My Life In Travel: Annie Mac, DJ and television presenter

'I love hanging out with my DJ friends in Miami'


First holiday memory?

When I was young, our family used to stay in campsites in the south of France, either in tents or in caravans, in Carnac and Les Sables d'Olonne. There were six of us altogether, with four kids in one room and our parents in the other. I have memories of yummy French biscuits and going to the most beautiful beaches. It was so hot that the sand would burn the bottom of our feet.

Best holiday?

Island hopping around the Cyclades in Greece when I was 18, with two of my best friends. We went to five or six islands in two weeks; whenever we got bored, we'd move on to the next place. I loved the freedom of that holiday.

My other favourite holiday was last year with my boyfriend. We went to Tulum in Mexico, which was more amazing than I could have expected. It was so unspoilt – gorgeous beaches with turtles in the sea and the food was delicious too. We flew on to Treasure Beach in Jamaica, which had a different vibe to Mexico. It was still incredibly beautiful, but very quiet; the people were really warm and welcoming.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Belfast is close to my heart. It's where I went to college, at Queen's University, so it's where I did my growing up and made some of my best friends. It's also where I discovered my love of music and radio. Belfast is such a beautiful, underrated city, and the people are terrifically funny.

What have you learnt from your travels?

I travel all year round for my job, and the one thing I didn't expect was to feel so tired from sitting on a plane for eight hours. The practical things I've learnt are: always take earplugs, an eye mask and an adaptor.

Ideal travelling companion?

It varies according to the holiday. When it's a relaxing two-week holiday with no laptops or mobile phones, it would be my boyfriend. But if it's a mini-break to somewhere like New York, it would be my friends.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

With my job, I DJ in interesting places like Barcelona and Istanbul, so I try to arrive a bit early and spend the day exploring the city. If I'm on holiday, though, I'm a pure beach bum – the only question I ask is whether we should go snorkelling that day.

Greatest travel luxury?

A good DVD series to watch on my iPad like Mad Men, Breaking Bad or The Wire – they're perfect for long journeys.

Holiday reading?

On my last holiday, I really enjoyed Caitlin Moran's How to be a Woman. I used to read vacuous chick-lit books, but now I really enjoy something that makes me think, like Gregory David Roberts' Shantaram.

Where has seduced you?

Treasure Beach in Jamaica, for the people, the music and the general vibe. Also Roundstone in County Galway. It's gorgeous and the beaches are beautiful – golden sand juxtaposed with a rugged landscape. It's every Irish cliché – we go fishing off the harbour and have seafood chowder in the pub – but it's real.

Better to travel or arrive?

I love being on the move, whether it's winding through the mountains in Austria on my way to the Snowbombing festival, or going to Miami for the Winter Music Conference. I like the anticipation of knowing there are exciting times ahead of me.

Worst travel experience?

A holiday in Sardinia with my boyfriend at the time. We stayed in a little bungalow by the beach. There was just one shop, so we went and bought some chicken to barbecue. The next day I woke up with the worst food poisoning I've ever had and I ended up passing out. My boyfriend had to break down the door to get me. It was scary.

Worst hotel?

A hotel in Wrexham. It was so awful that my manager started crying when we saw the room. We had bunk beds that were covered with bright orange fleece blankets. We had to get drunk to deal with it.

Best hotel?

Es Cucons, a gorgeous farmhouse in rural Ibiza. There are only about 12 rooms, each of which is different. The food is fresh and straight from the gardens – lemons and limes plucked off the trees, and wine from nearby. I also love the Standard in Miami. I stay with my DJ friends and it's glamorous and fun – hanging out drinking cocktails by the pool.

Favourite swim?

A tiny cove called St Mary's near Roundstone in Galway. Jumping off the rocks into the green water there is my idea of heaven – it's really cold, so it has to be done on a sunny day.

Best meal abroad?

The Pelican Bar on Treasure Beach. It's a wooden shack on stilts in the sea, and you can only get there by boat. They ask you on the boat whether you want lobster or fish, and they call ahead to get the fishermen to catch it. By the time you arrive, they've landed it and will stick it in the pot while you have a Red Stripe.

Dream trip?

I'd really like to go to Japan and spend a week in Tokyo. I think it'd be the closest I could get to feeling like an alien – not knowing the language or what I'm eating, and with everyone looking so different.

Favourite city?

New York. I worked in a vegan coffee shop in the East Village for a summer when I was 19 and it was a real rite of passage. It was the most amazing four months of my life. Coming from Ireland, it really opened my eyes to the world. I love going back.

Where next?

I'm going on tour across the west coast of the US, then I'm heading to New York for a week's holiday with my boyfriend. And next month I'm off to Australia, which should be brilliant.

Annie Mac performed at Wax:on and Metropolis's Trilogy Part One in Leeds. Part Two with Knife Party is on 29 October and Part Three with Skream & Benga on 26 November (