‘Ginger Shore, Causeway Inn, Tampa, Florida, November 17 1977’ by US photographer Stephen Shore
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Mervyn King, former governor of the Bank of England

How are you spending the summer?
After a hectic five months, I will be spending August at home in our converted oast house in Kent. If the weather holds, sitting in the rose garden and reading is the perfect holiday with everything one could want on tap.

Who would be your ideal travel companion (real or fictional, dead or alive)?
The best way to experience new places is on one’s own. I still remember my first visit to Venice and walking around that extraordinary city solo.

Will you share your summer experiences on social media?
I have no wish to add to the many experiences available to read and view on social media.

What’s on your summer reading list?
One of the great advantages of staying at home is that I have no need to select a small number of books to carry with me. On the list will certainly be Tom Holland’s Dynasty, Fiona Reynolds’ The Fight for Beauty and Peter Frankopan’s The Silk Roads.

Do you try to keep up with the news when you’re on holiday?
Yes — but only for a few minutes a day.

Are holiday selfies ever acceptable?
I never take them myself, although I try to accommodate reasonable requests by others made politely and without intrusion.

What will be your soundtrack to summer 2016?
Just the birds singing in the garden.

If you could go to any place at any time, where would you go and why?
Lake Como has a magic and mystery that weaves its spell at any time.

If you had one top travel tip, what would it be?
Don’t check in luggage unless you have the time, and are wise enough, to travel by ship.

Richard Ford, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist

How are you spending the summer?
In my room, at my table — so it seems.

Who would be your ideal travel companion (real or fictional, dead or alive)?
A stunningly beautiful woman; my wife, if she’s available.

Will you share your summer experiences on social media?
I don’t “do” any social media.

What’s on your summer reading list?
Born to Run, the new Springsteen memoir; Writing to Save a Life, by John Edgar Wideman; A Cage in Search of a Bird by Florence Noiville.

Do you try to keep up with the news when you’re on holiday?
It’s our election-year calamity. The nation’s falling apart. I can hardly avoid it.

Are holiday selfies ever acceptable?
What’s a “selfie” . . . apart from the old-fashioned kind? Which are always acceptable, as Larkin points out.

What is the most memorable souvenir that you’ve given or received?
I hope I haven’t gotten it yet.

Federal Highway 97 south of Klamath Falls Oregon 21 July 1973 From the Uncommon Places series by Stephen Shore © Stephen Shore

What is your worst holiday memory?
There’s a list. But . . . renting a “house” once in Cuernavaca, Mexico, which then turned out to be a steamy, one-car garage with no lights, a nasty couch to sleep on, and scorpions. My wife cried. We left. Then we moved into a house that had black widow spiders in the ceiling. My wife cried. We left. On the plane out, my wife got so gut-sick in Mexico City airport that she pleaded with me just to leave her there where she was sitting. Our friends were spies (as it turned out), and they dispatched some large men with guns to get us on the plane. My wife cried (from relief). We left.

What will be your soundtrack to summer 2016?
Richard Thompson’s Acoustic Classics.

If you could go to any place at any time, where would you go and why?
Stay home, the drive’s shorter. I live on the coast of Maine.

If you had one top travel tip, what would it be?
Fly business class . . . fewer screaming kids.

Marie Kondo, decluttering guru and writer

How are you spending the summer?
I usually relax at waterside Japanese-style hotels in the forests and mountains. Because I am surrounded by many things during my work as an organising consultant, I want to spend my holidays inside nature with simplicity.

Are holiday selfies ever acceptable?
Yes. Unless it leads to environmental damage, it is up to the person, and making memories at various places is something very enjoyable.

What is the most memorable souvenir that you’ve given or received?
Aroma oil of Yakusugi, made in the island of Yakushima.

What is your dream holiday?
Relaxing in a hot spring inside the mountains of Japan with my family. Cooling ourselves wearing yukatas (informal cotton kimonos, worn in the summer).

If you had one top travel tip, what would it be?
Examine carefully whether your packing is at its minimum. Always bring at least one favourite thing you use in your daily life (for example, aroma oil that you spray before you go to sleep; nightwear that guarantees you a joy-sparking sleep).

Room 125 Westbank Motel Idaho Falls Idaho 18 July 1973 From the Uncommon Places series by Stephen Shore © Stephen Shore

Yanis Varoufakis, economist and politician

How are you spending the summer?
Like every summer: accumulating sensations that, when the depths of winter arrive, will allow me to, still, feel that — in Albert Camus’ wonderful words — “within me there lay an invincible summer”.

