Hi Janelle. What are you up to today? I edit a magazine called Wealth Creator, so I’m on deadline for that. Business as usual.

In your book One For the Road you travel with your parents. What was that like? My parents are sort of not like normal parents. They’re what the travel industry calls extreme travellers. They basically like to take the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade warnings and create an itinerary out of them… I was very nervous I must admit to travel with them. First of all, they’re your parents, they put a bit of a dampener on the fun aspect of it. But also my parents are both former heads of schools, so you can imagine travelling with two school principals, that’s not really conducive to fun either. But on the upside, they’re two very positive, quite happy people, so travelling with them was like having my own little happiness gurus.

The book’s a lot about balance. I imagine it’d be pretty hard to balance the idea of a working holiday, travelling around the country and having fun but at the same time having all these deadlines. I actually had set up a number of books to do while I was there, so every day I was hitting the ground running and photographing things. But that was actually good because you come into contact with the most extraordinary people while you’re working simply by virtue of the fact that you’re having to interview them… I met the most wonderful people and they gave me an insight that I perhaps wouldn’t have had if I’d just been in a car with my parents travelling around. [I met] this old cowboy who had been best friends with JFK and Walt Disney and Lucille Ball. Just getting a different perspective on the world allows you balance in a way because you’re getting away from your natural pressures and stresses of your own life and you’re sort of getting out of the forest so you can look back and see the trees.

What would you say are the biggest differences between Australia and America? Americans are much more aggressive in terms of their career and they’re much more articulate. You might even pick someone from a country town and he could go on the media and explain something quite beautifully. They’re much more confident in many ways simply because of their culture, so there’s lots of differences. But what we don’t know is they have very much a sense of humility and grace.

With the “happiness mission” you were on, was it harder to keep up the holiday spirit once you got back home? No, it was interesting, because I got to the end of the trip and I realised, happiness is a really interesting commodity. It’s one of those things we think we need every day like a vitamin shot, and that actually stresses us out… I think that if you look up from your life and realise how grateful you are for your life, it’s amazing how happy you feel. That’s the lesson that I took from America when I came home.

You’ve been to a lot of places. Do you have a favourite place worldwide? I think Key West would be close, simply because of this journey that you have to take there, this island-to-island drive and the extraordinary beauty. Palm Springs was beautiful. Nantucket, which is an island just near Martha’s Vineyard, that’s become the new Hamptons, that was very interesting. And Paris and Lake Como in Italy.

And finally, do you have any more trips or books planned? I do. I’m about to go off to America again for six weeks to do a book on the best beach houses of America, and I’m going on to the Bahamas to do a book there, and then to Europe… Travel is a lovely leveller. It gets you out of your comfort zone and it makes you realise that other people have interesting lives that are far more busy or stressful than yours, and they manage to cope. Seeing other countries is a really good way to mature as a person. You realise that there’s a lot more to the world.