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75 years ago – the night when everything changed

This is one of the longest blog posts I’ve added on 501 Places, and other than a short introduction, I’ll leave the words to my parents. It’s a travel story in the loosest sense of the term, but one which I’m sure none of us would ever wish to undertake. My parents spent their early childhood […]

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The stories behind our souvenirs

I’ve never been one for buying expensive souvenirs from our travels. We travel with backpacks and I tend to be fairly ruthless when it comes to packing; lighter packs make for a more comfortable trip. My wife has no doubt lost count of the number of times I’ve asked “Do you really need to take […]

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Tall travel stories: are they inevitable?

My wife tells me I always exaggerate (she must have told me this at least a million times). While I’m prone to stretching a point on almost any subject, there’s no doubt that my tallest stories come from travel experiences. It’s an undeniable fact that the exact details of incidents that happened to me when […]

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The perils of lying to immigration officials

It’s funny how things turn out sometimes. As this story proves, you should be careful about telling jokes to strangers. Sometimes your most ridiculous fantasies can turn out to be a prophetic glimpse into the future. April 2006. I had just finished business school and, armed with my newly acquired MBA degree, I was taking […]

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Peseta waffles: a nostalgic look at travel before the Euro

In a small box in my living room I have 51 Austrian schillings, 2300 Italian lira, a couple of thousand Yugoslav dinar and a few Danish coins that look like Polo mints (but are probably worth a lot less). There are many other old coins with varied coatings of rust and dirt; one of these […]

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Has the internet taken the fun out of travel?

Is there anything you can’t check on the internet? Research a hotel before you go and you can read hundreds of reviews about it, usually ranging from those singing its praises to others saying that they’d rather have slept in a sewer. Look up an airline and you can get reviews of the size of […]

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Travel collections: what objects do you bring back from your trips?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. If I could be a teenager again, ready to embark on a lifetime of travel, I’d probably do a few things differently second time around. One piece of wisdom I’d offer those about to start their travels would be to experience the joy of creating a collection of stuff. If I […]

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Backpacking danger: what are the risks and how have they changed?

Policemen getting younger, footballers 10 years our junior being described as ageing veterans, our early years forever framed in grainy black and white: all reminders that our lives move on at a relentless pace. In our travels too the passage of time provides clear evidence that the world we explore today is quite different from […]

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Whatever happened to the teenage backpacker?

For my 16th birthday I got a racer (a normal bike with curly handlebars for those not of that age). For my 17th my present was half a second-hand snooker table (I saved up enough to pay for the rest; half a table would have looked ridiculous of course). By the time I was 18 […]

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