Who would be your ideal travel companion (real or fictional, dead or alive)?
Danae, my partner, for her astonishing capacity to belong in strange places. And the spirit of Oscar Wilde, for a sensational running commentary.

What’s on your summer reading list?
Novels by Edna O’Brien and Elif Shafak.

Do you try to keep up with the news when you’re on holiday?
The problem is that the news and current affairs try to keep up with me. My resistance to them is laudable but often proves insufficiently resolute.

Are holiday selfies ever acceptable?
There is enough possessive individualism around at the best of times. Travelling, like art and science, is only well done if it involves an escape from self — and, I presume, selfies.

What is the most memorable souvenir that you’ve given or received?
A rusty key to the dilapidated home of an old lady that I met on the mountains of Crete — as a symbol of a permanent invitation to return.

What is your worst holiday memory?
Being stuck on a yacht at Mykonos harbour, surrounded by the cacophony of merriment created by sad people pretending to be happy.

If you had one top travel tip, what would it be?
This is the type of question that was answered long ago by the first and finest travel writer: “It is the journey, stupid, not getting there!” (Homer, though not exactly his words . . . )

Mishal Husain, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme

How are you spending the summer?
Partly in London, which I love when it empties out in August, and partly at a beautiful Schloss in the Bavarian Alps. We love the temperate weather and the views — it’s magical even when it rains.

Will you share your summer experiences on social media?
This is the one time of the year when I take a proper break from social media, but I certainly won’t post holiday snaps, which generally strike me as showing off.

Do you try to keep up with the news and current events when you’re on holiday?
Yes — I’d feel lost when returning to work otherwise. I listen to Today every morning, either live or on catch-up, and enjoy wondering what dramas are going on behind the scenes.

Are holiday selfies ever acceptable?
Only in extremis — eg after climbing a mountain. I was horrified to see tourists taking selfies at Ground Zero last year, right next to the voids that mark the footprint of the towers.

What is the most memorable souvenir that you’ve given or received?
We once came home with turtle bones picked up on an Omani beach, which had pride of place in our living room until I decided that there was something odd about showcasing an animal’s skull.

What will be your soundtrack to summer 2016?
Whatever my sons download, plus my podcast feed.

If you could go to any place at any time, where would you go and why?
Istanbul during the heyday of the Ottomans.

If you had one top travel tip, what would it be?
I don’t travel beyond the end of our road without a first aid kit for my sons’ inevitable bumps, scrapes and bites, plus a pack of playing cards to keep them busy. Maybe this is the year that we progress beyond our grand repertoire of three games.

Nicole Farhi, fashion designer and sculptor

How are you spending the summer?
Two weeks at our house near La Ciotat in the south of France, and then a week showing Paris to my grandchildren, who have never seen it. Then back to London to prepare for my September exhibition The Human Hand at Bowman Sculpture.

Will you share your summer experiences on social media?
I’ll stay online but I would kill myself rather than inflict myself on others.

Do you try to keep up with the news when you’re on holiday?
Boris Johnson becoming foreign secretary destroyed my interest in current affairs.

What is the most memorable souvenir that you’ve given or received?
My husband David writes me a poem for my birthday in July every year. That’s a highlight.

What is your worst holiday memory?
Being lent an apartment in Tel Aviv in the early 1970s that was locked when we got there. We had no money to go to a hotel, so I had to sell fashion sketches door-to-door to survive with my two friends.

If you could go to any place at any time, where would you go and why?
I’d like to be in Giacometti’s studio, unobserved, just watching him work for days on end.

West Ninth Avenue Amarillo Texas 2 October 1974 From the Uncommon Places series by Stephen Shore © Stephen Shore

Colin Thubron, travel writer, novelist and president of the Royal Society of Literature

How are you spending the summer?
I’m spending it sadly grounded after a knee replacement operation last month. So I’ll be travelling only in my mind.

Who would be your ideal travel companion (real or fictional, dead or alive)?
My wife. But for rougher journeys — where much selfishness is involved — my only possible companion is myself. I’m apt to forget about comfort.

What’s on your summer reading list?
John Hemming’s magisterial opus of Amazon exploration, Naturalists in Paradise, and Simon Garfield’s cartographic study On the Map, although these may both foment wanderlust.

What is the most memorable souvenir that you’ve given or received?
I have a cheery tradition of exchanging ghastly foreign postcards with an old friend. It’s a kind of competition. She stayed ahead for years with a grotesque postcard of the Hindu god Ganesh, with inlaid eyes. But I think I’ve recently edged in front with a Romanian one featuring a kitsch Dracula.

