Founding member of the Peaks Foundation, an organisation offering global mountain challenge trips for women, tells us how it is
Mountain/desert/jungle/ocean which are you?
First travel experience?
As a kid I travelled a lot, but my first big trip to somewhere 'different' was to Jamaica as a high school graduation present from my mom. I wanted to go to Europe but there was an outbreak of mad cow disease so she told me to choose somewhere else. I chose Jamaica. It was my first experience seeing poverty and made a huge impact on my life thereafter.
Road tripping through Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia in a Land Rover with a pop-up tent on the roof. Nothing like camping and watching the sun rise and set over Africa.
Top five places worldwide?
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Havasupai Falls, Arizona
Mafia Island, Tanzania
Any mountain top
Special place to stay?
Camping anywhere remote.
Three items you always pack?
Passport stamp you're proudest of?
The Machu Picchu stamp. It seems the most 'fake' and as it’s not even a country – I think it makes a nice addition.
Passport stamp most like to have?
Seychelles or Antarctica.
Guilty travel pleasure?
Bringing a down duvet along on any camping trip.
Window or aisle?
Window on short flights – aisle on long-hauls.
Who is your ideal travelling companion?
My boyfriend - we have had many awesome adventures.
Best meal on the road? Worst?
Best: Buffalo Burger in Sedona, Arizona.
Worst: Hmmm… Not sure.
Most surprising place? Most disappointing?
Switzerland was the most surprising. It was like love at first sight – I had no idea it would be so wild, mountainous and rich in culture.
The most disappointing was leaving Bocas del Toro – a group of islands on the Caribbean off the coast of Panama – to go to Boquete on the mainland of panama. Big mistake. Big. Huge!
Where do you NOT want to go?
Who/what inspired you to travel? Any travel heroes?
What do you listen to on the road? Any song take you back to a particular time or place?
It’s Time to Move on – Tom Petty.
What do you read ?
I love a good trash novel if I’m on the beach. I also enjoy reading-up a bit on a place before visiting it. But to be honest, I am a sucker for magazines. I can’t get enough.
What's the most impressive / useful phrase you know in a foreign language?
Naomba gin na tonin, na barafu na limau. I would like a gin and tonic with ice and lime (Swahili).
What is your worst habit as a traveller?
Believing websites – they are so often very deceiving.
Snowbound in a tent in Antarctica, how would you entertain your companions?
With a round of spoons – the card game.
When and where in your travels have you been happiest?
Always. I love travelling for pleasure – not so much for work though.
What smell most says 'travel' to you?
The smell of the ocean.
Given a choice, which era would you travel in?
This one seems to be working pretty nicely. Gotta love the technology.
If you could combine three cities to make your perfect metropolis, what would they be?
Seattle – Encinitas – Boulder
Laura Hartstone is a founding member of the Peaks Foundation, an organisation offering global mountain challenge trips for women, raising funds for organisations based locally to the treks themselves, all supporting the advancement of women and girls through education, maternal healthcare and community-led conservation.
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