Mel on boat

Sydney Weekender’s lifestyle maven Melanie Symons has the great fortune of travelling - both personally and professionally - fortnightly. Her life of extraordinary travels has shown us what it means to embrace the spirit of connection to other people, cultures, and special moments.

Cities, beaches, mountains… what kind of environment do you like to visit on holiday?

I’m mostly drawn to the ocean. A warm holiday by the sea is for me. Being in a beachside environment enriches my life so much that I actually visited Byron Bay on a holiday and never left!

Mel in Byron Bay NSW

Of all your travels, what trips stand out?

It’s so wonderful to think back about your travels. At the top of my list is Kastellorizo, the most south easterly island in Greece. I adore this place because I have Greek heritage on my father’s side with my ancestors originating from this tiny island we descendants fondly know as “Kazzie”. When I arrived there for the first time I was blown away by the warmth of the people, the crystal clear waters, the food, the culture… it’s all so close to my heart. There is a great deal that I identified with, like the strong women on the island who traditionally run the households, the sense of family, and the boisterous personalities that match my own!

I took the trip with my Dad and it was very special because he is fluent in Greek and were able to speak to so many people. Since it’s such a small island, we found that we were somehow related to everyone! I’m planning to go back but I’m waiting until my daughter is old enough to remember it! Going to Kazzie made me want to really embrace this side of my culture and had me feeling even more proud of my ancestry.

Mel Symons with her father in Kastellorizo Greece

Mel Symons with her father in Kastellorizo Greece

 

On the domestic front I’ve taken a few work trips recently, which blew me away. Having only been to the Whitsundays twice (a long time ago) I was reminded that we have one of the all time best global destinations right on our doorstep, the colour of the water has you feeling like you’ve added a filter to your own lenses and seeing the incredible marine life up close is wonderful. With such a relaxed vibe it’s hard not to have a great time.

Mel Symons snorkelling with a large fish

Mel snorkelling in the Whitsundays

 

As for the NT, the landscapes are stunning and meeting the indigenous people and learning about their connection to country makes for a grounded, spiritual and special experience.

Mel Symons standing Standley Chasm NT

Mel Symons standing at Standley Chasm, Northern Territory

 

Your style is undeniable. Do you travel to shop?

Thank you! No actually I don’t go places specifically to go clothes shopping. My travels are really about the people, culture and experiences. And while shopping is one of those experiences, I don’t plan trips around it. There are some destinations however that do make for great shopping trips.

In Bali, the fashion and homewares are beautiful. I’ve brought back timber tables and chairs that I’ve enjoyed in my home for many years. I also love the glamour of Rome, the Italians are so stylish and their European summer look with white linens channelled by Australian designers today always has me feeling like I'm back in the Mediterranean!

And although I do love to shop, many pieces don’t translate back home. You can find something has you feeling like a million dollars in one destination and then a little strange and inappropriate on home turf! For me it’s more fun to visit a destination, appreciate their style in the moment and then be selective about what I take home (style not fashion!), that way I’m not wasting hard earned travel dollars, and the few pieces I couldn’t leave without, feel particularly special and stand the test of time.

Mel visiting Kastellorizo2

Mel channeling the easy European vibes

 

Do you have any tips for getting through long flights?

Embrace the time. A chance to sit still and slow right down can be rare these days so enjoy the luxury. I always look forward to flying as it’s my alone time to revel in a good book or film or flick through some magazines.

On the flip-side, if I’m feeling motivated I reflect and clarify my personal goals. I take the time to be present, make lists for myself, and think ahead on my priorities.