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The World Awaits: travel tales to inspire your wanderlust

The World Awaits: travel tales to inspire your wanderlust

By The World Awaits

Join travel journalists and editors Kirstie Bedford and Belinda Jackson for insightful stories from Australia and the world that will inform, entertain and inspire.
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EP 19: Bill Bensley on philanthropy & Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2024

The World Awaits: travel tales to inspire your wanderlustNov 01, 2023

EP 23: Take the Slow Road or the Spice Road

EP 23: Take the Slow Road or the Spice Road

Have you ever wanted to pack everything up and do the Big Lap around Australia? 

Kirianna Poole did, and so along with her husband, they bought a vintage camper, refitted it, and with a toddler in tow, circumnavigated Australia. They’ve now also covered the length of New Zealand and have Japan in their sights. Kiri talks to Kirstie about her book, The Slow Road Cookbook, her remarkable journey (and two more pregnancies along the way), some of her favourite spots to stop, and her love of cooking on the road, See theslowroad_ on Insta. 

“The spice trade is the second oldest profession and has about as many rogues in it as the oldest profession,” says Belle’s guest, Ian Hemphill. The founder of spice emporium Herbie’s Spices, Ian talks about the world of spices – and why he never brings them back in his luggage. Ian has spent decades travelling the world seeking the best spices, from the markets of southern India to Spain’s Basque region, and he also leads occasional spice tours to India, see

We also reveal the newest travel trends from Expedia, and talk about some of the newest and refurbished airport hotels, and give you the low-down on Skytrax’ award for the world’s top airport hotels.  A big thanks to our sound producer Alaisdair Leith and if you’d like to buy us a coffee (so to speak) so we can keep the show on the road, please check out our ko-fi account at .. and we’d love it if you could hit that subscribe button, too, at  (00:15) Travel writer of the Year link (05:23) Expedia’s travel trends link (08:28) Author Kiri Poole about roadtripping in a vintage Kombi link  (22.37) new airport hotels and Skytrax’ best airport hotel link (27:32) Ian Herbie Hemphill on the world’s spice routes link #theworldawaits #travelpodcast #wanderlust #explore #escape #adventure #vanlife #spiceroad #herbiesspices #herbies #theslowroad #india 

Nov 29, 202346:03
EP 22: Brit film hotspots & Wellness in Mornington

EP 22: Brit film hotspots & Wellness in Mornington

Fancy taking broomstick riding classes, or discovering the Peaky effect in the British Midlands? Maria Sykes of Visit Britain encourages you to load your watchlist with the best new Brit flix, including the new Bridgerton and The Crown series, and Welcome to Wrexham for some Welsh football action. Add Wonka to the mix, then go explore the destinations, including Oxford, Bath and Lime Regis. For more inspo, see

"People are exhausted… we see a lot of people burning out, so guests are looking for a solution for exhaustion, for stress, for how to live an ambitious, successful life but not burn out,“  says Lyndall Mitchell. An author, accredited coach and founder of Aurora Spa Group, Lyndall talks about why wellness travel is in demand, the types of people seeking it out and what the future is going to hold.,

We also talk about the best tourism villages according to the World Tourism Organisation (⁠⁠), and Conde Nast Traveler’s wellness hotel hotlist – which includes the divine new Banyan Tree AlUla in Saudi Arabia,

Nov 23, 202347:26
EP 21: Rebuilding Maui & Life in Bhutan

EP 21: Rebuilding Maui & Life in Bhutan

“Maui needs visitors, it’s very much open .. and the more people that come to visit and spend money here, the better it is for Maui’s recovery”, says Lianne Driessen from Sail Trilogy, a 50-year-old tourism business integral in helping rebuild Maui.