What is your worst holiday memory/experience?
Returning overland from India in a failing Morris Marina. I got lost in a snowstorm near the Soviet border, where an Iranian sentry nearly shot me dead.

If you had one top travel tip, what would it be?
Shed all prejudice.

Mariana Mazzucato, professor and author of ‘The Entrepreneurial State’ and ‘Rethinking Capitalism’

How are you spending the summer?
One week on Isola d’Elba, one week at our house in the Italian alps, and a week in Austria teaching at the Alpbach European Forum. I’m bringing the entire family so the kids can take science classes in the morning and hike in the afternoons.

Do you try to keep up with the news when you’re on holiday?
I like sitting on a bench in the middle of a sunny field or beach, reading a newspaper while the kids are playing and, when my eyes start to close, lying down and putting it over my eyes. A versatile object. I also, while on holiday, tend to write front-page articles for Italy’s La Repubblica while recovering from a long hike or sitting on a beach. It’s nice to then wake up and send the kids to buy the paper.

Are holiday selfies ever acceptable?
I never look good in selfies, so I much prefer to photograph the view — and sometimes tweet it (surely less boring than my constant tweets on the futility of austerity or Brexit!).

What is the most memorable souvenir that you’ve given or received?
A very large volcanic rock in Ginostra, the other side of Stromboli (one of the Aeolian islands). I use it to keep doors open in London — and in the deep winter it reminds me what paradise on earth looks like.

What will be your soundtrack to summer 2016?
Patty Bravo, Tom Odell, Gilberto Gil, Miles Davis, Florence and the Machine, and some Chopin.

If you had one top travel tip, what would it be?
Use the time to just look at your kids, or your partner, or your friends. Watching the details on their faces, their smiles, their movements, how they walk, that during the year get lost with everything else.

Alan Yentob, documentary-maker

How are you spending the summer?
As we have every summer for the past 20 years — in a stunningly beautiful valley in southern Italy with close friends and extended family nearby, and under the watchful gaze of a dormant volcano.

Who would be your ideal travel companion (real or fictional, dead or alive)?
Honestly? It’s a toss-up between my family and my iPhone. If obliged to choose right now, post-Brexit, The Donald and Isis, no contest! Google wins.

Will you share your summer experiences on social media?
I don’t engage much with social media but do snap on my phone and have a soft spot for Instagram. Nevertheless, I will tune in to holiday highlights and indiscretions when passed on by friends and family . . . 

What’s on your summer reading list?
Woman At Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi, a radical Egyptian feminist provocateur; Sarah Bakewell’s At the Existentialist Café, on Sartre, Camus, Simone de Beauvoir et al. And I’ll read again Simon Sebag Montefiore’s stunning book about Stalin, The Court of The Red Tsar.

Do you try to keep up with the news when you’re on holiday?
Predictably . . . voraciously . . . sadly . . . 

Are holiday selfies ever acceptable?
Shouldn’t carry the death penalty. If it’s OK by Vladimir Putin, it’s OK by me.

What is the most memorable souvenir that you’ve given or received?
On a trip to China, a collection of Chairman Mao watches with the great leader in different poses . . . Oh, and a dinosaur skull. I found it in a place in Beijing selling early Han Dynasty pottery. On my way out, the dealer beckoned me over and said, “Would you be interested in this? President Clinton’s got one . . . ”

What is your worst holiday memory?
If not the worst, then certainly the stupidest. I’d been taking a short break with a good friend in Key West in Florida and was rushing back by car to an urgent business meeting in Miami. Stopped off midway for lunch and fuel two hours on, then turned right, towards Miami, or so we thought. But, another two hours later, we arrive back where we started in Key West! So we begin all over again on a four-hour drive and miss our crucial appointment with studio chiefs in Miami . . . disaster.

What will be your soundtrack to summer 2016?
Listening again and again to Bowie, particularly Hunky Dory and “Life On Mars” — “It’s a god-awful small affair/ to the girl with the mousy hair . . . ” — and Strauss’s Four Last Songs, recorded by the wonderful Jessye Norman.

What makes a dream holiday?
Swimming with Philippa, Ruthie Rogers’ cooking, and a Brompton bike.

If you could go to any place at any time, where would you go and why?
A hideaway in Somerset near the Quantocks . . . a passion shared with Coleridge (and Wordsworth, when he found the time).

Mark Vanhoenacker, pilot and author

How are you spending the summer?
This summer holds the usual mix of flying and relaxing for me. I work as a pilot for British Airways, flying the Boeing 747, and I’ve got work trips to Kuwait, Miami, Las Vegas and Toronto coming up.

