best travel books Asia Europe America Africa
The best travel books money can buy
From cult hits to contemporary classics spanning Italy to India and Mexico to Madagascar, here are the best books that inspire us to travel. It can be a book that made you think “I have to go there”.  It can be a book that was passed from traveller to traveller in the beach-side oasis where you misspent your backpacker years. It can be a book that paints such a vivid picture of a place that it left you fascinated, even if that picture wasn’t the most flattering, in fact it could be downright scary, as in books about war.   It doesn’t have to be high culture or even beautifully written, as long as it piques your curiosity or lets you travel to and a time and place by proxy.   These are the 52 best travel books that have made us, the world, travel (organised by continent, but in no particular order). Australia and Asia... 1. The God of Small Things (India) by Arundhati Roy A New Age novel (even though penned back in 1996) that traverses the childhood of fraternal twins governed by ‘love laws’, which paints a mystical if not always pleasurable picture of the culture of Kerala in India’s south. 2. Shantaram (India) by Gregory David Roberts A Boy’s Own adventure for escaped criminals that spans the light but far more often darker side of Mumbai society as seen from a somewhat desperate outsider. A big, thick epic. 3. Eat, Pray, Love (Bali, India, Italy) by Elizabeth Gilbert The post-divorce memoirs that convinced a wave of woman to pack up and go on that trip of a lifetime. Does Elizabeth find herself? One way to find out… 4. The Beach (Thailand) by Alex Garland It was written too late to be responsible for Thailand’s backpacker inundation, but this dark Lord of the Flies-style adventure is fodder for those who prefer their travel intense, exotic and adventurous. Of course, it’s way better than the movie! 5. Down Under (Australia) by Bill Bryson Few outsiders have captured the quirks, good and bad, of ‘Straya’s culture like American Bill Bryson. It delightfully brings Aussie clichés to life and is still as laugh-out-loud as it was in 2000. 6. Tracks: A Woman's Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback, by Robyn Davidson What drives one woman to walk across Australia through desert is beyond us, but what a feat. A great Australian story about a strong and independent woman. 7. Stark (Australia) by Ben Elton English comedic legend Elton’s first book is set mainly in Australia, in a dystopian near-future in a fictional town but for many an Englishman and woman, it’s a reference point for the Western Australian outback. 8. The Snow Leopard (Tibet) by Peter Matthiessen A beautiful account of naturalist George Schaller’s two-month quest to find the beautiful snow leopard in the Tibetan Himalayas. Mee-oww! 9. Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster (Mt Everest) by Jon Krakauer For those fascinated in the why-the-hells of climbing Mt Everest, no other single account will bring into focus the alluring beauty and incomparable perils of the biggest of them all. Spoiler alert: lots of people die. 10. Angry White Pyjamas: An Oxford Poet Trains with Tokyo Riot Police (Japan) by Robert Twigger One man's journey into the heart of Japanese culture, its ancient traditions and the way of karate, which may see you signing up for a class or two. 11. Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China (China) by Jung Chang A delicately woven novel that charts the triumphs but more often trials of three generations of ‘Daughters of China’, spanning pre- to post-Cultural Revolution. Box of Kleenex at the ready. 12. The Carpet Wars: From Kabul to Baghdad: A Ten-Year Journey Along Ancient Trade Routes by Christopher Kremmer Follow journalist Kremmer’s rug odyssey along the trading routes that carried the precious commodity through less-travelled countries, from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Iran and Iraq and the other ’stans. 13. The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story (North Korea) by Hyeonseo Lee If you don’t know much about North Korea and want to know more, this a great read about a defector who escaped to China and eventually on to South Korea. It’s mind-blowing how different North is to the South (and the West). 14. The Luminaries (New Zealand) by Eleanor Catton The 2013 Man Booker Prize-winner, set on the goldfields of the South Island’s west coast in the 19th century, crosses crime, fantasy and sci-fi deftly. At 832 pages, it’s definitely a beach-holiday or long-bus-trip read.   Europe... 15. Under the Tuscan Sun (Italy) by Frances Mayes Another one of those books (memoirs) that launched a thousand holidays and stoked dreams to up roots, move to a rustic villa and indulge in all the fruits of the Italian countryside (recipes included). We fell for it. 16. Venice (Italy) by Jan Morris Morris really pulls apart the culture of the most famous stop on the European grand tour with mid-20th century humour and irony, providing an intense and personal portrait of a sometimes tourist-swamped city. 17. Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels (Naples, Italy) This four-part coming-of-age series doesn’t always paint Naples (near Pompeii) in a great light but it constructs such a vivid picture of the city that you’ll want to pencil it in for your next Italian tour to get off ‘the trail’ and soak in its authentic southern spirit. 18. