Farewell,-London

Farewell, London

Today is our last day in this blustery city we call London. It feels strange, particularly for me as it’s the only city in which I’ve lived. Peter has moved around – Norwich, Cambridge, Northampton – but for me London has always been home. It’s where I made my friends for life, where I graduated, where all my nieces and nephews were born, where my father passed away, where I fell in love, where everything I hold dear resides. Continue reading

London Underground rules

London Underground rules

As we approach our last journey on the awful/amazing London Underground, we publish a primer for the uninitiated…

Ah, so you’ve arrived in the City of London, the land of tea, crumpets and people who say sorry a lot. The land of Notting Hill and Love, Actually and bumbling gentlemen who blush when complimented. The city of Yeoman Warders and the Queen’s Guard, and quirky social rituals that are just so charmingly English. Continue reading

Beauty tips for backpacker

10 beauty tips for backpackers

I believe it was Naomi Wolf who spoke of a ‘tax’ that women pay for being women. This tax is paid in the form of time: minutes and hours that turn into days and weeks spent applying eyeliner, blow drying hair, filling in brows, blotting lipstick, filing nails, snipping split ends, and the multitude of other things we do to maintain our looks. On a work day, it takes me an hour to get ready from morning shower to out-the-door. It takes Peter a maximum of 30 minutes – and that includes a morning coffee. Continue reading

travel guidebook

In defence of the travel guidebook

My colleague picks up the two guidebooks strewn across my desk.
“Are you planning to take these with you?”
I nod.
“Won’t they be too heavy?”
I shrug. “Peter will carry them.”
“You could just look it all up on TripAdvisor.”
“I prefer guidebooks.”
Her lips curl into a look that is half confusion and half disdain. “Okay,” she says in a tone that suggests it’s not okay at all.

Continue reading

Join our travels

Join our travels

As our date of departure creeps closer, I find my nerves tingling with trepidation. I’m not the type of person that dwells on dangerous possibilities – after all, I’ve done plenty of foolhardy things in my time (jumping out of a plane, flying a plane, climbing Nevis Peak unguided and so on). No, I’m not nervous about getting hurt. I’m nervous that I won’t last the course. I’m nervous about reaching a break point where not having a clean, comfortable bed every night or warm running water will wear away my zest for travel. I’m worried that I will miss my sisters with whom I’ve always shared a city. I’m worried that living out of a backpack won’t ‘free’ me in the way it’s supposed to. I’m worried that I’ll just want to come home. Continue reading

avoid-traveller-burnout

Yoyu: how to avoid traveller burnout

On the road, I’ll be writing posts for Atlas & Boots, filing travel features for Asian Bride magazine, and doing the odd commission to keep our travel funds topped up. As such, I’ll be lugging around a laptop throughout the course of the trip. This is largely fine because it means we can stock up on films and TV programmes for quiet nights in and we’ll also have a way to keep in touch with family and friends. Of course, with this convenience comes the danger that being glued to a screen at home will become being glued to a screen on the road. Like many of my peers, I spend a scary amount of time in front of a screen, be it a desktop at work, a laptop at home or a smartphone in between – and I want to avoid that on the road. This fear reminded me of a concept I learnt from the founder of Gotomedia, Kelly Goto: the concept of Yoyu. Continue reading

The exhilarating Selvatica zip line tour, Mexico

When I touched down in Mexico, I was excited about mainly two things: its beautiful beaches and its Mayan ruins, particularly those at Chichen Itza. I had planned two weeks of sun and lazing interspersed with a bit of culture, so it was purely on whim that I booked a trip to Selvatica. Normally, I avoid booking excursions from hotel brochures but the tour reseller at our hotel reception was so affable, we couldn’t help but stop and talk to him and soon enough he had us parting with £50 each to book on the Selvatica zip line tour or ‘Extreme Canopy Tour’. Little did I know that it would turn out to be the most fun and memorable day of the entire trip. Continue reading

reasons-why-airbnb-kicks-ass

5 reasons why Airbnb kicks ass

These days, it seems that Airbnb is fighting fire on all fronts. Legal and taxation issues mixed with strong opposition from the old guards of hospitality means that this relatively young startup is under siege in cities all across the world. We’ve spoken before about our regular use of the site – in fact, our post on Airbnb Etiquette: 10 Tips for Guests is one of the most popular on the site. Suffice to say, we are fans of the service. Continue reading

