My life in travel: Helen Skelton
'After two months in Antarctica, a hairdryer felt like a luxury'
Saturday 28 December 2013
Helen Skelton is a presenter for BT Sport and a co-presenter of Holiday Hit Squad, which returns to BBC1 early next year.
First holiday memory
The Isle of Wight. My brother and I were really active so our parents had to take us to places where there were kids' clubs and a ridiculous amount of activities to keep us entertained.
Favourite place in British Isles?
The Lake District. I was brought up on the edge of the Lakes, in the Eden Valley, where you can see the Pennines out of the kitchen window and the lakes from the living room. I don't think I really appreciated it until I moved away to London.
Driving across Turkey in a yellow camper van on a Blue Peter summer trip, with Andy Akinwolere and Joel Defries. We started in Istanbul and ended at the Iranian border, six weeks later. I took part in a Bosphorus swim – crossing from Europe to Asia – went to a hair museum, and saw a camel festival. It was like the children's TV version of The Motorcycle Diaries.
What have you learnt from your travels?
Never judge a book by its cover. I went to Cyprus recently and ate all this fish I would never have touched normally. Travelling forces me not to stick to what I know.
Ideal travelling companion?
Joel and Andy. Andy will talk to anybody. We were on the plane to Alaska and he got chatting to someone, so we ended up staying with them in Chicago. He'll make friends one minute and you'll find yourself in a lumberjack festival the next. He's a brilliant person.
Greatest travel luxury?
A feather pillow in a hotel or, after my trip to Antarctica, a hairdryer [Skelton completed a 500-mile trek to the South Pole for Sport Relief in 2012]. The mechanics actually put a blowtorch on the lowest setting just so I could wash my hair once in two and a half months.
Autobiographies. I've read Kate Adie's a million times and I'm re-reading Chrissie Wellington's [the British triathlete].
Where has seduced you?
India. It wasn't on my hit list, but I went to Delhi, Mumbai and Kurigram in Bangladesh. Nothing smells, it stinks. Nothing is colourful, it's insanely bright. Everything is done to the extreme, but I really loved it.
Worst travel experience?
I love Namibia, but I went there and we had the wrong visas, so I got held at the airport for a day and a half. It all got sorted out. But then, on the way back, the landscape was so amazing that we kept getting out of the car to take pictures, and we missed the flight home.
Yotel in New York. It's right next to Times Square, by the same chain as Yo! Sushi. It was ridiculously modern and clean, basic and budget – which is all you need.
Off the Hebrides. I went up to do the end of the Hebridean Challenge endurance race that happens there. I love outdoor swimming.
Best meal abroad?
I went truffle hunting in Tuscany with this guy and his dog and in the evening we had a meal in a big castle. I ate pasta with loads of lovely chicken and truffles and lots of wine.
I got stuck in Cape Town before Antarctica, because the weather was so bad. We were supposed to be there for two days but I ended up staying a week. I loved that it's quite edgy and there are all these one-off shops. Most days I ran up a mountain called the Lion's Head. You can see all the urban sprawl on one side and the beach and crashing waves on the other.
I'm trying to book a honeymoon. I just got married and my other half [Warrington Wolves rugby player Richie Myler] is working at a tournament in Australia in January, so hopefully we'll tag something on to that.
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