I’M WELL and truly gutted that Race Across the World has come to an end.

For the past few weeks I’ve looked forward to Wednesday nights, when I could immerse myself in the world of backpacking, without leaving the comfort of my sofa.

The series has, apparently, inspired wanderlust among millions of viewers, of all ages.

But, however much I love the show, that isn’t the case for me.

I can’t think of anything worse than backpacking, particularly through hot, sticky countries where you can’t speak the language.

Call me boring, but if I was travelling across a foreign land I’d want everything to be organised for me, including transport, hotels and meals.

I’ve always felt that way. When I was a student I travelled around Italy with my sister. Money was tight. Even before we set off, the effort involved in booking trains from here to there, and hotels along the route was mammoth, and costly. As I flapped about in one travel agent, they asked: “Have you thought about a coach trip? They presented me with an a 16-night tour of Italy that cost a fraction of the price we were expecting to pay.

So off we went. It wasn’t quite all-inclusive - we made our own way by local bus and train, to various places, while using each hotels as a base - but the main journeys across the country, the accommodation and much of the food was pre-arranged, so we could sit back in air-conditioned comfort and enjoy the holiday without the worry. We were among the youngest on the coach, but that didn’t matter, everyone was lovely.

I’ve never been interested in roughing it. I’ve done it and, although I look back on it fondly, I have never wanted to repeat it. Aged 21 I backpacked with my boyfriend Chris around southern Ireland. We hitchhiked from London, took the ferry and hitchhiked to Limerick, on to Ennis and the beautiful Burren, where Chris’s brother lived on a small hippy commune.

Every night for a month we pitched our tent - anywhere and everywhere - and met some great locals who helped us out with food. Amazingly, it didn’t rain, we made it to the commune - as rough and ready as you could get, with zero home comforts - and stayed a couple of nights before moving south to Killarney and Cork.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Helen backpacking across Southern Ireland in 1982Helen backpacking across Southern Ireland in 1982

In Race Across the World - which in this series saw contestants travel from Sapporo, Japan to Lombok, Indonesia - those taking part are unable to use a mobile phone or take flights and are given just a small amount of money, a map, a travel guide and GPS tracker.

I know Ireland isn’t Laos, but Chris and I fulfilled all those requirements on our trip. In the early 1980s very few people had mobile phones. We set off with a simple map of Ireland, which I still have. We travelled almost 1000 miles and didn’t spend one penny on transport. - quite an achievement, I think.

Both my daughters have gone off backpacking in far-flung corners of the world: the eldest around China and Myanmar (before the unrest), then India and Nepal. My youngest has travelled around India and the islands around Bali. Each time I was frantic about their safety, and relieved to see them return.

For me, safety is a major factor in heading off into the unknown. The participants in Race Across the World know that they have a backup film crew should they run into real problems. That’s very reassuring. Without that you’re in the lap of the gods.

So I won’t be applying for the next series: if I go away, I want to know it’s all sorted before I set foot on the plane and I'm not lugging heavy loads around with me. But I will be watching and look forward to settling down on the sofa again to see the world from a safe, secure spot.