Indie Travel Challenge 2012 Travel Articles

Difficult Travel Moments: This Week on BootsnAll
Difficult Travel Moments: This Week on BootsnAll Travel is, most of us would likely agree, life-changing in the most positive ways. It’s about exceptional experiences we can’t have if we don’t get out of our familiar surroundings, people we would never meet if we stayed home, and memories we’ll treasure for the rest of our lives. But not everything about travel is easy. In fact, we believe most travelers would agree that often the most meaningful moments come from challenges we encounter along the way – even if we only realize that in retrospect. This week on BootsnAll, you’ll read about Eastern European mountains that even inexperienced hikers can climb, getting comfortable with Japanese culture, conquering a fear of the dark to see a whole other world, and letting a travel dream throw your life plans for a loop. Week 20 of the Indie Travel Challenge 2012 is all about travel’s difficult moments. We can all point to difficult moments during our travels, things we weren’t prepared to see, smell, or taste – but real learning isn’t just about knowing you don’t like haggis because you inadvertently ate some in Scotland. We can learn valuable lessons from uncomfortable travel situations, lessons that will stick with us long after we’ve returned home. For week 20 of the Indie Travel Challenge, we’d like you to talk about something you saw […]
Road Trips: This Week on BootsnAll
Road Trips: This Week on BootsnAll What, we ask you, screams summer vacation more than a road trip? Now, we admit that we’re predisposed to think of road trips as American – but no matter where the concept of a road trip came from, it’s applicable to places all over the globe today. I’ve spent time scouring a map of northern Scotland for the smallest (and windiest) road between two points while exploring the whisky trail, staring out the bus window at the stunningly green landscape (and trying to – quite literally – count sheep) in New Zealand, and marveling at the incongruity of terrain that looked like Oregon (only with way more ostriches) en route from Cape Town to Wilderness in South Africa. The only requirements of a great road trip are roads, a car, and time. >> This week on BootsnAll you’ll read about how you can have foreign culture experiences without leaving the country, and how a road trip through the U.S. gets you to the heart of so many elements of indie travel. Week 19 of the Indie Travel Challenge 2012 is all about road trips. While the United States may have some of the best excuses for long drives, we’re happy to go on a road trip anywhere that has a selection of bizarre roadside attractions to keep us intrigued and a […]
Family Travel: This Week on BootsnAll
Family Travel: This Week on BootsnAll As the founders and staff at BootsnAll have grown up over the years, so have our ideas about indie travel. Back in 1998, for instance, a young and single Sean Keener wasn’t thinking about how having kids someday might impact his travel plans. These days, he’s acutely aware of how many people think their traveling days are over once they reproduce – and he hasn’t let that stop him and his growing family from still hitting the road. In fact, they just got back from spending 4.5 months in New Zealand, and Sean’s son’s first trip was to New York at the ripe age of six weeks. We’ve recently featured a couple of stories (here and here) by kick-ass traveling families who are forcing people to re-think their assumptions about traveling with kids, and we’re expanding the theme a bit this week. You’ll read about why it’s important to raise kids with indie travel in mind. You’ll read excellent tips to make traveling with kids easier, which should leave you with pretty much no excuses not to get your family on the road. And in case you need more inspiration to not put off your trip any longer, you’ll also read about how to go from dreaming to traveling in just four weeks. Week 18 of the Indie Travel Challenge 2012 […]
New Zealand: This Week on BootsnAll
New Zealand: This Week on BootsnAll As we started the Indie Travel Take Down Tournament this year – our first attempt to wrangle the countries of the world into a kind of March Madness bracket of indie travel awesomeness – we were predicting which places would rank highly with travelers. New Zealand, as many of you can probably guess, was a deserved #1 seed and (we thought) a shoe-in for the top slot overall. And then Portugal came along to upset New Zealand in the finals. Tournaments like this are always going to have surprises, which is part of the fun, and of course the result doesn’t diminish New Zealand as a kick-ass indie travel destination at all. In fact, we love the country so much we’re highlighting it this week on BootsnAll. You’ll get to read about the ABCs of traveling in New Zealand (and since there are a few letters missing from this alphabet, we invite you to suggest appropriate candidates for U, X, Y, and Z), 7 things that make New Zealand so awesome for travelers, and a festival in New Zealand that celebrates local food (nevermind that it’s of the buggy variety). Week 17 of the Indie Travel Challenge 2012 is all about New Zealand. Some of you have already blogged about New Zealand as part of the Indie Travel Challenge, and we […]
