My Life In Travel: Jo Whiley, radio DJ and TV presenter

'I loved horse-riding over the hills in Ibiza'
  • @SophieLamTravel

First holiday memory?

In 1977, in a caravan in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, going to get the newspaper with my dad and seeing the news that Elvis had died. My mum was a massive fan. I remember running back with my dad shouting to her excitedly that Elvis had died – she just crumpled.

Best holiday?

Florida with our kids and some really good friends, to do the American Disney experience. The kids absolutely loved it. It was fantastic to see them so happy, and we'd never been to America as a family before. We played a lot of crazy golf, because the courses are so extravagant with real crocodiles in the pools. We had a fantastic time.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Currently it's Rock in Cornwall. We've been there quite a lot and it's just gorgeous sitting on the beach looking across to Padstow. When the sun shines I feel there's nothing which compares to it.

What have you learnt from your travels?

That my husband and I should probably travel separately because otherwise we want to kill each other. I'm much better on my own or with the kids because I'm calm and my husband isn't. I want him to be there at the destination, I just don't want to travel with him.

Ideal travelling companion?

Contradicting that, I'd say that once I am on the plane it'd be my husband, because I'm quite a nervous flyer and there's no one else I'd want to be with when I'm on a flight.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I find lying on the beach boring now and culture isn't really my thing, so I'd say I'm an adrenalin junkie. I love being active and so does the rest of my family. We love being in the water, on a boat, in waterparks – anything water-based. There's always some sort of activity going on.

Greatest travel luxury?

A decent suitcase. I have a lovely Orla Kiely suitcase that's quite old but I really like it. I know nobody else will touch it because it has quite a bold print on it.

Holiday reading?

I always try and get a good book; occasionally I'll get to finish it but I've got too many children to read properly. I normally take fiction – the latest must-read that I've picked up at the airport. I've discovered some good books in that way.

Where has seduced you?

Thailand, but I haven't really experienced the picture-postcard side of it. We have relatives who live in Pattaya, which is a bit like Blackpool crossed with Soho; it's a bit seedy and gaudy but the people are lovely. We went to a restaurant called Cabbages and Condoms which was set up by the health minister to promote safe sex. There are condoms everywhere – statues made of condoms and waterfalls of condoms. It's quite good place to take the kids and demystify sex. Plus the food is great.

Better to travel or arrive?

To arrive. Travelling is always a trauma. I love it when the plane doors open and you're hit by a wave of heat; that's wonderful. I also think the discovery of somewhere you don't know is so exciting.

Worst holiday?

A Club Med in Ibiza. It's an island that I really love but the resort was in an awful part of the island and the staff were really rude and unhelpful. They were really big on circuses so I had to sit with the kids watching endless circus acts, which was pretty desperate.

Worst hotel?

In Fuengirola when my husband and I had only known about each other for about a month and he whisked me away for a fancy holiday. The hotel was a classic – 10 storeys up, cockroaches in the hallway, the tiniest balcony. We were young and in love so we could see past it all, but if I was to go there now...

Best hotel?

Soho House in New York. It has the best sheets in the world and the food is fantastic; it has everything I want in a hotel. I went there with my husband for my birthday present and we flew first class which I'd never done before. It was a fantastic experience.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?

My favourite ride is in Santa Gertrudis, Ibiza. It's an up-and-coming part of the island and great for horse-riding. We went riding at this place with chickens and wild pigs wandering around. The owner took us riding over the hills as the sun was going down. It was a great feeling.

Best meal abroad?

At Le Sport in St Lucia. We stayed there for our honeymoon and the food was amazing, with an incredible array of fresh fruit and feasts of seafood.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

Check out every room and see what kind of toiletries and nice things are in the bathroom. I like it when somewhere has really exclusive lotions.

Dream trip?

I want to go to San Francisco and do America in a cool, rather than tacky, way. I'd like to go and watch whales and see more of New York and perhaps see some theatre there.

Favourite city?

I was blown away by Barcelona. The architecture is wonderful and the buzz of the place is unbelievable; I loved going down the tiny streets and seeing parties going on in every single bar. The drinks measures are insane, too.

Where next?

To Greece for a Mark Warner holiday. We found it hard to sort out a family holiday this year but we managed to find something last-minute. There's something for us all there.

Jo Whiley presents Barclaycard Unwind's Have Your Say campaign for this year's Barclaycard Mercury Prize – find out more at