climbing-nevis-peak-unguided

Climbing Nevis Peak unguided

If you ever find yourself on the tiny island of Nevis in the Caribbean, you’ll surely notice Nevis Peak, the 3,232ft volcano that provides a beautiful backdrop to the picturesque island. With its lush and verdant greenery, Nevis looks more like rolling hill than a volcano – until you try climbing Nevis Peak solo. That’s when it reveals itself as the formidable feat it really is. Continue reading

backpacker-problems-women

5 backpacker problems only women will understand

Getting your period on the road

Most female backpackers on a long-term trip will have to go through the ordeal of having their period on the road, whether that involves changing tampons without running water or sitting out of a leisurely swim. Let’s face it: periods aren’t very fun. Even Bodyform – who peddled the idea of the miniskirted, roller-skating, skydiving girl-on-period for years – admitted in 2012 that they were lying. In truth and seriousness, periods are a pain especially if you’re planning the kind of active trip I am. There are volcanoes and mountains and diving and trekking and wild camping on our list – and the thought of having my period during any of that leaves me cold. Continue reading

language-learning-myths

5 language learning myths

One of the things on my bucket list is to learn Spanish fluently. I learnt the basics during my GCSEs (16 years ago!), took an evening class at UCL in 2010, and have also dabbled with Rosetta Stone and Duolingo. In the lead-up to our big trip, I decided to get serious and enrolled on a Rosetta Stone course online. I tested at intermediate level B1 and am currently working my way up. Meanwhile, Peter is brushing up on his basic French. Between us, we should have large parts of the South Pacific and South America covered. Continue reading

Asian girl, English boy: travelling as an interracial couple

More than once, I’ve shaken off Peter’s affectionate arm around my shoulder or his hand in mine – in the crowded streets of Cairo, the empty aisles of Jerash and even the markets of Whitechapel right here in London. I think it’s fair to say that I’m more attuned to the disapproval our relationship might trigger, so while he’s innocently reaching for my hand, I’m assessing who might see us, what they might think, what they might say, what they might do. Continue reading

poverty-tourism

Poverty tourism: why it’s not as ugly as it sounds

Last week I read The Case Against Sharing, a post on Medium which referred to Airbnb, Lyft and similar services as ‘Big Sharing’. The phrase immediately raised my hackles. It drips with cynicism, taking something really quite lovely and reducing it to something soulless: a corporate vehicle that only exists to create money. ‘Big Sharing’ sullies the phenomenon of real sharing. It implies that it’s not so much a phenomenon as a boardroom strategy put together with the sole purpose of commoditising the individual. For me, it illustrates how powerful an ugly term can be and how visceral our reaction to it. This brought me to another equally ugly term: poverty tourism. Continue reading

10 awesome international borders

We take a look at some amazing images of the awesome international borders to be found across the globe from Asia to America.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen an impressive collection of new websites, blogs and social media accounts dedicated to ‘travel porn’. They’re filled with big, sweeping images of fairytale lands and precarious precipices. Sometimes, like this incredible piece on architectural density in Hong Kong, they’ll depict urban decay or stifling poverty – always gilded by the photographer’s lens. Continue reading

7-tips-for-travelling-alone

7 tips for travelling alone

1. Don’t feel like you have to make friends

All the travel experts bang on about how you’ll meet amazing people and make lifelong friends on your travels but sometimes that’s just not true. Granted, locals are usually friendly, surprising, eye-opening and delightful but fellow travellers are often of the single-serving variety. I recently boarded a plane and chose a seat next to two young women, thinking they would potentially be good to hang out with. Almost immediately they began to talk 100 words-per-minute about bags and shoes and shopping, and which shoes to wear while shopping, and which bags are best to store shoes in when swapping shoes from heels to flats when shopping. Groaning inwardly, I put on my headphones and turned up the volume. Continue reading

5 pitfalls of long-term travel

5 pitfalls of long-term travel

So you saved for a year, quit your job and told all your friends that you’re off to see the world on your first ever long-term travel adventure. You bought your round-the-world ticket, subverted the naysayers and bid adieu to the prescripted life. Now you’re several months in and you tell yourself that you’ve broken free; that you’re an iconoclast; that you’ve stuck it to the man. You think you’re having the time of your life, little aware that you’ve fallen into one of the common pitfalls of long-term travel. Here, we list 5 things to ask yourself to make sure your trip is all you hoped it would be… Continue reading