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (Greece) by Louis de Bernières The brutality of the Second World War plays out through the eyes of a variety of quixotic characters on the Greek island of Cephalonia. A wonderfully open-minded portrayal of war that really takes you to another place and another time. 19. Lord of the Rings (England) by J. R. R. Tolkien Yes, we know Middle Earth is not real and, if it were, most people would assume it to be New Zealand’s South Island. But various English landscapes around Tolkien’s home, Birmingham, and Black Country are said to have informed his vision for perhaps the most known of all fantasy settings. Good enough reason for a road trip next time you’re in the UK. 20. Fever Pitch (London) by Nick Hornby The autobiographical and energetic book unpicks a culture fundamental to not just London but the entire UK: the culture of football. It traces the journey of an Arsenal super-fan from his earliest memories. 21. Remains of the Day (UK) by Kazuo Ishiguro This Man Booker Prize-winner (1989) is replete with subtle themes of class, loyalty and social norms that play out through the reflections of a butler. Inextricably English. 22. The Bronze Horseman (Russia), by Paullina Simons Warning: romance. Based in Russia during the Siege of Leningrad, this book is horrifying but intriguing. Even during the depths of the Second World War, love conquers all. 23. War and Peace (Russia) by Leo Tolstoy If there’s ever going to be a time and place to read all 1225 pages of Tolstoy’s magnum opus, then two weeks on the balcony of your over-water bungalow should be it (or better still, a stint on the Trans-Siberian Railway). Forklift it down from the bookshelf now (and tell us all about it). 24. For Whom the Bell Tolls / Death in the Afternoon (Spain) by Ernest Hemingway Some say these are Ernie’s greatest works. The subjects are brutal – a Spanish civil war and bull fighting – but the detail-focused and personal books dig deep into Spanish culture. 25. The Diary of a Young Girl (the Netherlands) by Anne Frank One of the most famous tales of wartime persecution seen through the untainted eyes of the young girl who was immortalised after her tragic death. Even more tragically enlightening after a visit to ‘the house’ in Amsterdam. 26. Hot Milk (Spain) by Deborah Levy The plot (mother and daughter go to Spain looking for a medical cure) doesn’t sound all that alluring, but Hot Milk turns out to be a hypnotic portrayal of life between desert and ocean on the Almería coast. 27. The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (Sweden) by Jonas Jonasson The elongated title of this Swedish book only hints at the adventures of Allan Karlsson as the centenarian travels as far as his cash will get him away from the retirement home. 28. The Rebus Series (Scotland) by Ian Rankin The Rebus Series is not your Highlands and lochs Scotland, but as modern crime fiction of a time and place it doesn’t get much more addictive and alluring than this. 29. Everything is Illuminated (Ukraine) by Jonathan Safran Foer Alex is on a quest to find the women who saved his grandpa from the Nazis, which takes him on a journey filled with magical realism that skips from the present day to snapshots of rural Ukraine from long ago.     Africa and the Middle East... 30. Gorillas in the Mist (Rwanda) by Dian Fossey A true story written by Fossey about her incredible connection with, and efforts to save the mountain gorillas of Rwanda, where she lived and worked from ’60s until her murder in 1985. Part-biography, part-field study, the book (and subsequent film) opened the world’s eyes to the fantastic beasts’ majesty and plight. 31. The Kite Runner (Afghanistan) by Khaled Hosseini Following an improbable friendship between a privileged boy and his father’s servant’s son, The Kite Runner begins during the Russian invasions of the country and winds through 30 years of twist, turns, tragedies and triumphs. 32. Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town by Paul Theroux Few grand journeys stir the traveller’s soul like the trans-Africa: Cairo to Cape Town. Here irascible and enlightening Paul Theroux conveys every bump, danger and beauty of his by-any-means-possible odyssey. A true modern(ish) adventurer’s tale. 33. Long Walk to Freedom (South Africa) by Nelson Mandela Mandela’s biography documents the darkest epoch in South Africa’s history but also shows – more than any book, through Mandela’s strength and others’ – why modern South Africa is the way it is. 34. The Power of One (South Africa) by Bryce Courtenay Hard to put down, thanks to the relationship between Peekay and Doc, who come together from opposing sides of apartheid. Two warnings: you may fall in love with Peekay, and prepare to shed a tear. 35. Hideous Kinky (Morocco) by Esther Freud Sigmund Freud’s great-granddaughter Esther recalls her unconventional upbringing (later made into a film starring Kate Winslet). With energy and child-like wonder, she sets it apart from other depictions of Morocco. 36. Madagascar: The Eighth Continent by Peter Tyson Even if you have no plans to venture to the country, this is a fascinating look at the unique natural and anthropological history of Madagascar, including its legendary elephant bird, the biggest ever to have lived, and the frantic attempt to safeguard its spectacular reptile population. 37. Purple Hibiscus (Nigeria) by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Many start with legendary novelist Chinua Achebe for a raw and authentic taste of West Africa, but Adichie represents the new guard. Her rich novel paints a vivid picture of politics and everyday life in Nigeria. 