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10 easy ways to travel green

Travelling green takes a little extra effort at first – but can soon become second nature. Here are some easy ways to travel green which will save you money too.

We at Atlas & Boots strongly believe that travel is a force for good. However, when you consider the environmental impact of commercial aviation, the overwhelming numbers flocking to sensitive ecosystems and the tourist-driven strain on resources, travel doesn’t look quite so pretty.

Whether it’s an appetite for low-budget air travel, air conditioned rooms or fully charged smartphones on the end of selfie sticks, the compulsion to travel takes a heavy toll on our planet. Continue reading

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Does the outdoors really have a diversity problem?

My younger sister watches the Arctic reindeer roam around on my screen. She smiles as one nips at a basketful of grain. Then, she double takes.

“Wait. Is that you?” she asks.
“Yeah. Of course.”
“You look like a farm girl!” she says in a tone somewhere between amusement and disdain. “Where’s your long coat?”
“I was in the Arctic,” I say. “I wasn’t going to wear a floaty coat from Zara.”

She tosses aside the phone, mystified as to why I’d choose comfort over style 350km north of the Arctic Circle.
Continue reading

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10 Christmas gifts for travellers

This year, Kia and I are spending Christmas at home before starting a three-month trip through Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Bhutan. We’re ridiculously excited, which of course is the mark of a true traveller: you’re still thrilled by the prospect of seeing a new country even if you’ve seen 50 or 60 or 100.

After Christmases spent in Tahiti and India over the past few years, we’re looking forward to being at home. To get into the spirit, we’ve put together this list of 10 Christmas gifts for travellers. If you have a travel lover in your life, buy them something useful for their next sojourn abroad. Continue reading

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World’s best countries for women – updated for 2016

The best countries for women in terms of gender equality have been announced by The World Economic Forum in the new edition of its annual Global Gender Gap report.

The 2016 report assesses 144 economies on how well they utilise the female workforce in their country based on economic, educational, health-based and political indicators. The report can be used as an objective analysis of women’s quality of life and to thereby rank the world’s best countries for women with regards to business, politics, education and health. Continue reading

Things my mother said: the gift of bilingualism

Last year, a friend of mine discovered that my parents never learned English despite moving to England in 1969.

He raised a brow in askance. “But you speak it so well,” he said, a cheeky smile tugging at the corner of his mouth as he lampooned those who had oh-so-magnanimously paid me the same compliment in the past.

He, a British-born Asian like me, knew there was no reason for me not to speak English well. After all, I was born, raised and educated in England.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be snarky about the compliment. After all, English is my second language despite the fact that I write, think and dream in it (and only it). Continue reading

North Sentinel Island: a timeline of the world’s most isolated tribe

On a map, North Sentinel Island looks like any other idyllic spot in the Indian Ocean. Fringed with beaches and crystal cobalt waters, it lies in the Andaman archipelago of the Bay of Bengal.

North Sentinel Island, however, is unlike any other. It has been described as ‘the hardest place in the world to visit’, ‘the world’s most dangerous island’ and home to ‘the most isolated tribe in the world’.

These sensational labels can’t be qualified conclusively, but they do hold some truth. For an estimated 60,000 years, North Sentinel Island has been home to a fiercely independent tribe that has violently rejected contact with the outside world.

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Mountaineering calendar: when to climb the world’s greatest mountains

Since I first started climbing, I must have spent hours typing “when is the best time to climb…” into search engines and then crawling through websites to find the key piece of information I needed. Only when I have a date in mind can I start to think about the practicalities of actually trying to climb a mountain (i.e. booking time off work, flights, budget, gear etc).

To solve this problem once and for all, Atlas & Boots has put together a mountaineering calendar of the world’s greatest mountains and the optimal time of year at which to climb them. Continue reading

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Power play: how to charge your gadgets in the wild

Knowing how to charge your gadgets in the wild could be a matter of survival or (more likely) avoiding boredom during a rainy day spent huddled under canvas.

