Comedian Griff Rhys Jones' advice on how to be a better tourist

From sailing the Galapagos Islands to facing conflict with tribal leaders in Africa while camping to exploring the Torres Strait Islands, Griff Rhys Jones knows a thing or two about packing a suitcase for various holiday situations - but that doesn't mean he's mastered the art of it even at 64.

"I am like everybody else, I am a terrible over packer," says the Welsh comedian and actor, who hit rock star status via the British comedy sketch Not The Nine O'Clock News in the 80s.

Man on the road

Jones is on his way to Australia to share his quirky adventures, mishaps and a dose of stand-up while revealing the secret to being a better male tourist.

"I find myself constantly looking at what I've packed and not being able to make up my mind. So, I put it in anyway. Then I end up lugging it across the world for the best part of three weeks at a time in difficult circumstances.

"My advice is pack small. I have a rucksack that comes down to the size of a fist and a running kit that goes down to a small ball size. I always travel with light shoes," says Jones who takes his own pillow to Africa and a sleeping bag with a liner as a backup if your sheets get filthy.

Family sagas

Jones says his own inspiration to travel stems from his father.

"As a child, we'd go on family holidays to the beach and dad would leave the family to go for long walks on the cliff edge because he couldn't see the point of lying on a towel. I think there are a lot of men who share that feeling," says Jones.

"My dad ended up buying a boat so that we could go away as a family. He would find a muddy creek and throw out an anchor and then cook for us. Growing up, there was a sense of doing something necessary if you went on a holiday and I still have that imbedded in me," he adds.

No fan of flying

Through his TV shows Three Men In A Boat and Rivers with Griff Rhys Jones, the comedian has seen a lot of the world – but enjoys home life in the Suffolk countryside. He also can't understand why his daughter chose Thailand for Christmas instead of making her way to their country home.


It has a lot to do with long haul journeys - he's not a fan – give him a boat any day.

Jones recalls one of his first visits to Australia some 25 years ago being a fleeting 48 hours to replace Spike Milligan in a Kellogg's commercial: "I had to film a day after landing and I felt worse on the second day, like a truck had run me over," he laughs.

Tourist etiquette

Jones, who has worked alongside comedy greats like Rowan Atkinson and Mel Smith, is also writing a new book tentatively titled How to be a Bad Tourist.

"You need to be a rebel tourist and do things for yourself," offers Jones.

"I mean who wants to be a good tourist? The ones who are told to sit in a queue and they do, stay in an organised tour, and love being lectured about things they aren't taking in and generally aren't doing things for themselves."

Get lost

And when it comes to adventure, he encourages his generation of men to get out of their shell and go exploring – just don't book your next trip with 10 of your best mates.

"Blokes still want and go for a bit of adventure," says Jones.  

"Just don't travel in groups of 10 especially if you're blokes, who wants to share an aeroplane with drunks," he says. "I am also the sort of person who doesn't relish in the banter of drunks at 4am and nor should your travel companions."

Finding north

But his  most important advice for those wanting to spread their wings?

"Think a little outside of the square and consider going at a time when there's not a lot of tourists."

In 2002, Jones set sail on a yacht to Russia and deliberately went north instead of south. He urges you to do the same.

"If you go south in Europe, you effectively tend to meet the rest of Britain," he says. "If you go north, all the cities like Stockholm and St Petersburg are waiting for you. Arriving in Finland as a sort of stranger is far more exciting. What are you waiting for?"