38. O Jerusalem! (Israel/Palestine) by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins A gripping account of the chaos around the creation of Israel in 1948, which may help give context to the exasperating politics that still play out in this part the Middle East. 39. The Koran One of the most read books in the world and a gateway to the culture of so many amazing travel destinations. There are English translations available, of course, for those who don’t know or want to learn Arabic.     The Americas... 40. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (USA) by Robert M Pirsig Not what it first seems; a father-son road trip that takes you out into the wide open spaces of the USA and then the small corners of your mind with a lesson or two in philosophy thrown in . 41. The Motorcycle Diaries (South America) by Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara The memoirs of Ernesto, which trace his journey through South America that paved the way for him to be become one of the 20th century’s coolest revolutionaries: ‘Che’. 42. The Shipping News (Newfoundland, Canada) by Annie Proulx Proulx introduces you to fabulously quirky characters and paints a stark yet beautiful portrait of Canada’s quirkiest province, windswept Newfoundland. 43. Travels with Charley (USA) by John Steinbeck Steinbeck surveys America is his pickup truck ‘Rocinante’ accompanied by Charley (his French poodle). A bible of open-road restlessness! 44. Tales of the City (San Francisco) by Armistead Maupin A fascinating, voyeuristic view into the world of San Franciscan socialites and their alternative worldviews and sub cultures, which marked the birth of a progressive USA in the late '70s. 45. The Secret Life of Bees (South Carolina) by Sue Monk Kidd A young white girl is taken in by three black sisters after her mum dies in 1960s America. An interesting take on not just civil rights but also self-acceptance and faith. 46. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, by Hunter S. Thompson Think your big trip to Vegas was wild? Gonzo journalism godfather, Hunter S., takes it to a whole other drug-fuelled level that has shocked and intrigued in equal measures. 47. Into the Wild (Alaska) by Jon Krakauer (Spoiler alert) Not an ending you’ll want to aspire to, but the story of Chris McCandless’s minimalist wanderings around the USA has beguiled travellers for the past twenty years. A frustrating breath of fresh air. 48. On the Road (USA) by Jack Kerouac A counterculture classic, head of the ‘beat generation’ Kerouac was responsible for a generation of people who chose the road over the office. 49. Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo (Mexico) by Hayden Herrera All you need to know about Mexico’s uncompromising first woman of surrealism, who through her art and actions became a revered figure in Central America (particularly amongst feminist and LGBTIQ communities). 50. The Old Man and the Sea (Cuba) by Ernest Hemingway Of course, Hemingway was going to be on the list at least twice, but this novella, about a luckless old Cuban fisherman, is arguably his best, contributing to his Nobel Prize for Literature (1954). 51. My Invented Country: A Nostalgic Journey Through Chile by Isabel Allende The successful novelist strays into the realm of non-fiction for her intensely personal portrayal of middle class Chilean life before Pinochet’s coup forced her to migrate. 52. Marching Powder by Rusty Young Not exactly Pulitzer Prize-winning writing, but a seriously gripping (true) tale of an English drug smuggler after he lands inside Bolivia’s infamous San Pedro prison. You can visit the prison to this day.   What about [insert your favourite book here]? Got a great travel book that you think deserves to make the list? Have your say below…
Santorini island, Greece
Cruising; where in the world can you cruise
There’s a WORLD of exploration to be had when ocean cruising, and once you’ve settled into your cabin the old cliché that ‘you only have to unpack once!’ rings gloriously true.
Google Home Hub.
Merge with the machine: great reasons NOT to try a ‘digital detox’
Technology is assisting us when we travel in new and subtle ways – it’s time to celebrate its place in our lives and shun the digital detox, says Dan Down. Turn off your noise-cancelling headphones, forget about an episode of something on Netflix, sit back in your economy class seat and appreciate the shrill screams of an irate baby.   Don’t take a photo of a brilliant outback sunset; give your non-existent photographic memory a dust off and try and relive it later, describing it to your friends at the pub. They’ll really appreciate it.   Savour your orange juice without checking the morning papers on your tablet, you have no reason to stay informed with what’s going on in the world after all. Ignorance is bliss.   I could go on, but you see where I’m going; if you’re serious about one of these digital-detox breaks – the leave-your-phone-at-the-door-before-having-your-internal-energy-restored-by-a-didgeridoo-blasting-in-your-eardrum kind of thing – then there shouldn’t be any fence-sitting; you should put your money where your mouth is and be thrust into the unforgiving wilderness damn near naked. I bet you’ll soon be hankering after a screen to tap with a sweaty, shaking finger.   Technology is a wonderful thing, smartphones are to us what fire was to Neanderthals, and they didn’t need to take time off from their fires to go cold and hungry did they? And you know what – I enjoy skimming through the headlines before I go to sleep; I simply turn on my phone’s blue-light filter to make reading comfortable and I then ruminate about the stories I’ve scanned as I drift off. The world is, after all, the most interesting book you can read, the internet constantly updating the narrative with unpredictable twists and turns that encompass the entire breadth of human experience. It’s no wonder we’re hooked; it’s bloody brilliant!   