Lianne talks to Kirstie about the fires that devastated Maui, including claiming her own home 12 weeks ago, and what you can do to help in its recovery, 

Did you know there are only 45 foreigners living in the tiny kingdom of Bhutan? One of them is Carissa Nimah, an Australian who is responsible for marketing the Land of the Thunder Dragon to the rest of the world. Surrounded by snowy Himalayan peaks, temples and a Buddhist approach to everything, she talks to Belle about the hiking trails, homestays and spirituality of Bhutan,  

We’re also announcing the winners of our giveaway, two copies of Lonely Planet’s new book, Best in Travel 2024 

We also give you some tips to ensure your insurance claim is successful if you suffer the fate of monkeys (or people) stealing your belongings, and we cover Fodor's 2024 No List; travel list of places to avoid, 

(00:05:22) Rebuilding Maui

(00:28:21) Let's go to Bhutan!

Nov 15, 202347:54
EP 20: Mindful travel in Nepal & Hiking with refugees

EP 20: Mindful travel in Nepal & Hiking with refugees

Walking slowly in silence in the Nepalese Himalayas is just one of the ways travel writer Nina Karnikowski says we can embrace mindful travel.

Belle talks to Nina about taking the time to travel, and taking in the world around us on a more acute level. “We can travel at a pace so fast, we actually miss all the wonder around us as we tick our boxes and return home exhausted," she says.

You can see more about Nina’s work, including her latest book, The Mindful Traveller, at ⁠, and for more about her tour to the Nepalese Himalayas, visit

For many refugees from war-torn countries, settling into Australian life can be daunting. Especially for those who have suffered trauma most of us can’t even imagine. Finding solace in nature himself, Neil McCulloch decided to start a charity where he could help new refugees in Australia settle into life here, and experience an Aussie pastime, camping and hiking – and First Hike Project was born,

Neil talks to Kirstie about how the transformative effect of nature on many of the refugees he takes into the Aussie bush, and why it’s so life-changing.

We also reveal the world’s most loved landmarks, including which Australian landmark makes the list (it might just surprise you), share tips on the best ways to save money when you’re travelling in Europe, and take a little ride down the Great Victorian Rail Trail, see

Nov 08, 202339:11
EP 19: Bill Bensley on philanthropy & Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2024

EP 19: Bill Bensley on philanthropy & Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2024

Bill Bensley is world renowned for his unique, inspiring and award-winning hotel designs and eye-catching architecture, bringing to life more than 200 resorts, hotels and palaces in over 30 countries. He is also a concerned conservationist and passionate philanthropist, and a pioneer in helping communities, and preserving conservation and wildlife. He tells Kirstie why he’s so passionate about philanthropy and his next big project,

Also, Lonely Planet has released its new Best in Travel 2024, an annual guide to the top destinations to visit next year. Chris Zeiher from Lonely Planet tells Belle why Mongolia is the place to be in 2024. We also talk about new cycling and train routes, best sustainable destinations and great value travel; expect to hear about destinations as far afield as Spain and Palau, and Australia’s own Kangaroo Island,

GIVEAWAY! We also have two copies of the beautiful Best in Travel 2024 coffee-table book to give away – just drop us a line at or leave a message via our contact page,

And if you’d also like to do a walking food tour of Footscray, which Belle did recently with Intrepid Travel and the Australian Society of Travel Writers – or a morning in Delhi or a tour of New York’s brownstone buildings, amongst other experiences – check out Intrepid Travel’s awesome Urban Adventures, ⁠

We also chat about the best (and worst) places to travel as a solo female traveller, from Malaysia to South Africa, you can see the results here (though we disagree with some of them!)

