Caroline Makepeace is an Australian US-based travel writer and the co-founder of yTravel Blog. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube. In this interview, she shares some of her favourites.
What are three of your favourite countries, and why?
Amazing wildlife, diverse culture, spectacular landscapes, incredible wine, great food and a climate perfect for outdoor activities. South Africa is a wonderful country to explore.
I am Australian, but Australia is not one of my favourite countries for patriotic reasons. We road tripped around Australia for 18 months and fell in love with the diversity and beauty of its landscapes, exotic wildlife and ancient Indigenous culture. It’s an easy country to travel around, has the best beaches in the world, and wonderful food and wine. Plus, the climate and laid back culture make it ideal.
We lived in Bangkok teaching English and so fell in love with the friendly, chilled lifestyle of Thailand, and its beautiful beaches. It’s the only cuisine I could eat three meals a day and be happy.
Are there any countries you don’t like visiting?
There are places within countries I haven’t liked, but I think I can find something to love in any country. I have a spirit that is curious and thrives on awe, wonder, and joy, so I can use that to find something to love and connect to.
What are three of your favourite cities, and why?
Cape Town is the most beautiful city I’ve been to, with the imposing Table Mountain standing guard in every view, the most beautiful beaches and lots of things to explore like great wineries, stunning landscapes, scenic drives and wildlife.
Dublin is a ton of fun with its bar on every corner, Irish music and dancing and never-ending pints of Guinness. We lived here for a year, so it really got under our skin.
I love the live music options in Nashville. You can see a live show from any kind of style all day and into the night. Plus, the music history here is incredible to explore and learn from. There is also great food and fun murals. Nashville just suits my thirst for fun!
Do you have any favourite hotels or restaurants?
We loved our stay at the Mövenpick Resort on Boracay Island in the Philippines. Its location on a private beach, excellent amenities and facilities for families and friendly service made it a standout.
We loved the Mayoki Village in Nkhata Bay, Malawi. You know a place is good when you end up staying for two weeks instead of your intended two nights. We had prime camping on the headland above the lake ($1 a night). We spent our days swimming, snorkelling and fishing, and our evenings at the bar with other travellers listening to live music, eating great food, and having fun conversations. Plus, we were right near the village, so we enjoyed walking down there each day to intermingle with the locals.
We’ve eaten at so many restaurants around the world, it’s hard to say (or remember) the ones that stand out. Here are two of my favourites from places I have lived.
As an NSW Australian, I may be biased as I worked here when I was at University, but Fisherman’s Wharf has the best calamari I have eaten around the world. It’s a co-op, which means attached to the restaurant is a seafood market, so you are guaranteed fresh seafood served on your plate. Its location on the water is also another highlight.
Wye Hill in Raleigh, NC
It is our favourite restaurant for its delicious, innovative food, great craft brews, excellent service and outstanding views of the Raleigh skyline.
What are three of your favourite travel moments, and why?
Sunrise over Mt Bromo in Java
My girlfriends and I hiked up the mountain in the dark for a couple of hours to arrive at the sunrise point, so it was an adventure just to get to it. Then when the sun rose over the volcanic craters, my heart stopped at its mystical beauty.
Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef for the first time holding my six-year-old daughter’s hand, and enjoying the awe-inspiring experience together.
Watching about 30 elephants taking a mud bath together in the Addo Elephant Park in South Africa
Seeing two babies run to each other and link trunks in greeting was something I’ll never forget.
What are three of your worst travel moments, and why?
Taking a tour of Samosir Island (Lake Toba, Sumatra) on the back of motorbikes with local guides (and my two girlfriends) and having them turn crazy. Speeding off to isolate us from each other, refusing to take us back to our hotel, and singing threatening songs to the tune of Bob Marley “I killed the tourist and then I stole her passport”.
Having to cut my Southeast Asia backpacking trip short due to an infected foot that would not heal, only to arrive in my new destination (where I was moving to) London – with little money, no contacts, no job, an infected foot, complete confusion and fear over what to do next. While it was a travel low, it was also one of the most powerful moments of my life that taught me how powerful and resourceful I am to figure things out.
We recently did an almost 12 month RV trip of the western part of the USA
While I loved what we saw and the experiences we had, I really wish we had done it differently as it negatively impacted our lives in many ways once we had finished. So it’s not a worse travel moment, but more of a regret. The full-time RV lifestyle just wasn’t the best choice for us when attempting to explore a region as huge and diverse and packed full of experiences like the USA. It was too intense.
We wanted more the travel side of things, rather than the intensity of dealing with a mobile home that required a lot of attention. We would have been much better suited to choosing one region to explore for an extended length of time on a road trip in and out of our home, rather than trying to cram it all in at once.
What are three of your best travel tips?
We hate racing around regions just to check them off our list. We prefer deep, immersive travel. Taking time to get to know a region and fall in love with its uniqueness. Plus, travelling slowly allows for more moments like lingering over coffee in a local’s favourite cafe, restful afternoons swinging in a hammock on a tropical beach, and playing mancala with locals in an African village.
Not only is it a great way to reduce the costs of travel by working along the way, it is the best way to experience an area. Working abroad makes the everyday moments extraordinary and gives you access to other cultures and landscapes that is not possible when just passing through. We have lived in 5 countries, and they have been our most amazing travel experiences.
Always pack an open mind
Packing an open mind will be the difference between cutting your travels short because of endless frustration and disappointment or turning around 23 years later and finding yourself still on endless adventures. It’s not better or worse, it’s just different. Difference is where the joy and the beauty lies.