Travel

“Mountains are not Stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion.” ― Anatoli Boukreev

Mountains. I love them and I hate them. It’s always been this way. When I’m there, I hate it. The struggle. I never find it easy. Never! It doesn’t matter what I do to prepare. For whatever reason, I always find it difficult. No matter how fit I tend to be. Yet I keep going back. I think it’s the […]

Climbing Mountains

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” – Jack Kerouac It’s been a while since I’ve been climbing mountains.  I miss it. Having said that, this particular hike was gruelling!   Hiking the Trolltunga involves a 1,000m ascent (3,000 ft), and took us about […]

Is China Taking Over the World?

Do we need to worry if it does?  I love Chinese food and have always been interested in Chinese culture. Based on my own experiences abroad, here are my observations: Warning – I despise generalisations and stereotypes. Still, this post is full of them! Apologies if anyone takes offence. 1. Will Chinese be the world’s main language in a few […]

7 Japanese Observations

Man I miss Japan. This time last year, we would have just arrived in Tokyo. We spent a month travelling around. (You can read about some of my favourite places here). A month wasn’t enough. I could have spent weeks in Tokyo alone. To be honest, arriving jet lagged with high expectations, Tokyo was a bit of a disappointment. It […]

How to Take a Year Off and Travel the World

I talk to so many people about this.  They all “wish” they could do it. I don’t know if they honestly do.  Such assertions are inevitably followed up by an excuse, a reason as to why they can’t go. The excuses never make sense – to me anyway. There will never be a perfect time to go, or do most […]

Paranoia, Censorship and Freedom of Expression

They had guns but I wasn’t afraid. I didn’t believe that I’d be shot. I was perplexed, annoyed, and shocked by the absurdity of the situation. We were trying to cross the Chinese border from Tibet into Nepal. We were asked to declare any reading material – and consequently did so. I had a Nepal Lonely Planet book which I […]

Slowing Down?

I’ve recently been forced to slow down. I’m not in a position to be as active or sociable right now. It’s a good thing in lots of ways, but it is deeply frustrating! Fortunately, it’s temporary and I’m going to make the most of being able to take it easy to focus on a few things I might not be able […]

What to Pack for a Trip of a Lifetime!

I’m often asked for recommendations on what to pack for extended trips.  So, here they are. I know….if you’re saving for travel, the last thing you want to hear is that you need to buy more! But trust me, my advice will enhance your travelling experience 🙂 But first of all: Packing Pack as little as possible.  Seriously! A heavy load will weigh you […]

Is Himeji Castle Worth Visiting?

If you want to see one of the best traditional Japanese castles in Japan, Himeji Castle is definitely worth visiting. Why? Himeji is a UNESCO heritage site and the oldest preserved castle in Japan. It’s been beautifully restored. The adjoining garden is also very pretty. How do you get there? Trains that travel between Hiroshima/Okayama and Osaka/Kyoto often stop at […]

Is Naoshima Worth Visiting?

Naoshima is an island in the inland sea with a few art installations. It’s one of the top picks in the Lonely Planet “Japan” guide book and is highly rated on TripAdvisor. It’s a bit of a trek to get to though, so… Is Naoshima worth visiting?  Maybe. If you have plenty of time, it’s a sunny day, you like modern […]

Best Buses in Argentina

I’d heard people rave about the long haul buses in Argentina, “they’re like business class flights” I was told, “you’ll love them!”. So, I was pretty disappointed when our first long haul bus journey was on an average looking bus with a stinky broken toilet with the heating cranked up to sauna temperatures. Here’s a take on what I believe […]

London’s Best Museums

There are so many great museums in London, big and small.  Most are free – it’s one of the best things about London.  It means that you can return as many times as you want, (although donations are encouraged). So, here are my favourites, what I believe are London’s best museums: British Museum, Russell Square This place is vast and […]

Planning v Making It Up As You Go Along

There’s a lot of discussion about the level of planning you should do before embarking on a trip. If you’re leaving for a two week trip then you might want to plan most of your trip to save money on trying to figure it out where you’ll stay and what you’ll do when you’re out there.  Any longer then that […]

Can you get to Foz do Iguazu from Bonito?

