Grace Caristo is a world traveler and film maker who competed in The Amazing Race Australia, Season 2. She has also been working on a travel documentary project about New Caledonia, and she took some time to talk with us about her project, Fly with Grace.
World Travel Buzz: What is Fly with Grace?
Grace Caristo: Fly with Grace is a documentary film project which follows me around New Caledonia. The project was sponsored by CrazyFlights.com.au in support of my ambitious passion for travel and film making. I can’t thank these guys enough for their generosity.
This project is a visual diary of my interactions with the locals, visiting exotic landscapes, and enhancing my understanding of a culture I knew very little about. The aim of the project was to capture a young person’s perspective on travel and to fire up other young people to get off their butts and explore!
WTB: When did you discover your love for travel?
Grace: In 2008, when I just turned 18, I traveled on a business trip where I had to shop for the latest fashion trends in six different cities around the world. It was incredible! But I was so overwhelmed with jet-lag that I was snoozing over dinner tables, in taxis, and even in department stores. I can proudly say I have literally “shopped till I dropped” and I have a framed photograph that cherishes this moment. I visited Barcelona, London, Paris, and then jumped over to New York, Las Vegas and finished off in San Francisco in just under two weeks. Since then, I find that I’m always trying to learn more about the world in which we live in, and find meaning in the culture in which people immerse themselves into.
My love of travel progressed when my brother and I competed in The Amazing Race Australia Season 2. It has always been a goal to get onto the show and never thought it would be turned into a reality. It was the ultimate experience a traveler could ever desire. It’s beyond belief how much fun I had and feel deeply privileged to have had the opportunity to race around the world (for free!).
What’s your travel style?
Back home I take pride in what I wear and the way I apply my makeup. Once I’m off traveling, the hair goes poof, the make up melts, and there are no stilettos anywhere in my luggage! I’ve learned that traveling isn’t about me, but rather the culture I immerse myself in. I leave my mind and soul back home in an effect to live like a local.
Do you prefer to travel alone or with a friend, group of friends, or partner? How does your travel style affect what you get out of your journey?
I prefer to travel alone. I think traveling with a friend definitely restricts my decision making. Being alone encourages you to make more of an effort of interacting with the locals. The whole reason why I love to travel is because I like wandering and just going where the wind may take me. I believe travel is a personal journey of self discovery. Perhaps one day I will travel with my future partner, but at the moment I’m riding solo!
What is the one thing you miss most when you’re traveling?
My mum. Her and I share a strong relationship, and even when I’m a world away, somehow it brings us closer to together. I have to travel with my laptop just so I can Skype with her. And despite the expensive international call rates, she calls me everyday twice a day just to hear my voice!
What was the most grueling adventure?
Everything I took part in on the Amazing Race! However, back when I was visiting my home town in Lebanon I had to take a bus trip from the North to the South. In Lebanon, they have no smoking restrictions so the passengers were basically smoking their lungs out. It was a long, hot, and stuffy three hour bus ride sans windows.
What’s your best travel tip?
I believe things happen for a reason. If ‘Plan A’ doesn’t work out, it’s probably for the better. On my trip to New Caledonia I had planned a six hour road trip to the east side, except a couple hours into my trip I came across a flooded road and had no choice but to turn back and look for a place to rest my head for the night. I ended up in a quiet rural town called La Foa, which was absolutely amazing. From the peaking mountains, to the lush valleys, I had accidentally found one of the most breathtaking and picturesque beauties of the world.
If you had to settle down somewhere, but it could be anywhere, a real or imagined place, where would it be like?
Drop me off anywhere in South America and I would be the happiest chap alive. There’s something about that continent that screams out to me. It’s so diverse in history, rich in culture and is the perfect place when I can experience my love for dancing. There are so many types of dance that derive from this continent that I’ll live, sleep and eat in my dancing shoes for the time I’m there!
Can you tell us about one of your most cherished travel connections?
In New Caledonia, I had an overwhelming response with travel connections. My blog posts had made it all over New Caledonia and had a lot of people emailing me, inviting to take me around. One group of wind surfers invited me on a boat out to a beautiful little island and I watched the guys tackle the high winds. It was incredible to watch! I was so caught up in the thrill of it all, I had missed my flight back home by 15minutes (so worth it!). New Caledonian people are so friendly and very proud of where they live. It’s truly an honor when someone wants to show you their land.