And the world’s top sunset locations according to research commissioned by left luggage specialist Bounce, is right here in our own back yard, in Uluru. Find out where the other top spots around the world are for a setting sun,

Nov 01, 202342:55
EP 18: Where to ski this winter, Spookiest haunts & Best travel gadgets
Oct 26, 202340:40
EP 17: On Country in Kakadu & Travels with a healthy gut

EP 17: On Country in Kakadu & Travels with a healthy gut

Bininj man Ben Tyler talks to Belle about growing up in what’s now Kakadu National Park, in the Northern Territory. The creator of the Dird Full Moon Feasts at Cooinda Lodge, Ben talks about foraging for bush tucker, speaking language and the power of Country. To find out more about the Dird dinners and travelling in Kakadu, visit To learn more about the Bininj Kunwok language of West Arnhem Land, visit Also, nutritionist Sheryl Takayama shares some great tips on how to keep your stomach healthy while you’re travelling. Sheryl, whose clients include flight attendants and travellers getting ready for their big trip, talks about how to minimise the stress of inflight travel on your gut (spoiler: say no to constant snacking while on the plane!) so you hit the ground running in the best possible condition. And stay to the end to hear Sheryl’s most bizarre travel experience. It will knock your socks off – guaranteed! See

Our film reviewer and audio guru Alaisdair Leith drops some hot tips for movies that evoke their filming locations, from Oklahoma to the Greek isles, and is travel insurance worth the money?

Oct 19, 202347:59
EP 16: Max Allen on Australia’s alternative wines & Softcore wellness in south-east Asia

EP 16: Max Allen on Australia’s alternative wines & Softcore wellness in south-east Asia

Where do you go to step off the beaten track of wine – away from the unholy trinity of chardonnay, shiraz and sauvignon blanc? Author and wine writer Max Allen talks to Belle about his new book, Alternative Reality: How Australian wine changed course. The book includes the best cellar doors in Australia where you can explore the exciting alternative grape varieties we’re drinking (or should be drinking) now. Keep listening to the end to hear his hot tip of the next big grape varietal… See

Mat Lewis, of hand-picked luxury resorts group View Retreats, talks to Kirstie about their new wellness escapes, which he dubs ‘discovery and recovery’. He talks about View’s favourite south-east Asian wellness destinations – Thailand, Sri Lanka, Bali, Vietnam and Cambodia. People want to step away, to have downtime, to get away from endless scrolling and to live a more simple, holistic life, says Mat, who is also a qualified life coach practicing for the past decade. See

We’re also talking about using AI to plan your travel adventures, courtesy of new research from Euromonitor and our top inflight peeves according to Agoda’s Travel Bugbears Survey 2023 (hint: they all smell or sound bad, and don’t get us started on the armrest wars!)

A big shout out to our audio producer Alaisdair Leith. And if you love all things travel, subscribe wherever you listen to your favourite pods, and please give us a rating or review :)

(00:00:31) Top inflight peeves – they all smell bad

(00:05:31) Alternative wine varietals

(00:30:07) Using AI to plan your travel adventures

(00:33:46) New wellness journeys

Oct 12, 202350:36
SPECIAL EP 15: The long road to restore tourism in Morocco

SPECIAL EP 15: The long road to restore tourism in Morocco

Morocco is a country that relies heavily on tourism, and it has a long road ahead to recover from the devastating earthquake that killed more than 2,900 people when it struck the High Atlas Mountain range near Marrakech just weeks ago. Australian David Mannix of Arcadia Expeditions, who lives in Marrakech, talks about his experience “being shot around like a pinball” during the quake and how you can best support the North African nation. We also talk to By Prior Arrangement’s lead guide in Marrakech, Abdellah Amghar, who explains why you need to make sure you don’t cancel travel plans to Morocco, and which other parts of the country you can explore to put your tourist dollar where it’s needed most.

We also chat about adult-only sections on planes – would you pay extra to avoid sitting next to a (potential) screaming child? And luxe travel advisor Virtuoso reveals the leading types of trips we’re all seeking. 

Our tip this week is about how to avoid being ripped off when you travel, based on USA Today's research on tourist attractions it says are overrated and overpriced – although we don’t necessarily agree with them all!


