How to pass the PADI Open Water Diver course

how to pass the padi open water

A step-by-step guide for fellow divers who are somewhat nervous ahead of the PADI Open Water Diver course.

In theory, an expert diver should be writing this post. Logically, he or she could tell you what to expect, give you insider tips and prepare you for the challenge ahead. Of course, as a newly qualified diver, I have one advantage over the experts: I know first-hand just how hard it is for the nervous first-timer.

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.

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).

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!

How to handle a 24 hour flight

24 hour flight

Oh, the horror! Twenty-four hours in a tin can full of other people is no-one’s idea of fun, but when you’re heading to the other side of the world, it can’t really be avoided. Our flight(s) from London to Port Vila via Singapore and Brisbane meant a total transit time of 36 hours – 24 of which were in flight. By the time we reached our hotel, we were in a zombie-like state but still human. Here’s how we coped with our 24 hour flight. 

Yoyu: how to avoid traveller burnout

avoid-traveller-burnout

On the road, I’ll be writing posts for Atlas & Boots, filing travel features for Asian Bride magazine, and doing the odd commission to keep our travel funds topped up. As such, I’ll be lugging around a laptop throughout the course of the trip.

This is largely fine because it means we can stock up on films and TV programmes for quiet nights in and we’ll also have a way to keep in touch with family and friends. Of course, with this convenience comes the danger that being glued to a screen at home will become being glued to a screen on the road.

10 tips for travelling in a developing country

how to take better travel photos

I’ve been lucky enough to experience a decent cross-section of the world – rich and poor – and all the charms it has to offer.

From the pristine streets of Berlin to the dusty roads of Delhi, from the clockwork metro in Austria to the rickety network of dalla-dallas in Tanzania careering along at breakneck speeds, and from 5-star luxury in the Maldives to a cockroach-infested Cambodian dorm – they all have their allure and if I’m honest.

5 tips for talking to strangers

talking-to-strangers-tips

As an avid traveller, teacher and part-time photographer, I’ve been lucky enough to meet lots of people from lots of different backgrounds. Some became lifelong friends while many more melted into the heap of faded friendships and acquaintances we all leave behind.

That’s not to say that these fleeting encounters are immaterial – even a short conversation can prove to be unexpectedly enlightening or, at the very least, thoroughly entertaining.

7 tips for travelling alone

7-tips-for-travelling-alone

1. Don’t feel like you have to make friends

All the travel experts bang on about how you’ll meet amazing people and make lifelong friends on your travels but sometimes that’s just not true. Granted, locals are usually friendly, surprising, eye-opening and delightful but fellow travellers are often of the single-serving variety.

I recently boarded a plane and chose a seat next to two young women, thinking they would potentially be good to hang out with. Almost immediately they began to talk 100 words-per-minute about bags and shoes and shopping, and which shoes to wear while shopping, and which bags are best to store shoes in when swapping shoes from heels to flats when shopping. Groaning inwardly, I put on my headphones and turned up the volume.

Airbnb etiquette: 10 tips for guests

Is it time to stop using Airbnb: a house with a lock on itShutterstock

From sharing bathrooms to tipping hosts, we explain correct Airbnb etiquette so you can be a great guest

Throughout our trip around the world, we plan to use vacation rental site Airbnb for a large portion of our accommodation.

I have been a host for nearly three years and have developed a keen sense of what constitutes good Airbnb etiquette. Here, I share 10 essential tips so you can be a great guest.

How to keep a sense of humour when travelling

keep-sense-of-humour-when-travelling

Keeping your sense of humour will ensure that you remain calm and respectful, and will help make your trip as amazing as you had hoped

Sometimes – not often, but sometimes – travelling proves better in theory than in practice.

This might be when you arrive in your cheap hostel room in Delhi to find rotten prawns in the shower, or when a random guy in Nairobi blatantly tries to distract you so his friend can get in your bag, or when the bus that’s meant to pick you up is three hours late leaving you alone on a Cambodian roadside at three in the morning.