There’s no doubt that all of this can get a little much – just look at everyone glued to their phones on your morning commute on the train – but the big tech firms have addressed this with ‘digital wellbeing’ options built into a phone’s settings, which can limit your data use and make you aware of the fact you’ve spent just 10 per cent of your day in the ‘real’ world. Guilty.   But when we’re on the road travelling, the more technology you can get your hands on the better. Forget about obtrusive selfie sticks, mobile technology has moved from being a barrier between us and the real world, one that you literally keep at arm’s length, to becoming a useful link with our surrounding environment when we’re on the road. [caption id="attachment_45530" align="alignnone" width="600"] The Google Pixel 3, the tool designed to pull you out of a travel jam - among other things.[/caption] Going beyond the likes of Apple’s and Google’s respective Maps apps (how could you even think of setting foot outside your door without access to them), take the latest hardware offerings from Google as an example. The search giant’s new Pixel 3 smartphone is infused with AI trickery to bring out the most from your experiences. Point its camera at, say, a table and chairs that you covet at a designer hotel and the phone’s powerful AI (cloud-based) brain can identify the exact product, which you can then order online to have delivered to your home, instating the hotel’s aesthetic when you return from your travels. The camera can do this with anything, so if you happen to bump into Alexa Chung you can scan her clothes (probably ask permission) and just as easily order them online.   And it’s not just furniture and clothes that Google thinks you’re interested in, the camera will also read album cover sleeve art so you can order music, and translate anything from street signs and menus to lend a hand when you’re perusing the bewildering choice of places to dine down some Tokyo side street. If you’re on safari it will identify animals and even plant species quicker than your ranger can thumb through the index of a field guide.   And the phone slots seamlessly into the wider Google Home network, with your travel photography uploaded automatically to Google’s Photos app (with which you have unlimited storage) to then appear on the Home Hub smart speaker. This doubles as a digital photo frame: images will be displayed on the Home Hub’s ambient-light adjusted (read unobtrusive), gorgeous little photo screen for when you get home. [caption id="attachment_45529" align="alignnone" width="600"] Part of the Google Home Hub in action.[/caption] So instead of a technology-free wellness retreat – why not stay in a hi-tech boutique hotel for weekend city break – try Canberra’s Little National or QT Sydney - and embrace what’s under the hood of your phone to enhance your trip in new and subtle ways.   But of course, you don’t want all of this marvelous technological wizardry, why would you? Go and sit under a tree, close your eyes, still your mind, and become one with the planet. But I hate to remind you that there’s an app for that too. What do you think? Is it time to get rid of the digital-detox now that phones keep your eyes happy with less blue light and even restrict access to data towards bed time? Please let me know in the comments below if you agree or disagree.
Queenstown Skyline Gondola and Restaurant, Queenstown, New Zealand.
These are the world’s 10 most-booked food experiences
If you’re looking to get your gourmand on, it’s well worth checking out this list, because we know what the most-book food experiences of 2018 were… in the entire world. If you’re a food enthusiast and a wine fan, no doubt you make a decent amount of your travel decisions with food and wine in mind, then there’s a whopping great chance you’ll be interested to know which food experiences were the most-booked around the globe through TripAdvisor Experiences in 2018.   Am I right?   From Portugese lunches on a river cruise, to robot cabaret shows in Tokyo, it seems travellers are as equally after the delicious as they are the dazzling. The great news is, no matter where your travels take you, you’re probably not too far away from one of these experiences – the advice would just be to book in sooner rather than later – or it seems like you could just miss out.   Here they are… 10. Savannah Culinary and Cultural Walking Tour, Savannah, USA [caption id="attachment_45102" align="alignnone" width="600"] Experience Southern delights with a Savannah Culinary and Cultural Walking Tour, Savannah, USA.[/caption]   Join a group of 13 fellow travellers as you eat your way through Savannah on a tour that’s equal part history and culinary. Okay, slightly more food-focused. You’ll visit several restaurants and food stores specialising in authentic Southern classics and sampling them as you go. After the tour, the map of your food route will allow you to go back and re-visit the spots you found the most delicious.   Find more info and book here. 9. Queenstown Skyline Gondola and Restaurant, Queenstown, New Zealand Hop aboard the Queenstown gondola and head straight for the skyline restaurant where you’ll enjoy either a lunch of evening meal, while taking in the views of Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables range. Settle in to Bob’s Peakat Skyline for four amazing courses made up of local specialities.   