Aore Island in Vanuatu: a week in seclusion

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Aore Island lies 2.6 kilometres off Espiritu Santo’s coast, opposite the island’s capital, Luganville. It is easily accessed by a short ferry ride across the Segond Channel.

We’ve spent a week at Aore Island Resort, hosted by Anne, the warm and friendly Australian owner who bought the resort around 10 years ago. The resort has 18 cosy but spacious bungalows set amid neat, tidy and well-kept gardens. The resort backs onto a charming coconut palm plantation and is surrounded by local farms.

A long way from home

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Well, this beats the A12. If I were at home, I would be drinking my morning coffee in our fifth-floor flat, watching and listening to the traffic hustle its way along the busy road and junction below. The trains would be rolling in and out of Newbury Park tube station taking thousands of commuters to work in busy and noisy central London. I’m not at home. In fact, I am a long way from home.

Navigating the Li River, China

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I was backpacking with a friend through China in 2008 (my first big trip out of Europe!) and was keen to see as much of the country as possible.

So, when we arrived in Guilin after a long flight, we decided against the bus journey to Yangshuo and opted instead to take a boat (really just a motorised raft) along the 83-kilometer section of the Lijiang or Li River as it’s also known.

Chittorgarh Fort in India: it’s not the Taj Mahal

Chittorgarh Fort

Chittorgarh Fort is the Rajasthani gem rarely promoted as a must-see

If you decide to take that trip of a lifetime to go and “find yourself” in India, it will probably include a trip to the Taj, a date with the Dalai Lama, a tour around the pink city of Jaipur and any number of other “spirit of India” experiences the guidebooks will throw at you.

These sights are all, of course, worthy of your time but don’t miss Chittorgarh Fort, the Rajasthani gem rarely promoted as a must-see.

Not surfing in Taghazout, Morocco

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You don’t have to be Australian, a sun-bleached “dude”, or even a surfer to enjoy this quiet little gem. Most people, including me, go to Morocco for the deserts, the Atlas Mountains, Marrakesh or to visit some of the romantic (sounding) cities of Casablanca or Essaouira.

Some may venture south to the resort-town of Agadir, which unfortunately feels more Costa Del Sol than Arabian dream. Few, though, will visit Taghazout, a small, quaint village 20km north of Agadir on the main coast road.

Beng Mealea: the ‘other’ ruins of Angkor Wat

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Beng Mealea is an otherworldly set of ruins far from the crowds that flock to Cambodia’s most famous sight, Angkor Wat

I love playing Indiana Jones on my travels and regularly get into character whenever the location seems right. I’ve done The Temple of Doom in India, The Last Crusade in Jordan, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on Nevis Peak.

Even though Cambodia was never a location for the films, Beng Mealea seemed just so right for Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Gullfoss Waterfall in Iceland: captivating, surreal, stunning

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Gullfoss Waterfall in Iceland rages with sensational beauty and power

Kia has many talents but there are three things she just doesn’t do: cook, drive and navigate. This is fine – unless I’m on a snowy and slippery road with low visibility and she’s by my side insisting that she can’t read the map.

Luckily, on this occasion, I spotted a sign with a familiar name, þingvellir, and managed to navigate to our destination without the help of my lovely ‘assistant’.

10 tips for travelling in a developing country

how to take better travel photos

I’ve been lucky enough to experience a decent cross-section of the world – rich and poor – and all the charms it has to offer.

From the pristine streets of Berlin to the dusty roads of Delhi, from the clockwork metro in Austria to the rickety network of dalla-dallas in Tanzania careering along at breakneck speeds, and from 5-star luxury in the Maldives to a cockroach-infested Cambodian dorm – they all have their allure and if I’m honest.

5 tips for talking to strangers

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As an avid traveller, teacher and part-time photographer, I’ve been lucky enough to meet lots of people from lots of different backgrounds. Some became lifelong friends while many more melted into the heap of faded friendships and acquaintances we all leave behind.

That’s not to say that these fleeting encounters are immaterial – even a short conversation can prove to be unexpectedly enlightening or, at the very least, thoroughly entertaining.

Return to India

return to india

Six years ago, Peter retraced his parents’ footsteps on a return India to track down his father’s long forgotten friends…

When I was younger my father would write out my name in Hindi Sanskrit on scraps of paper. I thought it was some magical language from a fantasyland like Narnia or Lilliput and Blefuscu.

When I was older I would sit with him and my mother in front of the TV and listen to him exclaim at Michael Palin’s latest travels through the foothills of the Himalaya or the dusty roads of Rajasthan. “We have to go back,” he would declare with gusto, turning to my mother. “The smells,” he would say. “The colours,” my mother would respond. “We have to go back…”

How to keep a sense of humour when travelling

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Keeping your sense of humour will ensure that you remain calm and respectful, and will help make your trip as amazing as you had hoped

Sometimes – not often, but sometimes – travelling proves better in theory than in practice.

This might be when you arrive in your cheap hostel room in Delhi to find rotten prawns in the shower, or when a random guy in Nairobi blatantly tries to distract you so his friend can get in your bag, or when the bus that’s meant to pick you up is three hours late leaving you alone on a Cambodian roadside at three in the morning.

What qualifies as having ‘travelled the world’?

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Many people say they want to have ‘travelled the world’ but how can we quantify this? Countries visited? Passport stamps? Borders crossed?

How many times have you heard someone say it? Or read a blog post about it? Seen it in an Instagram status or on a bucket-list? Scores of people (including me) say they want to ‘travel the world’ but how can we quantify this? By the number of countries visited? Stamps in our passports? Borders crossed? Cultures experienced?

Kia asked this question on Quora a while ago and received a response from Jay Wacker, a former Stanford professor who offered up Hasbro’s Risk Map as a measure, suggesting that you can say you’ve travelled the world once you have visited half the territories on the map – that’s 21 out of 42 in total.