Spurred on to Sardinia: Harry Redknapp on his travel hotspots (Canvey Island included)

Today people think nothing of travelling 5,000 miles for a week's holiday. But you don't have to go back very far to discover an era when almost nobody in Britain had set foot on a cross-Channel ferry, never mind jetted off abroad on a plane.

When I was a kid, all our seaside holidays were spent on Canvey Island or in Clacton-on-Sea.

We would get a coach from the East End and it would take about five hours to get to the Essex coast.

Harry's game: The Tottenham manager is a big fan of holidays in Sardinia

That was a great excitement for us kids. In the Fifties, Canvey was a top seaside place for a youngster - the famous Canvey Island Casino was full of slot machines and there were all the fairground rides, such as the dodgems, and a speedway track.

My other big holiday, when I was a boy, was to go hop-picking with my nan down in Kent. That would be for four weeks in the summer and we all loved it. It was very special to us.

My mum and dad never went abroad for a holiday. My dad was overseas in the war but never thought about going anywhere like the Mediterranean after that, so my mum died without ever having been on a plane or abroad.

I never went overseas until I left school and joined West Ham United Football Club at the beginning of the Sixties. And it was only really when I got married to Sandra and we had kids that we began to have proper holidays.

In the early days, we really liked the Channel Islands. We used to go to Jersey quite a bit. That was nice, with its large bays and lovely beaches.

And at the same time I was travelling a lot as a player for West Ham. We used to go all over the world. Fortunately, I loved travel.

In those days, West Ham pulled in the crowds everywhere we went because we had three of England's 1966 World Cup winners - Geoff Hurst, Bobby Moore and Martin Peters.

The good old days: Harry has happy memories of family holidays at Canvey Island

It was a club that was in demand. We'd go to America in the offseason, and places such as Bermuda.

Away matches: Football's favourite resorts

Many of Britain’s leading luxury tour operators, including Elegant Resorts, ITC, Carrier and Seasons in Style, are based in Cheshire, one of the most affluent parts of the North West – and an easy sports-car drive from the training grounds of Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool football clubs.

It’s no surprise that lavishly rewarded players from these and other Premier League clubs are regulars in airline business class and connoisseurs of the five-star hotel scene.

Choose the right week at the Sandy Lane hotel in Barbados, for example, and you are likely to find yourself surrounded by so many Premier League star players that you could organise the world’s most exclusive five-a-side beach kickabout.

But for those players raking in £80,000 or more a week who have yet to make their summer 2012 holiday booking (some may be hanging on for an England call-up for this year’s UEFA championship in Poland and Ukraine), here is a quick guide to the best places for a soccer millionaire to be seen:

Barbados: The Sandy Lane hotel not only sets out the welcome mat for celebrities such as Simon Cowell, but in the summer it attracts footballers like Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney and Liverpool’s Andy Carroll. Last year they were pictured poolside as if they were the best of friends.

Abu Dhabi and Dubai: When David Beckham and fellow 2002 World Cup squad members pitched up in Dubai for pre-tournament training, they all liked the UAE resort so much that many – including Becks – ended up buying properties. It quickly became not just a footballers’ favourite place, it earned the approval of that other hard-to-please bunch: the footballers’ wives. When Rooney signed a new mega-contract with Man United, he took wife Coleen to Dubai for a £17,000 treat. Now neighbouring Abu Dhabi, which has better resort hotels, is also winning over the footballing elite.

Las Vegas: If you’re a footballer who doesn’t want to sit on a beach, where do you go? Las Vegas is a growing favourite, but many continental players choose New York. Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie headed to the Big Apple to meet up with their former Arsenal team-mate Thierry Henry for the ultimate  bromance break.

I have great memories of our first visit to the States in 1967. It was like entering another world. We went for seven weeks in the off-season and I'll never forget it.

I particularly remember Baltimore, where we played in a tournament, and I always found New York great.

We also visited Phoenix in Arizona, where the summer temperatures were unbearable, and Seattle on the Pacific coast, which made a big impression on me.

After I finished playing for West Ham, I went back to Seattle as a player for Seattle Sounders, and loved it. Seattle was a great city - the summer climate was good (in the US, 'soccer' is a summer sport) and living in America was fantastic.

I was playing with Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst - we all went out to live there with our families - and one of our favourite pastimes was to go down to the lake and have a barbecue. It was a great time - very happy.

I have to say that the downside of travelling with a football club was that we didn't have much of a chance to see the countries we visited. We would just go from the airport to the hotel and from there to the stadium.