Find more info and book here. 8. Madrid Tapas and Wine Tasting Tour, Madrid, Spain Ola! This tour will take you on a journey through Madrid’s culture with delicious tapas and wine. Our personal favourite way to tour. Limited to an intimate group of 12, you’ll explore Spanish specialties like chickpea stew, salted cod and other obscure local ingredients. The best bit? Unlike other tapas tours, the food and wine are included!   Find more info and book here. 7. Sydney Tower Restaurant Buffet, Sydney, Australia Woo hoo! One of our own made the list – how fabulous! Well how could it not? With 360-degree views of the city, Sydney Tower’s revolving restaurant’s delicious buffet lunch and dinner is a bucket list experience. We personally love how the view outside your window has changed by the time you get to dessert.   Find more info and book here. 6. Rome Food Tour by Sunset around Prati District, Rome, Italy [caption id="attachment_45101" align="alignnone" width="600"] Take part in a Rome Food Tour by Sunset around Prati District, Rome, Italy.[/caption] This tour will take you off the main streets and guide you to the eateries favoured by Roman locals. The food-and-walking tour will take you through the Prati neighbourhood, where you’ll sample up to 20 local delicacies at sunset. A group of just 13 people calls for a supremely intimate experience.   Find more info and book here. 5. New Orleans Food Walking Tour of the French Quarter, New Orleans, USA Taste and sip your way through the Big Easy on a food tour of ‘New Awlin’s’ French Quarter. During the tour you’ll stop in to sample some of the city’s most distinctive foods and explore with a local guide, who’ll gift you with a behind-the-scenes look into local kitchens. You’ll also get tips on where to eat, drink and sightsee – just make sure you bring an appetite for everything from beignets to mouth-watering brisket.   Find more info and book here. 4. Tokyo Robot Evening Cabaret Show, Tokyo, Japan [caption id="attachment_45103" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Enjoy an evening with a dazzling difference at Tokyo Robot Evening Cabaret Show, Tokyo, Japan.[/caption] Wacky is an understatement. If you like your dinner with a difference, then a cabaret show at Robot Restaurant will certainly do it for you. The restaurant is one of Tokyo’s most popular performance venues, often selling out weeks in advance. It features real robots, kaleidoscopic costumes and high-octane dancing. Hold on to your hat for this one.   Find more info and book here. 3. Pizza and Gelato Cooking Class in a Tuscan Farmhouse from Florence, Florence, Italy [caption id="attachment_45100" align="alignnone" width="550"] Enjoy a culinary cooking class in a Tuscan Farmhouse from Florence, Florence, Italy[/caption] If it’s as much about how to make the food as it is about eating it, then this is the foodie experience for you. During, you’ll delve deep into Florence’s culinary scene with a remote Tuscan Farmhouse as your setting. You’ll master the basics of Italian pizza and gelato, but the highlight without a doubt is eating the fruit of your labours – quite literally – if you’re talking about the gelato.   Find more info and book here. 2. Montserrat Tour from Barcelona, including lunch and wine tasting in Oller des Mas, Barcelona, Spain Take a day trip from Barcelona to experience a Catalan lunch and wine and cheese tasting session at Oller del Mas; a 10th-century castle set in a 1,000-acre estate. Enjoy a combination of tours and free time at the monastery and basilica of Montserrat before taking to the vineyard’s cellars for a tipple or two.   Find more info and book here. 1. Douro Valley Small-Group Tour with Wine Tasting, Portugese Lunch and Optional River Cruise, Porto, Portugal The UNESCO-listed Douro Valley is famous for its port wine, but due to the sheer number of wineries in the region, exploring without a guide well versed in vino can be more than a little overwhelming. This tour ensures you’ll experience the very best the Douro Valley has to offer, dining on local cuisine at a celebrated villa and tasting award-winning wine at two estates. To see it all from the water, there’s the option to upgrade to a cruise by traditional Rabelo boat.   Find more info and book here.
James Thompson Food Feels
The best non-travel Instagram accounts to inspire you to see the world
There are countless travel accounts on Instagram. But there are other ways to see the world through Instagram’s lens. Here, six accounts that will take you on a visual world tour of a different kind.   How do you while away the hours on Instagram? For me, it’s a haphazardly curated feed of beautiful destinations, coveted fashion, mouth-watering food and Betoota Advocate LOLs. I want to go there, wear this, eat that. Sure, I’m envious, but I try to keep the green-eyed monster at bay by striking a content balance. Exotic locations, oui. Nothing but exotic locations, non. To that end, here are six accounts that will nourish your wanderlust while injecting some less traditional imagery into your feed. Best for people-watching in New York City: @humansofny   View this post on Instagram   “I wasn’t planning on dressing up as a clown. I’d been drinking all night in Poughkeepsie and I somehow ended up at the train station, so I decided to take the 4 AM train into the city. I had $200 in my pocket from some gutter cleaning work. I immediately spent the first $60 on brunch and Bloody Marys. Then I walked by Party City and I had the idea to get a clown wig. But then I noticed the suspenders, and the top, and the bow tie, and some balloons. I bought a red nose too but I’m not sure what happened to it. I left the store with about $100, which was enough to get some shoes and a half pint of Seagram’s. I ended the day with $10 but that got lost when I passed out in Times Square. Now I'm trying to figure out how to get home. I need to stop drinking.” A post shared by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on Aug 9, 2018 at 10:52am PDT Humans of New York has over eight million followers. I mean, you’re probably one of them. This is a hugely popular account. @humansofny started life as Brandon Stanton’s photography project in 2010 and, although it has evolved since, it remains true to its original mission: to provide a glimpse into the lives of everyday New Yorkers.   