My Life In Travel: Gail Porter
'I'd like to travel with Billy Connolly – he'd
keep me laughing all the way'.
Interview by Sophie Lam
My first holiday memory?
Mum and Dad used to
take us camping around Ireland in a Volkswagen
van. We went with friends so there were usually
about eight of us. There were lots of roadblocks
and men with guns at the time, but we were
too young to understand what it was about;
we had the best time.
Staying at the Reethi Rah resort in the Maldives.
My boyfriend James and I went two years ago,
and it was just amazing. We stayed in a water
villa and we'd pull up the blinds and open
the doors in the mornings and jump straight
into the sea.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
My home town Edinburgh. It's so cultural, vibrant
and beautiful. It's lovely being in a city
where you've got the sea, as well as a castle
and a palace. I really like the New Town and
Grassmarket areas, and the Royal Mile, with
its great little pubs hidden down little streets.
I'm not a big fan of the new Scottish parliament
What have you learnt from your travels?
To keep a journal. It's easy to think you'll
never forget your memories from holidays and
trips abroad, but inevitably you do a bit.
I've kept a journal for my daughter, Honey,
because she has been travelling with me since
she was four months old and has been all over
Ideal travelling companion?
Michael Palin and Phileas Fogg for their travel
knowledge, and Billy Connolly because he'd
keep me laughing all the way around the world.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
I like a bit of everything. I get bored if
I stay on the beach the whole time. There wasn't
much else to do in the Maldives, but we went
out on on catamarans. Otherwise, I like to
see a bit of culture.
Greatest travel luxury?
A Diptyque Opopanax candle, just in case I
end up somewhere dodgy; they smell really comforting.
I read about five books in the Maldives.
Where has seduced you?
I was in Uganda at the beginning of the year,
with Fair Trade, and I loved it. I visited
the mountain coffee farms to see how the money
is being used, and it was so green and beautiful.
I also loved Cambodia, where I worked in orphanages.
I found the culture and the history fascinating.
Better to travel or arrive?
I prefer to arrive, but my daughter loves flying
and finds airports exciting.
Worst travel experience?
I took Honey to South Africa, where I was working
with an animal charity, and we were in a twin-prop
plane that had to make an emergency landing
because of bad weather. My heart was in my
mouth, but Honey was shouting, " This
is brilliant, Mummy!".
I stayed at the Hilton in Tobago just after
it had opened, and it was having teething problems.
I'm not a fan of big corporate hotels and it
felt completely wrong in a place like Tobago.
The Reethi Rah, for pure luxury. Le Touessrok
in Mauritius is wonderful, too, because the
people in Mauritius are lovely. When I travel
for a charity, I tend to stay in local B&Bs – much
If I had limitless amounts of money, I'd go
back to Tasmania. I stayed in an eco-lodge
on top of a hill, and when I woke up in the
morning, I'd go for a swim in the ocean. We'd
also get up at six in the morning to go trekking,
and saw an amazing array of wildlife, from
Tasmanian Devils to possums and kangaroos.
Best meal abroad?
In Cambodia, I had the classic hot-and-sour
soup, which almost blew my head off. I have
very sensitive skin, so it made me go bright
red, and all the locals laughed at me.
First thing you do when you arrive somewhere
I have to unpack and make sure everything is
in order. I'll have read a guidebook on the
plane, and I write itineraries so I don't miss
I'd love to go to China, and I'd also like
to see the Amazon and the Congo, but the Congo
is extremely dangerous. A friend filmed a documentary
there and said it was the only time he'd feared
for his life.
Edinburgh. I go up every couple of months,
and I always go for the festival.
To Glasgow and Aberdeen, and then I'm hoping
to take Honey to Vietnam and Cambodia to revisit
some of the orphanages I worked in.