About three years ago, I decided I would go to Bosnia-Herzegovina. At the time – and still, to an extent today, Bosnia invoked mental images of war, bombed out buildings and, more generally, the unknown and disorder. The idea of going there came to me when I’d been listening to an interview with Paddy Ashdown, the UN’s High Representative, on the BBC World Service. He said that his wife felt safer in Sarajevo than she did on the streets of London; it immediately struck me that it would be an interesting place to go.

Still, I wasn’t seriously considering going there. I mentioned my idea to a friend, and we both laughed … but then, it started to grow on me. Within weeks, I was hurriedly planning a trip through the Balkans, although I probably didn’t read up as much as I should. And then, finally, with much trepidation, I boarded an overnight train from Amsterdam to Munich, really wondering what I was getting myself into. Of course, I need not have worried; Bosnia-Herzegovina is a wonderful country, and Lord Ashdown was correct; Sarajevo was very safe.

At other times, my destinations have been very spur of the moment; I once arrived in Hamburg after an overnight train journey from Geneva, and with a day still valid on my Eurail pass, I dumped my backpack in a locker at the station and dashed off for a day trip visit to Berlin (and, of course, one day wasn’t enough, so I then spent more time there after some time in Scandinavia). I later ended up in Barcelona, simply because I’d been travelling in the cold north of Europe and wanted to see some sun.

How do you decide where your next destination is?

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