useful travel gadgets 2019

Most useful travel gadgets of 2019

From practical solutions for everyday problems to highbrow electronics for luxury on the road, here are our favourite useful travel gadgets of 2019.

The modern traveller rarely leaves home home without a range of gadgets and accessories. Despite years of travel and streamlining my gear, I still pack a healthy number of gadgets.

Unless I’m going completely off-grid, there are certain (usually electronic) luxuries I don’t want to be without. I want to take thousands of photographs, listen to music, watch a movie, stay in touch with my family and most importantly of all, keep track of England’s latest batting collapse (a form of self-harm I’m sure).

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10 weird and wonderful sights in Cornwall

From Arthurian legends to dramatic moorlands, we share the best sights in Cornwall for a quintessential English break.

Cornwall may not be on par with diving in Djibouti or volcanoes in Vanuatu, but it holds a special place in my heart. It was in Cornwall that I took my first trip away from my parents (at the age of 10 on a school residential).

In fact, visiting Cornwall was my second holiday ever. I’d never been hiking, never been camping and had seldom seen a beach, so Cornwall was a complete novelty.

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14 things to do in Eswatini (Swaziland)

We’ve selected our favourite things to do in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), from tracking big game to climbing the world’s second largest monolith.

The tiny African nation of Eswatini took us completely by surprise. As Kia said, visiting Eswatini was never high on our bucket list, but it should have been. We spent just three days and two nights in this fascinating destination, which was never going to be enough.

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17 interesting facts about Eswatini (Swaziland)

We share the most interesting facts about Eswatini collected on our brisk but beguiling sojourn into ‘Africa’s newest kingdom’.

We had been in southern Africa for nearly three weeks by the time we arrived in Eswatini, our fourth country of the trip. Having spent two weeks driving around Namibia and exploring Etosha National Park, one of Africa’s great wildlife destinations, we thought we’d seen all the African wildlife we were going to see.

What could 36 hours in Eswatini possibly show us that a 17-day Namibian safari did not?

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a mother and her baby seen while visiting eswatini

Visiting Eswatini: why this tiny country blew my mind

Visiting Eswatini was never high on my bucket list. How utterly foolish of me.

I’m not going to lie: visiting Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) was a box-ticking exercise. Landlocked between South Africa and Mozambique, this dot on the map offered an opportunity for Peter to tick off another country in his quest to qualify for the Century Club.

I was less enthused. We had only 11 days to see South Africa and trying to squeeze in Lesotho and Eswatini seemed like a bit of a stretch. Peter insisted it could be done and so I begrudgingly said yes.

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18 interesting facts about Costa Rica

We share the most interesting facts about Costa Rica collected during our visit to this diverse destination.

The tiny republic of Costa Rica is a Central American success story. Democratic, prosperous and stable, the country is an oasis in the midst of an often-turbulent region of the world.

We visited Costa Rica for nine days on our first ever National Geographic Expedition. Highlights included clambering the slopes of a misty volcanic peak, hiking through fairytale cloud forest in Santa Elena, searching for sloths in Manuel Antonio National Park and planting trees at the Monteverde Institute.

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Horse riding in Monteverde, Costa Rica

Horse riding in Monteverde prompts Kia to rethink a few things at home in the UK.

I was dubious about horse riding in Monteverde. I had been told that we wouldn’t be given helmets and that the local guides couldn’t speak English. The latter I could deal with, but the former was a problem.

I’ve caused myself a fair amount of damage by not wearing a helmet in the past. After falling off a horse in 2017, I promised myself to never ride without one. Still, I was keen to go riding in Costa Rica, so went to the stables to see for myself.

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10 most visited countries in the world

We profile some usual suspects plus one or two surprises in the top 10 most visited countries in the world.

Have you dreamed of a romantic kiss atop the Eiffel Tower? Perhaps you’ve thrown a wish into the Trevi Fountain or stopped and stared at the Sistine Chapel. If so, you’re certainly not alone.

According to the latest UNWTO Tourism Highlights report, France and Italy are two of the most visited countries in the world.

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Canyoning in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Canyoning in La Fortuna with its waterfall rappels and cavernous ‘falls’ proved to be Costa Rica’s biggest thrill of all.

Beneath the hulking slopes of Arenal Volcano in northwestern Costa Rica is the small town of La Fortuna. With a wealth of natural attractions nearby including lush rainforest, extensive hiking trails, myriad hot springs and two gargantuan volcanoes (Cerro Chato is also within easy reach), it’s not the town itself that draws visitors to this green district of Costa Rica.

