Polar Plunge Q&A: everything you need to know

The Polar Plunge is a fearsome rite of passage for visitors to Antarctica and the Arctic. Here, we share what you need to know so you can leap with ease

I still remember the moment I learnt about the Polar Plunge. I was at home in London on a typically gloomy day in the mid 2010s. I was wasting time online when I came across an article about Antarctica. Sadly, I can’t remember the writer’s name, but the photo of her was joyous: midway through the Polar Plunge, her body drawn into a starfish shape, a jubilant smile on her face. It was so pure and fun, and completely unselfconscious in a way that women are taught not to be. 

Under the midnight sun: a surreal trip to Svalbard

Ice 'cubes' at Magdalenefjord – one of the reasons to visit SvalbardAtlas & Boots

In the land of the midnight sun, Kia finds a place of raw nature, rare wildlife and one of her most memorable moments of travel

It is said that you can’t die in Svalbard, the remote archipelago that lies midway between Norway and the North Pole. The permafrost here not only preserves corpses, it sometimes pushes them to the surface. The truth is that authorities would prefer you didn’t die on Svalbard. Coffin burials are not allowed due to the permafrost, so critically-ill patients are usually flown to mainland Norway. 

20 best natural wonders in the UK

The Dark Hedges double up as the Kingsroad in Game of ThronesDreamstime

From plunging gorges to fairytale woods, we share a handpicked list of the best natural wonders in the UK

We’d been back in Britain for a mere two weeks when Peter told me he was heading to Dartmoor to walk the Two Moors Way. Our recent trip through Europe had mainly stopped in cities and clearly hadn’t satisfied his need to be outdoors. Peter grew up by the coast, and swimming and hiking were formative parts of his childhood. 

The travel that changed me: David Sklar

Renowned physician David Sklar tells us about the travel that changed him and why it’s taken him 40 years to write about what happened

David Sklar has faced life-or-death situations hundreds of times in his life and career. As an emergency physician, he has seen humanity at its weakest – and its most triumphant. His experience has led to over 200 published articles, a professorship and an appointment as editor-in-chief of prestigious journal Academic Medicine – a position he held for seven years. 

Going coastal: 15 best sea views in England

Durdle Door is one of the most iconic sights of the Jurassic CoastAllouphoto/Shutterstock

From brooding cliffs to storybook villages, we bring you a curated list of the best sea views in England

For a long time, Peter and I were ambivalent about the British staycation. For us, getting on a flight marked the start of a proper getaway. But then, a series of local trips began to change our minds. There was Clovelly, a picturesque fishing village on the north coast of Devon; Langley Castle in Northumberland; walking with my sister in the Chiltern Hills; and, for Peter, hiking the coast to coast and the South West Coast Path. These trips turned out to be some of our most memorable.

Visiting Auschwitz from Kraków: a sobering journey

Kia reflects on a visit to Auschwitz from Kraków and defends what some dismiss as problematic tourism

The famous gates of Auschwitz are startling, not because they’re sinister or imposing but the very opposite. Usually depicted in black and white, these gates have featured in myriad Holocaust films and documentaries. Today, however, they’re not in menacing monochrome or veiled in evocative fog. Rather, they’re bathed in sunlight with a blazing blue sky behind.

How to claim compensation for flight delays

How to claim compensation for flight delays

Recent travel chaos has left many out of pocket, but you might be entitled to 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.

8 essentials for safe travel

man on frozen lake essentials for safe travel

From avoiding stomach bugs to securing valuables, these essentials for safe travel will stop long trips playing havoc with your health

Having five sisters as I do is wonderful. On your travels, you get lots of messages checking on your whereabouts and well-being. And then you get some more messages. And then you get some more.

Back to Baros: what happened when we returned to our island paradise

Should you ever try to recreate a perfect trip from the past or is it better left alone as a memory?

When my editor at Asian Woman Magazine sent me on a trip to the Maldives, I couldn’t quite believe it. A week at the luxury private island of Baros with flights, accommodation and all excursions paid for seemed thoroughly fantastical. What’s more, I was told to bring my boyfriend on this would-be honeymoon.

