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News & Advice

My Life In Travel: Jennifer Cox

'I get to airports unnecessarily early because I enjoy the atmosphere'

First holiday memory?

First holiday memory?

I was lucky, my parents loved to travel. Each year they'd load the four of us kids into the back of the car, hitch on a tent-trailer and drive for the whole summer. My earliest holiday memory is of my mother passing back hunks of brutally crusty French bread with wedges of chocolate buried inside, somewhere in France.

Best holiday?

Tenerife. I was a student and got a cheap winter package deal. I discovered that instead of freezing my butt off in Leeds I could get on a plane and be gloriously hot in another part of the world.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

It always changes, but my perennial favourite is Holkham beach in Norfolk: we had family holidays there. The beaches are so beautiful, and the sense of space immense; it's my "running away from home" place when I need to get out of London.

What have you learnt from your travels?

That you can only hold so much in your hand: if you want to pick something up, you have to be prepared to put something down.

Ideal travelling companion?

In the US, XM - one of the satellite radio networks - has just released a "MyFi" portable receiver. I am a radio junkie.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

More than one day on the beach bores the (bikini) pants off me and I'm too accident prone to be an adrenalin junkie.

Greatest travel luxury?

A really good moisturiser; I'm smitten with Bliss lemon + sage body butter at the moment, though I had some amazing lemongrass body lotion at the Amandari Hotel about a year ago that I'm still pathetically eking out.

Holiday reading?

Old habits die hard - I always take a Lonely Planet, plus currently Two Sides of the Moon by David Scott and Alexei Leonov (an extraordinary and extremely human account of the space race) and The Family Tree by Carole Cadwalladr (just brilliant - imagine Abigail's Party written by Anne Tyler).

Where has seduced you?

The Australian outback. I spent six months driving from Perth to Melbourne around the top of Australia, sleeping in an old van. It's so vast and empty, after two weeks you start dreaming of forgotten moments from your childhood. You do have to pay attention though: 6ft emus will appear out of nowhere.

Better to travel or arrive?

To endlessly travel is extremely tedious, but if I'm stuck in one place too long I get antsy. I do love to travel though: I get to airports unnecessarily early in anticipation of the trip ahead, but mainly (and sadly) because I really enjoy the atmosphere there.

Worst travel experience?

In a remote part of Libya, for some reason there was a toilet in the middle of the room. It was filthy and I couldn't go to sleep until I'd cleaned it. Let's just say it got ugly very quickly.

Worst holiday?

Sardinia in August. Driving round the island in searing temperatures, looking for a place to stay.

Worst hotel?

A tiny pub-cum-hotel in the Brecon Beacons. My room was over the bar and the juke box belted out The Sterophonics until 4.30am, the nylon sheets shocking me every time I furiously rolled over.

Best hotel?

The W in Seattle. I spent Christmas there with my boyfriend and it was insanely romantic.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?

Every morning I cycle from our beach house in West Seattle up an incredibly steep hill to our local coffee shop. The view across the Peninsula islands to the Olympic mountains beyond is magical.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere?

Go for a walk. I like to have a sense of my bearings and spot the local landmarks.

Dream trip?

As much as I'm curious about the newly constructed 2,000-mile railway opening between China and Tibet next year, I am equally concerned about the political and social implications.

Favourite city?

Either Istanbul or New York. Both are wildly diverse cities with a "sod you" attitude.

Where next?

It rains a lot in Seattle in February, so Hawaii.

Jennifer Cox's 'Around the World in 80 Dates' is published this week by William Heine-mann (£9.99)