Frequent Flyer: T3 Magazine's Damian Francis

By John Walton, April 11 2011
Frequent Flyer: T3 Magazine's Damian Francis

When he's not getting his geek on as editor of T3 Australia magazine, Damien Francis can be found jetting to Hong Kong and Singapore for work, winding down in Vancouver and sleeping in business class there and back!

What city do you most often visit for business?
Hong Kong lately. It’s just a coincidence really but a lot of press events for global consumer electronics brands have been hosted in Hong Kong over the last two years. Thankfully it’s not a bad city to visit. 

What are your best tips for travelling to Hong Kong?
Victoria Peak has to be done both during the day and at night.

You have to catch the Star Ferry at least once, and make sure to take seasickness tablets if you’re at all queasy, because it’s one bumpy ride!

Finally, if you have the time, check out some of the national parks away from the city. You won’t be more than 30 km out of the CBD most of the time but you’ll completely forget you’re so close to such a big city. 

What's the one thing you do (or try to do) on every trip?
Head to the highest place to get the best view of the city. I like to see first hand what I’m dealing with when I go to a city. It also helps me visually compare it to Sydney.

On any business trip, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Explore, even if it’s a city I’ve been to a number of times. One of the best parts of my job is seeing new places and travelling so I like to take advantage of that while it lasts.

Even in Hong Kong there are nooks and crannies I’ve not yet seen so I always make sure I get out and about, even if it has to be at night and jetlagged. 

What’s your favourite city to travel to?
Vancouver. It has everything. Amazing natural beauty, fantastic urban planning, cool people and a great vibe. How many cities can boast ski fields, beaches and parks no more than 15 minutes away from the CBD?

You’ve got a spare day in Vancouver: what do you do?
Grab a late breakfast from any of the great cafes in Yaletown first. Then head to Stanley Park to take in the morning light, sea breeze and amazing statues.

Stanley Park's famous totem pole statues are one of Damian's favourite spots in Vancouver

After that I would head to the top of Grouse Mountain on the cable cars to see the view. Lunch would be in Gastown and would then be worked off by a trip through the beautiful University of British Columbia Campus.

After a ride on the Sky Train and dinner in the CBD I would finish off the day with movie at any of the small theatres and then get an early night because I couldn’t fit in the Granville Island Markets on the first spare day!

When you’re overseas, what are your favourite stores to shop in?
Anywhere in the US at the moment. Market St in San Francisco is amazing. Thanks to the strength of the Aussie dollar at the moment every shop seems so appealing.

Also, Amoeba Music in San Francisco. It’s like music wonderland with vinyls from $2!

What’s your favourite hotel?
The Four Seasons in Hong Kong. I stayed there on a trip with Dell a few years back. TVs in the bathroom mirrors and a stunning view of Victoria Harbour… need I say more? 

Tell us about your best overseas dining experience.
Night markets in Singapore. It’s the simple food that really tastes good, and it doesn’t come any better than fresh caught seafood cooked at the night markets. Singapore chilli crab street style – amazing.  

What are some essential carry-on items you’d never leave home without?
Noise cancelling headphones, laptop. That’s all I need on board. Oh, stick deodorant too. Essential for a long haul! 

How do you typically spend your in-flight time?
If I’m travelling business class I always fall asleep. I’ve been known to be out cold for 95% of flights, especially if they are night flights. Qantas save a lot of money not having to serve me meals or drinks while in business.

If I’m flying economy I can doze during night flights but during the daylight hours I’ll listen to music (Tokyo Police Club and Augustana are going down well at the moment) and watch a movie or two.

How do you beat jetlag?
I don’t. I’m not too bad with it but am usually a bit stuffed for a day or two after returning to Australia. 

What are the first things you do on a business trip after settling into your hotel?
Check emails, shower, change, then if I have some spare time grab the camera and go out for a walk.

What do you like most about travelling, even though it’s for work?
Seeing new places and people. Pretty simple really. It’s nice to see how other cities and cultures work.

What advice would give airlines to improve the experience of the business traveller?
Depends on the airlines. Qantas and Cathay Pacific have it pretty right. Singapore Airlines too. 

What are your biggest travel gripes?
Quick trips. I still do them but I don’t really like heading 10-15 hours away on a plane only to spend two nights there and then return. 

What’s your best travel advice?
Think before you act. Whether it’s on the plane, at your destination or in a conference. Different cultures react differently to certain things. Just be mindful of that. The amount of people who I’ve seen flick business cards to Chinese business people, for example. It’s just small things like that. 

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