Australian David Mannix, founder of Arcadia Expeditions, had just returned to live in Marrakech a week before the devastating earthquake struck. He tells Kirstie how it was like a plane was on top of them and he thought the building was going to collapse as he ran from his apartment with his young son in his arms. David’s wife is Moroccan, and he is urging travellers to return to Marrakech to help the many thousands of people relying on tourism.

Also, on the ground in Morocco, By Prior Arrangement lead guide, Abdellah Amghar, tells Belle about the many other places you can visit outside of the High Atlas Mountains, and how you can best support Moroccans at this challenging time.


A big shout out to our producer, Alaisdair Leith. And if you love all things travel, subscribe wherever you listen to your favourite pods, and please give us a rating or review!

Oct 11, 202345:13
EP 14: Travel to China is back, and we go to Canada in search of wild bears

EP 14: Travel to China is back, and we go to Canada in search of wild bears

It’s the last country to open its doors after the pandemic, but travel to China is finally back, as Wendy Wu, founder of Wendy Wu Tours tells us. Also, what do you do if you meet a bear in the woods? We ask former software developer Marg Leehane, now the owner of the Great Bear Lodge in the wilds of British Columbia. Also, how to claim credits for unused flights from Qantas and Jetstar and new research from @july unveils some rather…er… interesting things we’re packing on holiday. We urge you to supporting Intrepid Travel’s Morocco earthquake appeal.

The last country to open, tourism to China is back, as Wendy Wu – founder of Wendy Wu Tours – tells us today. Also, we’re talking with former software developer turned wildlife lodge owner, Marg Leehane, about her lodge in the wilds of British Columbia. We also explain how to claim your credits for unused flights from Qantas and Jetstar, and new research unveils some rather ‘interesting’ things we’re taking on holiday. Wendy Wu Tours 

Australian Marg Leehane did what most could only dream of. The former software developer threw in her corporate career for a life immersed in nature, and she is now one of the owners of Great Bear Lodge in British Columbia. The floating lodge hosts guests from all over the world to see the grizzly bears in the Great Bear Rainforest. She talks about why the region is so special and explains the best way to have close encounters with bears in the wild.

Sep 13, 202346:12
 EP 13: South Korea & Responsible travel

EP 13: South Korea & Responsible travel

K-Pop, too-cute hanok guesthouses and some of the world’s best street food: travel consultant Lachlan Woodland talks about why you need to get on board the next flight to Korea. Also, Toni Ambler of The Travel Corporation on how you can help keep ancient traditions alive – from weaving to flamenco – by travelling responsibly. We also talk about how you prepare to go on a wellness retreat, and finally - comfort seeker or mindful traveller? The latest research from says we’re one of four travel types - which one are you? 

Lachlan Woodland is an expert travel consultant with tour company Inside Asia Tours and shares his love of the country that brought us K-Pop, too-cute hanok guesthouses in Bukchon and some of the world’s best street food. (Not to mention turning a demilitarization zones into a must-visit destination!) Lachlan tips Busan’s Jagalchi seafood markets and the off-beat Mangwon markets in the west of Seoul for local food experiences, while the more touristy Myeong-dong and Namdaemun markets are great starters,  

Toni Ambler, The Travel Corporation’s (TTC) Australia and New Zealand managing director, tells Kirstie she fell in love with travel thanks to her father, who worked for Contiki in the 1970s – a brand now under her remit. Toni talks about the importance of the TreadRight Foundation and how by travelling with TTC, you can help keep ancient traditions alive from weaving to flamenco, 

Kirstie soaked up the good life in Aurora Bathhouse & Spa this week while Belle was a blissful guest at the six-suite Drift House in Port Fairy, in western Victoria,; and our wellness retreat tips come from Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, and The Landing in New Zealand,, 

A big shout out to our very patient sound producer, Alaisdair Leith! And if you love all things travel, hit subscribe wherever you listen to your favourite pods, and don’t be shy about giving us a rating or review!

