DJ Sara Cox, 42, tells Family Traveller about camping in Cornwall and the joy of an all-inclusive buffet with her kids, Lola, 12, Isaac, nine, Renee, seven, and husband Ben Cyzer
What was your first memorable holiday as a child?
Camping with my Auntie Carole and Uncle Trevor near Looe in Cornwall. We had a big tent with three bedrooms and I had my own zipped-up room, which was so cool. They had a trailer tent, which I thought was the height of chic and technology. It seemed to magically pop up, but I’m sure that wasn’t the case, it probably took ages. My uncle was a keen fisherman and caught mackerel one day and brought it back to barbecue for us – that started a life-long love of fresh mackerel. I’m quite a connoisseur.
Where do you travel with your family?
We like travelling in the UK in the summer. This year, we’re off to Devon; last year, we went to Cornwall, and before that, Wales. Wales is very beautiful – we stayed in a place called Boncath near Cardigan Bay, which made us very happy as, of course, we had to sing Dizzee Rascal’s Bonkers all the time (I say we – Ben and I did, the kids just thought we were losers). We tend to stay in dog-friendly self-catering places, as we have two dogs now and it makes life easier.
What are your travel essentials?
Ben and Isaac put together playlists for our journey; pop music and musicals, like Oliver and Matilda – stuff you can really sing along to. Trolls stuff goes down well, and Elton John’s I’m Still Standing is a popular one.
What’s your most unusual souvenir?
It’s not that unusual, but I do like to buy a cup from an airport when I’m flying home. My friend Claire and I have recently been to Amsterdam, Berlin and Croatia, so we’ve decided we should work our way through the alphabet destination-wise, getting a cup from each. Not sure how Ben will feel about me going away for 23 more city breaks, though. We recently did our kitchen up, and Ben asked if I really need all these cups, but I’m not parting with my ‘I heart Paris’ mug.
Do you have a favourite destination?
I’d love to return to Mauritius. I went years ago when I’d first met Ben, and Lola was little. I found the Indian Ocean incredible. I’m quite scared of water usually, but there it was flat, warm, shallow for a really long way and beautiful.
Everything was immaculate, even the gardens, but Lola said, after a few days, ‘I’m bored’…kids aren’t so interested in a tropical garden, are they? I also love New York. Ben and I went recently and had such a good time. I used my air miles to upgrade us to first class, and we didn’t play it cool… we had Champagne, went ‘Oooh’ at all the gadgets and took lots of pics and Instagrammed them. It was clear that’s not how we usually travel, but it was so brilliant to go on a trip where the journey is part of the holiday.
What’s your tip for a family place that won’t break the bank?
Cyprus. We booked an all-inclusive last year and it was excellent. We had a joyous ‘5am at a packed Luton Airport’ start, but once we were there it was great. We stayed at the King Evelthon Beach Hotel and Resort, which was £700pp all-in, including food; I’m quite good with a buffet, I don’t go mad, but some people were spooning curry onto their steak and tuna! My kids were really into the breakfast – pancakes, bacon, even cake – I was trying to slip bits of watermelon onto their plates, just so they had something nutritious.
They made loads of friends; there was a big waterpark, too, and it wasn’t too posh – I don’t like places where you have to say ‘Shhh’ to the kids all the time; happy kids make a happy holiday, in my experience.
Where’s your favourite place to go in the UK (outside London).
We love Cornwall and Devon (don’t make me choose!), but I also like the north-east – Northumberland has some amazing beaches. We also love Camp Bestival in Dorset every July. This year, I DJ-ed there and judged the ‘best beard and moustache’ competition. People put in so much effort – one year, a man made his into a trapeze and it had a little man swinging in it.
Where are you off to next?
Cyprus again, at half-term, but the place I’ve always wanted to go is Thailand. I love Thai food, and when I was 19 I went to South Korea modelling. It was exotic and made me want to explore that region more – places like Thailand, Vietnam, Laos.
A passionate horse-racing fan, Sara has teamed up with Great British Racing to let families know that under 18s go free to most race days. Find out more at stirrupsummer.com