Famous flyer: Simon Tedeschi

Simon Tedeschi loves to go fishing to relax, but he always misses his piano when he's away.

What was your best holiday?

Noumea in New Caledonia was definitely my most interesting. I went with the SBS Television Youth Orchestra as the soloist - they were all 18-plus and I was a very young 15. So they were getting up to all kinds of nefarious activities, but I was pretty innocent and so consumed by the piano I didn't even know what was going on! The best memory I have is of going out to the reef and watching a spear fisherman catch fish and fillet them right before our eyes. Then we just ate them on the spot.

The best hotel you've stayed in?

It was in Noumea - we stayed in luxury cabins at L'Escapade Island Resort. Each cabin went directly out onto the ocean, so you basically just took one step out of your bedroom and you were in the ocean. The food was incredible; there were more lashings of caviar than I've ever seen in my life and the most amazing seafood - it was the first time I'd seen someone eat a whole lobster. I didn't think that was humanly possible! The service was exceptional - there were butlers for each cabin. The life of the concert pianist is so weird, because you do that and then you go home and your mum's like, "Take out the rubbish", so it's hard to reconcile those two worlds.

What do you need for a perfect holiday?

Just to hang out with my mum and girlfriend and go fishing on the beach at Wooli, on the mid-north coast. That's really the only way I can unwind. Mum's got a very simple house up there. The beach is around the corner and it's completely uninhabited most of the time, and it's the best beach fishing in the world.

What do you always take with you on holidays?

My electric toothbrush. I've been told that I brush my teeth way too hard, so it's very important.

Best piece of travel advice?

Always sit on the aisle and don't trip up hostesses. That happened to me once on an Alitalia flight - the hostess was walking really fast and I accidentally tripped her over and she fell flat on her face. It was terrible; I never quite got over it. But I have to sit in the aisle because I have a bit of a weak bladder and I really hate to inconvenience everyone by stepping over them constantly.

Where do you want to go next?

Poland, where my grandparents were from. They were Holocaust survivors who were forced out of their homes and sent to concentration camps, so I'd like to find out where they lived and see if their houses still exist in Krakow and Czestochowa. Every time I come close to going I find a reason not to. I think unconsciously I'm perhaps a little intimidated by the emotional ramification of it. But I absolutely know that when I'm ready, I'll make the journey.

What was your worst holiday?

I was staying in an amazing hotel in Bangkok when most of my stuff was stolen from my suitcase. A lot of clothes, medication, bathroom accessories and my ticket were taken - I had only 12 hours before flying home, so it was panic stations.

And your worst experience on holiday?

I was flying United Airlines once, from LA direct to Boston, where I lived. On a good day that flight should only take five hours, but instead it went via West Virginia and ended up in Washington, D.C., because of a blizzard. I then had to beg to get a last-minute flight to Rhode Island and take a taxi back to Boston, which cost $145. All up it took 48 hours.

The biggest packing mistake you've ever made?

To not take a US converter on a six-star cruise ship, with a laptop and mobile I wasn't able to use. I was on there for a week and not one person had a converter. It was disastrous, and for a while I was like, "What if I lose a job? I have to be on call 24/7!" But it was also a blessing in disguise because after a while the panic gave way to resignation, and resignation gave way to a strange kind of peace.

Worst hotel you've stayed in?

I once arrived in New York only to discover that the hotel I'd booked actually didn't exist - it had closed down but they were still advertising on the website. I then stayed in a disgusting, ramshackle hotel in Chinatown that had barbed wire above the bed where the roof should have been, there was a - how can I put this - lady of the night operating in the room next to me, and there was a huge hole in the wall. She kept swearing at me because I kept telling her to be quiet! It was the most horrible place I've ever seen.

What do you avoid on holidays?

In some places, like Venezuela or Mexico, I avoid side streets. Same in Cambodia, because of muggings. My mother got mugged a few years back in Vietnam at knifepoint and had her necklace ripped off.

What do you hate about holidays?

Initially, I hate relaxing. The first few days are this terrible detox, I miss home and my regular routine and my creature comforts that I'm used to having around me like my desk and, of course, my piano. So the first few days of holidays are always hard and I feel this real sense of unsettling worry and paranoia, like I should be doing something. But that's what you get with a type-A personality!

As told to Nina Karnikowski

Simon Tedeschi's new album, Gershwin & Me, is available now through ABC Classics.