8 tips for travelling as a couple

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After a year on the road and in each other’s pockets, Atlas and Boots share their top 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.

How do you really get to know a country?

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So, how do you really get to know a country? The answer is of course largely subjective, however, there are certain factors that will always help or hinder

As Kia and I enter the last few weeks of our big trip, naturally we are wondering how well we have come to know the countries we have visited. Over the last year or so, we have spent anything from just a few hours in a country to over two months and everything in between.

6 interesting Easter Island facts

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We examine the island’s history and explain some of the most interesting Easter Island facts. This remote Pacific island is not only beautiful but full of mystery

First thing’s first, Easter Island is far. Very, very far. 

Map of Easter Island

In fact, it is one of the most remote communities in the world. Its closest inhabited neighbour is Pitcairn, 2,000km (1,200mi) to the west while the nearest continental land lies in Chile at a distance of 3,700km (2,300mi). In short, it’s not a short hop.

And so the question one must ask is: are the Easter Island statues worth the slog? Are these great hunks of rock worth the expense of a long voyage?

City life: how not to let it crush your soul

As our year of travel enters its final month, I find my nerves jangling at the thought of returning to city life. My hometown is a big, rambling jungle…

As our year of travel enters its final month, I find my nerves jangling at the thought of returning to London. My hometown is a big, rambling concrete jungle with few manners on display.

Ask me to describe a scenario typical to, say, Samoa and I would tell you how Samoans constantly swap seats and rearrange themselves on buses to make sure as many people as possible have a seat, usually even offering their own laps (see #4 of 5 surprising facts about Samoa).

14 cheap things to do in Santiago, Chile

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After two months of continuous travel, we decided to take a few days of downtime in Santiago. We had spent no more than two nights in any one place as we raced to get to Patagonia before winter and as a result were feeling pretty fried and in desperate need of some comfort – especially after the challenges of Bolivia. With this in mind we decided to rent a super-modern self-catering apartment in central Santiago for a few days.

7 travel mistakes we made on the road

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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.

Driest place on Earth: visiting the Atacama Desert in Chile

Visiting Atacama Desert, the driest place on Earth

The Atacama desert is the driest place on Earth and possibly the world’s oldest desert. We take a 30km bike ride across its dramatic landscape

Our journey to Atacama was far more complicated than expected. Up to that point, the border crossings on our journey had been relatively straightforward so we were surprised there was no direct route from Uyuni in Bolivia to Atacama in Chile.

Instead of taking a bus, we had to book a $50 USD transfer, spend a night in a room that was almost exactly like a prison cell, take the transfer to the border, pay another $20 to enter the national park and then take another transfer on the other side. All in all, a journey that can be done in nine hours took about 24 hours instead.

The travel that changed me: Andy Puddicombe

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Headspace founder Andy Puddicombe tells us about a trip to India and how it changed his life forever

Andy Puddicombe holds the unlikely title of English undergrad turned Buddhist monk. In 1994, midway through his degree, Andy made a surprise decision to travel to the Himalayas and study meditation. Thus began an epic journey that took him around the world and culminated in his ordination as a Tibetan Buddhist.

6 tips for visiting Isla Del Sol, Bolivia

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If your trip to Bolivia is anything like ours, you’ll need a place to catch your breath and reset. Visiting Isla Del Sol is the perfect answer

Like most round-the-world trips, ours has not been a big yellow ball of shining happiness but rather a gradient of colours. At one end lie vivid and soaring reds: the Mount Yasurs and Salar de Uyunis of the trip. At the other end are greys and browns: the 32-hour bus journey from Guayaquil to Lima, the insurance claim for ruined electronics. And in the middle are large swathes of greens and blues: the days that aren’t breathtaking or life affirming, but pleasant and fun nonetheless.

15 crazy roads from across the world

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In Bolivia, I tried without victory to convince Peter to let me do the Death Road bike ride from La Paz.

It’s not normally the sort of thing for which I’d ask permission, but given that he taught me to ride a bike and saw me fall off it in Bora Bora, ride into a wall in Tahiti and very nearly crack my head open in The Galápagos, I thought it best to check if he thought I could handle the Death Road, renowned for claiming 200-300 lives every year (see #15 below).

The Uros floating islands of Lake Titicaca, Peru

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When we set out for this trip nearly a year ago, I knew that there would be certain places, certain experiences that would leave me awestruck. I knew I’d be wowed by Machu Picchu, stand in awe of Easter Island’s giant statues and gaze open-mouthed at Perito Moreno in Argentina. What I didn’t expect is that I’d be similarly lost for words on the man-made Uros floating islands of Lake Titicaca. In fact, I hadn’t even heard of them before arriving in Peru.

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.

10 real-life fairytale buildings

Eye catching, heart halting, jaw dropping: 10 real-life fairytale buildings straight from a Grimms’ tale

One of the best parts of travel is visiting a surreal place previously seen only in pictures. Whether it’s an unknown abode hidden in the hills of Portugal or an iconic structure plastered in the pages of National Geographic, these places are eye catching, heart halting, jaw dropping.

In short, they could be straight out of a storybook. Here are our favourite fairytale buildings from across the world.

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.

Altitude sickness symptoms and how to avoid them

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Being young, fit and healthy doesn’t mean you won’t suffer from altitude sickness symptoms. Here’s how to identify, treat and prevent them effectively

Gracie is a student at Johns Hopkins, which offers one of the best medical training programs in the world. She is slim, fit and active. She doesn’t smoke, rarely drinks and always watches what she eats.

She should have been the last person in our group to get altitude sickness symptoms and yet there she was, wide eyed and pale faced at breakfast after a restless night of nausea at the foot of Cotopaxi Volcano (3,500m).

Experienced climbers know that altitude sickness doesn’t discriminate. The young, fit and healthy can suffer just as easily as the old, soft and pasty, which is why everyone should be aware of the symptoms before attempting a climb or trek at height. Here’s a primer to help you prepare.

Checking my privilege: why travel reminds me I’m not as smart as I think

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Privilege is so often invisible to those who have it. It provides us security and strokes our egos and lays claim to achievements that aren’t fully ours

I never felt poor until I went to university. I was one of eight siblings that grew up in a Tower Hamlets council house (vouchers for my school uniform, free school meals), but I never felt that my family was poor until I entered higher education.

There, my peer-set changed from Bengali girls like me to those whose families owned second homes, second cars and even thriving businesses – not international conglomerates like you might find at Oxbridge, but impressive nonetheless: a diamond shop in west London, a doctor’s surgery in Surrey, an accountancy firm in Redbridge.

Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu: highlights and lowlights

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I look back on the highlights and lowlights of our Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu in Peru, to help future trekkers prepare for the challenge ahead

There are three things I feared when embarking on our year-long trip around the world. First: the bugs (let’s face it, that was warranted).

Second: our multi-day Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu in Peru (was I fit enough? Could I cope with the altitude? What about the lack of commode? Would I break down after a long bout of camping?). Third: Dealing with the Patagonian winter (I’ll face that battle when I come to it).