While the account still predominantly features locals – it would be weird otherwise, right? – it now goes on tour, too, giving followers an insight into lives around the globe.  Best for global floor appreciation: @ihavethisthingforfloors   View this post on Instagram   #ihavethisthingforfloors #ihavethisthingwithfloors #fromwhereistand #tiles #floors #floored #ceramics #shoes #beauty #bnw #love #awesome #tassles #canvas #slippers #hawanas #blue #love #feet #feetmefloor #stencil #painted#paint #art #fortheloveof #paints @cimkedi #pattern #like4like #follow A post shared by I have this thing for floors. (@ihavethisthingforfloors) on Aug 8, 2017 at 4:55am PDT More than four million Instagram posts have been tagged #lookup, a nod to the notion that we should pull our eyes away from our phone and enjoy what’s around us. (Hashtag irony.) But, as this account proves, we should be doing more looking down as well. @ihavethisthingwithfloors is the result of three friends realising they all, err, had this thing with floors.   They curate the account from Amsterdam, but share ‘selfeets’ (selfie meets feet, geddit?) from all over the world. Each features an Instagram-worthy floor – think beautifully patterned tiles, confetti covered dance floors, colourful carpets – underneath a pair of feet. Bonus points for cute shoes. Best for perving on the world's best caffeine containers: @coffeecupsoftheworld   View this post on Instagram   Magnolia coffee house, Prairie Grove, Arkansas. @magnoliacoffeehouse Submission @deidremays #coffeecupsoftheworld A post shared by Coffee Cups of the World (@coffeecupsoftheworld) on May 21, 2018 at 5:05am PDT If you’ve never posted a photo of your cool takeaway coffee cup, are you even on Instagram? Kiwi photographer Henry Hargreaves has taken the trend a step further, curating an account dedicated to, as the handle would suggest, @coffeecupsoftheworld.   The account started with Hargreaves’ personal assortment of cups collected during his travels, but has since added submissions into the mix. The result is a striking visual ode to cafes that have turned a ubiquitous item into a work of art. Best 'non-street-style' street style account: @aks   View this post on Instagram   10 PHOTOS shot during @parisfashionweek SS19 in Paris, France 🇫🇷 for @wmag + @lofficielparis • SEE MORE on • #PFW #SS19 #Paris #AKS #AdamKatzSinding #NoFreePhotos A post shared by Adam Katz Sinding (@aks) on Oct 5, 2018 at 10:59am PDT The first thing you should probably know is @AKS “is not a f**king street style blog.” Adam Katz Sinding is a fashion week documentarian. The American born, Copenhagen-based photojournalist travels 300-plus days of the year, capturing the world’s biggest fashion events from both backstage and the street.   The disclaimer is his. He says street style is a lie he wants no part of. In contrast, Katz Sinding’s images are an honest snapshot of style in some of the world’s most fashionable cities, and a touristy #ASKforeheadselfie series for good measure. Best coverage of doorways around the world: @thedoorproject   View this post on Instagram   Barcelona, Spain A post shared by Doors Worldwide (@thedoorproject) on Jun 2, 2015 at 9:56am PDT “Behind every door is a story,” says Caryn Cullinan, the woman behind The Door Project. That might be true, but @thedoorproject is more about the door itself with colourful, ornate and quirky examples from around the world captured via the Instagram account. The project has its roots in a 2015 Kickstarter campaign, which aimed to raise enough money for Cullinan to publish a book. She did that, but hasn’t stopped the door hunt, which she documents on Instagram.   While her captions include little more than each door’s location, the absence of the aforementioned ‘story’ does allow you to imagine your own. Best account to simultaneously make you drool and want to book flights to wherever that pizza is: @food_feels   View this post on Instagram   I’ll have all of the above ✔️ No trip to Macao is complete without a stop to Lord Stow - I had so many recommendations to try their famous egg tarts - similar to Pastel de natas but instead using English custard. I’d recommend visiting their original store in in Coloane where they’ve been baking these since 1989.. @macaouk - #Macao #Ad A post shared by Food Feels (@food_feels) on Sep 24, 2018 at 4:53am PDT Ahh, there’s a small pizza, I mean, problem. Sorry. I have been scrolling through James Thompson’s @food_feels account to get some pizza, I mean, inspiration (sorry!) for this pizza, oh God, I mean, piece. And now, as you might have guessed, I am a little pizza. ARGH! I’m distracted. I am a little DIS.TRAC.TED.   Thompson, an Aussie based in London, is (at time of writing) in Italy. Prior to Italy, he was in France. Before France, he was in Denmark. Previous to Denmark, he was in Portugal. Thompson’s accompanying #foodie photos are delicious. Let him whisk you away on a culinary adventure.
Designer Philippe Starck is getting into the boutique-budget market with the Mama Shelter hotel in Paris.