Fitz Roy day hike: an essential guide

A Q&A guide to the Fitz Roy day hike, telling you exactly what you need to know to reach this iconic peak

We had unfinished business with Fitz Roy. We first visited in 2015 after a disappointing trip to Torres del Paine in Chile. It was winter in Patagonia and thanks to awful weather we saw absolutely nothing. 

The travel that changed me: Shafik Meghji

Copyright (c) 2014 mezzotint/Shutterstock. No use without permission.

From the biggest myth in travel writing to the dream destination he hasn’t yet seen, author Shafik Meghji tells us about the travel that changed him

In his early teens, Shafik Meghji came to the conclusion that he wasn’t going to make it as a professional footballer. As such, he settled for the next best thing: a job as a roving sports reporter. He won a coveted Scott Trust Bursary from the Guardian which funded his diploma in newspaper journalism and led to a role at the Evening Standard. 

21 interesting facts about Colombia

facts about Colombia lead image

Our curated list of the most interesting facts about Colombia we learnt during our visit

We didn’t plan on staying a month in Colombia. After spending longer than we had planned in the South Pacific, we were wary that we had only six months for an area far larger than what we had seen thus far.

Of course, our journey through Cartagena, Santa Marta, Taganga, Medellin, Guatapé, Popayán and San Agustín warranted more than the two weeks we had planned.

Antarctica packing list: all you need for your polar adventure

A click-and-pick Antarctica packing list with links to specific products that have been personally tested by Atlas & Boots

A friend of mine recently asked what three things make me happiest, as part of her research for her forthcoming book. I named family and nature which are fairly standard answers. Less common was my third choice of hygge, the Danish concept of cosiness.

Antarctica: why my seventh continent was more than just an ego trip

Kia looks out across Paradise BayAtlas & Boots

Kia explains why a voyage to Antarctica finally gave her a sense of peace

I am one of six sisters, which has always earned me a certain cachet; a sort of second-hand, useless celebrity like that of air hostesses and identical twins. The last time I mentioned “all my sisters” in public, a stranger cut in to ask how many. People are often keen to know if we all get along, how often we see each other and what it was like growing up. 

Atlas & Boots’ top 10 posts of 2021

Peter in the Lake District during the Coast to Coast

As we come to the end of another difficult year, we reflect on our highs and lows – on and off the blog

I thought that things would be different this year. We ended 2020 on a low but hopeful note and I really thought the world would be back to normal this year. 

Instead, travel continues to limp on. Here in the UK, lockdown hangs like the sword of Damocles, yet again threatening our trip to Antarctica. There is a sense of time ticking by, especially for Peter who has lost two years of climbing in his prime, which has impacted his lifelong dream to climb the seven summits. 

Ice work: 10 first ascents by female mountaineers

Norwegian adventurer Cecilie SkogFair Use

In a world dominated by men, a select group of women have shattered the ice ceiling. Here we review some daring first ascents by female mountaineers

I’ll be honest: it rankles to write the words ‘the first female’ to do such and such. It feels patronising, as if to say you weren’t good enough to play with the big boys but I’ll pat you on the head anyway. 

13 Christmas gifts for travellers

Our annual list of Christmas gifts for travellers, be they bookworms, shutterbugs, adrenaline junkies or culture vultures

This year was going to be the year that life went back to normal. Instead, we found ourselves in a strange liminal space of sullied plans and half-lives. Some valiantly tried to reclaim their lives – Peter, for example, managed trips to Switzerland, Greece and Cyprus – but many more of us wilted into this new reality, like trees skewed by persistent wind.   

Diving in Cyprus: our first dive in two years

A friendly turtle visits us on our dive in CyprusAtlas & Boots

After two years at home, we go diving in Cyprus and rediscover the joy of subaquatic life

There was a time when I used to record my dives with all the zeal of a swot on her first day of school. I took my battered logbook on every trip abroad and fastidiously noted down the date, location, depth, temperature, points of interest and so on.

How to start a travel blog – a professional guide

a laptop, camera and bag for how to start a travel blog

A comprehensive but concise guide on how to start a travel blog, covering both technical and editorial aspects of creating, maintaining and growing a blog

At Atlas & Boots, we are periodically approached for advice on how to start a travel blog. To help future bloggers, we have put our knowledge into a comprehensive but concise guide below.