Daley Thompson: ‘My best travel tip? Be nice to the person who serves you coffee on a plane’

How often do you travel?

Once a month for work. I was in Spain and Switzerland recently.

What do you need for a perfect holiday?

Only two things: friends and family. They’d tell you I’m boring because I like to stick to my exercise routines.

Your earliest memory of travelling abroad?

I was 15 and it was a family holiday to Tunisia. I remember being excited about going on a plane for the first time. Tunisia was dirty and friendly – just like where I lived in Notting Hill Gate, London, but sunny.

An ancient ruin in Tunisia. The country is currently off-limits to UK travellers
An ancient ruin in Tunisia. The country is currently off-limits to UK travellers CREDIT: GETTY

Most adventurous travel experience?

A few years ago I went to Everest Base Camp to walk with a friend and get out of our comfort zone. And I’ve done the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. I enjoyed the exercise and fresh air, but neither experience blew me away. The most remote place I’ve been is Uluru. I saw the rock at sunrise and sunset. It was nice, but a long way to go to turn around and see 1,000 people holding out camera phones.


Most relaxing destination?

I’m not a lie back and relax type of person; the sun lounger is the last place you’d find me. Wherever I am, I like to train every day. That’s what I do at home.

Ever been on safari?

Yes, I went to Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya with my family and it was fantastic. I’ve also been to Kruger National Park in South Africa. We stayed in tents and went on a walking safari. I have five kids and my youngest was only three or four. He’s 10 now so we should go again for his sake.

Cheetahs in Maasai Mara, Kenya
Cheetahs in Maasai Mara, Kenya CREDIT: © 2010 AMY NICHOLE HARRIS

Best holiday ever?

Learning to surf while staying at the Watergate Bay Hotel in Watergate Bay, Cornwall. The hotel’s Extreme Academy teaches surfing, kite surfing and hand planing. My kids learned to surf. I managed to stand up a couple of times but spent the rest of the time falling down, with the kids laughing at me.

What do the children enjoy on holiday?

Everyone likes to walk, climb, cycle, swim or hit golf balls. For the last couple of holidays we’ve been to Desert Springs Resort in Almeria, Spain, where there’s loads to do or nothing if you don’t want to.

Do you watch what you eat on holiday?

No. I’d rather go on my bike for an hour and then eat chips. But in September I’m working on a wellness holiday in Mauritius. People of any fitness level can attend. I’ll take them to work out and swim, and my friend Steve will teach yoga as the sun goes down. I’m rubbish at yoga; I’ll bring the sundowners at the end.


Favourite hotel?

The Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi – where it’s so huge that the gardeners use Segways to get around – wowed me. But the best experience was at The Residence Mauritius, where I’ll be on the wellness holiday. The staff were so pleasant and nothing was too much trouble.

Most memorable meal abroad?

A seafood restaurant in Barcelona a couple of years ago. It was a banquet lasting three hours. They served every kind of crustacean you’ve ever heard of and a lot you haven’t.

The Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi
The Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi

Favourite city?

Melbourne – I have a lot of friends there and it’s got good restaurants plus good weather and the beach.

Worst travel experience?

I haven’t had any. All the flights have been OK, but I’d probably be unbothered by turbulence because I tend to sleep a lot.

Best travel advice?

Be nice to the person who serves coffee on the plane.

Travel essential?

An app on my iPad called Readly. You can download hundreds of magazines every month and I peruse four or five on a flight.

What do you hate about holidays?

Getting there. When the kids were younger it was hard. We’ve all been on flights where there were uncontrolled kids and I want to apologise if anybody remembers mine.

Where next?

Nowhere, because the thing I like best about going away is getting back to London. It’s easily my favourite city. I like the way that despite all our hang-ups, as a nation we’re intrinsically open, kind and friendly.

Daley Thompson is hosting a seven-night wellness holiday at The Residence Mauritius from September 11 to 19. See trailfinders.comor cenizaro.com/theresidence/mauritius/  

Interview by Lisa Pollen

The Telegraph

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