Famous flyer: David Hobson

David Hobson with fellow Chitty Chitty Bang Bang cast member Rachael Beck.
David Hobson with fellow Chitty Chitty Bang Bang cast member Rachael Beck. Photo: Marco Del Grande

David Hobson's best travel advice is to make sure you get some.

Which was your best holiday?

Probably the most recent, a family holiday in Europe. One can never be sure how an 11 and 13-year-old are going to react to walking around looking at 'old stuff' and churches all day but the kids were fantastic. My wife Amber and I went at a cracking pace but they kept up. Everything from the Harry Potter Theme Park near London to the Vatican in Rome, we covered a lot of territory and walked about 8-10 kilometres a day. I guess we are a fairly active family who likes to be on the move. We went to the musée d'orsay which was different to my first experience where I was billeted out to a government official who got me private access for three hours one day - just me and a few security guards. It was the first time I realised I was allowed to have my own opinion and commune with these great works of art without being buffeted by other iPhone snapping viewers or listening.

And the best hotel you've stayed in?

Not a hotel but a little 3rd floor 17th-century apartment in St Germain Paris amongst the cool cafes and small art galleries in the heart of the Latin Quarter. Exposed limestone walls and oak beams with double-glazed French windows opening onto Rue Mazarine. The children loved watching the locals walking past and we felt like Rodolfo and Mimi from La Boheme about to burst into O Soave Fanciulla.

What do you need for a perfect holiday?

Time. I'm not great at sitting around relaxing so to get to that state of 'om'-ness required to chill I need at least seven days (to a year) to unwind. Once I'm eased into that zone then I'm ready for the holiday. Lovely three-feet waves sounds nice and that's something that I'm fortunate to get a lot of. We have a modest beach house in an fantastic location on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. As a child I grew up having idealic summer beach holidays in Point Lonsdale and we'd like to think that we are providing that same experience for Madi and Sam. Sam loves being involved in Nippers and we catch up with friends and family. It's the sort of place that we enjoy in any season.

What do you always take with you?

Runners – I like to be able to run around areas you mightn't normally see walking or driving. Mind you I'm currently recovering from an injury caused by running on cobblestones in Rome!

What's your best piece of travel advice? 

To actually get travel advice! Our recent experience was made completely unique by a fantastic travel agent. The areas that we stayed in were sometimes away from the tourist hot spots but always in the hub of local activity. Staying in serviced apartments and not hotels really adds to the experience and again those places were chosen and recommended by our travel agent. Added to that our fantastic tour guide Peter Kilby who we had in Florence and Rome. Peter took us to places that we wouldn't have found and gave great insights and anecdotes that kept the kids interested and amused summarily. www.perfecttraveller.com is worth a good look before travelling through Italy.

Where do you want to go next?

As a family we are looking at Spain and Greece which if we have the time will include more of Italy. If it were up to Madi and Sam we would be heading back to Fiji.

Which was your worst holiday?

Not really a holiday but I was studying in Paris and fell pretty ill. I was in need of surgery and treatment and it was decided it would be best to get it done back in Oz. My airline was none too accommodating in changing my ticket so I had to buy another on a different airline - a tad annoying and none too compassionate.

And your worst experience on holiday?

I think dealing with a back injury whilst at the snow was pretty average. The children were younger and not quite able to carry all of the required equipment. Took years for me to want to go 'back' again.

What's the biggest packing mistake you've made?

It doesn't matter if I'm heading away for a night or a month. I always overpack. Could be a consequence of growing up in Ballarat - you'd always have to take an extra layer as, without fail, the weather would turn at some point during the day. That habit has stayed with me.

Which is the worst hotel you've stayed in?

An airport city hotel that was flea-ridden, with dirty, stained sheets, a mouldy kitchen and stank of tobacco - all the hallmarks of a good nights rest!!

What do you avoid on holiday? 

Restaurants with pictures of the food. Or even worse, plastic models of the food.

What do you hate about holidays?

Flying which unfortunately is something that I do a lot of with work. Recently travelling through Europe on the trains was a far more appealing way of getting from A-B. I once had to sing in Nelson, New Zealand. We rehearsed in Christchurch and I had the option of flying in an eight-seater that would take one hour. I chose a five-hour car trip instead through winding mountains, and then a two-hour boat trip to cross the south and north islands. Took a whole day. I think I've relaxed a little since then. In fact it's a matter of necessity, so I grin and bear it. My kids are seasoned travellers and a heap better at it than me.

David Hobson is playing Caracticus Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang which opens in Melbourne on January 30.

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