Giving Back: This Week on BootsnAll
Giving Back: This Week on BootsnAll At first blush, one might assume that hunters and fishermen would be on the opposite side of the environmental argument from organizations whose mission is preserve our natural world. In fact, hunters and fishermen are often some of the most staunch environmentalists, because their livelihood depends on a stable ecosystem. The same can be said for travelers, who – despite our penchant for hopping into gas-guzzling cars and planes to explore the far reaches of the earth – end up being environmentally aware simply because if we don’t do our part to preserve the planet, it won’t be here for us to explore. It’s a selfish line of reasoning, there’s no denying that, but if the outcome is good for the environment then I think that’s just fine. Where am I going with this? I’m getting to this week’s Indie Travel Challenge, which is a challenge – not just a blogging prompt – about giving back. >> And don’t miss this week’s travel transformation story, “Why You Should Forgo the American Dream and Let Travel Transform Your Life“ Week 16 of the Indie Travel Challenge 2012 is about voluntourism. Many of us take trips that are relatively brief, and we’ve got them planned from morning ’til night, with hardly any room for rest, let alone volunteering. But volunteering while you travel […]
Travel Transformations: This Week on BootsnAll
Travel Transformations: This Week on BootsnAll At BootsnAll, one of the things we love about travel is that there are many brands of getting out and seeing the world. It’s not one size fits all, and everyone can travel in a way that suits their personality. We do, however, have preferences for certain kinds of travel – and traveling by checklist isn’t one of them. We may make life lists and have travel goals, but – as we highlighted in the Indie Travel Manifesto – we value possibilities over a static to-do list. That’s one of the reasons why we like hearing tales about how people’s lives have been changed by travel – it’s almost never checking an item off a to-do list that brings about profound change. It’s often the smaller moments, the ones you don’t plan for, that may have such an impact on you that you don’t even realize it until much later. So this week on BootsnAll, we’re focusing on the transformational power of travel. Jennifer Miller talks about her grandmother’s death spurring her on in her quest to travel long-term with her family, and some of the highs and lows they’ve experienced since setting out on their journey. The phrase “leap of faith” comes up often. And every person who has contributed to our “How I Travel” series has talked about […]
Latin America: This Week on BootsnAll
Latin America: This Week on BootsnAll If the journey is supposed to be the reward, someone forgot to tell the bus drivers in Bolivia. Latin America routinely ranks highly among indie travelers for being budget friendly and, for the most part, for having a decent tourist infrastructure. It’s also handy that much of the region speaks some form of Spanish – learn the basics of one language and you can get by for a good long while. Getting around Latin America, however, is far from a uniform experience. This week on BootsnAll we’re talking about Latin America, but not just the transportation. We’re kicking things off with an admonition to take your kids to Mexico despite what you’ve read in the news. Later in the week, you’ll read about some of the adrenaline-pumping activities you can enjoy in Chile, get tips for visiting the famous Salt Flats of Bolivia, and learn about planning an extended trip in South America. But we’d like you to talk to us about getting there. Week 14 of the Indie Travel Challenge 2012 is all about transportation in Latin America. Transportation in Latin America runs the gamut from the plush buses in Argentina to the chicken buses of Central America to Bolivia’s notorious “most dangerous road in the world.” No doubt many a traveler has returned from a trip through Latin America […]
Eastern Europe: This Week on BootsnAll
Eastern Europe: This Week on BootsnAll Europe has long been a magnet for backpackers and others on extended trips. Nowadays, “the continent” has a well-deserved reputation for being an expensive place to visit – but hearken back, if you will, to the days when our forefathers and mothers hopped from one European hostel to the next with the help of a Eurail Pass and a few months of free time before high school and college. Or, we can go even further back, when “The Grand Tour” was synonymous with Europe’s great cities. Today’s budget travelers have to be a bit more creative if they want to still visit Europe but not spend several times what previous generations might have spent. In short, we’ve got to head east – which is what we’re about to do this week at BootsnAll, learning more about Eastern Europe. One of the articles coming up this week on BootsnAll is about places in Poland you’ve probably never heard of. Another will offer tips on planning an extended trip through Central Europe. And we’re kicking the week off with an article all about why you should go to Belarus, regardless of what you think you know about it. Week 13 of the Indie Travel Challenge 2012 is all about Eastern Europe. For most of us, Western Europe is what comes to mind when […]
