Jake Humphrey: 'I've never been anywhere as quiet, dark and peaceful as Sweden's Ice Hotel' / BBC

'I'd love to go on safari ... while there's still time'

First holiday memory?

Driving to the south of France in a silver Toyota Corolla to go camping. I remember hunting for glow worms with my brother and sister at night and becoming obsessed with the beef burgers they served. My mum was fanatical about healthy eating so I craved them all week until I was eventually allowed one.

Best holiday?

A trip to Venice with my wife, Harriet, when we'd only just met. We didn't have very much money and we stayed in the smallest, cheapest, simplest little hotel. It was the first time that we'd got to know the city and probably each other, too. Suddenly we were away from our families and our safety zones and it turned out to be a fantastic trip.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

There's a lovely little hotel called the Devonshire Arms on the Chatsworth House estate near Pilsley, which is perfect for a really quick, quiet weekend away.

But I also have to say Norfolk; it's where I'm from and where my family still live. It has an amazing coast, rolling hills, idyllic little villages and huge skies, because the land is so flat.

What have you learnt from your travels?

Not to rush. You see people leap up as soon as the plane lands and hurry to get through passport control. We all end up queuing, so my advice is to chill out.

I also have to deal with jet lag all the time due to the amount of travel I do during the Formula 1 season. I've learnt to eat whenever I'm hungry and I use a sunlamp called Litebook, which you shine at your eyes when you're feeling tired.

Ideal travelling companion?

Harriet. When we first met she was terrified of flying, but she's since overcome her fears to join me in Vienna and Monaco, and recently flew back on her own from Australia too, which was a real milestone. Beach bum,

Culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I struggle to stay still for a whole week. I remember trying to have a relaxing holiday on Ischia, an island off the coast of Naples, and if I was lying by the pool, I wanted to play table tennis; if I was playing tennis, I wanted to be by the pool. A holiday that combines all three is fantastic for me.

Greatest travel luxury?

Flying in business class. It's obviously not affordable to everyone and I couldn't do it all the time, but sometimes, if you've saved up for a trip, it makes such a difference. It feels like your holiday starts the minute you get on the plane.

Holiday reading?

I'm a big autobiography fan. They're as much about research for me as about relaxing. I'm covering track cycling for the Olympic Games, so between now and then I'll try to plough through as many as possible to find out what makes these athletes tick. I've also been really inspired by Richard Branson's Losing My Virginity and Facing Up by Bear Grylls, the first book he wrote after he became the youngest guy to get to the top of Everest.

Where has seduced you?

The Ice Hotel in Sweden. I've never been anywhere as quiet, dark and peaceful. You feel really connected to nature because there's so little else around. We went out on canoes one night to search for the Northern Lights. Sadly, it was cloudy and we didn't see them. But then on our last night we trudged out on to the middle of this frozen lake and the Aurora Borealis appeared in the distance. It was magical.

Worst travel experience?

Travelling from Japan to Mokpo in South Korea for a Formula 1 race last season. It took us about four hours on a train and then another five hours on a ferry – it was a bit of a rough crossing on a pretty rough old boat – only to arrive at a really grim-looking port.

Immigration took ages, finding food was hard and communication was difficult. I travel with the F1 team for nine months of the year, and I think that was the closest we've ever come to having an argument.

Worst hotel?

A place in Brighton for my stag do. I didn't get organised early enough, so everywhere else was booked up. It was the roughest place I've ever stayed: down a tiny alleyway just off the seafront, with a nondescript door and a grumpy man sitting behind this desk who threw the keys at us. I invited my agent to come too. He walked in, took one look, and checked himself into the Grand.

Best hotel?

Qualia on Hamilton Island in Australia. It's the most luxurious hotel, with an amazing location looking out over the Great Barrier Reef. They serve the freshest food and tropical juice for breakfast and nothing was too much for the staff. I struggle to justify paying huge amounts for hotels, but staying there really was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Favourite drive?

The Great Ocean Road along the south coast of Australia. I tagged it on to the end of my Hamilton Island trip. I didn't know of any hotels to stay in, so I just went off through Victoria and stopped wherever I fancied at the end of the day.

Best meal abroad?

A steak house in Mykonos called Uno Con Carne. It's one of the best in the world – the food was just amazing.

Dream trip?

I'd love to go on safari and get back to basics, camping outside with just my wife and a guide. With more and more species becoming extinct, it seems like something to do sooner rather than later.

Favourite city?

London, particularly with the Olympics this year. It's going to have a real buzz from now until the end of 2012. There are hotels and restaurants that suit every budget, wonderful galleries and there's always something new to be found.

Where next?

The Maldives. I'm off to the Conrad Rangali with my wife. We're really excited about it. I want to recharge my batteries, swim with whale sharks and eat at the underwater restaurant, Ithaa, while we're there. After that, it's off to Melbourne for the start of the new racing season.

Jake Humphrey presents the 2012 Formula 1 season on BBC1 which starts in Melbourne (16-18 March).