Safari Stylesetter: Nicky Fitzgerald

One of Nicky Fitzgerald’s most enviable travel skills is her knack for getting quality sleep in coach class (hint: her method involves wine). Last summer Fitzgerald and her husband, Steve, opened Angama Mara, a camp of 30 tented suites on a panoramic site in Kenya’s Masai Mara where scenes from Out of Africa were filmed.

Let’s play spin the globe—name the one place you’ve always wanted to go.
Iceland—I am doing a trek there next year.

What’s your spirit city? (Where do you want to return to over and over?)
New York—my annual fix that never fails to energise me and make me appreciate Africa’s wild places.

Do you have a travel ritual?
I fly coach. Coach survival kit: goose down travel pillow, pashmina, padded silk eye mask, earplugs, and bingo!, I sleep like a lamb (after a couple of glasses of red wine).

Do you maintain any routines from home while traveling or does it all go out the window?
I mostly travel for work—long days, multiple meetings, crazy time zones—and the emails never stop. So, no routine—I kick into survival mode.

Sorry, you only get to eat one regional cuisine for the rest of your life. What is it?
Middle Eastern hands down—preferably cooked by Yotam Ottolenghi.

Fitzgerald is headed to Iceland next year
What one piece of advice would you give to someone traveling abroad for the first time?
Depends where to and on what budget. Let’s take a safari to Africa on a decent budget. Definitely use a travel planner with good African experience—this is one trip of a lifetime you can’t wing! Contrary to popular belief, wildlife is not always what Animal Planet makes it out to be.

Describe your travel personality in three words.
Social, curious, foolhardy.

Are your trips very planned, or very spontaneous?
Work trips are planned to a tee. Holidays a little less so but I do like to know all beds are pre-booked. I am too old to be gadding about looking for accommodation last minute.

What's the one travel souvenir you'd save in a fire?
Photograph albums (all 45 of them).

What book/movie most inspired you to travel?
My memory is creaky but if I scratch around in the deep recesses of it, movies I saw as a child such as Dr Zhivago, The King and I, Genghis Khan and Lawrence of Arabia all played their part (I have yet to go to Mongolia).

Who’s your ideal travel partner?
For work, my daughter Kate. We are totally in sync. For ‘extreme’ish holidays, my regular trekking group For chilled travel, my husband (I needed to add that).

Which travel experience do you prefer: plugged in or unplugged?
Unplugged—gentle trekking (and I no longer carry my backpack in case you were going to ask).

What’s a custom from another culture that you’d love to implement in your life back home?
From Spain—long daily siestas.

What’s the first thing you seek out in a new place?
Probably the local market.

What’s the one thing you indulge in on a trip that you don’t at home?
Once I am on holiday I stop worrying about what things cost—and never convert back to my home currency. That would totally spoil everything.

What’s your first travel memory?
I was 5 years old and went by train with my parents from Durban to Johannesburg. I was given a new colouring-in book and coloured pencils and I remember being enchanted by going through the tunnels and having to stop my artistic endeavours mid-creation. And I think my mother wore a hat and gloves the whole journey. I wonder why?

>>NEXT: AFAR Insider Marcus Samuelsson