Train Travel: This Week on BootsnAll
Train Travel: This Week on BootsnAll Most of us can appreciate the wonder of walking around in a new city, of sampling new flavors in restaurants, and browsing through new shops. But, as the saying goes, it’s not all about the destination – sometimes it’s about the journey. Now, modern travel has its perks – speeding through time zones on a trans-Atlantic flight should make anyone feel awe-struck – but let’s face it, there’s nothing romantic or wistful about airports or airlines these days. Long lines, security checks, shoe removal, liquids in tiny containers, seats that hardly recline, extra fees for bad airline food… Combined, all this does a fine job of removing the fun from travel until you actually get where you’re going. Rail travel, on the other hand, retains much of its romantic appeal – which is why we’re focusing on it this week on BootsnAll. You’ll read about ways to make the most of long train journeys, and you’ll learn about some places in Eastern Europe where you can get off the beatean path while still sticking to the train lines. Week 12 of the Indie Travel Challenge 2012 is all about train travel. We’ve all heard rail travel described as “romantic,” and that has nothing to do with getting busy with the hot girl from the next bunk on an overnight ride across […]
Travel Bracketology: This Week on BootsnAll
Travel Bracketology: This Week on BootsnAll Hey, sports fans! Not a day goes by where, somewhere in this world, there’s not some kind of sporting event going on. We have no actual confirmation of this, but we’re pretty sure it’s true. With a few sports nuts around the BootsnAll office, it was probably inevitable that we finally moved past the March Madness office pool and instead created our own tournament all about travel. Introducing – Travel Bracketology. Through the rest of March, we’re going to be tallying your votes to determine which country you think deserves the title of “best country for independent travel.” To begin, we’re asking you to go to our Facebook page and nominate or vote for countries in order to come up with an initial list of 64 – 16 countries from each of four regions of the world. From there, we’ll use our new Indie-o-Meter to judge each head-to-head country match-up. The four regional polls: THE AMERICAS: What’s the best country in North, Central, & South America for independent travel? EUROPE: What’s the best country in Europe for independent travel? ASIA & OCEANIA: What’s the best country in Asia & Oceania for independent travel? AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST: What’s the best country in Africa & Middle East for independent travel? Week 11 of the Indie Travel Challenge 2012 is all about Travel […]
Planning a Europe Trip: This Week on BootsnAll
Planning a Europe Trip: This Week on BootsnAll Travelers have been drawn to Europe for ages, and it remains one of the top destinations for people planning short vacations or more long-term backpacking trips. There’s so much variety, so much to see and do (and eat!), and it’s all concentrated into such a small part of the planet, that it seems tailor-made for the wanderer in all of us. Throw a few things in a backpack, grab a Eurail Pass, and go – just like people have been doing for decades, right? Oh, if only it were still that simple. This week on BootsnAll, we’ll look at spectacular locations in Romania worth discovering up close, explore some must-have Ireland experiences, discover European cities that still feel “untouched,” and learn about some of the best festivals and events in Europe. And be sure to check back Wednesday for the launch of our research report on RTW ticket buying! Week 10 of the Indie Travel Challenge 2012 is all about planning a Europe trip. While Europe’s infrastructure is typically a boon for travelers, much of the region has become more challenging for indie travelers these days. The euro currency makes everything way more expensive than it once was, and Europe’s popularity means it can be difficult to get away from big crowds. There are ways to visit Europe on a budget, […]
Travels in Italy: This Week on BootsnAll
