Frequent Flyer: journalist Brad Howarth

By John Walton, March 14 2011
Frequent Flyer: journalist Brad Howarth

Author and journalist Brad Howarth is one of Australia's leading experts on technology, digital media and marketing. His articles appear regularly in publications including SmartCompany, INTHEBLACK, Inside Film, B&T and AFR Boss.

Together with Janelle Ledwidge, Brad has recently written A Faster Future – the future of broadband: what it means for business, society and you, with interviews and commentary from digital luminaries on how the Internet and technology will change the way everyone lives and works.

What city do you most often visit for business?

Domestically – Melbourne. I travel to a lot of places but I'm there at least once a month. A lot of the companies that I am in contact with are based there. I was also born there, so I like being able to check out my old home town. 

Internationally – San Francisco. It's the heart of the US tech industry and a brilliant city in its own right – bars, restaurants, shops, sights – it's got everything.

What are your best tips for that city?

For Melbourne, sitting in a laneway café has to be one of the most pleasant ways of spending downtime between meetings. And Melbourne has so many of them!

What's the one thing you do (or try to do) on every trip?

I try to check out Outré Gallery and Minotaur bookshop (both on Elizabeth Street) every time I'm there – both have some amazing material from the outside fringes of popular culture.

For great jewelry check out Cellini Melbourne in the Block Arcade.

On any business trip, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Blend in. I always try to live like a local as much as possible, getting out and about in the local shops, restaurants and cafes rather than being cooped up in a hotel room.

I also took up running ten years ago, and find that it's a brilliant way to get a feel for a city, rather than seeing it from the window of a taxi.

What's your favourite city to travel to?

London. There is just so much to do there, and it is so close to everything else in Europe. Mind you, it only just scrapes in ahead and Hong Kong and NYC.

You've got a spare day in that favourite city: what do you do?

Walk – particularly into areas that I've never seen before. There are many suburbs just outside of central London that are home to great shops, bars and cafes that you'd never find unless you made the effort to get out and explore.

When you've overseas, what are your favourite stores to shop in?

When in San Francisco or LA, Amoeba Music – a genuine warehouse full of music from all eras. Century 21 in NYC is great for picking up clothing bargains. Also love the bookstores in London and the US for the range they carry.

What's your favourite hotel?

I rarely stay in the same one twice, and if I do, it's for price rather than standout service.

Tell us about your best overseas dining experience.

I can't decide.

Eating biltong and other snacks under the stars in the Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa, surrounded by many hungry eyes in the tall grass.

Or possibly downing far too much red wine and cheese in the hilltop town of Todi in Umbria. Definitely memorable more for the moment than for the food.

What are some essential carry-on items you'd never leave home without?

My notebook PC, headphones, charger and multi-country adaptor go everywhere, as does my micro reading lamp.

For long haul trips, I have a wrap-around eye shade that also covers my ears – you'll appreciate the difference once you try one.

How do you typically spend your in-flight time?

Mostly working – especially if the seat has power. Flights represent nearly uninterruptable solitude that can be invaluable when trying to prep for or wrap up loose ends on a trip.

How do you beat jetlag?

Immediately sync into the time zone – no naps, no matter how tired I get.

What are the first things you do on a business trip after settling into your hotel?

Unpack, iron, and straighten everything out. Makes an overslept alarm that much less of a nightmare, and gives a room a little more of a lived-in feel.

What do you like most about travelling, even though it's for work?

Seeing new things. Any time I travel I try to squeeze in as much time for exploring as possible, even if it's just a 45 minute run in the morning.

What advice would give airlines to improve the experience of the business traveller?

Power to every seat in the plane.

What are your biggest travel gripes?

Apart from people who snore, nothing really.

What's your best travel advice?

Enjoy every trip you take and always seek out something new – even if it's a different route from the airport, a trip on a suburban train, or walking an extra five minutes to find a different café for breakfast.

Every new experience is a new memory that can make even the most mundane business travel more enjoyable.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

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