Virtuoso Life January 2019 Why I Travel: Caroline Hermes

Why I Travel: Caroline Hermes

Caroline Hermes at Saint Petersburg’s Peterhof Palace.
Caroline Hermes at Saint Petersburg’s Peterhof Palace.
Caroline Hermes sates long hauls with wanderlust and local pups.

Caroline Hermes and her husband, Ashley, live alone on a remote, 2,000-acre grazing property halfway between Melbourne and Sydney, Australia, where they’re outnumbered by cows and sheep at a ratio of roughly 600 to 1. Visiting the “known world” typically starts with a nearly three-hour, high-speed Land Cruiser drive to Canberra’s international airport, followed by a day or two spent flying to Asia, Europe, or beyond. Virtuoso travel advisor Kristen Cahill is based 1,000 miles away in Noosa, but she’s intimate with Hermes’ every excursion, transfer, and long-haul upgrade.

We live far from everything.

Mind-bendingly far. Normally, 24 hours will get you somewhere, but when my sister and I went on a Baltic cruise on board Oceania’s Marina last September, from the time we left home until the time we arrived in Stockholm, it was 40 hours.

Australia is still a new country. 

If we go to Sydney to see the first settlement, it’s less than 300 years old. I love history, so if I can go somewhere and see something that’s 2,000 or 3,000 years old, it’s worth the trip. I like meeting people, as you can imagine – I see only my husband six days a week. It’s nice to get out there and interact with other humans on a consistent basis.

In the last two years, my husband and I visited Papua New Guinea, even though he’d rather stay home and mind the farm.

I went to India with a girlfriend, and then to Wyoming and South Dakota on my own to do a photo workshop. Along with the Baltic cruise, this year I also visited Spain with my sister.

Ranching in Wyoming. 
Ranching in Wyoming. 

I’m not the sort of person who ever used a travel agent. 

I’m good at booking flights and making reservations. But Kristen is a details girl who is on top of the paperwork, the visas, the vaccinations, so I don’t have to think about anything. There are so many tour companies and tour guides out there. When you travel so far, you don’t want anything to be mediocre. Kristen protects me from the bus crammed with 40 tourists. If a company or a hotel is good enough for her, it’s good enough for me.

My travel motto is “See it, like it, buy it.”

You see a particular giraffe sculpture or a little jewelry box in Zanzibar or whatever, and you think, “Maybe I’ll find a better one or cheaper one.” You’ve spent so much time and money on this fabulous trip. Don’t waste your time. Just buy it.

My sons are 28 and 30 and single with no kids.

A few years ago, I said, “Let me take them each someplace special before they get tied down.” My older son is an ancient-history nut and an engineer, so we went to Naples for ten nights on a guided tour led by a brilliant professor; my youngest wanted to go to Africa, so we chose Tanzania. The best times were usually at the end of the day when you’d go back to the room and laugh yourselves silly about something, and it becomes this classic inside joke we’ll have forever.

Hermes’ son Andrew on safari in Tanzania.
Hermes’ son Andrew on safari in Tanzania.

I have a lucky bracelet that I only wear when I travel.

A friend gave it to me when one of my dogs died. It’s leather with some silver charms and the dog’s name, Sapper. It’s really simple, but it just has this aura that makes me feel connected to this animal I loved so much. Now whenever I’m in ports and cities, I post photos of local dogs on my Instagram feed, @reggiekelpie.

A schnauzer portrait from Russia.
A schnauzer portrait from Russia.

The one thing I don’t take with me is a phone.

I can’t be bothered. I take my iPad and contact home when I feel like it, but usually I don’t feel like it. I don’t need good news, I don’t need bad news. My husband and I have been married 30-something years, and he knows I’ll be home soon enough, sitting around with just him and all those lambs.

Where next?

I’d like to go to Norway and Iceland and Alaska and South America. I’m flying to New York in May for a wedding, and then it’s a toss-up between going up the coast to Maine or down to South Carolina.

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