Who would be your ideal travel companion (real or fictional, dead or alive)?
I studied east African history at university. I would never turn down an opportunity to go on safari (shooting only photos) with Karen Blixen, the author of Out of Africa. But my ideal travel companion was my dad. Whatever he didn’t know about the history of a place, he would study in advance. A few years before he died, we set off on a long-postponed trip to the Galápagos. If there’s a place you’ve always wanted to go with someone in particular, my advice is, don’t wait. There are so many other places I would like to have gone with him.

Will you share your summer experiences on social media?
I get a lot of enthusiastic window-seat tweets from readers, particularly in the summer travel months, and I want to see those and share them. I’ve also posted a few of my own pics from my flights as a passenger, such as one of the sea north of Crete that just sums up everything I love about Greece, summer and the colour blue.

Are holiday selfies ever acceptable?
I remember years ago, in Singapore, seeing selfie sticks for the first time. It took me a few moments to understand what was happening. Having said that, photographs are almost always more interesting with people in them, and I’m more tightly drawn to the detail of a skyline or a ruin or a work of art if someone I know is standing near it. If nothing else, it makes it easier to imagine yourself there.

What is the most memorable souvenir that you’ve given or received?
A friend who loves deserts has the habit of bringing back a small quantity of sand from a distant one. So I’ll occasionally receive a glass vial of red or yellow grains, with a note that says simply “Kalahari” or “Mojave” or “Tunisia”. It’s remarkable how different the colours are.

If you could go to any place at any time, where would you go and why?
Well, you said any place, so here goes: I’d love to visit another planet in our solar system.

If you had one top travel tip, what would it be?
Book a window seat. It’s one of the best places to re-encounter the beauty of the world, which is what moves many of us to travel in the first place. Mountains, clouds, oceans, stars — it’s all there for us.

Radek Sikorski, politician and journalist

How are you spending the summer?
Mostly in rural Poland but also on a father-and-son trip to post-coup Turkey — Istanbul and Gallipoli. The number of women wearing Saudi-style Islamic dress alarmed us.

Who would be your ideal travel companion (real or fictional, dead or alive)?
Family apart, I’d love to travel with Jeremy Clarkson and watch someone else be politically incorrect.

Will you share your summer experiences on social media?
I posted a picture of Anzac Cove at Gallipoli that got retweeted by Australians and New Zealanders. Actually, their troops landed unopposed; it was later that the slaughter started in the hills.

Do you try to keep up with the news when you’re on holiday?
To the annoyance of my son, yes. But he admits that following Trump’s campaign has been quite entertaining.

Are holiday selfies acceptable?
Perfectly, although preferably not during mass at St Peter’s.

What is the most memorable souvenir that you’ve given or received?
A golden Walther PPK from an Armenian oligarch, which unfortunately I could not accept as it had no serial number.

What is your worst holiday memory?
Experiencing total panic while — unsuccessfully — trying to change planes at JFK.

What will be your soundtrack to summer 2016?
Muezzin’s call to midday prayer from the minarets of Hagia Sophia.

If you had one top travel tip, what would it be?
Avoid JFK, Charles de Gaulle and Mexico City airports.

Robin Hutson, boutique hotelier

How are you spending the summer?
I hope a good deal of time horizontal in the sun in Kalkan, Turkey.

Are holiday selfies ever acceptable?
Acceptable for teenagers, otherwise grow up and ask someone else to take the photograph!

What is your worst holiday memory?
A hotel room in Skiathos with mould-covered walls about 20 years ago with the children.

What will be your soundtrack to summer 2016?
I have been building the soundtrack to my life for my big birthday next year, trying to capture every track that has been meaningful over past 50 years. I have 200-plus tracks so I will be listening and trying to spot omissions.

What is your dream holiday?
Any “barefoot elegance” experience in the sunshine. I like small understated hotels. I am not one for huge international hotels, however slick they are.

If you could go to any place at any time, where would you go and why?
This is difficult, but probably Gili Lankanfushi in the Maldives, the rustic chic suites in the middle of the ocean are the ultimate Robinson Crusoe experience.

If you had one top travel tip, what would it be?
Travel through airports in slip-on shoes, saves lots of aggro at security and more comfortable on planes.

Answers compiled by George Shankar

Main photograph: Stephen Shore

The ‘Stephen Shore/Retrospective’ will be at Huis Marseille, Museum for photography until September 4

Letters in response to this article

No wonder he’s confused / From John Watkin

Varoufakis’s responses were poetry in prose / From Vijay Kumar

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