Africa Travel Week
Kate Kennedy

We can learn from other cultures

As a journalist and editor of Business Traveller Africa, Kate Kennedy has been lucky to work for travel titles for most of her career. Even though she’s on the clock when she travels, she admits that the whole process of packing and travelling still gives her a holiday feel, and she gets a real kick out of researching a new destination and planning for the trip. Her job has allowed her to visit places she would never see otherwise, including the Matterhorn in Switzerland, Victoria Falls, Istanbul, Rwanda and Abuja.

How did you fall in love with travelling or at least get into it as a career?

My second employer is the publisher of Skyways, Airlink’s inflight magazine. As a journalist I was afforded the opportunity to write a couple of travel stories linked to the airline’s local and regional route map. Eventually, I got my name on the media lists of hotels, airlines and travel PRs and have been able to travel to some amazing destinations. But I think the moment I really fell in love with travelling was when I took my first business class flight. I was invited to Switzerland in 2013 and getting to sleep horizontally while on a plane was a huge luxury.

What kind of traveller are you?

I’m a prepared-for-most-eventualities traveller journo. I like to do my research about expected weather and make sure I have enough warm or cool clothes. I have cultivated a first-aid kit that travels with me, containing all manner of things from sachets of sunscreen, burn ointment and plasters to hair ties and an ankle brace (I have an uncanny knack for twisting my left ankle).

Since most of my travelling is as part of the media group, with a pre-arranged schedule, detouring to a pharmacy can be real problem, and if you do manage to get to a drug store, you might have trouble explaining your needs if you don’t speak the same language. I learned this the hard way when I asked a pharmacist in Rwanda for a remedy for my heartburn – he kept saying that I needed to see a doctor because heart problems were serious.

What are your top travel essentials when it comes to packing?

I keep a separate toiletry bag, packed and ready at a moment’s notice. It means that I don’t forget anything or have to unpack immediately when I get home.

I always carry stash – travel-sized snacks – especially when I’m going on a media trip. I don’t always need them, but sometimes they come in very handy.

Tell us about one of your most memorable trips/travel moments. Where and why?

In 2012, I was invited, with a plus-one, to spend the weekend at Karkloof Safari Spa, about 25km outside of Pietermaritzburg. On the first day, I wanted to hike up to the viewing platform of the Karkloof Falls, since they told me the path had been cleared and the footing was sure. The vehicle took us to the start of the trail and we hiked for at least an hour to reach the end.

And after about half an hour of luxuriating in the sound of the rushing water and the refreshing spray, we had to hike all the way back to the vehicle. I was so exhausted, and my legs were so weak, that I battled to climb into the game-viewing truck that was our ride.

Once back at the lodge, we discover that management had given us the best (ie: most remote) room, attached to the main lodge by a series of platforms on various levels. Walking to and from the room, with the stairs connecting the walkways, for two days was torture. But the hike was worth it!

Karkloof Falls
How has travelling changed your life?

Travelling has broadened my view of the world. Just because something is different to my reality, doesn’t make it bad or wrong. There is so much we can learn from other cultures if we just open our minds.

What’s the next destination on your list?

I have two bucket-list trips. I want to visit India and I want to see the Northern Light, ideally from Alaska, but I’m not all that fussy. There is just something magical, to me anyway, about both of these trips. The bright colours, the spices, the smells, the food – India calls to me every time I think about it. And the dancing colours of the Northern Lights are… just… I have no words.

Best travel advice you can share?

Respect the schedule. If you’re travelling as part of a group, please show up on time. It’s so frustrating being one of the few people who end up waiting while other group members saunter up as if they’re on holiday.

Based on the five senses and thinking about travelling what do you…
  • Like to see: A freshly-made bed in my hotel room.
  • Like to taste: The first cup of coffee in the morning.
  • Like to feel: The cleansing water of a shower after a long day of exploring.
  • Like to hear: The sound of wildlife at new destinations.
  • Like to smell: The air as I step out of the plane (or airport if the plane docked at an air bridge).

Africa Travel Week

Africa Travel Week (ATW) focuses on inbound and outbound markets for general leisure tourism, luxury travel, LGBTQ+ travel and the MICE/business travel sector as well as travel technology. Shows include: ILTM Africa, WTM Africa, EQUAL Africa, ibtm AFRICA, Travel Forward, Sports & Events Tourism Exchange and African Tourism Investment Summit.