Samuel Phillips is a Coffs Coast local who has recently been away travelling the world. We wanted to hear about his epic trip, where he went, and his travel tips for those thinking of booking that holiday of a lifetime.
Hey Sam. Tell us about your relationship with the Coffs Coast.
I was lucky enough to move up to the Coffs Coast from Bowral (Southern Highlands) in 1996. I’ve been here pretty much ever since, apart from my adventures. I lived in London in 2006 with a few mates, which was quite enjoyable – six of us living in one room with three queen size beds on the floor was very eventful. We got to see a bit of Europe while over there, which was good. The Coffs Coast has it over London, though. We really don’t realise how lucky we are to live in such an amazing town with some of the best rivers and beaches in the world.
You have recently been on what some people would call the adventure of a lifetime?
Yeah, I would have to say it really was a trip of a lifetime. Very go, go, go! But, that’s what I love!
Starting off in Rome and making my way down to Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast via train, to catching a ferry over to Capri and hiring a boat over there to take us around some of the most beautiful islands in the world (put Capri on your bucket list!)
After being on the Amalfi Coast for a few days, we made our way to Naples, then on to Florence. I went to see the big statue of David, then made my way to Venice, which is a bloody unreal place. No cars or bikes, all water transport! Even the garbo was a boat!
We stayed in Venice for few days, then I made my way over to the Colourful House, which was called Burano; you catch a Boat Taxi over to it – very worth it for a day trip. From Venice we travelled to Madrid, Spain, and stayed there for a few nights and ate a lot (this was probably my favourite place for food) – so much to choose from!
Our next stop was Barcelona, which is a beautiful city on the beach. A lot going on at the beaches there – volley ball, beach bars and lots of very skimpily dressed people – so I fitted right in with my Budgys!
After Barcelona, we visited Ibiza … Ibiza … wow! What an expensive place. Club prices over there to get in vary from $100 to $250 and to buy a drink inside the clubs is around $20 – $30 a drink, and a bottle of water is around $15.
Ibiza is not always about the party, so we ventured our way over to an island called Formentera, which had some of the best beaches I’ve ever been to. It wasn’t anything like Ibiza; it was much more laid back. We hired a motor bike and went around the island.
If you were going to go to Ibiza, I would recommend going for no longer than three days.
Next on our itinerary was Santorini, Greece. What a spot! It’s one place you couldn’t take a bad photo. Beautiful sights everywhere! My highlight from Santorini was hiring a catamaran, heading out and swimming in the middle of a volcano and watching the sunset with a glass of vino; I’d highly recommended it!
After Greece I made my way to Los Angeles and stayed there for a few nights and then ventured down to San Diego to see a band (Jack White).
I then made my way to New York, New York! I’m not really a city person, but New York I love! Such a cool, funky city with plenty of trend and style.
From New York I made my way to Cancun, Mexico. Everyone warned me it was an unsafe place, but where I went I didn’t feel in danger once.
I stayed in Playa del Mar for a few nights and then travelled to Tulum! My favourite! It’s not very commercialised yet, but you can see it’s growing. I went swimming through the underground Cenotes (a natural underground reservoir of water such as occurs in the limestone of Tulum, Mexico) which was unreal.
I made my way to the jungle to a place called Coba and the ruins of an ancient Mexican Pyramid. We climbed it and had an awesome look at the jungle where triennials and jaguars live (you only need one night here, or a day trip).
I made my way back to Playa del Carman to do something I’ve always wanted to do, and that was to go swimming with Whale Sharks. What an experience! I was swimming around with one for around five minutes! I was looking at it eye to eye at one stage, and it was honestly one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my life!
Out of all the countries you’ve visited, what would be the best place you visited and why?
Wow, tough question! My top three would be Croatia, Italy and Queenstown, NZ.
They all had their differences, but I would have to say top spot goes to Capri, Italy! I think it’s the most gorgeous place out of them all, with great people, great food and even better scenery.
What would you say was a place you would happily not visit again?
I would have to say Ibiza. If I was in my early 20s, the place would be unreal, but I just didn’t quite feel it, and it’s such an expensive place. I would definitely go to Formentera (Island off Ibiza) again though.
How was your experience with the locals of some of the countries you visited?
Everyone was very kind and helpful on this trip. It would be very helpful if you knew some of the languages a little more, that was the only difficult barrier between you and them. The majority can speak English, but often only know the basics.
What would be some of the best dos and don’ts you could give people who are looking to travel to multiple countries?
Dos – be very respectful of the countries’ rules and regulations and respect the locals.
Don’ts – don’t be disrespectful of the countries’ rules and regulations, and you shouldn’t have a issue!
What are some things that the average person doesn’t know about some of the countries you travelled to?
How easy the transport is over there. Whether it is by plane, train or boat, it is very easy to get around.
Also, I have to ask after looking through your photos, why the budgy smugglers?
Ha ha! Well, they start a conversation, they turn a few heads (with some weird looks), but most of all I’ve been wearing them for a good three years now and I’ve been trying to get photos in them at some weird places, such as Times Square, as you might have seen! If you check out my instagram:
@samuelllphillips, you will understand what I mean.
I’ve made the Official @budgySmugglers Instagram twice, and now I’m going for a third!
What advice would you give anyone else looking to travel the world?
Get out of your comfort zone and go travelling! It will teach you a lot! You meet so many new lifelong friends throughout your travels. The world is a massive place and there’s something out there for everyone; you’ve just got to get out and do it!
How do some of the places you travelled compare to the Coffs Coast?
I have to say that the Coffs Coast has the BEST beaches in the world. I’ve been to many, and nothing comes near our beaches. We really are lucky.
What does the future hold for you travel wise, and where do you think you will head next?
I’m off to Sri Lanka and South America next year. Going to do some hiking. A lot of people who have done a lot of travelling also have recommended these places. I’ve already started to plan.
Thanks for listening.