Lonely Planet Writer

Meet a traveller: Bernadette Jedlinski, 100 countries (and counting)

It's our global community of travellers that makes Lonely Planet awesome, and we never tire of hearing about your travel adventures.

So when we saw this photo of Bernadette Jedlinski's incredible collection of Lonely Planet guides, submitted to our Facebook album, we had to hear more. Bernadette works for an airline and lives in Brisbane, Australia - when she isn't flying out to far-flung locales - and she was kind enough to share her life in travel (and some penguin photos) with us.

Bernie loves getting to know people when she travels, but enjoys meeting the local wildlife too. Image c/o Bernie Robinson.Bernie loves getting to know people when she travels, but enjoys meeting the local wildlife too. Image c/o Bernadette Jedlinski.

Where was your last trip?
My last trip was to Belarus. It’s a challenging country for non-Russian speakers to explore, but its evident history of the Soviet era makes it a unique European destination to visit.

Where is your next trip?
I’m very excited about my next trip; it will be to my 100th country. I’ll be spending it in Portugal and then Switzerland. In both countries I will be staying with friends I have met whilst travelling. Shortly after it will just be my Lonely Planet guide and I backpacking through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia.

What is your first travel-related memory?
I didn’t start travelling until I was 18, but my curiosity with travel began at the age of seven when I started collecting travel brochures and pamphlets. I remember storing them in folders and flicking through them while imagining all the exotic places I wanted to visit. Today I still think that half the fun of travelling is reading up on the destination, and learning about the sights to see.

Aisle or window seat?
For short haul I prefer the window, but on long-haul flights it’s the aisle. I like to drink lots of water on the flight.

Do you have any travel habits or rituals?
Whenever I first arrive in a country my ritual is to spend the first day just walking around seeing what the locals are doing, starting conversations and getting a feel for the country. I am also in the good habit of learning 'hello', 'thank you' and 'goodbye' in the local language on the plane/train/bus before my arrival.

Favourite city or country or region?
This is always a hard question to answer. I like different countries for different reasons. My favourites are Japan for the food, Europe for the cities, the British Virgin Islands for the beaches, Antarctica for the scenery, North Korea in terms of uniqueness and the Philippines for the friendliness of their locals.

Bernie came across this rather unique zebra crossing whilst on safari in Tanzania. Image c/o Bernie Robinson.Bernie came across this rather unique zebra crossing whilst on safari in Tanzania. Image c/o Bernadette Jedlinksi.

What is your best or worst travel souvenir?
I rarely buy souvenirs, but one thing I do collect is the local currency. My favourite is my 1 ngwee coin from Zambia. The ngwee coins are rarely used today as the exchange rate is US$0.000002 to 1 ngwee. I went to a local marketplace in Livingstone and asked around for some coins, everyone was searching and about an hour later a lady selling hardware items found one. I paid her $2 for it. She was very happy with the exchange rate!

What is the best or worst piece of travel advice you’ve received?
The worst travel advice I receive is from people telling me not to visit somewhere. I get this in relation to cities people don’t like, sights assigned as boring or places deemed unsafe. Travelling is a personal thing and should be treated as such. I like to experience, and judge things for myself and often find this advice unfounded.

What’s your biggest travel fail?
My biggest travel fail would have to be not wearing supportive enough shoes for my trekking holiday in Madagascar. This, along with my lack of co-ordination in a wet and muddy rainforest, resulted in a broken foot five days into my 12-day tour. Given the lack of medical facilities within the southern region of this country our guide sought advice from a local healer, who told me to put honey on it and get a massage. My chances of contracting malaria shot up from the honey and I had to keep rejecting the massage for the remainder of the trip. I continued without painkillers, crutches, or plaster for my foot and now travel with expensive, yet supportive, footwear.

Quick, an asteroid is going to hit the earth in one week! Which is the one travel dream you’d rush to fulfil?
I’d be on the first expedition ship in Spitsbergen. I would love to see polar bears in the wild.

What advice would you give a first time traveller?
My advice is start up conversations with the locals. I’ve been invited into homes for traditional meals, slept in local housing and even attended a wedding after striking up a conversation. Oh and wear supportive shoes when trekking!

If you want to read more, check out Bernadette's brand-new travel blog.