Why Inventium CEO Amantha Imber doesn't mind looking weird on a plane

This article was originally published by Australian Financial Review

November 20 2018
Dr Amantha Imber, CEO of innovation consultancy Inventium, is well prepared for the ill-effects of long-haul travel. She answers our Traveller Q&A.
First, business or economy?

Economy for domestic: the flights are generally so short, it’s not worth the expense. Although if Qantas is happy to upgrade me, you won’t see me complain. Business for international, especially if I am flying overnight. I don’t want to waste a day at my destination trying to catch up on sleep.

Favourite destination?

New York City. If I could have any other job in the world, I would be a Broadway theatre reviewer. The best thing about New York is being able to see a gazillion different musical theatre shows.

Plus – I love the shop Hammacher Schlemmer on East 57th Street, which has the most bizarrely wonderful collection of gadgets that solve problems you never realised you had.

Favourite airport?

I can’t think of an airport that fills me with joy, but I can definitely think of many that don’t. Los Angeles International Airport tops my list of least favourite airports. Not only is it enormous and confusing to navigate, but the way the security people look at travellers makes me feel like I am one of the FBI’s most wanted.

If I ran my own airline I would…

Put all the people with colds or flu in a separate cabin.

Where would you go with an unlimited travel budget?

I’d live in Manhattan for a year and see musical theatre shows every single night.

Best trip ever?

Attending TED2018 in Vancouver this year was a highlight. TED talks aside, meeting some of my innovation heroes, such as [Netflix founder] Reed Hastings, [WordPress founder] Matt Mullenweg and [brain researcher] Jill Bolte Taylor, was mind-blowing.

Most memorable overseas dining?

A picnic outside the Louvre in Paris.

In the suitcase?

I never go anywhere (not even domestic trips) without my half-size latex travel pillow. I am obsessed with getting a good night’s sleep and this pillow helps me achieve it.

First thing you do in a new city?

Go for a jog to orientate myself with the neighbourhood.

How do you make the most of a spare afternoon in a strange city?

I like sitting in a café and eavesdropping on conversations locals are having.

Who would you most like to travel with and why?

My husband and daughter. Everything is better with family.

Cure for jet lag?

I never nap when I arrive and force myself to push through until a semi-reasonable bedtime. I also use my AYO light therapy glasses. I look like a complete dork wearing these on the plane, but it’s worth it. And I reset my watch to the new time zone as soon as I get on the plane. I’ll take a melatonin tablet if it’s suddenly night.

Other travel tips?

Plan! I read research that suggests happiness peaks in the planning stage of the holiday, so I always make sure to indulge in months of pre-holiday planning.

Is there anywhere you’d recommend for a special occasion?

I would recommend scoring an invite (it’s a private club) to the Magic Castle in LA. It’s a club for magicians, and every night, many perform in front of groups ranging from two to 200. I have been several times and it’s a highlight of my year every time.

Best overseas purchase?

A very expensive ticket to see Hamilton on Broadway. I am captivated by this musical and Lin-Manuel Miranda [its creator, writer and star], and given it’s sold out for the foreseeable future, I scored a hideously expensive ticket on a resale site. The seat was right at the back, I had a very tall person sitting in front of me, and the role of Hamilton was played by the understudy of the original understudy, but this didn’t stop me from having the best night ever.

Best travel tale?

When I was about 12 years old, I went on a family holiday to America. One morning, in Washington DC, we woke to see hundreds of people marching down the main street. It was a film shoot for In the Line of Fire with Clint Eastwood. I dragged my parents a couple of hundred metres up the street to try to catch a glimpse of Clint. We finally reached him and I broke through security to run up to him, but sadly was dragged away by a security guard before getting the chance to say hello.

Best thing about travelling?

Getting out of my daily routine and comfort zone.

Top travel gripe?

Jet lag.

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