Famous flyer: Sebastien Izambard

Sebastien Izambard learnt the hard way who to holiday with and never leaves home without his pillow.

Which was your best holiday?

After three kids [my wife] is the master of packing.

My best holiday was in Thailand in a hotel called Ratcha on a small island south of Phuket. It was just perfect - at the time I had just met my wife, Renee, and we were just taking it easy and not making any plans to be in a relationship. But our relationship became magical and everything around became even more beautiful. It's a culture I've always wanted to see and the people there are so beautiful, so kind and spiritual. I remember the smell of oil, the trees, the smell of a local restaurant on the beach in a little cabin. They used to fish on the beach and sell it to you on a very little table on the sandy beach, the fish is so fresh. It was not over the top and so simple. I loved the clear water even though they said after the tsunami it was not the same. That holiday was so far away from everything. I loved it, it was just perfectly beautiful and I fell in love with my wife and the country - what else could I ask for ?

And the best hotel you've stayed in?

I loved Byron Bay. We went for Christmas to Melbourne to spend time with the in-laws and we left our children to have a kind of honeymoon. We stayed at The Byron at Byron and had such a wonderful stay. Tallow Beach is surreal and people are so easygoing and relaxed. We went for a horse ride on the beach and in the bush. We did air-ballooning, too. You wake up at 3.30am to make sure you don't miss any animals at sunrise. The balloon was floating really low near the water - it was just splendid and a very quiet experience, with only the sound of the animals and the wind to hear. After that trip we made an offer on a piece of land in Byron Bay but it didn't work out unfortunately ... shame.

What do you need for a perfect holiday?

My wife, my children, the sun, a culture to discover, crystal-clear water, a white sandy beach, great food and a very comfortable bed.

What do you always take with you?

I always travel with my pillow. I have so many back and neck problems and travelling with it has really changed my life. I love the smell of the powder of the washing machine and softener on my pillow - I feel like I'm bringing a bit of home with me everywhere I go. And of course a framed picture of the family.


What's your best piece of travel advice?

Be really organised. Make a list, make sure your luggage isn't overweight, don't forget your passport - it sounds stupid but we've all done it once if we travel a lot. I've a bag for my socks, a bag with undies (Bonds), a bag for T-shirts, a bag for jeans, a bag for sun cream and an empty bag for laundry. But you should see how my wife is organised - after three kids she is the master of packing. She learnt that from me!

Where do you want to go next?

I would love to go to the Great Barrier Reef - a lot of people have told me about it. Also Bali, India and Nepal.

Which was your worst holiday?

It was in Corsica with some people who I realised really did not have the same values in life as me and it was very uncomfortable. I felt a lot of pressure to accommodate their needs but I had no money at the time and they were very comfortable financially. I was trying to contribute the best I could but they still made me feel poor and like I was not contributing enough to their holiday. It was a test of the friendship. It's funny now, when you have kids, things are very different so you make friends with people that share the same values in life and go on holidays with them.

What's the biggest packing mistake you've made?

I once forgot my passport and my underwear and socks.

Which was the worst hotel you've stayed in?

A five-star hotel in the south of France that had horrible staff. Too any rich people were staying there and there was no service. For me, quality of service is really important.

What do you avoid on holiday?

A cruise. It's really dangerous for my kids and my wife gets really sea sick. I tend to avoid noisy hotels and resorts as well because I'm always around a lot of noise and I like quieter places.

What do you hate about holidays?

Sharing time with the wrong people.

French pop singer and Il Divo star Sebastien Izambard will launch a new online homewares and vintage children's wear label, Hero et Moi, later this year.

As told to Angie Kelly