Sep 06, 202348:20
EP 12: How to do Bali better, and unforgettable wildlife encounters

EP 12: How to do Bali better, and unforgettable wildlife encounters

Have the best wildlife encounter (best for you, best for the wildlife), and is Bali really all it’s cracked up to be? Also, sip your way around the world at these leading wine destinations and find out how you can while away your time (for free!) at the airport. What an episode!

Kirstie catches up with award-winning wildlife photographer and journalist Rachelle Mackintosh to chat about the powerful impact of seeing wildlife in their domain. She shares hair-raising tiger encounters, talks of her obsession with sighting whales, and explains how you can ensure you’re doing the right thing by the wildlife experience you book,

Belle chats with Bali-based author and travel writer Penny Watson, who moved to the Island of the Gods in the midst of the pandemic. Penny talks about how not to be an absolute loser when you visit Bali, and how to spread the love. We’re talking Kintamani, the waterfalls of Munduk, Amed on the east coast and Lovina in the north – basically anywhere beyond Ubud, Kuta and Canggu – for access to local businesses, ceremonies, and a connection to the Balinese people. She’s also just released her new book, Wilderness, which you can order here  

Also, here’s the link to Alex the Flemish Giant bunny at San Francisco’s airport, see at take a listen to Belle’s chat with ABC radio Melbourne, talking about how to while away the time in airports around the world,

And a big shout out to our producer Alaisdair Leith for his zen-like patience, and to you for listening! Don’t be afraid to subscribe to The World Awaits via your favourite podcast wrangler or at

Aug 31, 202341:04
Episode 11: Melbourne day walks & how to go slow Switzerland
Aug 23, 202342:38
Episode 10: South Africa & Caravanning in Australia
Aug 16, 202336:47
Episode 9: Lost in Florence & a new collection of chic, sustainable hotels
Aug 10, 202339:23
Episode 8: Walking the Camino de Santiago & new travel movies

Episode 8: Walking the Camino de Santiago & new travel movies

We pick some of the most scenic movies now showing at the Melbourne International Film Festival, and find out what it’s like to walk the Camino de Santiago 35 times. We’ll also reveal the world’s most powerful passport and ask which is cheaper; a hotel or Airbnb?

Welcome back to our entertainment reporter Alaisdair Leith, who’s picked movies from Ireland, Germany’s Baltic coast and the Sami lands of Norway for their incredible landscapes. He chats with Belinda Jackson about the movies – Afire, The Miracle Club and Let the River Flow – which are all showing at the Melbourne International Film Festival. See 

And we promised you a link to the 24-hour live webcam from the Sanctuaries of Our Lady of Lourdes, 

Glenyce Johnston, founder of small group walking tour company, Wandering the World, talks to Kirstie Bedford about why she packed in her corporate career to wander the Camino de Santiago. 

She has since visited 136 countries across every continent and walked the Camino 35 times. 

Glenyce has spent the last three months wandering the Camino, the Douro Valley in Portugal and the Coast to Coast across England, and explains why she can’t get enough of the great outdoors, and why you should get amongst it, too. See

Thanks for listening. 

Aug 02, 202336:47
Episode 7: The Maldives & Bruce Poon Tip on travelling for good

Episode 7: The Maldives & Bruce Poon Tip on travelling for good

We talk to Bruce Poon Tip, one of travel’s most influential voices, about community tourism and we’ll also take you to the tropical paradise that is the Maldives. Also on the pod, best outdoor showers and tubs, and which do you think is the best country for solo travel

Social entrepreneur, New York Times best-selling author and owner of adventure travel company G Adventure Bruce Poon Tip talks to Kirstie Bedford from Toronto about the importance of community tourism, and what you can do as a traveller to genuinely make change to communities in need.  Bruce also reveals the countries that are leading the way in travel for change, 

Watch Bruce’s moving video here, which is sure to change your perception of travel: 

To tropical islands and swaying palms, Belle catches up with Mark Thomson, a senior executive of Minor Hotels, which has seven hotels in the Maldives. The burning question is, with all our own sun and sand, why should Australians visit the Maldives? Visit and 

If you’d like to read more about those solo travel stats, here’s the survey by left luggage service Bounce, 

And finally, if you want to subscribe to the special 40th anniversary issue of Vacations & Travel which Kirstie mentions, click here:

Thanks for listening.

