My Travelling Life

Every travel experience is a privilege - even the bad ones, says 'fabulous township girl' Carol Bouwer

From planes that can't land to odd eats, the actress-turned-business-powerhouse tells us more about her global travels

02 February 2020 - 00:00 By Sanet Oberholzer
Carol Bouwer.
Carol Bouwer.
Image: Supplied

My first trip abroad was for work. I was hosting a show called Ms World in Africa, which meant travelling the continent interviewing finalists. My first stop was Mahé in the Seychelles. Bliss.

What I remember about travelling as a child is that we used to get to sleep in "luxury" - first class on the train. It helps that I did not know that there was such a thing as a Rovos Rail or the Blue Train then, so my idea of luxury was not quite accurate. I loved it nonetheless.

My favourite South African hotel has to be the One & Only in Cape Town. It is the height of luxury yet remains understated and whispers its pedigree - nothing screams. The service is second to none and it has by far the best-trained staff. The hotel also boasts the very best bag store in the country: a proudly South African range started by some fabulous township girl called Carol Bouwer. Ha Ha!

My favourite city in SA is Cape Town, where I live. I enjoy the easy lifestyle and great food. You can go car-free if you choose to and people there have a less materialistic disposition.

When it comes to choosing between roughing it or luxury, I choose luxury. My honeymoon 20 years ago was my introduction to the best in travel (London, Nassau, Miami, LA, Maui, Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore). I remain deeply grateful as I realise nobody is entitled and everything we experience is a privilege.

I don't have a worst travel experience. Getting to see the world is a true privilege and anyone who counts their worst travel experiences should pause to consider how many people would be happy just to be told they will get to see a new place.

In terms of difficult destinations, Nungwi village in Zanzibar in the '90s required a resilient heart. It didn't help that I'd first spent time in a fine establishment in Stone Town.

The oddest thing I've experienced while travelling actually happened twice. Both were flights to Auckland, where we couldn't land due to bad weather and had to circle for what felt like forever. Landing was eventually a bumpy and fear-filled experience - twice!

My best piece of travel advice is to have a change of clothing, a Sudoku book and toiletries on hand. Bags have a way of exploring lands you have not considered.

A visit to Macchu Picchu, an ancient Inca site in Peru, is on celeb Carol Bouwer's bucket list.
A visit to Macchu Picchu, an ancient Inca site in Peru, is on celeb Carol Bouwer's bucket list.
Image: RICARDO BELIEL/GETTY IMAGES

Some day, I'd really like to go to Macchu Picchu.

My go-to plane outfit is my PJs. I live in them so I am forever travel-ready - good pyjamas and a blazer.

My must-have plane items are still water, under-eye cream, dark glasses, and a brilliant book. I also like to have a skin serum and red lipstick to make up for the non-made-up look.

I am an adventurous eater when I travel. I will try any food at least once. My biggest challenge was durian fruit in Malaysia - it's notorious for its unpleasant smell. When we had our place there, we smelt this fruit everywhere and it was challenging. The smell lingers well beyond what is desirable.