Want to know how to travel in style, just like the pros? We check in with frequent fliers to find out how often they fly, their favorite destinations and what they never leave home without.
Name: Ajay Rochester
Occupation: Currently starring in the Myxtv show Cast Me (Tuesday nights on myx or online at myxtv.com). I am a casting Director in Hollywood, former host of The Biggest Loser Australia and author of five books inc the bestselling “Confessions of a Reformed Dieter”
Hometown: A small town in outback Australia called Mummulgum—population 501
Residence: Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California
College: Australian Academy of Dramatic Arts
College major: Arts/Law
Facebook: Ajay Rochester
Short bio: Ajay Rochester is a five-time bestselling author, former host of The Biggest Loser Australia and currently starring in the hit new show Cast Me on Myxtv. The show is a behind the scenes sneak peak of the Hollywood Casting process. It’s American Idol for actors and is the show Hollywood definitely did not want anyone to make. It will make you laugh and cry and if Hollywood didn;t already daunt you then this show Airs Tuesday nights on Myxtv and is online at myxtv.com
How often do you fly? Between business and pleasure I take OS trips 2-3 times a year and fly domestically 10 or more times in a year.
How many countries have you been to? 18: Australia, UK, France, China, Singapore, India, Fiji, USA, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Bali, Mexico, New Zealand, Cook Islands, New Caledonia, Thailand, Vanuatu.
How many continents have you been to? Five of the seven but have trips planned to the last 2 on my bucket list (Africa and Antarctica).
Earliest travel memory: I grew up in a small country town on a farm during a drought which meant tough financial times so the closest we ever got to travelling was camping at Byron Bay which I think just made me hungry for world travel so at the age of 18 I packed my bags and became the official clown on the P&O cruise ship and had the time of my life travelling the South Pacific.
Favorite American city: Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Between jumping in the river and sitting in the hot springs it was just so much good clean fun! Great stop off destination for a summer road trip!
Favorite international city: Jaipur, the pink city in India. Such a beautiful city, the colors of the buildings and the local colors of the saris are just magic (every region has different colors).
Least favorite country: China. It was so dirty, I missed seeing blue skies and just really confronting on a hygiene level. And the food was NOT the same as my local dim sum place and we never knew what we’d find at the bottom of our bowls (donkey tongue, rabbit foot, duck beak…I kid you not!)
I have no desire to go to: India—once was enough. It’s a tough place to travel, especially on a budget. There is little chance you will not get sick and I nearly died there from a severe case of dysentery.
Friendliest people in the world: Any of the Islands, Fiji, Noumea, New Caledonia—such a lovely spirit, the children are so free and happy, such a joyful place…so much singing and dancing, the ocean seems to just make these people content with whatever they have.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: Australia is tough but we have to be because our agriculture is the main source of our income. So when planeloads of Chinese immigrants bring in all sorts of bizarre food items they are always searched and seized thoroughly.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Great Barrier Reef. This is a must-do for every traveler to Australia. It is dying and even with current rejuvenation projects will never be the same as it was fifteen years ago but even in its current state, the water, the coral, the fish, turtles, stingrays…it’s an incredible experience even for a snorkeller.
Favorite airline: Virgin Australia. Premium economy makes the trip so much easier but for a reasonable budget.
Favorite aircraft type: Even though I travel extensively I am a nervous flyer so I don’t have a favorite but I will NOT fly the Airbus. Too big!
Aisle or window: Window every time! Or the emergency exit aisle.
Favorite airport lounge: Qantas first class in Sydney but for a budget Virgin lounges are great too, especially Melbourne (cool cinema, pool tables, showers).
Favorite U.S. airport: Vegas—slots while waiting to board the plane—hilarious!
Favorite international airport: China—it was like a mini city.
Favorite hotel: Hayman Island in the Great Barrier Reef. Six-star luxury
Favorite cruise line: The World. I had a friend live on it for a year and her life looked so incredible then we got to go party on it when it docked in SYDNEY…OMG it has a golf course and a shopping mall on the ship!!!!
Favorite travel credit card: If I can’t buy it I won’t use credit.
Favorite island: HAYMAN—From hand-feeding fish and kangaroos, to the little chapel on the hill, to the pools you can dive into from your balcony, to the native birds that come and land at your table during breakfast, to exploring the reef and of course their day spa—unbeatable must-do location! Spend the money it is worth it!
Favorite beach: Bondi—despite the shark attacks, it is iconic, with great bars, great food and a vibe all its own.
Favorite National Park: Grand Canyon. Pictures will never prepare you for the magnificence of it.
Favorite fancy restaurant: The Ivy in LA and Doyles Seafood in Sydney.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Super burger in Altadena AND BBQ King Golbourn street Sydney (looks like you will catch a disease eating there but it will be the best BBQ duck you will EVER eat).
Favorite bar: La Locomotive in Paris. Four levels inc an 80s retro section.
Favorite fruit: Strawberry daiquiri.
Favorite food: Crab, lobster, shrimp—any seafood sourced from Australia…or fresh out of the water on the beach at Jimbaran Bay Bali.
Least favorite food: Vegetables lol
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Vodka soda, champagne—Dom or Veuve only!
Favorite travel movie(s): Lost (jk) Sully!
Favorite travel show(s): Bear Grylls, Amazing Race…yes I know they’re not really travel shows but I like it kinda crazy!
Favorite travel book(s): I’m a crime fiction kinda gal so I just download anything by Peter Corris, Michael Connelly, Sue Grafton, or James Patterson and read on my phone wherever I go.
Right now I am reading: Sue Grafton “I is for Innocent.”
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! bringfido.com helps you travel the world with your best furry friend; bravolol.com helps you get around the world with basic translations…kind of like a pocket Rosetta Stone (Google Translate is not as good as it should be…just ask my housekeeper!!!); roomertravel.com, cheap hotels people are selling off last-minute at bargain basement prices…stay loose and travel spontaneously by picking up accom people would otherwise lose…
5 things you bring on a plane: Thick socks, my own flannel, melatonin gummies (great for jet lag), moisturiser and my own snacks—nothing worse than eating dried up crappy sugar snacks and feeling revolting the next morning…
What do you always seem to forget? Toothbrush—every time.
What do you like least about travel? Waiting till I can afford my next trip.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? Perfume and Ray-bans (they are $300 in Oz).
Favorite travel app(s): sincerely.com/postagram send postcards from your phone to and from anywhere in the world! So much more personal than Facebook posting.
Most embarrassing travel moment: Being picked up by donkey cart in the middle of the night in the Pali desert in India almost dying from dysentery and being dumped at an ashram—although they did save my life so it had a happy ending.
I’m embarrassed I haven’t been to: Africa.
Worst travel moment: Being robbed on the train to Bombay (I told you I don’t want to go back).
What’s your dream destination? Africa.
Favorite travel charity: rockthehouse.org.au
Best travel tip: Pack light, Groupon (and Living Social) every attraction before you pay full price of everything, anything, everywhere (inc meals), stay hydrated at all times, talk to the locals…get involved in the local life, say yes to going home to a family’s place for dinner (with caution of course)…especially in the islands…or places like India…there is nothing like the REAL experience of dining like a local and for a few dollars you can easily make that happen. Let go…the best trips I have ever had were ones I didn’t plan and instead asked people, “Where should I go next?” And especially for Americans, stop worrying about how far the flight is to Australia…take the late night flight, have a drink go to sleep and wake up in Australia…stay for three weeks, travel the east coast from bottom to top (bottom being Melbourne, middle being Sydney/Gold Coast, top being Great Barrier Reef) and climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge at sunset—you will not regret it!