10 essential sailing apps

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A list of essential sailing apps used by professional sailors to navigate their way across the seas

During my recent tall ship sailing adventure, I picked the skipper’s brains about the essential sailing apps he uses for navigation, ship tracking, weather and tides.

Stefan, the owner and skipper of the Lady of Avenel, stands at the helm with his tablet mounted nearby. “Is this the future of sailing?” I asked him. “Never mind the future of sailing, this is the here and the now,” he responded wryly.

It’s sexist to assume I’m not adventurous

Despite what some may think, I don’t do adventurous things just because my boyfriend likes them

Last week, Peter and I were talking to an acquaintance (let’s call him Jack) about our possible trip to Australia next year. Over a shared pizza, Peter mentioned that he would love to dive with sharks in Perth.

Jack threw me a look and laughed. “Ha, I don’t suppose you’ll be joining him for that.”
I nodded. “Yes, as long as the sharks are treated responsibly.”
“‘Responsibly?'” He nudged Peter. “It sounds like she’s trying to get out of it, mate.”

Idiots abroad: should you speak out?

Elephants in Sri Lanka

What’s the appropriate reaction to tourists behaving badly?

I’ve always been sceptical of the introvert vs. extrovert dichotomy. A common interpretation of this theory suggests that people’s personalities belong in one category or the other. In reality, however, most of us likely lie somewhere on a spectrum between the two.

I’m generally a confident person, I’m comfortable with public speaking and I enjoy meeting new people, but I also have a healthy dose of British reserve. I’d rather avoid confrontation if possible and am more likely to silently seethe about manspreading or queue jumping than speak out and create a scene.

12 cycling accessories we want for our next trip

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Having just returned from our first cycling trip – a tour of Myanmar – we look at useful cycling accessories we’d like for our next trip

We had an amazing experience on our cycle tour of Myanmar, but one thing we noticed was that we weren’t kitted out very well compared with fellow cyclists.

We are far more prepared for our hiking, climbing and mountaineering escapades than we are for adventures on two wheels. It didn’t stop us having a great time, but a few of the below cycling accessories would have made our days in the saddle just that bit easier.

Are you an outdoors snob?

With complex hierarchies, obscure heroes and indecipherable lingo, the outdoors community is more daunting than it should be

Many years ago, before the prospect of camping became a real and constant threat in my life, I was a city girl through and through. I had never slept beneath the stars, never bathed in a lake and never answered nature’s call in, er, nature.

Mountain etiquette: how to treat your guide

If you’re an adventurer dreaming of great mountains, familiarise yourself with correct mountain etiquette to ensure a pleasant experience for everyone

There’s a moment in Sherpa, the BAFTA-nominated documentary about Everest’s famous guides, where a western tourist asks “can you not talk to their owners?” in reference to the striking Sherpas.

It may have been an innocuous plea made in a moment of frustration but in the harsh truth of film, the question exposes an unsettling attitude to the guides that risk their lives to lead others to the summit.

Best outdoor magazines: 10 mags for between adventures

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Outdoor magazines are a well-deserved indulgence for those who love hiking, camping, climbing, wildlife and the great outdoors. We list our favourite below

One thing I dearly miss from my less-nomadic life is magazines. In the age of internet clickbait, printed publications still have an allure that a computer or smartphone screen just can’t replicate. Whether through fascinating features on the latest first ascent, a thru-hiker’s account of a long-distance hiking trail or stunning photography from the world’s protected lands, outdoor magazines have always piqued my imagination.

Map projections: why the same world looks different

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We explore the most common map projections in use today, how they work and why they make the same world look so very different

Kia is usually described as the geek in our relationship. She’s the one with a computer science degree, she’s the one with the editor’s eye and she’s the Star Trek fan who describes herself as Seven of Nine… which is cool apparently? A friend of hers recently described her as “the one who puts the apostrophe in rock ‘n’ roll”.

That said, I have a few streaks of geek in me too. I’m a bit of a history nerd and can talk at great length about photography lenses and filters. But above all, I love maps.

One day, perhaps when we win the lottery and can afford a house with more than one bedroom, I will have a cartography room dedicated to my scores of Ordnance Survey maps, my collection of outdated classroom maps featuring names like Rhodesia and Bechuanaland, and my assortment of hulking atlases and creaking globes.

Hiking boots: how to choose the right pair

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Knowing how to choose the right pair of hiking boots is essential to a long-term trip with plenty of outdoor activities planned. Here’s how to choose the right pair

“Do we really need these when we’ve already packed trainers?” asked Kia, holding up her hiking boots. More accustomed to ballet flats and heels on the pavements of London than the Munros of Scotland, she couldn’t quite appreciate their worth.

Decent hiking boots are one of my 10 travel essentials so naturally I insisted that yes, we really need them. Twelve months later, she was extremely grateful we had packed them. While not quite as nimble as trainers, our sturdy boots have been invaluable on a number of excursions, from the rocky plains of Mount Yasur volcano to the multi-day Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu

Is travel just another form of consumerism?

Travel is touted as the universal salve to all manner of ills. But isn’t it just another form of consumerism, packed and packaged to generate dollars?

When I was 10 years old, my father had his first heart attack. As a result, I became an ardent non smoker. When I was 13, I saw a pair of cows get slaughtered in Bangladesh. As a result, I became a vegetarian.

Over the ensuing two decades, I, the non-smoking vegetarian, developed a keen awareness of the fine line between conscientious environmentalism and smug arseholery. (Note: the latter pontificates on how you should live your life, the former does not.)

There are numerous beliefs and pursuits, like vegetarianism and non smoking, that can inspire excess levels of smugness. Prominent among them is travel.

Go the distance: 25 best books about hiking

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We take a look at the best books about hiking, from thrilling adventure stories to technical trail guides and everything in between

We’ve used Amazon and Goodreads’ bestsellers lists along with some personal favourites to put together a list of what we believe to be the best books about hiking.

Ranked in no particular order, the list includes a mix of hiking memoirs-turned-feature-films, gear and field guides, and inspirational tales of adventure.

Safari photography tips: how to shoot wildlife (with a camera)

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Our safari photography tips gleaned from a decade of photographing wildlife

Having spent a considerable amount of our travels in jeeps on game drives, I’ve managed to photograph some beautiful and rare wildlife over the years. Along the way, I’ve picked up some indispensable safari photography tips be it through trial and error, talking to expert rangers, or just comparing photos with other enthusiasts. 

Here are some essential safari photography tips to help you get the most out of your wildlife experience.

10 easy ways to travel green

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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.

Does the outdoors really have a diversity problem?

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There are no ‘whites only’ signposts at trailheads, no segregated commode, no permits awarded by colour – so why does the outdoors 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.

Power play: how to charge your gadgets in the wild

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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.

Don’t Offer Papaya: announcing our new book

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Our new book, Don’t Offer Papaya: 101 Tips for Your First Time Around the World, is available in paperback and on Kindle from $3.99.

As most of our readers will know, in August 2014, we quit our jobs in publishing and teaching and left the concrete streets of London for our first trip around the world.

With years of exploring already behind us, we thought we knew everything there was to know about long-term travel. Yet, somehow, we still “offered papaya” in Colombia, got a funny tummy in Tonga, fell off a bike in Bora Bora and broke down in Bolivia (in more ways than one).