Simon Westcott, CEO and owner of the LUXE pocket city guides, was born with the travel bug. Even as a teenager, he had an irrepressible taste for adventure, travelling to war-torn Lebanon and trekking through the Peruvian jungle in between his exams.
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Upon graduation, he combined work and passion by joining the Lonely Planet group, where he became global publisher and director before co-founding Mr & Mrs Smith Asia Pacific. Westcott has lived in London, the US, Melbourne, and now Hong Kong, and the air of a truly seasoned traveller is apparent as he shares his expert tips and vintage travel photographs with us.
Last trip? London.
Next trip? Melbourne.
On the bucket list? Bhutan and Sikkim… I’m really interested in the Himalayas and Mongolia, and I also love South America. There are parts of Brazil and Chile that I haven’t been to that I would love to visit. I’d like to see the Atacama Desert, and the interior areas of Brazil.
What do you love most about travelling? The obvious things—the exposure to different people, different cultures, the intensity of experiences when you’re on the road.
I remember reading an article once, about how when you’re in an environment that’s alien to you, there’s some sort of chemical that your brain releases to enable you to process more information. You have to be so present when you travel, so alert—it’s almost like an intense, medicated state.
One place you'd visit over and over again? The Kimberley, in Western Australia—monumental, huge landscapes, extraordinarily beautiful. A harsh environment, but beautiful. Or where I stayed last year in Darjeeling, a stunning place called the Glenburn Tea Estate.
Things you always travel with? I only ever travel with one bag, and it’s the same bag. It’s a beautiful brand called Ghurka, a bespoke leather goods maker in the US. I have a holdall. It’s slightly pretentious, but I’m not a believer in wheels.
I’m a great believer in Vicks VapoRub. It’s goodness in a bottle. And the sarong—I always take one with me.
What were you reading on your last plane ride? At the moment I’m reading a book by somebody I was at university with. It’s called Transit, by Rachel Cusk. It’s the second in a trilogy that has gotten huge amounts of critical acclaim.
Favourite travel companion? My current partner is a huge traveler, and it was one of the things that got us together. We travel incredibly well together. I think we have the same kind of curiosity, the same need for a bit of zen, and we’re both quite practical. I’m not saying we’ll do the Amazing Race together, but it’s pretty special. She’s very special.
Window or aisle? Window. I’d rather climb over than be climbed over.
Your best travel tip? I always travel on public transport a little bit. I will also try something that I do in my home city, like have a haircut, or go to a film—something where you’re only surrounded by local people.
Any tips on overcoming jet lag? Never go to sleep during the day, always go to bed early and don’t drink on the first night.
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