My Life In Travel: Michelle Collins

'I first went abroad at 15, to communist Romania with the Woodcraft Folk'
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The Independent Travel

First holiday memory?

Going to Blackpool – my mum's friends lived there and we'd stay at their house for a couple of weeks and explore the Lancashire coast. I remember the Morecambe lights and the talking parrot on the pier. My mum used to drive us to Mevagissey in Cornwall in her Morris Minor, too. I first went abroad when I was 15, to Romania with the Woodcraft Folk. It was a communist country, and people offered to buy our jeans!

Best holiday?

When I was 18, I went on the Magic Bus to Greece with a boyfriend and two other friends. We had to meet at a travel agent on the Holloway Road, and it took four days to get to Athens. We then took a ferry from Piraeus to some of the islands. We had no money but we had a fantastic summer. I took a Laker flight to LA once, which I think cost me £99; I was quite proud of that. More recently I enjoyed a great holiday in Mexico; I took my mum and family to Cancú*for her 60th birthday. It wasn't my ideal destination but the kids loved it and we had a great time.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Brighton used to rank very high, but these days I like going a bit further afield. I went to stay with a friend who has a house in Newquay and I didn't realise how fun it was down there. I have been working around Dalkey in Ireland recently, which is stunning.

What have you learnt from your travels?

Pack light. When I started travelling, suitcases didn't have wheels, so you had to carry them. It's a good thing that excess baggage is so expensive when you fly – it forces me to pack less.

Ideal travelling companion?

I go away with my sister and her kids a lot because I have an only child and it's nice for her to be with people of her age. My ideal holiday is with a big group of people so you can go off and do your own thing and then come back and enjoy each other's company.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I like visiting warm countries but I'm pale-skinned so I don't lie on the beach all day.

Greatest travel luxury?

I often take fake tan with me – while I don't sunbathe much, I don't like to be the palest person on the beach.

Holiday reading?

I always take loads of books on holiday, because I find it hard to relax in London. I like biographies and autobiographies, and recently read Rupert Everett's Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins, which was hysterical. I also enjoyed Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns and Tony Parsons' latest, My Favourite Wife. I really like Julie Myerson's work, too.

Where has seduced you?

I loved Sardinia – the sea is stunning, particularly on the Costa Smeralda. I also fell in love with the Seychelles (pictured, above); again, the sea was crystal-clear, and we went snorkelling and saw turtles and tropical fish.

Better to travel or to arrive?

I like travelling, especially with a good companion.

Worst holiday?

St Vincent and the Grenadines. I won a holiday at a charity auction and when we arrived in St Vincent, the hotel had closed down. We slept one night in a horrible room crawling with cockroaches, and then I made a huge fuss so we were moved to the neighbouring island of Bequia. It's beautiful there, but after a few days staying in a luxurious hotel, I got food poisoning so badly that I had to go to hospital. After that I treated myself to a few nights at the Cotton House Resort on Mustique.

Best hotel?

A friend of mine has opened an Elvis-themed B&B called Gracepines, just outside Memphis. I stayed in the Love Me Tender room and my daughter and niece were in the Jailhouse Rock room. One year I stayed at the Raleigh in South Beach, Miami, three times because I loved it so much. More recently, I stayed at a resort called Lemuria in the Seychelles, which you reach on a light aircraft. It was amazing, with fantastic service and lovely rooms.

Favourite walk/swim/ ride/drive?

Driving from the South of France to Sitges in Catalonia, Spain. It was quite a gruelling drive but great fun.

Best meal abroad?

When I visited Australia about 15 years ago, I ate the most delicious lobster ever at a Thai restaurant on the bay in Sydney. I love eating seafood.

Dream trip?

I would like to go to Croatia, and also travel around India and Vietnam a bit.

Favourite city?

I'm lucky because I have friends in Monte Carlo, Rome and Paris, all cities that I love. I thought Prague was amazing, too.

Where next?

On a skiing trip to the Alps with my daughter and a big group of friends. It will be my first time and I'm really looking forward to it, but I've also just found out I've got a part in a play, so we'll see how it pans out. Holidays are difficult to plan in my line of work, but that also makes things exciting.

Michelle Collins stars in 'Rock Rivals', Wednesdays, 9pm, on ITV1