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Atlas & Boots’ top 10 posts of 2018

From topical debates and trip reports to how-to guides and personal pieces, we publish a wide range of posts every year. Here’s our pick of 2018.

Well, this has been an eventful year. We kicked off 2018 with a month in Australia followed by a trip to New Zealand on commission for Lonely Planet as part of our Trailblazers partnership. We followed up with various projects for Lonely Planet including judging their flagship Best in Travel 2019 campaign and speaking at their Diversity in Travel Writing event in London. Continue reading

Travels with my sister: conquering a lifetime of hearing loss

My younger sister was born three months premature and grew up with pronounced hearing loss. After a recent change for the better, she agreed to join me for a trip…

Kia’s story

I first realised that my sister was different when I was seven and she was six. Forida was told to wear hearing aids and I remember how much they embarrassed her. The chunky beige aids were conspicuous on her child-size ears and, to other schoolchildren, marked her out as different; not one of us.

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The ups and downs of our move to the country

After three decades in London, would a move to the country prove horribly wrong? We share the ups and downs of our time in the Dales.

We’ve finally settled down. After four years on the road interspersed by stretches in a tiny French village, we’re back in Britain permanently – well, kind of. We have trips to Namibia, South Africa and possibly Costa Rica planned for Nov-Dec and more next year, but we also have a permanent home. Continue reading

Call of the wild: disconnecting from daily life

A strange evening with Desconnexions in Catalonia reminds us why it’s so important to get off our laptops and occasionally leave our phones at home.

I was on Wikipedia reading about a 2015 controversy involving a judge on the New Zealand version of X Factor when I realised I was doing it again: wasting time reading about a person I didn’t know involved in an event I didn’t care about on a show I didn’t watch. What the hell was I doing?

I had fallen down the internet rabbit hole – again. Continue reading

lessons from travelling the world

I’ve officially travelled the world. Here’s what I’ve learnt

Seven years ago, I asked a question on Quora: what qualifies as having travelled the world? It prompted an interesting discussion there and, later, here on our own site. We decided that it wasn’t the number of countries visited or borders crossed that mattered, but the number of Risk map regions you had seen. The logic was that visiting half of the 42 Risk regions would offer a better sampling of the world.

A recent trip through Australia means I have finally visited 21 Risk regions and can officially say that I have travelled the world. Continue reading

Does my bruise look big in this? The trouble with an outdoors lifestyle

In planning a trip to the home of bungee, Kia laments the effects of an outdoors lifestyle.

This year, I turn 36 and if it hadn’t been for the dismaying discovery that cellulite also creeps across stomachs, I may have continued my diet of sugary snacks and drinks forever. Instead, I’m becoming a little more mindful about the things I eat. There are still desserts and ice creams, but a little less all round.

The fact that staying in shape will now take more effort is not a huge surprise; after all, beauty magazines have been telling me so for about two decades now. What is surprising is having to think about how I treat my body in other ways. Continue reading

Announcing our new role as Lonely Planet Trailblazers

We reveal the details of our partnership with the world’s biggest travel guide publisher.

Today, we announce our new role as Lonely Planet Trailblazers. Those of you who have followed us from our early journey across the South Pacific will know that we have worked with Lonely Planet periodically, from taking over their Instagram account to co-hosting Twitter chats and running campaigns for third parties. Continue reading

Tackling London’s empathy gap

As we head to London in the wake of the Grenfell Tower inferno, the class divide is heavy on our minds.

In Greek mythology, Chimera was a fire-breathing creature with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail. Today, her name has come to denote anything composed of very different parts: a collection of things that don’t belong together.

