Travel television Q & A: Carmen Roberts

Carmen Roberts is a travel reporter for BBC World’s Fast Track program. Extraordinarily well traveled, Carmen recently decamped from London–home for over a decade–to Singapore, the country of her birth.

Here Carmen shares a few tips, a secret destination, and gives us the skinny on how her career developed.

Q: Carmen Roberts, how would you define your occupation?

A: Roving travel reporter and video journalist

Q: You grew up mostly in Australia, if my advance research can be trusted. What brought you to London and now to Singapore?

A: I moved to London on a whim in 2000. I quit my job, broke up with my boyfriend and booked a ticket all within 24 hours, and a few weeks later I was on a plane in a bewildered state. Last month I moved back to Singapore, where I will now be Fast Track’s correspondent in Asia.

Q: Can you point to events in your childhood or young adulthood that inspired a life of travel?

A: I was born in Singapore, but my father was from New Zealand and then when I was five years old, we moved to Australia. So, from a very early age, I was travelling on planes. I remember going to visit my grandmother in New Zealand when I was about nine and I travelled as an unaccompanied minor. I loved it!

Q: What do you love about London, and what would you recommend that a visitor not miss? Ditto for Singapore.

A: While the Tube is great (when it works!) you can miss so much if you don’t go above ground. The Tube map is deceptive at times, and if you walk you can get to many places much quicker and have a far more pleasant experience. I especially love the parks in London. Kensington Gardens in my favourite.

What not to miss in Singapore? The food is amazing and you must try the street food, or hawker stalls. They are very safe and dirt cheap. You can get a bowl of noodles for less than a fiver. Gluttons Bay and Maxwell Food Court are my favourites. And if you are a nature lover, you must go to Pulau Ubin.Q: How did you get your job with the BBC?

A: Right place, right time.

Q: How dreamy is your job, truthfully?

A: Haha! I wish I had a dollar for every time someone asked me that! Yes it’s great, I get to travel around the world and meet new people and see a great number of things I wouldn’t ordinarily see if I were travelling on my own steam. But it’s not always glitz and glamour, like when you have to wake up at the crack of dawn and plaster your face with make up for a piece to camera (or standup). Or when you are stuck in the middle of steamy India and your camera has seized up due to humidity and you are about to interview a government minister.

Q: Where do you love to travel for work? And where do you love to travel for
a true holiday?

A: Going to the US for work is quite fun. There’s no language issue and everyone there is clued up with a public relations team. They understand what you are trying to do and are more accustomed to dealing with TV crews. For leisure, I like to get hot and sweaty, and go mountain biking.

Q: Do you have any secret favorite destinations you’d like to share with us?

A; El Nido in the Philippines is just amazing, a true piece of Paradise.

Q: Can you give us a travel tip or two? High-tech, low-tech, whatever.

A: Always make sure you know the emergency numbers in the country where you are travelling. I always email myself travel documents, rather than taking hard copies. And if you are feeling flush and want to upgrade your plane ticket, it’s usually cheaper to do it on the day at the airport.

Check out short Gadling Q&As with other fascinating travel media figures, including Philippe Sibelly, Zora O’Neill, and Benji Lanyado.

[Image credit: Milton Boyne]