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Travel Advice from the Expert: An Interview with Steve King

Steve King: broadcaster, journalist, travel writer, author, columnist and presenter – is there anything he can’t do? As a self-confessed “helpless victim of the travel bug,” Steve is a Twitter celebrity who weaves his travel expertise with beauty and fashion knowledge. A former guest presenter on Richard and Judy, editor of Men’s Health magazine and columnist for both The Sunday Express and The Mail on Sunday, he now runs as well.

It started off with a severe case of the travel bug which started from childhood. “I suppose I’ve always had the travel bug, from a young age; we would travel as a family to amazing places like Australia, and I have since been on the quest to experience new things and diverse, different cultures.” In his early twenties, Steve knew he wanted to become a writer, so worked as a journalist for national newspapers and magazines. “My work took me so many places, from South Africa to Miami, depending on where and when we were shooting, so travel gradually became part of life. I loved writing about it, and people seemed to like reading what I wrote.”

When I asked Steve what made travel such an important part of his life, he remarked that “travel allows you to be part of an adventure in which you are the story teller—you can write your own novel in which you are in charge of what happens and what you see. And this doesn’t have to be far-flung destinations either; it’s just important to experience different things. It’s an amazing education at any age, which helps to shape who you are as a person.”

Travelling for both leisure and work, Steve has visited a number of places, and it’s hard to pick a favourite. “I certainly remember the Maldives—50-plus islands which are just paradise on earth for relaxing and doing as little as possible. Also I loved South Africa, because there’s such a range of things to do and experiences to have. Pus, the people make a destination, and South Africans are some of the loveliest people on earth.” He also loved Shanghai: “I was amazed at how it was so cosmopolitan, yet how it held onto its 1940s French colonial culture, blended with modern architecture.”

Steve is dad to three children, aged four, nine and 13. “It’s very important to me for the kids to experience what I was able to in my childhood. It’s eye-opening to travel with your children, seeing the world through different sets of eyes—in my case, three! They make observations that blow your mind. I love to see the children have fun, laughing and relaxing—that is a big tick for any parent. I do think travel allows children to appreciate what they have, and how different the world is.”

Does the King family have a summer holiday planned? “Absolutely, we always have a main summer trip and mini trips throughout the year, depending on school holidays. This summer we’re travelling from Marrakech to Casablanca, giving an opportunity to see Morocco for about a month. As you can imagine, the excitement starts long before going to particular destination – things to do, learning about the culture and how people live. The kids get excited, doing the research and asking questions and I love that.”

As a travel expert who has developed deep knowledge of family travel, Steve has plenty of tips to help keep the holiday stress-free. “Organisation! Don’t leave yourself short of time to get there, if you are arriving stressed everything else seems to go wrong – little ones playing up, losing your passport… Also, children want to eat at the most inconvenient times, so be sure to have ample sweets and snacks to hand. Have every electronic device fully charged, particularly for long haul flights. Be prepared, and don’t leave things to the last minute.”

Since Steve is also a men’s grooming and fashion expert, I asked if he had any tips for keeping well-groomed while travelling. “Always prepare an outfit for arrival. It is nice to change into something appropriate for the climate you’re arriving in, to help keep you cool and relaxed. Another important one is to drink lots – you should drink one litre of water per hour of the flight. Put yourself in the time zone of place you’re going ahead of arrival, so you don’t waste time feeling jet lagged. Men often skip moisturiser, but it can make you feel fresh since dry aeroplane air can affect your skin.”

By this time, he was feeding my own travel bug, so I asked what exciting travel plans were next. “I really want to do a big trip to Tanzania with the children; it would be amazing to go there for six months or so. We often use resorts, which are perfect for the children. All-inclusive is great for families and children, especially if you are on budget as you know you what you are paying before you go. I really think they are the way forward.”

And what makes Steve’s perfect holiday? “Being able to relax and switch off – this really ties into the experience and whether you can enjoy or not. I usually book the best hotel that I can, pushing the boat out a little. Mainly though, you have to cater the trip to who you are with, and as long as everyone is happy, I am happy.”