Travel as a Vehicle for Wellbeing
Travel not only has the power to reduce our stress levels, but it can also help us to open our minds to new cultures and experiences. With the pandemic holding many people back from exploring the world, I am sure many of you are looking forward to finally booking those flights, and visiting the places you have long awaited for. From travel, food, and wellness, we talk to Cleo Anderson about how travel can not only be an ‘educational’ adventure but an ’emotionally rewarding’ one too.
Could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell us a bit about your PR agency, The Anderson Media Group?
I am the Founder of The Anderson Media Group – we are a luxury lifestyle PR agency that was founded over thirteen years ago. We work with brands, companies and individuals globally within the lifestyle space, and clients can range from unique beauty brands to cosmetic surgeons and five star hotels.
In your recent Forbes interview when asked what you love the most about travel you said “The food, learning about new cultures, meeting new people and cultivating an open mind.” Why do you think travel helps to open the mind?
I’ve always thought that it’s a great thing to see how other people live, and it’s not something you can do staying in your home town or country; it’s something that you have to see first hand. I’ve been lucky enough to experience life in many parts of the world, from residing in Paris as a teenager during my law degree to living in Johannesburg in my thirties. I’ve been fortunate to see many of the places around the world that I always dreamed of seeing; The Maldives, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Cappadocia, Abu Dhabi, Monaco, Japan, Cape Town, New York, Macau, Santorini, California, Singapore, Bali, the list goes on. Each experience has been both invigorating and eye-opening – different cultures have always fascinated me.
You mentioned that one thing you love about travel is food. Out of all the places you have visited what is your favourite cuisine?
Morocco has always been a place I’ve been happy to revisit time and time again because of the food, as I’m a big fan of the local tagine. I could eat a different tagine each day – with freshly baked bread – and I would be in heaven. I also love a good Thai curry.
Why do you think that experiencing different cultures is so important?
Understanding others, I feel, is something that we should all strive to do – it helps create harmony and a feeling of camaraderie. Travelling the world and interacting with lots of different people, you see that we are all way more alike than we are different. That’s the important message that I feel sometimes gets lost in modern times.
Do you have any advice for people looking to make the most out of their holiday?
Whilst I will always be a fan of kicking back and enjoying a luxury resort or a glamourous hotel, I would always say that it’s important to get out into the city or region you are in and see more of the local way of life. It’s always nice to support the local small businesses by researching family-run restaurants, for example, that have a great reputation, or finding the little boutique stores that make something unique to that area and buying something that will remind you of your time there. It’s always interesting to dress down and get lost in the local crowds if you can. I also think it’s nice to balance relaxation with finding interesting excursions to do that both energize and delight. I remember having a wonderful stay at Anantara’s Qasr Al Sarab in Abu Dhabi – it’s one of the most stunning hotels I have ever stayed at, and it was extremely easy to sit around the pool and take in the desert views – but I also went ‘dune bashing’ for the first time, and it was such a different, fun activity that contrasted perfectly with the down time I had there that it really rounded off the trip wonderfully. I have memories from that holiday that I will never forget.
You have travelled to many countries, what is your favourite place to visit?
I have far too many favourites to mention, but I will say that Cappadocia, Turkey was eye-opening and something completely different for me. There was a magical element to going up in a hot air balloon over the unique Cappadocian terrain, and seeing hundreds of hot air balloons launch each morning while having my morning coffee. Cappadocia is just so beautiful, and incomparable to anywhere else.
What has been your most memorable trip?
My trip to the Pyramids in Cairo. It was a trip steeped in history, wonder and adventure all at once. I also loved Japan, particularly Kyoto. It was incredibly peaceful.
Has travel helped with your mental wellbeing?
I would definitely say that it has. I think that people find happiness and wellbeing in many different ways, but for me, travel centres me and provides a sense of fulfillment that nothing else does. I love having these wonderful stories and adventures to reminisce about, but travel can also be educational, exciting, and emotionally rewarding.
You lead a very luxurious lifestyle (travelling to some of the most luxury hotels in the world) is there anything you would change about your life, if so what?
I’m living my dream life, so there isn’t anything I would change. The occasions when I’ve been able to invite others along on some of my big trips have always been wonderful, so perhaps having the opportunity to do more of that, time permitting, would be nice. I am often gone for at least a couple of weeks at a time, so working out schedules can sometimes be challenging.
Did you always know that you wanted to pursue a job within the PR industry?
Falling into PR was a happy accident that I had not at all planned – my degree was actually in Law and French. So no, it’s not a career path that I planned at all.
Has your career in travel PR pushed you to experience things you never thought you would?
I think that the natural progression into travel and working with luxury hotels has been great for the agency, and so from that perspective travelling the world and visiting luxury hotels in places like Cambodia, Vietnam and Monaco has been a wonderful addition to my career. Again, it’s not something I planned, but it has been the perfect career progression for me.
Do you have any advice for people that may want to follow in your footsteps?
Well in terms of starting your own business I would say do your homework, prepare, and don’t be afraid to make the leap and get started. When it comes to PR, working within a PR agency was how I learned more about the craft initially, so I would advise finding an agency and doing an internship in order to get started. That experience will be invaluable.
What do you think the secret to wellness is?
Finding a happiness within that no-one externally can touch. Your thoughts and your mind, I believe, have a huge impact on everything else – when your mind and sense of happiness within are untouchable, that’s where it’s at.
What do you do to tackle stress daily?
I try not to dwell on or focus on negative thoughts for any length of time (I’ve become good at pinpointing why I’m feeling a certain way and redirecting my attention fairly quickly), and professionally I try to be prepared and organised, which instills a sense of calm.
To finish, could you share one of your favourite quotes with us?
‘My happiness depends on me, so you’re off the hook’ – Esther Hicks.
How can our readers follow and contact you?
Follow us on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/tamgpr and follow our global adventures on our newly launched Flickr account here: https://flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/ You can also reach us at [email protected]