Eye-opening moments from our Caribbean cruise

After a busy year of trekking and writing, we decided to treat ourselves to a touch of indulgence

I’m not going to lie: I was in two minds about our Caribbean cruise. We had initially planned a cruise in Alaska but it clashed with commitments around my book. We pushed back our dates to December and were left with one obvious destination: the Caribbean. 

Driving in the Faroe Islands: 10 tips to get you going

Driving in the Faroe Islands is a pleasureYannik Photography/Shutterstock

A one-glance guide to driving in the Faroe Islands, from navigating single-lane tunnels to dodging flocks of sheep

With spectral sub-sea tunnels, dramatic drops and 70,000 sheep to dodge, it’s no wonder that driving in the Faroe Islands puts some people off. 

There are few places, however, more suited to a road trip. These wild, sea-salted isles offer stunning vistas around every bend and driving is a pleasure. 

Driving the hairpinned Sani Pass to Lesotho

interesting facts about Lesotho Sani PassVAIZ HA; CC BY 2.0

Sani Pass is said to be one of the most dangerous mountain passes in the world. We decided to drive it on our overnight tour to Lesotho

Sometimes, I feel jealous of past explorers − not grandees like Cook or Magellan but everyday travellers that went somewhere and saw something not yet covered by Lonely Planet or indeed Atlas & Boots.

I imagine sultry Indian summers with endless corridors of uncharted possibility or China’s Hallelujah mountains, misty and deserted, and think how magical those times must have been.

Our epic self-drive safari through Namibia

Safari in Etosha National Park Namibia 25

Our self-drive safari through Namibia showed us the finest wildlife and landscapes this arresting country has to offer

I landed in Namibia three days ahead of Kia. She had some book-related business to wrap up in London so I arrived alone to begin a 17-day self-drive safari through Namibia with Wild Dog Safaris.

We’ve always had mixed feelings when it comes to organised tours. We’ve often preferred to piece together our trips independently to make sure we see exactly what we want. That said, there are some parts of the world – be it for logistical or security reasons – where an organised tour just makes more sense.

Is there really a best time to book flights?

News outlets periodically claim to share the best time to book flights. Is there such a thing and, if so, when is it? We ask an expert for answers

When it comes to the best time to book flights, Peter and I do very little strategising. We simply search online and book the first decent deal we see.

In the early days, we sacrificed time to save money, but as we’ve grown older and more financially stable, we’ve moved in the other direction. We’ll still endure an 18-hour layover if it saves us hundreds of pounds (like we did in Singapore this year), but will no longer sleep overnight in an airport to save mere tens of pounds (like we did in Chile three years ago).

Sydney Bridge Climb: is it worth it?

Pisaphotography/Shutterstock

The Sydney Bridge Climb is one of Australia’s most iconic activities – but is it worth the cost and effort? We braved some boiler suits to go and find out

The Sydney Bridge Climb, if nothing else, is a lesson in sheer forcefulness. When its creator, Paul Cave, first put forward proposals for the climb, regulators replied with a list of 60-something reasons why it simply wasn’t possible.

Cave’s proposed blue suits would distract drivers, they said. Dropped items would cause accidents, and climbers would fall and hurt themselves. The list went on.

Great Ocean Road attractions: the musts, shoulds and coulds

Great Ocean Road attractions 12 ApostlesAtlas & Boots

We list the best Great Ocean Road attractions you must see, should see and could see along the way

The Great Ocean Road in Australia is one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives and one of Lonely Planet’s Epic Drives of the World. Stretching for 243km along the southeastern coast of Australia, the road showcases some of the country’s most dramatic coastal scenery.

The Great Ocean Road runs between the Victorian towns of Torquay and Allansford and was built between 1919 and 1932 by soldiers returning from World War I. It is dedicated to soldiers killed during the war and as such is the world’s largest war memorial.

End of the line: 5 hiking trails on the Oslo metro

oslo-hiking-trails-Sognsvann lake north of Oslo

A comprehensive network of Oslo hiking trails is accessible from the city metro system. All offer great access to the outdoors and are easy to reach from the city centre

The hiking trails around Oslo are similar to those in the rest of the country: clearly signposted, well maintained and often bookended with cosy cabins serving hot drinks and hearty food.

Trails in Norway are maintained by the excellent Norway Trekking Association (DNT). Their crowdsourced route planning sister site UT.no is also a great online resource full of hiking ideas, tips and maps.

Mekong river cruise: an indie traveller’s first time on tour

Flags and loudspeakers or authentic local experiences? We weren’t sure what to expect on G Adventures’ Mekong river cruise from Saigon to Siem Reap

I didn’t know what to expect of my Mekong river cruise through Vietnam and Cambodia. Firstly, I was travelling without Peter for the first time in four years. Secondly, I’d read mixed reviews of Vietnam and, thirdly, I was embarking on a tour with a pre-planned itinerary.

I won’t pretend that my ‘indie’ travel has been all hostels and roaches. My commissions outside of Atlas & Boots have taken me to numerous luxury resorts around the world, but I’d never before joined a scheduled group tour.

