Celebrating two years of Atlas & Boots

As we hit the two-year mark, we take a moment to take stock of where we are, to celebrate our achievements and to look forward to the challenges ahead

When we officially launched Atlas & Boots in August 2014, we agreed that it would be a blog for travellers, not a blog for bloggers.

The mechanics of running a site are certainly of interest to a minority of readers, but we wanted to spend our time talking to travellers, not looking inward.

With that said, the two-year mark seems a good time to take stock of where we are, to celebrate our achievements and to look forward to the challenges ahead.

Kia in CataloniaAtlas & Boots

I haven’t chosen travel over kids; I just don’t want any

I recently came across a friend’s Facebook status which made me laugh because it echoed conversations with my own family.

Posted with permission A friend’s Facebook status

The pressure to settle down comes not just from family but often friends, colleagues and acquaintances too. Sometimes, the nagging is lighthearted. At others, it’s annoying. Occasionally, it’s downright offensive.

lessons from our trip around the world lead image showing perito moreno glacier in Argentina

15 lessons from our trip around the world

I didn’t want to write this post mainly because it’s impossible to do this sort of roundup without sounding wanky. I’m sure there are millions of words already written on the virtues of travel and the wisdom won from life on the road.

London Bridge at night-time

Hello, London

Seventeen countries, four continents, one international date line, and a complete circumnavigation later, we’re home

We’re home.

We bid farewell in August last year. Seventeen countries, four continents, one international date line, and a complete circumnavigation later, we’re home.

Things are different. Boris bikes are red now. The Tories have a majority. And Robert Peston grew hair.

travelling-as-a-couple

8 tips for travelling as a couple

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.

travelling with my girlfriend

Why I’m actually happiest travelling with my girlfriend

Okay, so I have to be very careful here. If I miss the mark on this I risk offending all women and marking myself out as a chauvinist pig. On top of that I’ll offend Kia and, trust me, Kia when angry redefines those famous sayings about women scorned.

So here we go.

tippingDreamstime

The #1 thing I hate about travel

In some countries it’s not a problem, Switzerland, French Polynesia and South Korea among them. In others it’s practically impossible to get right. I am of course talking about the minefield of tipping. It is without a doubt the number one thing I hate about travelling.

highs and lows lead image

5 highs and lows of our trip so far

It’s December 31st, so naturally we thought we’d add to the innumerable end-of-year lists floating around the social sphere.

We’ve been asked several times about our best experiences in the South Pacific; the absolute must-dos in this part of the world. After five months on the road, there are so many but if we had to choose, these would be our top five.

christmas-in-tahiti

Spending 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.

What travelling with a man taught me about street harassment

I sat on the stairs of our Airbnb studio and laced up my trainers for my first run since leaving London four months ago. As I tied the bow I absentmindedly thought “I hope I don’t get harassed.”

And then it occurred to me: I hadn’t been harassed for four months and the only reason the thought had crossed my mind was because I automatically associated running with street harassment.

taveuni and vanua levu fiji - 1

The greatest myth in travel

The greatest myth in travel is 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.

best decision i ever made

The best decision I ever made

I first came across the phrase ‘experienced wellbeing’ in Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow. The psychologist and Nobel Prize winner uses it to explain some facts about happiness, the most intriguing of which is that a person’s level of happiness increases with the amount of money they earn – but only up to a household income of $75,000 (£46,000) per year.

After that, the increase of wellbeing in relation to increased wealth is, on average, zero.

what-not-to-pack

What not to pack: things we’ve dumped on the road so far

Before we left London, I practised walking with my backpack on for 20 minutes. I just about managed it but it was HEAVY. Add in the searing heat, drenching humidity and uneven terrain of the road, and 20 minutes feels near impossible. Thus, we’ve found ourselves frequently dumping stuff we had deemed necessary mere weeks before. Here’s a list of the offending items in case you’re tempted to make the same mistakes.

awkward-travel-moments

6 excruciatingly awkward travel moments

We’re all aware that travel is supposed to be about exploring the globe, meeting amazing people and finding yourself. The web is littered with blog posts about life-changing and eye-opening moments. However, it’s not all heartening tales and romantic anecdotes.

camping-together-first-time

City girl, country boy: camping together for the first time

I’ve always been impressed with Kia when it comes to outdoor adventuring. Ever since our first big trip when we spent a day hiking through the Cambodian jungle beneath torrential downpours, Kia has proved remarkably resilient.

Leaving-the-teaching-profession

Leaving the teaching profession

It’s Friday 12th September. Usually, I would have just finished my second week back at work teaching at an east London secondary school after a five-week summer holiday. New exercise books would have been distributed and sullied with fresh graffiti.

The students’ (and teachers’) initial enthusiasm at the start of a new year would be beginning to wane. And, if it hadn’t happened already, I would be starting to regularly raise my voice in anger at the students’ general indifference as their first coursework deadlines start to loom.

backpacker-problems

Backpacker problems: 7 things I struggled with in my first month on the road

So here we are: firmly in the midst of our trip of a lifetime. It’s been exactly one month since we left London – one amazing month during which we swam beneath waterfalls, kayaked to desert islands, went diving for the first time, explored the depths of Millennium Cave and stared into the crater of an active volcano.

It’s turned out to be far better and easier than I had predicted. Of course, there have been some backpacker problems  I’ve struggled with – some expected and others not.

Ignorance is Bliss

Ignorance is bliss

“What do you miss about the UK?” I asked my father a few months after he and my mother had moved to France, back in 2010. He pondered for a moment.
“I’m not sure I necessarily miss the UK, but there are certain things I know I’m missing out on,” he replied. “I feel bad that I’m not going to be voting. Like I’m letting someone down…”

learning to dive

Learning to dive, learning to quit

“Life’s too short for bad books,” a friend once told me. We had been swapping recommendations for a while and I was aghast that he had given up on The Kite Runner. “Keep at it,” I urged. “You’ll love it.”

He shrugged. “If I’m not enjoying a book within the first two chapters, that’s it.” He mimed throwing it away.

“I wish I could be more like you,” I had said. And I meant it. You see, I’m the type of person that will doggedly pursue a book or a task or a project that I’m not enjoying only so that I can finish it. Reading A Suitable Boy was the only thing entirely in my control that I ever gave up on – and it bugs me even today.