Model turned philanthropist Petra Nemcova founded the Happy Hearts Fund in 2005 as a non-profit foundation dedicated to rebuilding schools and restoring hope in the lives of children after natural disasters. With 100 percent of all donations received directed to children’s programming, Happy Hearts currently supports projects in nine countries, including Thailand, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru, Sri Lanka, Haiti, Chile, India and Hurricane Katrina-affected areas of the United States. Petra took time out of her busy schedule to answer our Proust Travel Questionnaire.
The in-flight film you hope for: I haven’t seen many of the classics, so seeing those is a treat for me.
The last book you took on holiday: Zilch: The Power of Zero in Business by Nancy Lublin.
You tend to pack too many…: Work documents and books, and never have enough time to do even half!
Your idea of travel happiness: A trip with purpose, one with great meaningful results and learning from the wisdom of others, about their cultures and countries.
Your idea of travel misery: Even if there is a bad trip, there are lessons to be learned. But if I had a flight cancellation which caused me to miss Christmas dinner with my parents, that would be sad.
Your favorite quality in a hotel: Hotels with charming identity and attention to detail.
What do you appreciate most in a travel partner? Thoughtfulness. That makes it all smooth and happy. Also, attraction to learning, discovery and adventure.
What is your greatest extravagance while abroad? I’ve been blessed with many exciting adventures from scuba diving in Belize and Thailand, meeting with shamans in the Peruvian Amazon or admiring cheetahs and hippos in South Africa. You could say that the extravagance is the opportunity to go to a place with Happy Hearts Fund that people don’t usually go to. Haiti, Pakistan, and the Congo… those are the places that I love most because I learn from the people and their cultures.
What is your favorite journey to take?
To Haiti, to be a part of empowering amazing Haitian people and be inspired by their spirits, culture and great potential.
When and where were you last happiest?
In Haiti, when I saw children transformed from being traumatized, cold children who had suffered a great deal into confident and happy angels full of life.
What is your travel motto?
As Mark Twain wrote, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.”