travel skills: balloon flying

10 travel skills to learn in 2016

We at Atlas & Boots are occasionally approached for our “expert advice” on travel. We find this in equal parts flattering and embarrassing. After all, what makes an “expert traveller” anyway? Is it just knowing how to pack well, where to buy insurance and how to collect air miles? Or does it run deeper than that?

We asked our readers what exactly constitutes an expert traveller. The resulting list of travel skills gives us – and our readers – something to aim for in the year ahead. Continue reading

How to freeload on expat friends

During our unplanned trip to the US we stayed in what we endearingly named the tiniest hotel in LA. Two of our friends had moved there a few years ago and lived in a studio flat 30 seconds from Venice Beach. They were kind enough to put us up in an airbed in their living area, separated from their bedroom by a curtain.

Two weeks after that, we were in San Francisco bunking in the Market Street living room of another set of expat friends. Without them, we would have found ourselves far from the centre, traipsing into town using dubious public transport. Continue reading

travel-mistakes

7 travel mistakes we made on the road

Seasoned travellers are a special breed. They can pack a backpack in 60 seconds flat, get a great night’s sleep on an airport floor and use nasty commode with all the nonchalance of a Tory politician slashing public funds. They can also devolve into interminable bores (“When I was in Kenya…” ad infinitum), rush through countries just to tick boxes and fall prey to lazy complacency. At Atlas & Boots, we share stories and advice read by over 50,000 people each month but that’s not to say we don’t make travel mistakes from time to time. Here’s what we’ve done wrong on our trip so far. Continue reading

HOW-TO-VISIT-THE-GALAPAGOS-ON-A-BUDGET

How to visit the Galápagos on a budget

We thought twice about writing this post. The Galápagos were once an exclusive destination, but are now teetering on the precipice of mass tourism. We wondered if posts like this were contributing to the devolution of this once-secluded paradise. But, as we said in Eco-friendly tourism in The Galápagos, independent travel to the area is arguably more eco-friendly than visiting on a 100-strong cruise ship. If you’ve always wanted to visit, consider doing it yourself. Not only will you have more flexibility, you won’t have to spend several thousand pounds on your visit. Here’s how we saw The Galápagos on a budget and how you can too. Continue reading

how to save for travel

How to save for a year of travel

“What are your New Year’s resolutions?” I ask Peter.
“Erm… I don’t have any,” he replies.
“Slapdash,” I say, referring to the nickname I gave him early on in our relationship: Slapdash Watson.

I, unlike him, am one of those people who make lists (sometimes lists of lists) and do everything possible to cross everything off. I have even formalised failing: I allow myself to leave one thing unfinished each year. Worse still, I’ve been known to lobby list-making app Evernote to make their strikethrough thicker. Yes, I’m that person (it worked, okay, so whatevs). Continue reading

The Society Islands of French Polynesia - 23

How to visit Bora Bora on a budget

This article featured on Lonely Planet as one of their top posts from December 2014.

It’s Friday night and we’re seated in Bora Bora’s yacht club a few metres away from the capital of Vaitape. Next to me sits Tim, a yacht broker who’s in town to examine Noble House, a gorgeous two-storey yacht that’s been put up for sale by its Texan owner.

Opposite me sit Pedro and Scott, the yacht’s engineers who have many stories to tell about life on board. The yacht, I’m told, can be rented for £250,000 per week – mere pocket change for some of the club’s clientele. And, so, the obvious question is: what the hell are two backpackers doing in Bora Bora sipping cocktails in the company of the rich and richer?

The answer is that we’re DIY-ing Bora Bora. We don’t have access to overwater bures, luxury bathrobes or gourmet cuisine; we’re doing it on the cheap. Backpacking here may not be the quintessential Bora Bora experience but for those unable to do it any other way, here’s how we did Bora Bora on a budget. Continue reading

rarotonga-tips-for-travel

Rarotonga tips: 5 things to know before you go

One of the disadvantages of travelling in the South Pacific (if there can be such a thing) is the lack of infrastructure for backpackers. It can be done on a shoestring but it’s certainly more difficult than say Southeast Asia or Europe. At home in London, we knew no-one that had visited places like Tonga or Rarotonga, so first-hand wisdom was very hard to come by. We largely managed with internet research and guidebook information – until we got to Rarotonga where we were hit by a few surprises. Below, we share the Rarotonga tips learnt to help future visitors prepare for what’s in store. Continue reading

remote travel

Remote travel: worth the pain?

Peter surveyed our surroundings. “Are you going to be okay here?” he asked nervously, recalling my breakdown at Beverley’s Beach.

We had just finished our tour of the facilities at Mafana Island’s eco lodge off the coast of Vava’u in Tonga. Peter, who has spent months of his life wild camping, was unfazed but I hadn’t dealt with anything so basic since my trip to Bangladesh 20 years ago.  Was I going to cope? Continue reading

benefits-of-budget-travel

5 benefits of budget travel

“I’m sorry, Estée. I know you don’t belong here but I need you.”

If there were ever a sign that you’ve been roughing it too long, apologising to your eye gel would surely qualify. We’d been in Samoa for 15 days staying in a mixture of roadside motels and traditional beach fales, all with cold-water bathrooms shared with other backpackers as well as a host of bugs, moths and mosquitoes. As I propped up my bottle on a thorny wooden ledge, I found myself apologising for the impropriety. Estée Lauder belonged elsewhere. Continue reading

reasons-to-travel-slowly

5 reasons to travel slowly

“We should do something,” said Kia, squinting in the sunlight.
“Like what?”
“I think there’s white water rafting close by. Or maybe ziplining.”
“Yeah,” I said, lying back. “Yeah, we should.”
“We should,” she repeated and then, with a leisurely yawn, fell back on her beach towel.

If our first month in Vanuatu was allegro, then Fiji has been more andante but really who can blame us? Fiji’s outer islands (which include the sets of Castaway and Blue Lagoon) are some of the most beautiful in world. In fact, the ‘garden island’ of Taveuni might just be the most picturesque island I’ve ever seen. Continue reading