To celebrate turning 50, Kerryn took her 50th Intrepid trip

written by Patrick Boxall February 20, 2024

Twenty-five years have passed between Kerryn’s first Intrepid trip to India and her 50th in Bali. And though she’s now, I’d argue, the very definition of an Intrepid traveller, that first trip came about by pure chance.

‘A girl at work said she was going to India,’ explains Kerryn. ‘She was going to advertise for someone to go with her. I was like, don’t be stupid, I’ll come. So we went on the trip and loved it and it started a cycle. She passed away a few years ago, but we took probably 20, 25 trips together over the years.’

Those trips – plus the ones Kerryn has taken since her friend passed – have taken Kerryn from her home in Australia to 70 countries across all seven continents. Ever the Intrepid traveller, she prides herself on looking for trips that don’t often appear on most travellers’ bucket lists: Timor-Leste, for example, or Rwanda and Uganda.

‘I always look for something that’s a bit more niche,’ Kerryn says. ‘The trip might visit one tiny part of a country or go somewhere unusual. I don’t really like mainstream [destinations].’

From camping under Egyptian stars to swaying in a hammock cocooned in the Bornean jungle, Kerryn has seen more good views, made more good friends and enjoyed more good times than most. And it’s only natural that such a prolific traveller would have learned a few lessons along the way. I caught up with her to find out what those might be.

1. Always carry toilet paper in your pocket

‘This really is my number one tip. Always, always carry toilet paper. If you learn nothing else, learn this. But you still always end up with funny toilet stories when you travel. And everyone knows everyone else’s toilet business, too. I’m not shy, though. I don’t care.’

2. Get involved with the locals

‘What I really love about travelling is just getting lost. You have free time to walk around and mingle with the locals and I think that’s really important. I’ve met so many people that I keep in touch with, even a lady I met on that very first India trip in 1999. If they invite you in for a cup of tea, go in. Don’t be scared to sit down and play with the kids. If you stay in someone’s home, get involved. Help them cook dinner or milk the cows or whatever. I think just being part of their environment and doing what they do – the everyday stuff – is fun.’

3. Let little moments last a lifetime

‘This will sound weird, but one of my favourite memories was spending a Saturday night in Romania watching the cows come home. We were doing a homestay in this tiny little town – one street, 12 houses – and we sat on a bridge and watched the cows come down from the paddocks to their houses. It was amazing. You don’t always need a big-ticket item like the Taj Mahal or Eiffel Tower. You can enjoy the little things and it makes a really big difference.’

Kerryn in Ethiopia

4. Follow your interests (and bring good walking shoes)

‘I’m all about wildlife, so I generally pick my trips based on the animals I’m going to see. I went to Ethiopia because I wanted to see the gelada monkeys, and Rwanda and Uganda for the gorillas and chimps. One of the gorillas even grabbed my hands. Antarctica was amazing, too, having penguins walk across my feet. And being in a blow-up boat with a whale swimming under me was phenomenal. I’ve been chased by a hippo – a few animals, in fact – so that’s another good lesson: always bring good walking shoes.’

5. Embrace spontaneity

‘I like to take each day as it comes and don’t have any expectations aside from expecting the unexpected. Live in the moment and go with whatever happens – it always leads to the best experiences. Even getting bogged in Africa was amazing. We were there in the dark, the park was closed and we were pushing the truck in pouring rain. The ranger said, “I think you need to get on the roof because there are some lions just over there.” That sort of stuff, it can’t be planned.’

6. Don’t wait for anyone else

‘Go by yourself. Don’t wait for others. You’ll make new friends and get looked after so well by the Intrepid leaders. It’s really safe as a woman, so just do it. You can always make more money, but you can’t always make the memories. My motto is work, save, travel, repeat.’

7. Hire a Sherpa

‘Always hire a Sherpa when you’re on a trek. Again, it’s so much more enjoyable having that interaction with a local. And it provides them with an income, too. I used to always carry my own stuff, then I hired a Sherpa and realised it was brilliant. I couldn’t believe I’d been carrying my own stuff all those years.’

8. Give back to communities

‘I really like the responsible travel aspect of Intrepid. I also like that they now use local leaders… I think the local leaders make a really big difference because you’ve got insider knowledge. And I always pick Intrepid because I love that they give back to the communities that we visit. They’re Australian, too, which I like to support, but for me, the main thing is that they give back.’

Find the perfect first or fiftieth small group adventure with Intrepid.

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