So can you really get from Foz do Iguazu from Bonito on public transport?  Yes you can.  It isn’t a direct bus so you’ll have to change but it’s easy to do and a well travelled route. We weren’t sure of this either.  Our guide book didn’t have much information but buses ply this route daily. When does the bus […]

Independent Travel vs Tour Group Travel – Which is Best?

I’ve been lucky, I’ve travelled a lot. Some of those trips have been on organised tours, the rest I organised independently. There are lots of advantages in taking a tour, same with going it alone. Sometimes the choice is clear. For example, a tour may be compulsory in some destinations, like climbing Kilimanjaro or travelling around Tibet. Other times, it’s not […]

Five Reasons to Not Put Off Expensive Experiences

I’ve written before about why we should all travel more sooner rather than later. I’m currently in Japan, an expensive country which I put off visiting for years. But Japan is one of the most amazing places I’ve visited to date! I recently started thinking about why I had put off so many expensive experiences for so long, and why it […]

How to Plan Your Dream Trip

I’m always surprised to see courses set up to help people travel. By all means, if you find these services useful, sign up and pay for them. I really don’t think it’s that difficult however. Here is my take on how to plan your dream trip in 9 easy steps. 1. Figure Out Where You Want to Go If you had all […]

Useful Things to Pack for Your Trip

My Ultimate Packing list is here, but there are also other useful things to pack for your trip depending on what you might be thinking of doing. Here are a few tips: 1. Hiking Gear If you’re doing any walking, then good reasonably priced, non-fake hiking equipment will be best bought before you leave.  Cheap fakes are abundant in all hiking destinations […]

What Not to Pack When Travelling!

We’ve all dragged things on holiday with us only to never use them. I’ve spent months and months travelling around the world.  Here are a few things that might seem like a good idea but you REALLY don’t need. 1. Money Belt Money belts are a useful depository for your valuables while they are in your bag but that’s about it. Most articles will […]

Choosing the Best Rucksack for a Round the World Trip

I’m often asked for recommendations on what to pack on extended trips. My Ultimate Packing List is here, but where do you start? Here is what you need to think about, before you even start thinking about packing, or choosing the best rucksack. I know….if you’re busy saving to go travelling, the last thing you want to hear is that you […]

The Ultimate Packing List

Don’t forget, if in doubt, keep it out! Once you’ve chosen and bought your rucksack, fill it with the following. This is my ultimate one and only packing list for big trips: (For more Useful Things You Might Need to Pack, click here. Here’s also my list of things you think you might need, but you really don’t! You might also want […]

Tips for Finding Accommodation

Finding accommodation can be time consuming and stressful, even if you do it in advance. Maximize your chances of finding good quality, cheap accommodation by following these tips: 1. Organise in advance when it counts Be aware of periods when there will be high demand for accommodation. For example, Chinese new year in China or Easter in Europe. During those […]

Tips for a Great South America Itinerary

When we were planning our trip to South America, we knew we would be pushed for time but didn’t quite realise how much! Time and travel is personal. Some can afford lots of internal flights, others are disgusted by people doing “highlight” tours, and insist on staying for three months in each country. You’ll figure out what’s best for you, […]

Read this Before Booking a Salt Flats Tour

If you’re in Bolivia or the far north of Argentina or Chile, you really can’t miss visiting the Salt Flats. Contrary to what I expected, it isn’t just one big white area – expect emerald green lakes, volcanic landscapes, amazing rock formations, bubbling pools of sulphurous mud, and gorgeous pink flamingo specked lagoons – it is stunningly beautiful! Visiting the area […]

