Paul Nicholls: My Life In Travel

'I wasn't much of a fan of spicy food until those tiger prawns in Kerala'
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The Independent Travel

First holiday memory?

A beach on the Costa del Sol with my parents and sister. A huge jellyfish had been washed up and it was the first time I had seen one. I was about four and quite scared.

Best holiday?

I went to Barbados about two years ago with my girlfriend. Even though there wasn't much to do, it was so relaxing and peaceful. Because it is a relatively small island I didn't really feel the need to go out and explore.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

At one point it was Newquay (right) - I used to go with my mates during the summer when I was about 16. Now it's Croyde in Devon; there are just a couple of pubs and a beautiful beach and it's not overrun by tourists. I love the drive along the coast from Barnstaple.

What have you learnt from your travels?

I have just got back from India where I was doing a documentary about Hinduism for Channel 4 and got to travel all over the country. I felt privileged to see how a different culture lives, in a way you perhaps wouldn't if you were a tourist. After filming I spent a week in Kerala with my girlfriend, which was amazing, too.

Ideal travelling companion?

My girlfriend.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I used to like sitting on a beach but now I find that a bit boring. I like to have a wander, depending where I am.

Greatest travel luxury?

A cheap DVD player that I bought in Barbados. It's good for evenings when I just want to relax.

Holiday reading?

I love reading when I'm travelling. I've just got into Hunter S Thompson's work, which is insane stuff.

Where has seduced you?

A Greek island, which unfortunately I can't remember the name of. There were no sandy beaches so there were hardly any tourists. It felt very untouched and natural.

Better to travel or arrive?

It depends. If it's long-haul I hate it because I'm not keen on flying.

Worst travel experience?

On a plane when there was a lot of turbulence; it was dropping and people were screaming. That was pretty scary. Being in a car in India for about 10 hours driving along a road that wasn't really a road was pretty awful too.

It was really hot and the road was bumpy - it felt as if the journey would never end.

Worst holiday?

I once planned to go to Cuba with some friends, but we couldn't afford it so we ended up going to Corfu. The resort was full of 16-year-olds. It was awful.

Worst hotel?

The apartment in Kavos, Corfu. It didn't smell particularly nice. There were a few creepy-crawlies running around, too.

Best hotel?

The hotel I stayed at in Kerala, which I can't remember the name of. We had a villa with its own pool just by the beach. It was beautiful and really cheap.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?

I like walking on Hampstead Heath - it's a stunning place.

Best meal abroad?

My girlfriend and I stayed on a houseboat in Kerala, which toured the backwaters. We stopped off at a man's house and he cooked the most amazing tiger prawns. I wasn't much of a fan of spicy food before that but I loved it.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

If there's a beach I usually have a dip in the sea.

Dream trip?

I'd love to drive across the States and see as much as possible and also to go on safari somewhere in Africa.

Favourite city?

Venice. I was only there for one night, but I loved it. It's a stunning place and the coffee's great.

Where next?

I don't know at the moment. It depends on whether I get any work that can pay for a trip. I would like to go back to Barbados.

Paul Nicholls stars in 'Phaedra' at the Donmar Warehouse. Booking until 3 June (0870 060 6624;