Chic boutique hotels on a budget
Like airlines, low-cost hotels are changing the way we travel. Here's how to stretch your travel dollar without killing the buzz of a hip stay. When rifling through accommodation options in big cities, choosing budget hotels can be a miserable exercise in bullet-dodging. Tune Hotels It’s a netherworld of threadbare towels, mould-dashed showers in the hallway, sweaty box rooms more suited to prison-based fever dreams, and mattresses with the weight-bearing capabilities of a soggy cardboard box left outside in a thunderstorm. It doesn’t take many visits to the curiously interchangeable budget hotels in London’s King’s Cross area, for example, to make the Tune Hotels concept sound relatively attractive.   In short, base rates are low, while you pay for any add-ons – be it air-con, wi-fi, in-room safes, a TV or towels and toiletries. That’s not quite as annoying as it may sound. With rooms in London starting at $60, I don’t mind paying an extra $5 a day for 24-hour web access and $2.50 for towels and toiletries. (I’d not use the safe or TV anyway.) The rooms are undeniably small, but crucially, they’re furnished to a high standard with comfortable beds, power showers and an overall sense of clean, smart slickness.   CEO, Mark Lankester, reckons that low-cost airlines have conditioned travellers to recognise that spending less doesn’t have to equate to poor quality. And paying extra for some amenities is a matter of choice.   But he also points out a new breed of traveller – known in marketing speak as the ‘Millennial’. “They’re voracious travellers and world citizens,” says Lankester. “For them, the size of the room is less important as long as it’s affordably priced, comfortable and – importantly – has great internet connectivity.”   Over the last decade, a handful of other design-focused budget chains have cropped up – all pushing a variation on the quality, cool and affordable shtick. Motel One Motel One – all egg chairs, trendy lamps, iPads and rates from $73 a night – is expanding out from its German base and now has five UK properties, including Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Manchester and Newcastle. Citizen M and Chic&Basic The artier, minimalist Chic&Basic has invaded Amsterdam from its Spanish hub, while Citizen M has expanded into New York, Boston and Seattle after tagging in Glasgow, Paris, London and Copenhagen to its Dutch properties. The latter has buzzy common areas and canteen-style self-service restaurants to complement pod-style rooms where all electronics – mood lighting, electronic blinds, the works – are controlled from a bedside screen.   Each brand has its quirks, but in common is the assumption that guests will trade space and supposedly outdated services for affordability, connectivity and centrality.   Natasha McLaughlin, Land Product Manager for STA Travel, says these hotels aren’t just appealing to budget travellers – guests are being pinched from mid-range chains. “The likes of Novotel and Holiday Inn have their appeal as they are internationally consistent. However, everyone wants something boutique, stylish, and something a bit special, so I can understand why these hotel styles are trending.” Moxy The big boys are now getting in on the act – Marriott has joined forces with IKEA for the Moxy chain, which first opened its doors in Milan in 2014, and has since expanded across 14 European countries, the UK, Japan, Indonesia and across the USA. Mama Shelter Even legendary luxury designer Philippe Starck is dipping his toes in, collaborating on Mama Shelter, which kicked off in Paris in 2008. The brand has since expanded to other French cities,  Belgrade, Prague, and Los Angeles. GM and co-owner, Jeremie Trigano, uses terms such as “urban kibbutz” and “sensual refuge” to describe the hotels. All come with free movies, an overload of in-room technology and high-end bedding. But rates start at $73.   With all of these up-and-coming chains, however, suitability depends on mentality. For wallet-conscious solo travellers and those who use hotels as a necessary base for exploring the city, they’re ideal. For couples, the rooms can be a squash if spending more time in them beyond sleeping and getting changed. Full-on city break or non-expense account business overnighter? Yes. Romantic weekend? No.   But getting a cheap big city room no longer needs to be a grim game of Russian roulette.
Today Show cruise deals: Best domestic and International offers
With 1.4 million Aussies choosing to cruise last year, it’s no wonder there’s a bounty of phenomenal deals on incredible vessels to choose from. Whether you’re keen for a European adventure, or have exploring the Kimberleys on your bucket list – there’s a cruise, and a suitable discount – to suit.