It’s a fitting way to describe how I felt after graduating from university. I’ve explained in Checking my privilege and Asian girl, English boy that I had a very simple childhood. My family was poor but so was everyone else’s. My parents were immigrants but so were everyone else’s. There was a uniformity that precluded envy, tension, or confusion about my identity. I was Bangladeshi and I was poor. Hey ho. Continue reading

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The countries we most want to see

Despite our best laid plans, we never made it to Africa last year. With renewed plans to visit the continent after our current trip through Sri Lanka and Burma, we found ourselves in an interesting discussion: if you could see only five countries before you die, which would they be?

This question posed a far trickier dilemma than the countries we least want to see. With so much on offer, we had to be ruthless in our choices.

We didn’t choose countries we have already visited, nor stateless territories (e.g. Antarctica). Two of our countries overlapped (Nepal and Canada) so we each chose one more to make a total of 10. 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

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

15 lessons from our trip around the world

I didn’t want to write this post mainly because it’s impossible to do this sort of roundup without sounding wanky. I’m sure there are millions of words already written on the virtues of travel and the wisdom won from life on the road.

I relented because a post like this feels like a natural bookend to our year on the road. We’ll continue to write about our trip and focus on some of the sights we haven’t yet covered, but now feels like a good time to reflect on what we learnt. Here are 15 lessons from our trip around the world. Continue reading

London Bridge at night-time

Hello, London

We’re home.

We bid farewell in August last year. Seventeen countries, four continents, one international date line, and a complete circumnavigation later, we’re home.

Things are different. Boris bikes are red now. The Tories have a majority. And Robert Peston grew hair.

Men seem taller. Women are more glamorous but perhaps I only think this after a year in hiking gear. Heels. God, they feel amazing. Suddenly I’m elegant again. And then of course they hurt but, hell, they’ll get me from Charing Cross to Sagar where I’m meeting friends for dinner. Continue reading

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50 inspirational travel quotes

We’ve collated our 50 favourite inspirational travel quotes which have helped encourage us to travel with abandon over the years. Maybe they will do the same for you… 

When I first went travelling at 21 years old my father gave me this inspirational travel quote scribbled on a piece of card.

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Today, 10 years and over 60 countries later, it’s still in my wallet. Despite its tattered and dishevelled appearance it’s every bit as important to me now as it was then. It motivated me to get out and see the world and it remains one of the most inspirational travel quotes I know. Continue reading

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8 tips for travelling as a couple

I don’t tend to write about my relationship with Peter. We’ve been charting our year-long trip together but I’ve rarely talked about our relationship itself. As I explained in 7 things I struggled with in my first month on the road, this is partly because I haven’t always been 100% comfortable with publicly sharing our private moments. More importantly, I haven’t felt the need to talk about our relationship. You don’t really when it’s right.

When a relationship is awful, you tell your friends about the drama and you offload your pain. When a relationship is new, you want to tell the world and shout it from your Facebook wall. When a relationship is right, you don’t need to share, scream or shout about it because you have nothing to prove. That in a nutshell is my relationship with Peter. Continue reading

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Why I’m actually happiest travelling with my girlfriend

Okay, so I have to be very careful here. If I miss the mark on this I risk offending all women and marking myself out as a chauvinist pig. On top of that I’ll offend Kia and, trust me, Kia when angry redefines those famous sayings about women scorned.

So here we go.

Travelling with a woman, particularly your girlfriend, is different to travelling alone.

Until I met Kia I really only knew how to travel by myself. Nearly all of my longer jaunts away had been solo. Alone, I could throw caution to the wind and change my plans at the drop of a hat. While we’re on the subject I could wear that hat Kia’s since banned (apparently, it makes me look like Michael Moore). Anyway, the point being I was responsible for me and me alone. Continue reading

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The #1 thing I hate about travel

In some countries it’s not a problem, Switzerland, French Polynesia and South Korea among them. In others it’s practically impossible to get right. I am of course talking about the minefield of tipping. It is without a doubt the number one thing I hate about travelling.

Before you all launch an attack about living wages, let me just explain that I hate tipping not because of the cost but because of the unbearable awkwardness of the whole thing. Continue reading