My travel life: Stephen Cummings, Australian musician and author

NUMBER OF COUNTRIES VISITED A dozen or so, all through Asia and Europe, haven't been to New Zealand, but would like to go.

ANY PASSPORT MISHAPS? Once, I lost my passport in New York en-route to Rome. Then I remembered radio Double JJ's Kerry Phillips and Jim Middleton both living in New York. I contacted them and, somehow, they signed me in at the Australian Embassy and we were back on the road, seeing Marvin Gaye at Radio City Music hall and catching Madonna at a tiny club, doing her first album. Essentially, my misfortune became by good fortune.


I CAN'T STOP GOING BACK TO the marvellous hallucinatory golden light of Italy, where the food, history, coffee, produce, markets and beautiful parks are a gas.

MY LAST TRAVEL DESTINATION WAS the Basque Country between Spain and France. We visited San Sebastian in Spain and about thirty minutes up the road, Biarritz​ in France. Such different places. San Sebastian is moody and old worldly, and Biarritz is very light and the beaches are surprisingly good and clean.

MY NEXT TRAVEL DESTINATION IS Italy and a jaunt to Helsinki, where we have been the past three years. It's a meeting spot for airlines. We've grown to appreciate it, love the fabrics and fantastic op shops, and it is the heavy metal capital of Europe, which amuses me. We stand out as we have no tattoos.

I'M REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO having a serious smorgasbord in Helsinki and op-shopping and walking about. It's a bit expensive for tourists. The State library is pretty good and St Petersburg is only a short train ride away.

WHAT I REALLY WANT FROM MY NEXT TRIP IS to travel to some rural area of Japan and do nothing.

I LOVE TO TRAVEL BECAUSE my wife (writer and teacher Kathleen O'Brien) loves organising trips and it makes her happy. She is unflappable and makes travelling easy for me. While our health is good and we can afford it, why the hell not!


MY TRAVEL PHILOSOPHY IS that people, like certain wines, do not travel well, so choose wisely.

THE ONE TRAVEL MISTAKE I ALWAYS MAKE IS visiting too many destinations, when I can happily potter doing nothing in particular.

THE ONE THING I REALLY DO GET RIGHT WHEN I TRAVEL is sleep – as long and as often as suits me. I travel lightly, one small black bag with a white cross hand painted on it.

IF I HAD TO SIT IN THE MIDDLE SEAT THE OTHER PASSENGERS I'D WANT ON EITHER SIDE OF ME WOULD BE no one. Every conceivable person that I might like to fly with would make me uncomfortable. The thing about travelling on airplanes is I don't like to think about it at all. For about five years I refused to fly, I also couldn't drive over the Westgate Bridge. I travelled Australia by rail and boy it got really tiresome and so monotonous, I started to fly again as long as I don't think about it at all. I'd better stop, I'm beginning to sweat.

THE ONE FAMOUS TRAVELLER I REALLY ADMIRE is Columbus, though I've read that Vikings might have beaten him to America. The thing is, my wife and I both have no interest in going to America and in my case England either.

THE ONE FAMOUS PERSON I'D LIKE TO TRAVEL WITH IS my wife, she makes me laugh and she is not frustrated by authority. I travelled next to a famous female Buddhist monk once and she was very quiet and self-contained so was a pretty good travel companion.

AIRLINE FOOD IS business class. I won't fly otherwise, so I don't find it too bad. It's low on my priority. I listen to audio books or watch films till I fall asleep.

AIRPORT SECURITY IS understandable given the state of the world.

HOTELS ARE Good or not good. We stay at apartments usually because we find it better and more to our financial and stylistic needs.

I'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO GO TO Japan because you feel safe there, it is really quite different, the Australian dollar is reasonably good value and I like the food and long-distance trains.

I'VE NEVER WANTED TO GO TO England. I have been there for work when younger and there's not much I like about it in its present condition, which is strange as I like English authors, artists and musicians, but they are usually dead!

AISLE OR WINDOW? Aisle, every time. More leg room, and I don't have to think about where I am.

Stephen Cummings, the former frontman of The Sports, with twenty solo albums and three books, has a new album, Prisoner of Love, being released February 22, an anthology coming out in April and will be touring Australia.