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12 largest rainforests in the world

The largest rainforests in the world are some of the most vital ecosystems on our planet. We look at where they’re located and why they need protecting.

Home to over half the world’s plant and animal species, the largest rainforests in the world absorb vast amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping maintain the balance of the air we breathe while simultaneously playing a critical role in curbing global warming.

Despite their immense value, the largest rainforests in the world are under constant threat. More than half of Earth’s trees have already been lost since humans first began cutting them down.

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Searching for sloths in Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica

With their sluggish limbs and camouflaged fur, sloths aren’t often easy to spot. We pinned our hopes on Manuel Antonio.

There were two animals we were keen to see on our National Geographic Expedition to Costa Rica: the red-eyed tree frog and the three-toed sloth.

The first was surprisingly obliging and we took a decent snap on mere day two of the tour. The sloth, however, remained elusive. The one we did spot by a roadside was barely discernible from the surrounding branches and left us eager for more.

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A complete travel photography gear guide

We’re often asked about the gear we take on our travels. In response, we have written a detailed and complete travel photography gear guide.

I have been involved in film or photography throughout the course of my career: initially as a camera operator, video editor and AV engineer, later as a teacher in digital media, and now as a travel blogger.

I’ve sold stock images for several years on Shutterstock and iStock by Getty Images, and my photography plays a prominent role throughout our travel blog and social channels, particularly Instagram. Continue reading

Santa Elena Cloud Forest in Costa Rica

Santa Elena Cloud Forest: a fairytale hike in Costa Rica

Santa Elena Cloud Forest was the highlight of our trip to Costa Rica. Here, we try to explain why.

If you Google ‘best things to do in Costa Rica’, it’s unlikely you’ll find Santa Elena Cloud Forest among the top results, which is strange given that it was the best part of our nine-day visit.

Had we been travelling independently, we may have skipped it entirely. As luck would have it, our National Geographic Expedition to Costa Rica included a visit to Santa Elena Cloud Forest as a core activity.

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Photo backup: how to keep your memories safe

After learning the hard way, we share our tried and tested photo backup systems to help you keep your photographs safe.

It was in the Cotopaxi region of Ecuador that we met Michael, a fellow backpacker who had spent the previous weeks on a surfing trip of a lifetime. Earlier in the day, Michael’s GoPro had dislodged from its extender during a jump into a waterfall and sunk to the depths below.

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monteverde cloud forest

Withering heights: saving Monteverde Cloud Forest

We visit Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica and learn that despite its visible vibrancy, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

In some ways, Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica is its own worst enemy. This dark and dripping place teems with life. Strangler figs tower above the forest floor, their trunks as sturdy as stone. Lush mosses and filmy ferns carpet the canopy in green while spindles of yellow justicia and vibrant red passiflora add a slash of colour.

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World’s most powerful passport 2019

Travelling can be a bureaucratic nightmare for those on restricted passports. Here we look at the best passport to have in 2019 based on the freedom it provides.

Ten years ago, in my first job after graduation, I shared an office with a researcher called Munir who I nicknamed Dr2 because he not only had a PhD but was also qualified as a medical doctor. (I recognise it’s not the wittiest name in the world but it was the best I could do at the time.)

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Costa Rica: our first National Geographic Expedition

Our trip to Costa Rica was a long time coming. Here’s why it was worth the wait.

I have a bit of a backstory when it comes to Costa Rica and it starts when I was nine years old. It was a perfectly ordinary morning that began with an assembly at my primary school in east London. The teacher on stage ran through some customary notices and then segued into a zany idea: the potential for a group of pupils to travel to Costa Rica as part of an environmental initiative. The chosen ones would live and study in Costa Rica for four weeks to learn about global environmental challenges and solutions.

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17 interesting facts about Lesotho

We share the most interesting facts about Lesotho collected on our brief but breathtaking visit to the ‘Kingdom of the Sky’.

We had only 36 hours in the tiny Kingdom of Lesotho, but it turned out to be a gem of a trip, throwing up plenty of surprises along the way. We reached Lesotho via the twisty Sani Pass with a local expert from Roof of Africa.

Lesotho is tiny and one of the least known countries in the world, yet it is a land full of fascinating facts. A mere 36 hours was nowhere near enough and we’ve pledged to return one day.

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Driving the hairpinned Sani Pass to Lesotho

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.

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