Kilimanjaro Packing List

Here’s the packing list which got us to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. We were backpacking before and after our Kili hike so weight was a huge issue for is. We were planning on doing more trekking too, so whatever we took with us was going to be with us for a long time…. Unless you are a keen walker/camper, (or […]

How to Get to the Top of Kilimanjaro

Walking up Kilimanjaro is not cheap. It costs thousands of dollars. Want to spend all that money and time training only to walk down the mountain with your tail between your legs? That would be embarrassing, and depressing! Yet it happens to thousands of people every year. So how do you get to the top of Kilimanjaro? Maximise your chances […]

How to Buy Indian Train Tickets – All You Need to Know

Turn up at the station and just buy them – yes?  No. If you’re used to making your trip up as you go along, travelling on the trains in India is not for you. Regardless of what the movie, Darjeeling Limited, may lead you to believe, gone are the days when you can spontaneously buy a ticket, hop on to a train and […]

How to Organise a Safari

Unless you have lots of money and are happy for Audley or Abercombie & Kent on call, organising a safari can be extremely stressful. Everything is expensive, and TripAdvisor is littered with fake reviews. In the absence of personal recommendations, so where do you start? How do you organise a safari? When do you want to go? Knowing when you will be travelling can […]

Iguazu Falls – Which Side is Better?

Iguazu Falls is one of the natural wonders of the world. It is huge, and sits across three countries – Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. It’s easy to visit both the Argentinian and Brazilian sides of the falls. Both are very different experiences, so it’s worth visiting both. The Brazilian side is known for sweeping views of the falls, whereas on the Argentinian […]

The Danger that is Russian Vodka

We were warned about drinking vodka with the Russians. We were warned how impolite it was to refuse offers of hospitality. We just weren’t prepared for such a painful experience so early in our Trans-Siberian trip… Beware. I almost died! On the morning of our first day of our five day non-stop stint on the train from St Petersburg to […]

Travel on the Trans-Siberian Railway

How Much Time Do You Need? How much time can you take off? We could only take two and a half weeks, so spent three days each in St Petersburg, Irkutsk, Mongolia (not enough at all), and a couple of days in Beijing (could have spent longer). Take more time if you have it. Consider stopping off at Yekaterinburg, Omsk, Suzdal, […]

W Trek – How to get to Torres del Paine

Getting to Torres del Paine can be a bit of a mission, but it’s well worth it. If you don’t have your own vehicle then you’ll need to get a bus from Puerto Natales.  Puerto Natales is a 3 hour bus ride from Punta Arenas or a 6 hour bus ride from El Calafate. You can fly to either from […]

W Trek – Is Grey II Worth the Money?

The Grey II is a tourist boat that leaves Hosteria Lago Grey and makes it way up Lago Grey to collect people near Refugio Grey.  The boat then makes it way up to Glacier Grey so that tourists can get a closer look at the glacier while drinking a pisco sour made with ice from the glacier.  It then returns […]

How to See the Gorillas in Rwanda

Seeing mountain gorillas in Rwanda in the wild is one of the most memorable experiences you can have. Here’s how you can do it: Where do you need to go? You can see gorillas in their natural environment in Rwanda and Uganda. Parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo are a possibility, but the political situation is volatile at the moment. Best time to […]

W Trek – Which is the Best Route to Take

1. The Boring but Essential Bit – DO NOT SKIP This is tedious but you’ll gain a lot from spending a couple of minutes looking at the W Trek map (above).  It is a bit out of date but is useful to look at while you are reading this post.  It also has useful approximate walking distances. The red line is […]

W Trek – Accommodation and Camping

There are several accommodation options on the W Trek. Refugios Refugios are basically expensive up market hostels at Glaciar Grey, Paine Grande, Los Cuernos, El Chileno, and near Hosteria Las Torres (where there are two, Refugio Torre Central and a smaller one called Refugio Torre Norte). In refugios you stay in dorm rooms with between 6-9 beds in each room with shared bathroom […]

