Rock stars of travel

Posted Date: 08 December 2016
Famous world travellers

The early explorers and adventurers may have discovered new lands and settled many countries, but travel in the 20th century has advanced in so many other ways.

We’re not talking about traditional explorers, but those who broke boundaries and fuelled our imaginations.

Read on to find out how these rock stars have helped revolutionise travel.

1. Sir Richard Branson

Starting off in the records industry, Sir Richard Branson is a true rock star in the business world. He’s got multiple world records in sailing, hot air ballooning and even crossing the English Channel in an amphibious vehicle!

He’s had companies in the fields of music, telecommunications, sustainability and transport. He’s also a pioneer of environmental fuels and is actively working against global warming.

If you’ve travelled across the Tasman or to the United Kingdom, there’s a good chance you’ll have been on a Virgin Australia or Virgin Atlantic flight.

While airlines are an integral part of travel, it’s his latest venture that offers a far more interesting experience. Virgin Galactic was started over ten years ago, with the goal of offering commercialised space travel by 2014.

While they might be running slightly behind schedule, this is one man who’s committed to achieving goals. If you’re interested in a flight into outer space, get saving – tickets start around US $200,000.

2. Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway’s name is synonymous with many things, most of which are travel-related; Cuban cigars in Havana, having a Singapore Sling cocktail at Raffles Hotel in Singapore, or watching the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona.

Ever thought of taking an African game safari? Hemingway popularised the idea in 1933. Like the idea of sitting at a glamorous Paris café watching the world go by? This city was a golden age hotspot for Hemingway and many fellow writers and artists in the 20s. Many travel experiences that are regarded as ‘iconic’ are a result of this man’s inspiring novels or even his equally inspiring character.

In Madrid, almost every restaurant or bar boasts a seat where he sat, especially in the famous writers’ quarter. But Hemingway wasn’t just a traveller. Like his fellow author, George Orwell, Hemingway was actively involved in the history of the places he visited. He fought in the Spanish Civil war and his book, ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls,’ is a poignant story of the realities of war for the Spanish people.

3. Barack Obama

One of Hemingway’s most iconic haunts, ironically, is in a country that has been barred for US citizens since the early 1960s. While travellers from the rest of the world have been free to visit Cuba, people from the USA have been unable to travel there for decades.

This also makes it much harder for those of us wanting to travel there, since no connecting flights departed for Cuba from any airport in the USA. That’s where Barack Obama comes in. In 2015, he restored diplomatic relations between the two countries and officially reopened the gates for travel to Cuba.

This not only means Americans can once again enjoy holidays there, but travel to Cuba is now much easier for the rest of us, with connecting flights now available from the USA.

With the recent death of Fidel Castro, it will be interesting to see how the diplomatic policies evolve between the USA and Cuba. For now though, it might just be time to enjoy a cigar in Havana, just like Mr Hemingway!

4. Warren Miller

Miller’s home movies of his friends skiing quickly became an ongoing tradition and international phenomenon. He created a full-length feature film each year that became one of the highlights of the year for skiers, building a global community with a strong love of snow.

He filmed at various ski resorts across America, Europe, Japan and down under, which popularised overseas ski holidays to millions of people around the world. When snowboarding came into popularity, he filmed that too, which helped snowboarding to become a recognised sport.

Both skiing and snowboarding are such popular holiday options that you’re covered for these activities under the TravelCare policy, as long as you’re in a recognised commercial ski field and you’re not skiing in an area that’s closed for any reason, or jumping off cliffs or heli-skiing like they do in the movies.

If you’re a skier, chances are you’ve seen one of Miller’s movies – if that doesn’t make you want to take a ski holiday, we don’t know what will!

5. Rick Stein

Many would argue there’s no better way to experience a new country and culture than to indulge in the local food.

In a world of popular celebrity chefs, British restauranteur Rick Stein is one of the most down to earth and relatable. He’s travelled all over Europe to places like Croatia, Turkey, France, Italy and Greece and ventured as far as India, Vietnam and Malaysia, to name a few. These shows offer an in-depth, wide-eyed look at both the destination and its food and cooking styles.

Rick ventures into local homes, restaurants, markets and even food processing plants to learn every aspect of food prep and more importantly, make friends. For foodies, he’s not only inspirational, but he opens our eyes to travel and its possibilities within the cooking world.

There are many cooking-based tours and experiences on offer from tour companies in exotic destinations like India, Sri Lanka, Japan, Vietnam and Bali. If this kind of experience sounds like you, thank Rick Stein for his documentaries that helped fuse the worlds of travel and gastronomy!

6. Ansel Adams

Not only was Adams one of the world’s great photographers, he also made a huge contribution to the world of travel. Through his art, he helped to popularise the beautiful national parks along America’s West Coast, especially Yosemite. But he wasn’t happy to just produce inspiring images, he was also a huge environmentalist and advocate for the restrained use of resources.

Ansel fought for new parks and wilderness areas, the Wilderness Act, wild Alaska, the redwoods, clean air and water, and endangered sea lions and otters, among others. Most importantly though, his work to save and preserve natural environments around many national parks has ensured they are still there for us to visit today.

If you’ve ever dreamed of hiking around the beautiful parks of California, or even just admired some incredible imagery from these places, Ansel Adams is the man to thank for these experiences.

7. Jean Batten

This New Zealand aviatrix was often called the ‘Greta Garbo of the skies’ because of her beauty and glamour. But it’s not beauty or glamour that made her the first person to complete a solo flight from England to New Zealand in 1936.

Through her aviation career she achieved many great things and was world famous for her determination and skill. She didn’t live in New Zealand for long though, like many young Kiwis and Aussies she got the travel bug and spent much of her life in Europe.

Batten mixed with royalty and society’s elite in England and Belgium, holidayed in Jamaica and eventually moved to Spain permanently, where she died. You could even say she is responsible for the celebrated O.E!

8. Tony and Maureen Wheeler

Many globetrotters dream of turning their love of travel into a career and professions like travel blogging or hosting adventure trips are becoming more and more common.

The Wheelers are an inspiring example of this. Their first trip together started in England in 1972 and headed across Europe and Asia, finally ending once they reached Australia. After constant questions from friends about where they went, how they did it and the costs involved, they decided to turn their experiences into a book about travel.

Although budget travel wasn’t a new concept in the 70s, the travel guide put together by Tony and Maureen led to many more and the founding of one of the world’s most well respected travel publications. That publication is Lonely Planet.

If the Wheelers aren’t living the travel dream (and showing us all how to do it too), then who is! 

Who knows how travel will evolve in the future. Our favourite rock stars of the 20th century have made a big difference to travel today and how far it’s come. They’ve helped open the doors, now it’s your turn to get out there and see the world for yourself!

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