11 Aug 2022

Fred Sirieix on why vaccines are essential if you want to go on holiday this summer

Fred Sirieix on why vaccines are essential if you want to go on holiday this summer

Despite working for five-star restaurants in some of the world’s smartest venues, celebrity sommelier and First Dates presenter Fred Sirieix insists he’d love to take a grown-up gap year and go backpacking.

“I would put my clothes in one bag, walk, enjoy life, meet people and have great experiences,” muses the 50-year-old food and travel fanatic. Although he admits his partner – known to the public as ‘Fruitcake’ – would probably need a bit of persuasion. “She likes her creature comforts,” he says, laughing.

Now travel is back in full swing, millions of us are eager to get back on the road. According to a survey commissioned by, 41% of people are planning to take more trips this year than they would have done before the pandemic.

But in a frenzy to catch up on lost time, it’s easy to forget about taking all the necessary precautions. To highlight the importance of travel health when holidaying abroad this summer, Sirieix has teamed up with the travel advice platform for a new campaign.

During his 20s, when he travelled though Southeast Asia and South America, the French maitre d’hotel recalls it was tricky to track down information about the necessary vaccines. Although his only health mishaps overseas have been a “dodgy bout of food poisoning from a food cart in Indonesia”, which resulted “in a few hours on the toilet”, he says it would be “absolutely crazy” not to take travel vaccines.

Regarding the recent controversy surrounding Covid vaccines, he insists: “Vaccinations are safe; it’s a sound science which has been proven.”

And even though he counts himself amongst one of “the lucky few who hasn’t yet come down with Covid”, he’s adamant he’d be front of the queue if a fourth booster shot was required.

In the meantime, he’s keen to start travelling again.

“It’s a calculated risk. But we have to live. Going shopping on Oxford Street, you’d still have to take precautions,” he points out.

Although long-haul adventures will have to wait until his children, aged 12 and 17, have grown up, he’s already made a mental bucket list of destinations

“I would love to go to Africa and see the gorillas – to just look at these beautiful creatures going about their lives and see them in a natural habitat. I’ve only seen them on TV on Attenborough documentaries.

“I’d also love to go to Vietnam and Thailand,” he adds. “Or Argentina, where I’d dance the tango and have a beautiful steak and some nice red wine.”

This summer, however, he’ll be taking his family to France.

“We’re renting a place and spending time with my parents, my nephew, my niece, my brother. The kids can play while I cook.”

Holidaying closer to home does have its advantages.

Discussing the dilemma of flying and its environmental impact, he says: “We all know that climate change is happening. For example, in the UK we are producing better, sparkling wine every single year due to the climate change.

“I worry for my children. We don’t think we’re responsible for this Earth and that’s wrong.”

But rather than ditch long-haul travel entirely, he recommends we should instead be more mindful about the trips we choose to take.

“Everybody wants to get away. People want to take gap years, people want to travel off the beaten track. They want to go to places which are further and further away, because they just want to live life.”

To check on the latest health advice for different destinations, visit

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