Me and my travels: Alan Carr

Alan Carr, comedian

I caught the travel bug...
After university. I bought one of those six-stop around-the-world tickets. I went to Mexico City, LA, Sydney, Melbourne, Bali and Singapore then worked my way up to Bangkok. Then I got back and got a job in a call centre.

My idea of paradise is ...
A combination of a cultural break with lovely beaches. I found that in Cuba a month ago. We spent four days in Havana which was gorgeous and then we spent three days in a grotty all-inclusive 'five-star' coastal resort where the food was on rotation, but you have to go there for the gorgeous beaches. I love a mix of the two. It's a shame really that Rome doesn't have a beach.

My top travel tip is ...
To get an upgrade always travel with a neck brace. My friend's done it. You just say 'hello' very gingerly. If you get a sympathetic check-in girl, she'll upgrade you. If they don't, just cough ever so slightly and then scream in pain! That always works.

I'll never go back to ...
Surat Thani in Thailand. Every backpacker has to go there to get the ferry out to these beautiful islands like Koh Samui, but Surat Thani is just vile. The food is disgusting. Everyone just eats Pringles. The thing is you know you're only one ferry away from paradise, but you're stuck there and it just rubs it in even more.

My favourite hotel is ...
The Riverbank Park Plaza on the Albert Embankment in London. I live in Manchester so when I'm filming in London I'm put up there. They give me this suite with an amazing view of Westminster, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and at night when it's all lit up you can see St Paul's in the distance. It's the best view in London.

My first trip was ...
Flying to Mexico was my first ever 'Oh my God' experience with more than two hours on a plane. I remember on my 23rd birthday being in Palenque where the Mayan ruins are. All these fireflies started coming out. It was out of this world.

My most memorable meal was in ...
Cuba. I decided to push the boat out for dessert. There was a choice between ice cream and a 'Cuban Delicacy'. My friend had the ice cream, which looked delicious. I chose the Cuban Delicacy. I got what looked like two strips of Dairylea in a bowl of apricot jam. It was vile! And the Cuban guy kept coming back to ask, 'You like, you like?' I had to smile and say: 'Mmm, yes. Delicious.' I was dry heaving.

I always bring back ...
A fridge magnet for my Mum. She has so many she can hardly see the fridge.

The best beach I've ever seen was ...
Isla Mujeres. It's off the coast of Mexico. It's the beach in The Shawshank Redemption where Tim Robbins is found by Morgan Freeman. We stayed on the white-sand beach in a cabana and it's stunning.

My favourite place is ...
Sydney. It's so open and the people are very friendly. If you go to places such as Malaysia or Indonesia you get the beautiful beaches but sacrifice the shopping and nice hotels and social scene. In Sydney, you get the best of both worlds.

My favourite comedy festival is in ...
Kilkenny in Ireland, about an hour from Dublin. Sod Edinburgh - Kilkenny is what a festival should be. It's just a weekend and it's in pubs. Everyone's pissed so they laugh anyway and by the time a critic slags off your show, you're back home so it doesn't matter.

· Alan Carr is at Hammersmith Apollo on 12 May. He presents the Friday Night Project on Fridays at 11.05pm, Channel 4.

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