My Life In Travel: Dan Snow, historian and television presenter

'The best way to see the world is from a boat'

First holiday memory?

Hammering through the waves in a typical south-westerly gale on the Solent, from Beaulieu river to the Isle of Wight. My sisters and I literally tied down on a boat with my dad [journalist Peter Snow] wrestling against the elements and us being thrown around wondering whether we'd die. I have this flash memory of the boat keeling over, the sails flapping and the rain coming down.

Best holiday?

The Canadian Rockies. I went with my girlfriend last year to Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park. Every day we did a long walk. We went up one particular mountain, Mount Wonder, which lived up to its name. And I proposed to her.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Loch Merkland in the far north-west of Scotland. I've been there with good friends and it's an amazing place to walk. You get all the seasons in one day – wintry storms, boiling sunshine – it's just the most majestic landscape.

What have you learnt from your travels?

To appreciate home. Not just in terms of creature comforts, but also politically and socially. Travel has made me realise I'm lucky to have been born in a Western European democracy. It's also brought an awareness of the vast span of history and why it matters: why one country is different from another and each has its own unique past.

Ideal travelling companion?

Doctor Stephen Maturin of the Patrick O'Brian novels – a man whose knowledge of botany and biology would have complemented my complete lack of knowledge in those areas. I've never been to South America, so I'd like to cut through the rainforest and the Galápagos with him as my guide.

Greatest travel luxury?

My BlackBerry. I can be in contact all the time should anything bad happen, send pictures to annoy everyone at home and it's also got GPS so I don't get lost.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

A mixture of culture vulture and adrenalin junkie. Recently in Syria I had to hack my way through the undergrowth – some forbidding creeks, hills and cliffs – to look at the remains of Crusader castles. It was a nice marriage of the two.

Holiday reading?

Books that are relevant to the country I'm in. In Cambodia I read endless accounts of the genocide, such as First, They Killed My Father, which was really quite harrowing. In Zanzibar I read the The Moor's Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie about the spice trade and falling in love in sultry climates. And in Central America, some Gabriel García Márquez, so I can feel a bit less Anglo-Saxon and a little more Latin.

Where has seduced you?

The Middle East. My parents were both journalists, so I first went when I was 12. You can strike up a conversation with anybody about an obscure historical past and they'll have an opinion. A taxi driver will sit talking for an hour about Mohammed capturing Jerusalem in the 7th century. People are very erudite and hugely cosmopolitan. It's a phenomenal region.

Better to travel or arrive?

Arrive. I feel the travel part in my old bones now I'm 32. When I was younger, I was very peripatetic. Now, the older I get, the happier I am arriving.

Worst travel experience?

Being detained by the police in Nairobi after my friend had an altercation with a tour guide. We got put in a cell for a few hours, but were saved by an Anglophile police chief, who got chatting to us and brokered an agreement between the two parties. We were released unharmed. It was completely mad.

Worst hotel?

The worst hotels are the ones that have aspirations of grandeur. I'd rather sleep on a mat on the floor than something overpriced that will give you food poisoning because it has a grand salad buffet.

Best hotel?

The Mount Assiniboine Lodge in the Rockies was ideal. There were century-old cabins with incredible views and no hot running water – you had to use a gas stove to heat it.

Favourite walk?

The South West Coast Path, from the edge of Exmoor to the shores of Poole in Dorset. There are almost primeval cliffs stretching down to the ocean. The sections I've done are absolutely beautiful.

Best meal abroad?

Eating fresh salmon and lake trout from a Canadian river right after I'd been fishing. We ate it over an open fire – it was incredible.

Dream trip?

I'd like to go down the Mekong or the Yangtze or even the Rhine, all the way from source to sea, on a boat or a raft. That's the best way to see the world.

Favourite city?

Istanbul. It combines that incredible sense of history, with stunning scenery and I particularly like rooftop restaurants and bars, which it has an abundance of.

Where next?

I'm making a programme about the archaeology of the Second World War for the BBC, so I'm off to all sorts of places – Holland, Northern Ireland, France – visiting battlefields where there is still a remarkable amount of material.

Dan Snow is a judge for Academy Excellence Awards, which recognise achievements in students aged 16 to 18 ( academyexcellenceawards.co.uk).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Day In a Page

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links