My Life In Travel: Sam Branson
'The Arctic was incredible – it just mesmerised me'
Saturday 16 August 2008
First holiday memory?
Messing around on a beach in the Caribbean when I was a kid. I was very fortunate and spent about three or four months of the year in the British Virgin Islands. I first went when I was about eight months old and still try to go back for a few weeks of the year.
On my gap year I went travelling around the world with a couple of friends and we stopped off in Bali for five weeks. We went on a surfing trip, trying to find the best breaks around the island. I absolutely loved Bali – it's a beautiful place with a lovely culture. Being able to surf every day was a dream.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
Oxford, because I grew up near there. I go there to unwind after being in London, and I love all the old buildings.
What have you learnt from your travels?
Travelling teaches you so much more about life than a university course could. Experiencing other cultures gives you a sense of the bigger picture and meeting different people gives you an appreciation of your position in life, particularly the fact we have basic things such as running water and food.
Ideal travelling companion?
My girlfriend or my best mate, depending on what sort of trip it is.
I try to read as much as I can. When I was in the Arctic recently I wrote a diary every day. The best book I've ever read is Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
A mixture of all three. I like the beach, sports such as surfing, with a bit of culture thrown in.
Greatest travel luxury?
My guitar, if I can; it's only small.
Where has seduced you?
The Arctic was incredible, it mesmerised me. However, I think Africa really inspired me. It's stunning but very challenging, with such incredible culture and natural beauty. I loved Kenya, in particular. It's beautiful but also quite an emotional place to visit.
Better to travel or arrive?
I do enjoy travelling, but I'm very happy when I arrive somewhere. I'm a bit of a nervous flyer these days, so landing is good. However, if you're travelling through a country on a motorbike it's great. I think you should be content in the present – the journey can be just as enjoyable.
Worst travel experience?
I once had a gun pulled on me in Chamonix, which was the last place I thought that would happen. In Mexico, I caught a bug and experienced emissions from every orifice!
I try to give places I haven't enjoyed a second chance, because it really depends on the situation and who you're with. There isn't anywhere I wouldn't go back to. However, I thought Thailand was awesome, but I wouldn't rush back.
I was with two friends in Sigatoka, Fiji, and we travelled down a dirt track for two hours to find a hotel, but it had shut down. Next door was a shack with a pig sty where the owner had opened up some rooms to surfers. All were full so we ended up sleeping in a storage room on flea-infested mattresses.
Am I allowed to mention Virgin hotels?! Kasbah Tamadot in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco is beautiful. My favourite is the Ulusaba Game Reserve in South Africa where you have wildlife and beauty all around you. It's a pretty inspiring place.
Favourite walk/ride/ swim/drive?
My favourite drive was a great road trip with friends from Sydney to Byron Bay.
Best meal abroad?
The food in Spain is my favourite; I love fresh fish and tapas.
First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?
I drop off my bags and take a walk around the area to get my bearings. It's good to get a picture of the place and try to meet some local people.
I really want to go to New Zealand and do a surfing trip through French Polynesia. I'd love to surf in Suva, the Fijian capital, which is one of the world's best surfing spots.
I live in London, so I like travelling outside the big cities and seeing the landscapes.
I am going to stay on Necker Island in the Caribbean for my 23rd birthday for a week.
Sam Branson hosts 'Kiss the Planet' on Kiss FM and www.totalkiss.com, tomorrow at 7pm
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