Travelling Life: CNN’s Richard Quest

For CNN’s globetrotting business correspondent, the excitement of a work or leisure trip starts from the moment he boards an airplane, especially if it’s one flying to Australia.
Richard Quest. Jonathan Hawkins / CNN
Richard Quest. Jonathan Hawkins / CNN

Born in Liverpool and educated at the University of Leeds, Richard Quest is CNN’s main international business correspondent, based in New York. He anchors the show Quest Means Business, which airs weekdays on CNN International. He also presents the monthly CNN Business Traveller show, and is the author of The Vanishing of Flight MH370: The True Story of the Hunt for the Missing Malaysian Plane. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation awarded Quest the 2013 UNWTO Award for Lifetime Achievement in respect of his work as a business journalist reporting on the tourism industry.

How often do you travel, and do you often combine business trips with leisure?

Roughly twice a month. It’s not always long haul, it might be a trip from New York to London, or it might be a trip within the United States. I always aspire to add in leisure, but the reality is that things always take longer than expected, so I tend to literally turn round and head straight back home immediately.

Where is the last place you went for a holiday?

Sydney, Australia. I feel a great affinity for the place and I love going there. I find it one of the most exciting places in the world. The other place I love is Spain. The family has a home there and it’s one of the places where I can switch off and relax.

What do you look for in a holiday?

I’m a beach person, no ifs, buts or ands. Give me a beach, with a deckchair, and a good book and a light breeze and I will stay tanning for hours.

Do you find it difficult to switch off?

There’s two different levels of “switching off”. At its most simple, I can put work to one side and enjoy the environment. But, if you’re talking about that deep relaxation, what tends to happen on a two- or three-week holiday is, after the first two or three days, I will go into deep sleep and stay like that for 24 or 36 hours.

Has travelling affected the way you see the world?

Absolutely, in two distinct ways. When you cross oceans fairly frequently the world seems a lot smaller, but the opposite side of that is you’re very much aware of the differences having just travelled a few hours. I don’t very much like the fact that there’s often a homogeneous nature to things, the same shops, the same chains, the same coffee stores, but that’s life.

Where is home?

Home is London and New York. London because that’s where my mother lives, it’s where I have an apartment, and it’s where I will retire. New York because it’s also where I work and I have a home here as well. If I am forced to choose, it would be London. It’s just simply a stunning, phenomenal city of world-class proportions.

Where are you going next?

My schedule says that my next trip is to London, but who knows? There could be a Boston trip and Los Angeles is on the cards. I may have to be in Singapore before the end of November, and there’s Casablanca and Marrakech for an Arab aviation conference. There’s always a jockeying of trips.

Where do you want to go next?

I feel I should say the Galápagos Islands or some weird and wonderful place I haven’t been to, but it’s more that there are places I want to go back to, such as Buenos Aires and other parts of Argentina, or Arctic Canada – that I’ve never really had a chance to explore. There are things I want to do, like go and stay in some country-house hotels in Britain, or some large villas in France. I think before too long I would like to cross the Atlantic again on the Queen Mary or the Queen Elizabeth, because that’s a grand old style of travel. I think I would perhaps like to do the Orient Express, just to say that I’ve done it. Also, maybe one would like to try The Apartment on Etihad; again, just to say I have done it, I have tried it, I have been there. But I have been very fortunate, I’ve seen much of what I’ve wanted to see; what I’d really like to do is go back and go farther and enjoy places more.

Which parts of the Middle East have you most enjoyed?

Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, the UAE and Qatar. Certainly with Egypt there is a life and a vibrancy that is quite extraordinary, and I always enjoy being in Cairo.

How many countries have you visited?

I’m in the 80s or 90s, but I don’t really think of it like that. I think of it as being cultures, nations, different places.

Do you have a favourite place?

Yes, I have lots of favourites, but probably my favourite place is Sydney. There is something wonderful about flying into Australia and I find going there unbelievably relaxing. The time difference to the northern hemisphere is extreme, so work is difficult to do – you send your emails out in the morning, you get the replies at night, you deal with them overnight. There’s none of this simultaneous communication that you get between New York and London or LA, where both newsrooms are operating in real time.

Do you prefer luxury or simplicity?

The two are not mutually exclusive. I don’t particularly like places that are over the top, with trimmings and gold taps and knick-knacks, but probably overall, luxury over simplicity.

What do you love about travelling?

“Cabin crew, doors to automatic” is one of my favourite phrases because it means everyone’s on board, the doors are closed and we’re on our way. And as I look around the aircraft, you will see people going on business trips, lovers going on long holidays, people going to see relatives and friends they may not have seen for decades. You will see people going to say goodbye to people they may never see again, so I enjoy the variety of people that one sees, the purposes, the beauty and the richness of experience.

What do you hate about travelling?

The hassle factor. The inevitability, not of a delay but of a long line waiting at security, at immigration. The inevitability of a row with a hotel over what time you can check in or check out. The inevitability of not being able to find a cab that will take you where you want to go. The inevitability of room service that is overpriced and undercooked. But these are the natural vicissitudes of travel and I try very hard not to let them get in the way of the true beauty that I enjoy, which is that feeling of ‘I’m going somewhere, I’m going to see someone, I’m going to cover a story – and that is what gives me great excitement.

Read this and more stories in Ultratravel magazine, out with The National on Thursday, September 29.

Published: September 27, 2016 04:00 AM


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