From family road trips down the east coast to getting paid to see the world as a presenter for The Great Outdoors, TV personality and travel guru Shelley Craft reflects on her adventures and their lasting impact on her life today.

“There’s no doubt that my travels influence every single decision I make today. From the way I handle situations to my taste in home styling and food choices. Once you’ve travelled, nothing ever looks the same again.

My first memories of travel are from very young. Every June, we’d do a road trip from Brisbane to the ski fields in NSW. The first few years the family would take a week to get there, stopping at every point along the way, and learning about Australia’s explorer and bush history. From Cunnigham’s Gap, through to Thunderbolts Rock, throw in the Dog on his Tuckerbox, Jenolan Caves, and the Big Merino in Goulburn for good measure. I love those memories because it was a time when we were all together and life was simpler, as they say.

Christian (my husband) and I grew up in the same area in Brisbane, but we never met until The Great Outdoors, where I was a presenter and he was a sound engineer. We ended up doing many a work trip together as colleagues.

So many experiences I had on The Great Outdoors stick in my head! I look back at the photos and reminisce all the time. It’s nice now I can share all the adventures I had with my girls and hopefully give them a desire and interest in travel.

I’d have to say China is the country that surprised me most

One thing I’ve learnt about travelling is you have to want to do it. There’s no point forcing the issue. If you need some home time, take it, because if you’re not up for it, nothing will inspire you, no matter how amazing a place is.

I did get a little spoilt and burnt out from working in travel. Being away from home three weeks out of every five for six years straight was pretty full on. Now I’m as itchy as ever to get back out on the road though! Whether it’s camping with the family or exploring overseas, the bug is back and I love the thought of planning trips with the family.

I’d have to say China is the country that surprised me most. I’ve travelled the length and breadth of China and every city, town, and port has a completely unique feel. From some of the most advanced technology, right through to the western borders, where you feel like you’re in an ancient Middle Eastern bazaar. China is everything I love about travel – it’s exciting, it’s challenging, it’s steeped in history, and the culture is so vibrant and colourful. You never have a dull moment in China, no matter where you go.

My desire to travel differs greatly from my need to holiday. I see the two as completely different things. Travel is not a holiday, it’s a life experience. I’m just as happy to sit in a beautiful resort surrounded by azure waters with a cocktail in my hand, but that isn’t travelling.

I realise the more you travel, the less you’ve seen. There’s such a big wide world out there and I hope to touch every corner of it. Now it’s all about sharing those experiences with my kids and I can’t wait.

Looking on the TripADeal website right now, I’d choose to go on the Rocky Mountaineer for sure! I’ve been lucky enough to travel through many parts of Canada and Alaska, but never on the train, and this is one journey I’m going to do ASAP.”

Image: A tiny selection of Shelley’s personal travel pics.

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