Jul 26, 202334:11
Episode 6: Going deeper into Fiji & arts tourism in Japan
Jul 19, 202336:38
Episode 5: Eat Spain with Ben Groundwater & would you visit Nauru?

Episode 5: Eat Spain with Ben Groundwater & would you visit Nauru?

We’re off to Spain and Nauru, we’re talking airport lounge hacks and the world’s best airline for 2023 – does Singapore Airlines deserve the golden gong? 

Our guests this episode are:
Ben Groundwater in conversation with Belinda Jackson

Travel writer, author and tour guide Ben Groundwater tells us how much he loves Spain, and why you should love it too. We’re talking about where to eat paella and drink Jerez sherry, about hundred-year-old Basque cider houses, why cañas (small glasses of beer) at breakfast are a thing. And Ben’s top dining recommendation is (drum roll)…

Asadore Etxebarri: San Juan Plaza, 1, 48291 Axpe, Bizkaia, 

You can read Ben’s adventures each week in the Traveller section of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, and his two new books are Ultimate Food & Drink Australia and Neon Lights in Tokyo. Join Ben on his Insiders Food Tour of San Sebastian with World Expeditions departs in May and October 2024. Tickets are selling like hot churros! See  

Lisa Pagotto in conversation with Kirstie Bedford

The tiny Pacific nation of Nauru is synonymous with refugee detention centres, but its government is encouraging tourism to the region for a much-needed boost to its economy. 

Crooked Compass founder and CEO Lisa Pagotto has just returned from Nauru and is now taking tours to the region, to add to their many off-the-grid destinations – from Moldova to Mongolia. She tells Kirstie what travellers can expect on a trip to this tropical micronation, and how your tourism dollar really will make a difference. 

Crooked Compass: 

Thanks for listening!

Jul 12, 202335:56
Episode 4: Going off-piste in Idaho & seeing the Big 5 in Africa
Jun 22, 202342:06
Episode 3 : Paris & Kangaroo Island
Jun 14, 202338:16
Episode 2 : India, Italy & the Victorian ski fields

Episode 2 : India, Italy & the Victorian ski fields

We're taking you to India, to the Victorian ski fields and to Italy.
Life coach and tour leader Jo Langhorne of Soulful Escapes talks about how truly transformational travel can be, and why India tops her list for travel destinations that will change you,

Also, as the Australia ski season kicks off this weekend, we catch up with Vail International Resort’s Emily Smith from her base at Hotham ski resort in northern Victoria to hear what’s happening on and off the slopes,

And finally, movie buff and our entertainment reporter Alaisdair Leith takes us to Italy and the filming locations that feature in the new movie Book Club:

The Next Chapter, which stars Jane Fonda and the Trevi Fountain.
Thanks for listening!

Jun 07, 202339:51
Episode 1: Maria Pasquale's Rome & Tasmania's best film sites

Episode 1: Maria Pasquale's Rome & Tasmania's best film sites

Welcome to the very first podcast of The World Awaits, with travel journalists Kirstie Bedford and Belinda Jackson. This week, we take you to Rome, Tasmania and Champagne.

This episode, actress Alicia Gardiner talks about the filming locations you can visit in Tasmania where her newest series, Deadloch, was filmed. To see more, visit

And Australian-Italian author Maria Pasquale tells us how to eat like a Roman. The author of The Eternal City also shares her tip for where to find Rome’s best gelato, see 

Thanks for listening to our very first episode!

May 31, 202337:05