How to save for a year of 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).

Spending Christmas in Tahiti

christmas-in-tahiti

Peter turns to me and smiles, feet dangling in the water. “We’re in Tahiti,” he says.

After 40 days in French Polynesia, this little fact still makes us smile, still makes us pause. In theory, Tahiti’s not for the likes of us. Peter is the son of two teachers. I am one of eight siblings raised in London’s worst area for child poverty, the point being: neither of us come from money – not the kind that lets you take a year off and spend Christmas in Tahiti.

And yet here we are.

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

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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.)

Bora Bora lagoon tour: money well spent

If you do one thing, do the Bora Bora lagoon tour – you won’t regret it

When we landed in Bora Bora, we were worried. Really worried.

It was the worst weather we’d seen in the Pacific. And I’m not talking about the tropical storm with torrential downpours and billowing breakers kind of bad weather, which is wretched but at least dramatic.

The greatest myth in travel

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And therein lies the greatest myth in travel: that everyone should do it; that if you don’t, you’re somehow less interesting, less cultured than the masses

Farhan is 32. He is smart, funny and confident. He talks intelligently and entertainingly on a wide range of subjects from South African politics to Formula 1 championships.

He has a job that sends him all around the world, a lovely house in Richmond and a beautiful wife and child. He is, by all measures, a successful product of modern western society.

World’s most divisive destinations: should you go?

most visited countries in the worldAtlas & Boots

We look at some of the world’s most divisive destinations destinations that continue to pull in the crowds

Should we or shouldn’t we go?

There are some travel destinations that no matter how picture perfect their landscapes or how much history steeped in their ancient lands, will always provoke a strong reaction in traveller circles. Whether it’s for political, geographical or social reasons, the world’s most divisive destinations will likely divide opinion for a very long time.

Below we look at some of the most contentious and divisive destinations that rightly or wrongly pull in the tourist crowds year after year.

Bora Bora on a budget: 7 ways to save money

The Society Islands of French Polynesia - 23

Backpacking in Bora Bora may not be the quintessential experience but for those unable to do it any other way, here’s how we did 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.

5 useful travel sites you probably don’t use – and 5 others you probably do

LUPO bluetooth tracker for safe travel

A year before we left for our travels, I considered hosting Couchsurfers in my flat. I saw it as a way of investing in the Couchsurfing community before tapping into some of the good karma on our travels abroad.

Alas, I was instead seduced by Airbnb with its clean design, intuitive user experience, useful reviewing system and, of course, the chance to make some extra money for our travels. Surprisingly, we haven’t used Couchsurfing on the road.

Rarotonga tips: 5 things to know before you go

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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.

Rarotonga Cross Island Walk: probably the best hike in the South Pacific

rarotonga cross island walk

The Rarotonga Cross Island Walk is one of the best hikes in the South Pacific. Even the most inexperienced hiker can get up there with a bit of care

We stood outside our hostel, staring up at the morning sky. It had been raining all night long and the ominous clouds still threatened to thwart our plans. Adrienne, the hostel owner, had already warned us against doing the Rarotonga Cross Island Walk.

How to take better travel photos

midnight sun iceberg sightseeing ilulissat sailboatAtlas & Boots

I’ve been involved in photography in one way or another for 12 years now. At university, I studied photography and video and went on to work as a camera operator followed by seven years of teaching photography at secondary school level.

More recently, I have sold my landscape and travel photography online and to various publications and now, while travelling, it has become my only source of income which is somewhat terrifying!

8 things to do with an 8-hour Auckland layover

auckland-layover

We recently had a long Auckland layover between Tonga and our onward flight to Rarotonga. We hate to miss an opportunity to see a bit more of the world and another stamp in our passports made this an opportunity too good to pass up. The friendliest custom officials in the world and easy transport connections meant that we could make the best of our time in Auckland (despite the London-esque weather) and still have time to relax and make our onward flight. Here’s what we recommend on a limited timeframe during an Auckland layover .

Swimming with humpback whales in Tonga

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Swimming with humpback whales in Tonga was a truly humbling experience that very nearly didn’t happen for us! But luck was on our side that day

It was late October, approaching the very end of Tonga’s whale watching season. We had been delayed in Samoa about a week longer than expected and arrived in Tonga just two days before the last day of the season. Desperate not to miss our opportunity to swim with whales, we hastily flew north to the Vava’u Islands, one of the best places to see the humpbacks. These majestic creatures migrate north from the Antarctic every summer to breed in warmer waters, heading back as soon as their young are strong enough for the journey.

Robert Louis Stevenson museum: an unexpected highlight of Samoa

robert louis stevenson museum

The Robert Louis Stevenson museum in Samoa was an unexpected highlight of our trip to Samoa. A cursory cultural stop became a genuinely fascinating morning

“The Booker Prize money wouldn’t even keep me in cigarettes,” once quipped best-selling crime writer Martina Cole. Faced with snobbery over the type of commercial fiction she writes, the irreverent author’s swipe highlighted the fact that commercial fiction subsidises literary fiction, allowing publishers to publish the highbrow literature that hardly anyone buys.

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.

Remote travel: worth the pain?

remote travel

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?