whatever that is – I saw it in a Lethal Weapon movie).

Guilty travel pleasure?

Drinking everyday...

Window or aisle?

Window, definitely. I hate people clambering over me, but I don't mind stomping on other people.

Who is your ideal travelling companion?

My girlfriend Beth (and her extraordinary collection of skincare products).

Best meal on the road? Worst?

Best: What the locals are eating.

Worst: What the locals are eating.

Most surprising place? Most disappointing?

Most surprising: Kyrgyzstan – stunning landscape of towering peaks, deep mountain lakes and wide steppes. Friendly local drunk people. Cheap, surprisingly tasty food and great beer. And the the best jam in the world (according to everyone in Kyrgyzstan).

Most disappointing: Wisconsin – it was so disappointing that I stayed for five minutes and walked back to Minnesota.

Where do you NOT want to go?

Afghanistan – My brother is stationed there at he moment and he said the missiles keep you awake all night.

What do you listen to on the road?

I often have my iPod on shuffle, so it's Mozart followed by the Chili Peppers followed by Dean Martin.

Any song take you back to a particular time or place?

I worked as a tour leader in Europe and one summer EVERY single bar and nightclub played 'All that I want is another baby'. It almost drove me insane.

Is there a person you met while travelling who reaffirmed your faith in humanity?

I have met so many generous and welcoming people in just about every country I have ever been to and I am constantly 'reaffirming your faith in humanity'.

Anyone who made you lose it?

The guy whole stole my new iPhone, three weeks ago in Vietnam – although it was very sweet of him not to take my passport and credit cards.

What's the most impressive / useful phrase you know in a foreign language?

I know 'cheers' in 16 different languages. My favourites are 'Yo' in Vietnamese and 'Bom' in Kyrgyz.

What is your worst habit as a traveller?

Peeing in the shower.

Snowbound in a tent in Antarctica, how would you entertain your companions?


When and where in your travels have you been happiest?

When I met my girlfriend (and soon to be wife) in Ubud, Bali.

What smell most says 'travel' to you?

My musty old backpack. Every time I drag it out and smell it I know I'm off somewhere.

Given a choice, which era would you travel in?

On a Grand Tour in the early 1800s – with my own entourage of servants and a chest full of cognac and cigars.

If you could combine three cities to make your perfect metropolis, what would they be?

Rome, Rio and Melbourne – A bit of culture and great food, great parties and bikinis and all my friends and family.

Brian ThackerBrian Thacker was born in England, but he didn't like the weather so he immigrated to Melbourne, Australia when he was six. Brian's books include Rule No. 5: No Sex on the Bus, Planes, Trains and Elephants, The Naked Man Festival, I'm Not Eating Any of That Foreign Muck, Where's Wallis?, and Sleeping Around. His latest book is entitled Tell Them to Get Lost - Travels with the Lonely Planet guidebook that started it all.

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