If we did get out of the hotel (we were young men, remember!), we would only get as far as a nightclub.

I joined Bournemouth as assistant manager in 1982 and the seaside resort was already a bit of a family favourite.

Not long after I met Sandra, we went there on holiday with Frank Lampard Snr, father of the Chelsea and England player, and his then wife-to-be, who was Sandra's sister.

There was also another lad - Roger Cross, who played at West Ham and Fulham. We three boys were big pals.

That summer we stayed in a little guesthouse in Bournemouth. The three boys stayed upstairs and the two girls stayed downstairs - all very proper. It wouldn't happen like that now!

Mind you, I had to be on my best behaviour: Sandra's father was a foreman in the docks - he was 15 or 16 stone, and I wasn't going to get in trouble with him, that was for sure!

We loved Bournemouth. It's a wonderful place, and we've lived in the area ever since. I just think the way of life in this area is great.

It's got everything - the sea, beaches, the New Forest. It's just a very, very laid-back way of life, with no aggravation. I would never move away.

Simply Sardinia: Harry is a big fan of the Italian island, and recommends the Hotel Pitrizza

They say that Sandbanks, where I live, is the most desirable real estate in Britain. I don't know about that; all I know is that we like it there.

But while being at home is rather like a seaside holiday anyway, it doesn't mean that we stay at home.

We enjoy going away. We love Sardinia - it's probably our favourite place to visit. We've been there for the past four or five years.

We like staying in Porto Cervo, a lovely resort in the north of the island on the Costa Smeralda. We stay in a great hotel there called the Pitrizza, which is fantastic - very quiet - and it has this beautiful little beach. There are lovely restaurants that serve great food - I love Italian food and wine.

Interestingly, it's a popular hangout for football people. The owner of Ukrainian football team Shakhtar Donetsk is always in the hotel. Last year the Everton player Marouane Fellaini was there, and so was the former Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann.

It's such a small hotel that it's hard not to bump into people. Last summer, for example, we had lunch with the comedian Alan Carr.

My son Jamie and his wife Louise often join us on holiday in Sardinia. They like to stay at the Cala di Volpe, which is also in Porto Cervo and is owned by the same people who own the hotel we stay at. We go over to the Cala di Volpe and have dinner with them.

Like father, like son: Jamie Redknapp holidayed in Sardinia last year with his wife Louise

Another favourite getaway of ours is Dubai. It's a fabulous place where great weather is always guaranteed. It's the perfect place for a sunshine break where you can have brilliant meals in fantastic restaurants. We like to stay at the Royal Mirage Residence & Spa - a very small hotel that's absolutely beautiful. We've also stayed in Abu Dhabi at the Emirates Palace, which we loved.

Further afield, I also like South Africa, and Cape Town is a particular favourite.

One of the places I haven't been to yet but would love to visit is Las Vegas. A four-day trip would be perfect. Casinos don't interest me - I wouldn't even go in - but I would just enjoy the atmosphere of the place, I think. It's lively and a bit over the top.

I would love to go to the shows and visit the restaurants - it has a reputation for good food these days.

Sandra has never been to New York, so I'd like to take her to the Big Apple for a few days' shopping. Must do that one...

Trouble is, Sandra's not mad about flying - she doesn't really like long-haul flights. That's why we've never been to the Far East, or the Maldives.

I suppose we're creatures of habit, really. We find somewhere we like and we're quite happy there. One of our longstanding favourites is Sandy Lane hotel in Barbados. It's a great place to stay.

The problem about being in football is that you never get very long to enjoy a holiday because the breaks are so short.

When we finish the Premier League season, I've got about three or four different golf days that I put my name to, and have to be around for. That leaves us trying to crowd a week in along with everything else.

But wherever I go in the world, whether it's Sardinia or Sandy Lane, I never forget how lucky I am and how far I've travelled from Canvey Island.

A long way from Bournemouth: The Royal Mirage Hotel in Dubai is one of Harry's current favourites

That's why I appreciate it, probably. I think that's why it's good to have been to Canvey and Jaywick Sands in Clacton when I was little, because it's helped me to appreciate what I've achieved.

I wouldn't have swapped going to Canvey Island as a kid for anything in the world.

Harry Redknapp was speaking on behalf of Thomas Cook Sport, official travel partner of Tottenham Hotspur. You can secure your seat at a Spurs home game with a Thomas Cook Sport Match Break, available online at www.thomascooksport.com or by calling 0844 800 9900.

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