David James: My Life In Travel

'When I travel with the England team we have our own plane'

First holiday memory?

California Beach in Norfolk. We used to go during the summer holidays, in the days when you could see the sand through the sea. I have great memories of those times.

Best holiday?

I have spent a lot of time in the United States and I like the diversity of the country. I particularly enjoyed Las Vegas, where I stayed at the MGM Grand. Los Angeles was great too. The MGM Grand is a city within a city; we didn't leave the complex for about three days because there was so much to do. LA was perfect for relaxing with family and friends.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Devon. I travel there every week because my girlfriend lives there. As many attractions as there are in London, it's just manic, so it's nice to go down to Devon to relax; it's tranquil and scenic.

What have you learnt from your travels?

This summer I went to Malawi with the Football Association. It was a good learning experience, but it was desperate because it's an impoverished country, which is rife with HIV/Aids. It had a profound effect on me and I am in the process of setting up a foundation to do some work out there to try and help. After that I went to the US to film a documentary about the NFL [National Football League] with Martin Johnson [the former England Rugby Union captain], which was a real contrast. We travelled down the east and west coasts, which was great.

Ideal travelling companion?

My girlfriend. I love going away with my kids, but holidays with them come with a lot of responsibility. It's nice to get away on our own sometimes.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

It doesn't matter - I enjoy the company more than the location or type of trip. Las Vegas was great because I didn't have to do anything, which is rare for me.

Greatest travel luxury?

When I travel with the England team we have our own plane so we're not restricted with our baggage. I always take a sketch pad and some pencils, which is a bit of a release for me.

Holiday reading?

I am the reading champion at Manchester City. I'm into detective fiction and factual books.

Better to travel or arrive?

It depends on the flight. If I have a decent seat then travelling isn't so bad, but that's not to say I travel first class all the time! However, I probably drive 1,000 miles a week in England. I don't mind sitting in the car as long as I have music to listen to.

Worst travel experience?

Other than the M6 and the M5, there haven't been any.

Worst holiday?

My mate and I decided to go to Tenerife. We had £120 spending money and we spent about £30 of that on batteries at the airport. We had to spend the week eating pasta and drinking water.

Worst hotel?

The hotel we stayed at in Tenerife. The travel agent showed us a glorious picture in a brochure when we booked the holiday, but when we pulled up outside they had changed our booking to a really dodgy place.

Best hotel?

I have stayed in lots of really nice hotels, usually through football, but again it depends on who I'm with.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?

My favourite walk is around Dartmoor.

Best meal abroad?

When I was 16 and I was taken to China for a football tournament. Oddly, we had roast beef in Shanghai and it was the best roast I have ever eaten. Second to that, it would have to be jerk chicken in Jamaica.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

Check out the local area.

Dream trip?

I would like to go to Australia, because I have never got round to going. I'd also like to go to somewhere like the North Pole or Mount Everest.

Favourite city?

London, because the shops are like nowhere else.

Where next?

Hopefully Germany for the World Cup, but I will have to wait and see what happens. I won't be able to plan any holidays until I know.

David James hosts 'Beyond the NFL' on 20 January on Sky One at 10pm

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