Travels in Italy: This Week on BootsnAll Who among us can resist the allure of Italy? Whether you’ve been there before or it’s still on your must-see list, Italy still calls to travelers, just as it has for millennia. Considering the number of world-famous attractions and destinations contained within its borders, Italy has certainly earned its spot near the top of the most-visited countries list. The small size of the country itself only serves to make it more appealing – all those awesome things to see, do, and eat in such a small package! This week on Bootsnall, Italy will be featured in a few of our articles – including eating your way through Italy, hints about going wine tasting in Italy on a budget and how to visit Italy and the rest of Europe on a RTW trip without breaking the bank. Week 9 of the Indie Travel Challenge 2012 is all about la bella Italia. There’s plenty for travelers to love in Italy, but it can definitely be more challenging to get off the proverbial beaten path – it’s popular, remember, so you’re not going to be the only person visiting. This doesn’t mean it’s not possible to have an indie travel experience in Italy – far from it – it just means you might have to work a little harder to do so. And that’s […]
Budget Travel: This Week on BootsnAll
Budget Travel: This Week on BootsnAll Traveling on a budget and getting the most bang for your travel expenditures are extremely common themes here at BootsnAll. It’s not that we’re cheapskates, we just know that the kinds of indie travel experiences we love most often come when you’re traveling “close to the ground” – which means not insulating yourself from local culture in a 5-star hotel. Being conscious of your travel budget can mean making sure your money is going into the local economy whenever possible, rather than to big chains. Spending less usually means being able to travel longer, too, which is definitely something we support. Okay, and sometimes we’re just cheapskates. This week on Bootsnall, we’re talking about different aspects of budget travel – including different ways you can use Couchsurfing as more than just a free place to stay, and how you can travel around the world for as little as $14 per day! We’ll even explore the idea that budget travel isn’t always the best kind of travel. Week 8 of the Indie Travel Challenge 2012 is all about budget travel. This should be a topic that everyone can talk about from some angle – because no matter what kind of trip you take or where you go, there’s a budget involved. Either you struggle with saving money for travel, or you’ve mastered […]
Island Travel: This Week on BootsnAll
Island Travel: This Week on BootsnAll When we think of islands, very often we think of the quintessential picture-perfect tropical island: white sand beach, swaying palm trees, and crystal-clear water gently lapping at the shore. But there are a staggering number of islands on this planet. They come in sizes large and small, busy and modern or nearly undiscovered, in varying climates and topographies. This week on BootsnAll, we’re exploring some of the diversity of islands around the world, including the islands of Finland and the coastal towns and islands of Croatia. Week 7 of the Indie Travel Challenge 2012 is all about island traveling, too. In the past, we’ve featured plenty of island-related articles here on BootsnAll – there’s no shortage of island lovers out there, or (it seems) island topics to discuss. We’ve learned about islands that are slowly on their way to disappearing, American islands you’ve probably never heard of, hopping around the world island-style, how to pick which Italian island or Virgin island is right for your vacation, and we’ve even asked why the word “paradise” seems synonymous with beaches for so many people. What do you think makes islands so appealing from an indie traveler’s standpoint? Do you have a favorite island to which you escape – physically or mentally – when you need a break from the real world? When you […]
Travels in Asia: This Week on BootsnAll
Travels in Asia: This Week on BootsnAll It’s the worlds most populous continent and covers 30% of the world’s land area. Yet fewer than 20% of American leisure travelers visit Asia each year. Surely the high cost and longer travel time keeps some people away, but a trip over the Pacific is well worth the time, and depending on where you go, you may find it significantly cheaper to visit Asia than Europe. And with the incredible diversity found on the continent, you can take your pick from modern cities, beaches, mountains, deserts, small villages, and lush jungles, or go in search of history, art, fashion, or food. This week, we’re learning more about destinations in Asia. We’ll start with a look at why Burma may be the next big backpacker spot in Southeast Asia, and then find out the many reasons to visit Mongolia. And we’ll make the case for Asia as the best destination for backpackers, beating out Europe and South America. Week five of the Indie Travel Challenge 2012 is also about traveling in Asia. From the ancient cities of China to the vast open countryside of Mongolia, from the crowded streets of Bangkok to remote islands in Indonesia, and from the modern metropolis of Tokyo to the rice paddies of Laos, the countries and cities of Asia come in every variety imaginable. And just as […]