Simon Calder is Senior Travel Editor for The Independent, writing a weekly column as well as one-off articles and features. He also writes for The Evening Standard, High Life (BA's in flight magazine) as well as many other publications.
Known as “the man who pays his way”, because he always pays for all his own travel and never accepts freebies or concessions, Simon Calder owes his love of travel to his parents - and in particular their decision to move to Crawley, a then-new town in West Sussex. He was born beside the A23 on Christmas Day, 1955, and by the time Simon was six, he realised that there was likely to be more to life than this. Fortunately, that summer he joined the Crawley branch of the Woodcraft Folk. They promptly organised a camping trip to the Lake District, and Simon was hooked.
The next significant age was 13, when Simon Calder travelled abroad for the first time, on a school day trip to Dieppe in northern France; unfortunately, learning Russian, not French, was compulsory at his school, so communication was tricky. This was also the year when he started to learn the fine art of free travel by starting to hitchhike. More than four decades later, Simon is still thumbing his way around the world, augmented by cycling.
Simon's first job was a cleaner for British Airways at Gatwick airport. He later worked as a security guard frisking passengers. It was during the long gaps between flights (this was a while ago) that he began to write budget travel guidebooks, starting with the Hitchhiker's Manual: Britain.
After a brief stint teaching Maths in Crawley, and a longer stint as radio engineer at the BBC in London, Simon became travel editor for The Independent in 1994. Soon afterwards he began presenting for BBC2's Travel Show. In 2003 he became a regular presenter for the Holiday programme on BBC1, and in 2007 presented the last film in the final programme of the series, which had run for 37 years.
Simon Calder is regularly interviewed on TV about travel stories and events. He is a frequent guest on BBC Breakfast News, Good Morning Britain, ITV News and, Sky News. He is also the presenter of Global Guru for The Travel Show (BBC 2 and BBC World), where he answers holiday questions from viewers. In December 2011 he was asked to be a contestant on Celebrity Mastermind – his specialist subject was Concorde. To his astonishment, he won. He also contributes regularly to BBC Radio, particularly BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio Five Live! Not much sleep there, then.
Simon Calder has travelled the world, but still cites his favourite bus journey as the number 11 from Liverpool Street to Camden. Simon always finds that the most interesting stories tend to come from the cheap seats.