Cappadocia balloon ride: a fairytale flight

A Cappadocia balloon ride gives passengers an unrivalled perspective of the area’s unique landscape of fairy chimneys, towering boulders and ridged valleys peppered with caves

We had already spent three days exploring the lunar-like environment of Cappadocia. We had hiked, driven, ‘caved’ and ridden our way around Göreme National Park (the modern encompassment of the historic region of Cappadocia) and were soon ready for a full, unobstructed view from above.

20 cruise tips for beginners

cruise-tips

In May last year, I posted the below photo to Facebook with the caption ‘My birthday swag describes me in a nutshell: aspirational but lowbrow at heart.’ And it’s true: despite the ballet shows and horseriding lessons, I’m a working-class girl at heart. You will understand then why our 16-day cruise from Tahiti to LA via Hawaii was a bit of a test in terms of etiquette.

Punta Arenas: following the Ferdinand Magellan route

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Punta Arenas overlooks the Strait of Magellan on the Ferdinand Magellan route and is home to the most famous ships in the history of navigation

The sprawling city of Punta Arenas, situated on the historic Ferdinand Magellan route, is not easy to define. It’s possible that the city itself is confused about its identity. Once a penal colony, it is today part roughneck, part modern metropolis, part open-air maritime museum.

The town’s position overlooking the coarse and inhospitable Strait of Magellan – the most important natural passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans – makes it essential to Chile’s maritime trade and provides access to the Antarctic peninsular.

15 hitchhiking tips for newbies

There is no mode of transport more maligned than hitchhiking. Get over your fear with these top hitchhiking tips from experienced travellers

I hate hitchhiking. Perhaps it’s the retiring Brit in me but I hate the sense of embarrassment when I am refused, and the sense of imposition when I am accepted.

I hate the feeling of placing a request at the feet of strangers and expecting them to say yes. I hate the awkwardness of small talk and the permeating feeling of indebtedness. If I could help it, I would never do it.

Nazca Lines flight: one of the world’s great enigmas

Nazca-lines-flightAtlas & Boots

Take a Nazca Lines flight over one of the world’s great archaeological riddles. The 1,000 year-old uncanny figures are best seen from the skies

Very little ignites my wanderlust as strongly as a great travel mystery. And as travel mysteries go, the mysterious lines of the Nazca Desert in southern Peru are one of the greatest.

The network comprises over 800 straight lines, 300 geometric figures known as ‘geoglyphs’ and 70 animal and plant drawings or ‘biomorphs’. The lines are largely indiscernible from ground level – however, from the skies above they reveal an arresting network of figures and channels which spread across the desert below.

Round the world ticket pros and cons

round-the-world-ticket-pros-and-cons

I am at the Grand Canyon in Arizona, over 3,000 miles from anywhere I expected to be on our round-the-world trip for Atlas and Boots. In fact, Hawaii, California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah are all unplanned stops.

I expected to be in South America by December 2014, but instead spent an extra month in Tahiti – and then boarded a luxury cruise across the Pacific which most certainly wasn’t on the agenda. What I’m trying to say is that, for me, not buying a round-the-world (RTW) ticket has been a blessing.

Meet the first man to visit every country in the world without flying

MEET THE FIRST MAN TO VISIT EVERY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD WITHOUT FLYING - 1

If you passed Graham Hughes on the street, you’d most likely mistake him for just another backpacker, or perhaps a student two weeks past a shave.

Behind the glasses and the unassuming smile, however, is a man that has achieved something extraordinary: Graham is the first person to visit every country in the world without boarding a plane.

He has used boats, cars, buses and trains to visit every corner of the planet, a journey that has taken him four years to complete. Even more extraordinary is the fact that he, originally from Liverpool in the UK, now lives on a private island in Panama, a prize he won through a gameshow. (Yes, we’re seething with jealousy too.)

The second-best seats on the best flight in the world

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The best flight in the world is surely over the Tongan archipelagos of Vava’u and Ha’apai, streaking across the bright blue skies with glorious views below

We’ve been on the road for three months now and taken 15 flights and counting. Ever since we first left continental Australia there’s been some breathtaking aerial views from our windows across the Pacific thousands of feet below.

Pimp my bus ride: Samoan buses are a unique experience

buses in Samoa

Samoan buses are uncomfortable, noisy and won’t run on time. But that’s the fun of it! Even if you have nowhere to go in Samoa, take a bus somewhere. 

We wanted to get out of Apia and head to the south coast. We’d heard the waters were incredible and there were some great natural sights to see. Taxis are expensive and as we are on a budget the bus was the answer. We’ve taken plenty of buses across the Pacific islands now, but this one was a little bit different.

How to claim compensation for flight delays

compensation for flight delays

It was 8pm Jordanian time in October 2013 when we were told that our flight was being delayed by another two and a half hours. The tiny dinner box with a dry cheese sandwich and limp croissant was little compensation for the fact that we were going to miss the last train out of London Heathrow, meaning we’d have to spend £50 on a cab. Just great.