Hiking the W Trek – All You Need to Know

First of all, make sure you’re aware of the highlights. It’s a tough walk but nothing that a reasonably fit person can’t handle especially if you’re not camping and carrying 15kgs of gear on your back. Dealing with the wind People talk a lot about the wind in Patagonia.  I didn’t really know what to expect but I’ve never experienced […]

Hiking the W Trek – Difficulty and Highlights

The W trek is a multi-day trek through Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia (see below for details on how to get there). It’s called the “W” trek because the walk traces the shape of a “W”. There are other legs that you can add on to do a whole circuit, the “O”. There is also a “tail”, best done as […]

Myanmar Travel – What Travelling in Burma is Like

Why go? Burma/Myanmar is a beautiful country with a wealth of things to see and do.  It is like no where else in the world and we loved it (despite getting sick for a few days, which pretty much everyone we met did too)!  The country’s changing all the time, and developing quickly, so visit sooner rather than later if […]

Best Places in Myanmar – Burma Trip Planning

So what are the best places in Myanmar? Where should you stay and how long should you stay in each place?  The list below indicates how long I’d recommend you need in various places in Burma/Myanmar. How do you book accommodation? It’s becoming easier to book online via Booking.com or using e-mail.  However, some places still need you or someone […]

All You Need to Know About Overland Travel

Wear dirty clothes, don’t shower for a few days, stay on a bus with the same strangers for over twelve hours a day, (a few of which must be able to get on your nerves), and at night sleep in a tent with one of the loudest snorers you’ll ever meet a couple of feet away for you – you’ll get a […]

Dragoman v Intrepid Overland Travel – Which is Best?

We did one 17 day trip with Intrepid Overland Travel to Rwanda and Uganda, and then a trip that took 42 days with Dragoman from Zanzibar to Cape Town.  If you’re trying to choose between Dragoman or Intrepid for an overlanding trip, I would recommend Dragoman. (Intrepid sell Dragoman trips – the trip code usually has a D in it […]

DSLR Travel Tips

Should you really bother taking a big conspicuous DSLR camera on vacation with you, even if you’re going to potentially dangerous or non-camera friendly places? Yes. Definitely. If you have one – take it. They aren’t the most subtle of cameras, and I wouldn’t walk around some cities with my DSLR hanging off my arm. Despite the extra weight, I would have deeply regretted […]

Changing USD with the Blue Dollar Exchange Rate

If you are a tourist visiting Argentina, bring plenty of US dollar notes with you.  To get the best exchange rate, exchange the US dollars using the blue dollar exchange rate – a more favourable exchange rate than the official one. In 2012/2013 the blue dollar rate was 50-60% higher than the official rate.  This meant that tourists saved 50-60% […]

Reasons to Travel – Why You Should Go

I’m still getting used to being home and catching up with friends. Some people have no interest in our trip, others are too bitter to enquire.  But, among the usual, “What was your favourite country?”, and “Would you do it again?” questions from the generous few who ask, I’m constantly hearing “I really want to go travelling”, “I so wish I could […]

Is Travel Worth It?

Twelve months in, homeless, jobless, savings severely depleted, and any chance of getting a mortgage in the near future completely screwed. People talk about having no regrets – I’m not one of those people.  I have loads of regrets! I’ve made so many mistakes! The important thing is to take note, learn, and try to not repeat the same errors…. […]

Why Travel Now and Not Later

Sleeping in hostels, and sharing bathrooms is not for everyone, but even if I was going to be travelling in luxury, many people couldn’t understand why I would choose to take an extended break at this time in my life. After all, work was good, I loved where we lived, I had started to save for a mortgage deposit, why […]

Travel Chaos – The Truth About Setting Off

Having spoken to everyone I know who had travelled, read countless blogs and books, researched countless websites and created a myriad spreadsheets and lists, we were pretty prepared – or so I thought…. With our departure date set, I was looking forward to de-cluttering my flat, catching up with friends for relaxing goodbye meals, heading over to the airport early, chilling […]