Essential Travel Tips from ABC TV Reporter Sally Sara


For journalist Sally Sara, travel is her work. She shares her all-time best travel tips.

How much time do you spend away?

These days, based in Sydney for Foreign Correspondent, it’s usually three or four weeks at a time then I come back for four or five weeks and head off again.

What’s the secret to a stress-free journey?

No internet! I also think the easiest way to be relaxed is to be really organised. I’d rather be bored at an airport than stressed.

What’s your approach to packing?

I use luggage dividers – one for tops, one for bottoms and one for toiletries and stuff like that. My technical broadcast gear is already packed and ready to go so it’s really just throwing some clothes in. I also have colour-coded zip-up folders – red for money and receipts, blue for background information on the story and green for travel documents. I’m a travel nerd.

What do you never leave home without?

If you’ve got a passport and credit card, you’ll be able to get yourself out of trouble.

Do you have a secret to travelling light?

Now that bags are on wheels, I can’t see the point in packing crazy light – I think that makes the trip really miserable. I’d rather have an extra five kilos of things I might need than be stuck without them or be wringing out clothes.

Have you ever missed a plane?

No, having lived in places like Africa and India, I have this constructive pessimism that things are going to go wrong so I always get there ridiculously early.

What’s your routine at the airport?

I try to have something to listen to or something to watch. I’m crazy about Richard Fidler from ABC Radio National, I love listening to TED talks and if I’m into a TV series, I’ll make sure I’ve got that with me. I remember being at the airport in Kabul watching the Richard Roxburgh series Rake but there’d be shots of his bum and I’d have to fold the laptop down! It can all get a bit weird if what you’re watching doesn’t match where you are [laughs]. When we’re coming back home, we’ve got work that we can do.

Do you have a plane outfit?

No [laughs]. I just wear something comfortable. I get quite cold so I always have a sweatshirt or a hoodie. I think they should be able to refuse people who wear tracksuits on planes – at the door, just go “nup”.

Aisle or window?

Window, always. You can be in your own little world and no-one is climbing over you.

What’s your routine on the plane?

If it’s comfortable, I’ll sleep well. I drink lots of water and often will take Gastrolyte rehydration preparations. Just chuck those in a bottle if it’s a really long flight and that seems to help. It’s so dry on the plane but I normally bounce off feeling pretty good.

Are you a chatty seat buddy?

Sometimes I’ll have a chat but when it’s about to get really busy with work, it’s the one place in the world where you quietly get to have some time to yourself – 10 hours or 14 hours of catching your breath. I hate snoring! It drives me mental. When someone you don’t even know is snoring, it feels a bit out-there.

Do you find it easy to sleep?

Depends how close to the front of the plane I am. If I fly business class, I sleep like a baby. If it’s economy, I’m tall (1.8m) and I wriggle around a bit. But if you have something to watch or listen to, it makes the time go so much faster.

What’s the last book you read on a plane?

Why Nations Fail [by Daron Acemoglu and James A Robinson].

The last movie?

Pride, that movie set during the coal-miners’ strike in the UK.

How do you deal with jet lag?

Try to stay up until you’re supposed to go to bed. If you’ve drunk a lot of water on the plane, it’s a little bit easier. If we do really long flights – in 2013 I went to Canada, the UK, South Africa and back around – I’ll take melatonin. It resets your body clock. Often we’re just going to Asia and it’s not really a big deal.

What’s your idea of a holiday?

Being home. I bought an apartment a couple of years ago and it’s my favourite place in the world. Being home is fantastic. 

You may also like