MHis parents have family in the United States, so we were lucky enough to vacation in Los Angeles when I was 15. Like so many teenagers, I fell in love with American culture—the sun, no school uniform; they even had lockers in the school hallways, just like in real life saved by the bell.
At the same time, there was another side to LA. All that West Hollywood rock ‘n’ roll stuff was happening, and after dark, the world was starting to feel frayed around the edges. All the bars were a little dirty and everyone seemed like they were in a band. I remember seeing Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins shopping at the supermarket.
America was also the first holiday destination for me and my husband, Jesse, after the birth of our now nine-year-old son Rex. Jesse’s dad, Ronnie Wood, and the rest of the Rolling Stones were on tour there, and we foolishly decided to join them with a ten-week-old baby – no more staying in bed until noon, no more to relax at the pool bar. It’s even more difficult now that our children are older: they rightly want to be entertained, and crossing airports is like trying to negotiate a minefield – if someone invents a teleportation machine like the one of star trek I’ll be the first in line.
I’ve written several books on dealing with the stresses of modern life, and I sincerely believe that traveling is one of the easiest ways to get out of a damaging routine. The wellness industry calls it “awareness,” but it’s nothing out of the ordinary — I’m not talking about six months in Thailand. Spend a weekend in a part of the UK you’ve never visited before: new sights, new smells, no timetable; look at a tree, notice the sunrise – it’s so easy to lose the mundane cyclical nature of your day.
Even as a child, I began to understand how travel can change your perspective. We were a relatively working-class family, so my parents always vacationed on a budget. Most years we have been to Eurocamp, taking the ferry to Calais and then descending to the Cote d’Azur or the Pyrenees. We would stop in a remote village and buy a huge baguette or a crepe, and I marveled at how different the world was: bread and cheese tasted different; a pancake was just a pancake, but calling it a pancake and eating it with a view of the mountains made it incredibly exotic.
I finally went on vacation without my parents when I was 18. My friend Ali and I went to Mallorca. We stayed in a basic two star hotel, but being allowed to fly on our own was the nicest feeling. There were only two objectives during this vacation: sunbathing and kissing some boys – Spanish, Italian, Dutch, German, Swedish. . . they could come from anywhere, as long as it wasn’t the UK. We didn’t have a lot of money, so we decided to limit our food intake – we’d have a popsicle for lunch, then try all the two-for-one cocktails in the evening. Ali and I are still friends and we still talk about that vacation.
Dog sledding in Lapland
I’ve been vegetarian and pescatarian a few times, but there doesn’t seem to be a problem finding something to eat when you’re on vacation. (That said, there was a trip to a superhero convention in Illinois where I had to live on fries and lettuce.) When we took the kids to Lapland, I was surprised at learn that there were a lot of vegans and vegetarians in Finland. You think the Scandinavian diet is very meat and fish dependent, but every meal this holiday had a vegan option.
● Best tours in Lapland
● Best things to do in Lapland
In fact, every moment of this vacation was perfect. The kids had a blast as they got to see Santa Claus and his elves in the forest, and Jesse and I loved it because of the Northern Lights and the absolute silence. The fluffy snow seemed to absorb all sounds; there was not even a breath of wind. A fairy tale tranquility.
Fearne Cotton, 40, is a TV and radio presenter who presents Sounds of the 90s on BBC Radio 2. She hosts the Happy Place Festival at Chiswick House and Gardens in west London from August 6-7 and at Tatton Park in Cheshire in September. 3 to 4, with workshops and guest speakers (happyplaceofficiel.fr)