Let’s face it: even if you’re a hardcore survivalist, a compass and map simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Whether it’s tracking your route with a hiking app, triangulating your position using GPS or letting your loved ones know you’re safe, adventurers these days rarely leave home without at least one electronic device. Continue reading

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12 maps that changed our world view

There are few things that evoke the romanticism of adventure quite like a map – especially old maps. Full of exotic names (Persia, Abyssinia, Rhodesia!) and olde worlde lettering, they are reminiscent of a time when men sacrificed their lives for adventure and exploration. Maps ignite hopes and inspire dreams. They encourage one to sail away from the safe harbour and, in the words of Mark Twain, to explore, to dream, to discover.

In ode of this great instrument of adventure, we run through 12 maps that changed our world view starting where else but Greece?
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Celebrating two years of Atlas & Boots

When we officially launched Atlas & Boots in August 2014, we agreed that it would be a blog for travellers, not a blog for bloggers.

The mechanics of running a site are certainly of interest to a minority of readers, but we wanted to spend our time talking to travellers, not looking inward.

With that said, the two-year mark seems a good time to take stock of where we are, to celebrate our achievements and to look forward to the challenges ahead. Continue reading

I haven’t chosen travel over kids; I just don’t want any

I recently came across a friend’s Facebook status which made me laugh because it echoed conversations with my own family.

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A friend’s Facebook status (posted with permission)

The pressure to settle down comes not just from family but often friends, colleagues and acquaintances too. Sometimes, the nagging is lighthearted. At others, it’s annoying. Occasionally, it’s downright offensive. Continue reading

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25 best mountaineering books ever written

We take a look at the best mountaineering books ever written, drawing on accounts from the best climbers in the harshest of environments thousands of meters above sea level.

As I’ve mentioned before, my bookshelves are filled with tales of adventure travel, survival against the odds and obsessive searches. I’m an avid climber keen on winter mountaineering and wild camping so, naturally, mountaineering books take up a good chunk of my shelf space. Continue reading

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Hiking first aid kit: an essential checklist

Peter and I have a running joke that I’ve fallen off my bike in the most beautiful places in the world, from Bora Bora to the Galápagos Islands. The worst fall happened when cycling through the quiet country lanes of our tiny French village.

I hit the ground first with a knee, then a hip, then my head. Stupidly, I put my dirtied fingers into my mouth to check if I had lost a tooth. I hadn’t but there was plenty of blood. Later, I paid the price for this mistake. I spent the afternoon not only shaken by the accident but throwing up whatever nasty substance I had drawn into my mouth.

Thankfully, I’ve managed to avoid similar incidents while hiking but it’s likely a matter of time given that we at Atlas & Boots enjoy things like climbing Nevis Peak unguided and trekking active volcanoes. As such, I’ve put aside my complacency and put together a hiking first aid kit, perfect for those who wander outdoors. Here’s what’s in it. Continue reading

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Best-selling camping and hiking gear of 2016

In general I don’t tend to spend much money on clothing and non-photography related gadgets. I am comfortable enough loafing around in jeans and a t-shirt. Added to that, I hate shopping with a vengeance. If I really focus I can avoid shopping malls for most of the year, succumbing only during the lead up to Christmas.

That said, outdoor stores are a different kettle of fish. I can while away hours wandering the aisles, leafing through maps and checking out the latest lightweight gadgets. Continue reading

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How to improve your vocabulary: 6 tips for language learners

After five months in South America followed by several months of self study, I’ve finally got a handle on Spanish grammar. I’ve now shifted focus onto vocabulary which is much more fun. As part of my efforts, I’ve put together six tips on how to improve your vocabulary, along with useful tools that will help at each juncture. If you’ve successfully improved your vocabulary in a foreign language, share your secrets in the comments below. Continue reading

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How to start a travel blog – a professional guide

At Atlas & Boots, we are periodically approached for advice on how to start a travel blog. To help future bloggers, we have put our knowledge into a comprehensive but concise guide below. This covers not only the technical aspects of how to start a travel blog but also the editorial, helping you to plan, maintain and grow your blog in a professional way. Without further preamble, let’s begin. Continue reading