10 off-the-beaten-track destinations for your bucket list
If you love to travel, but just not like everyone else, then heading off the beaten track sounds like just your thing... From the diverse countries of Central Asia to the coffee regions of Colombia, and from the wildlife of Borneo to the deserts of Jordan, a lowdown on the places to uncover for yourself. 1. See the 'Stans' “Travellers are looking for new, less-explored, brag-worthy destinations,” says Emma Prineas, acting head of marketing at Wendy Wu Tours, and the ‘Stans’ of Central Asia – which stretch from the Caspian Sea in the west to China in the east and Russia in the north – fit the bill.   Visiting Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan [Ark Fortress, Bukhara, pictured] allows travellers the opportunity to “cover five distinctive destinations in as little as three weeks,” says Prineas. “The all-encompassing landscapes that include vast deserts, rolling grasslands, verdant valleys and snow-capped mountains form a stunning setting to the five ex-Soviet republics. Travellers have the chance to camp by a giant burning gas pit in the middle of the desert, wander through ornately tiled mosques, stay in yurt camps by alpine lakes, haggle in colourful bazaars and truly explore another world.”   Alicia Privitera, development co-ordinator in operations at Great Train Journeys agrees that the ‘Stans’ could be the next big thing. “The region is incredibly rich in culture, tradition, amazing cuisine and stunning architecture,” she says. “It is seductive, still mysterious and appeals to independent travellers, but more and more tour operators will start packaging tours – so visit before mass tourism sets in!” [caption id="attachment_36796" align="alignnone" width="667"] Stunning architectural detail of a madrasa tower in Khiva, Uzbekistan.[/caption] 2. Journey into Jordan The Middle East is in the midst of a huge travel comeback. Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Morocco are perfect for those travellers seeking to get off the beaten track, and the comfort and security that a small-group tour can provide is the perfect way to navigate the region. Jordan in particular is seeing a surge in tourism and it’s no wonder – between the archaeological wonders of Petra and the wild expanse of Wadi Rum [pictured], it’s a destination that has something for everyone.   Adrian Piotto, managing director, G Adventures Australia and New Zealand [caption id="attachment_12993" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Petra in Jordan, ranked #9 in our countdown of '100 Ultimate Travel Experiences of a Lifetime'.[/caption] 3. Off track in Patagonia My ultimate travel experience was trekking in Patagonia. Rather than heading to the more standard Torres del Paine, I visited the remote Aysén Region, where you can ride across the Andes and cross from Chile to Argentina. It was an amazing trip! Nothing beats galloping with gauchos on sheepskin saddles that feel like a cosy armchair!   Lucy Jackson Walsh, co-founder and director, Lightfoot Travel [caption id="attachment_17918" align="alignnone" width="1500"] Condors glide effortlessly over the mind-blowing landscape of Torres del Paine.[/caption] 4. Witness Borneo's remarkable wildlife Exploring the Kinabatangan River in Borneo was an incredible experience. Not only are the people friendly and welcoming but the wildlife was abundant. There is nothing like seeing wild pygmy elephants, orang-utans, proboscis monkeys and more while cruising along in a small tin boat.   Crystal Kranz, marketing manager Australia, Cook Islands Tourism Corporation 5. Hike the high Atlas Mountains Go hiking in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco – we drove south from Marrakech for about an hour, past Richard Branson’s opulent hotel Kasbah Tamadot, and hiked up into the Ouirgane Valley. We finished up eating a delicious tagine in our guide’s sister’s house – we’d specifically asked to avoid the touristy areas.   Kate Shilling, executive officer, Ultimate Winery Experiences of Australia 6. Wild luxury in Rwanda Rwanda has some of the best operators going in [to provide world-class wilderness camps and lodges with mountain gorilla experiences] – Wilderness is already there, and Singita is in the process of setting up. They have to control visitor numbers, for the sake of the gorillas; but it’s more possible than ever to have a luxury experience there.   Guy Heywood, COO, Alila Hotels and Resorts   7. Go remote in Madagascar Simply travelling to this island nation off the coast of East Africa could be considered going off the beaten path. Indeed, separated from mainland Africa for millions of years, Madagascar has always been geographically isolated, and it has an abundance of unique endemic animals and plants to show for it – just like Australia.   If you’re travelling this far then you might as well go really remote – I spent two months in a village on the wild west coast helping the marine conservation effort Blue Ventures, which integrates you with the community of Andavadoaka [pictured] – a small village nine hours by 4WD from the nearest town. You can’t get much more remote than that!   Daniel Down, deputy editor, International Traveller 8. The diverse Caucasus I think the Caucasus or Caucasia between the Black and Caspian Seas is going to be the next big destination. The countries in this region include Georgia, Armenia [Tatev Monastery pictured], Azerbaijan and Russia. The landscape is diverse; you’ll see everything from the rough and rugged to pretty townscapes.   Equally diverse and rich are the cultures and endless food options. You will also notice that there are not many Western tourists in this region at all – you may not see one during your entire visit! Florence Pasquier, sales director, Rail Europe 9. Coffee, culture and adventure in Colombia “I’m hearing more and more about Colombia, both Bogotá and Cartagena [pictured right], and am getting more and more curious,” says Guy Heywood, COO of Alila Hotels and Resorts, echoing the thoughts of many travellers. The country has been opening up to tourism over the past decade, and since half a century of civil war came to an end last year, this is set to increase exponentially. But for now, it’s still somewhat under the radar. “Colombia’s vast terrains and passionate people are something people are missing out on,” says Rachel Crowther, whose work as director of creative media, experience for Burberry takes her far and wide. “Go into the coffee region [pictured above] and Palomino in the north. And if you have time and are up for an adventure, the Pacific Coast is untouched and so interesting,” she says.   Robin Esrock, travel book author and co-host of the National Geographic television series World Travels, suggests a different kind of adventure: “Located outside Cartagena, the Volcán de Lodo El Totumo is a large pyramid of mud with a crater containing thick, black goop,” he says. “Locals call it the Volcano of Youth, and say a person who enters the crater can emerge feeling 20 years younger. The mud suspends you as attendants give you a thorough scrub down.”   Once you’ve had your fill of Colombia’s myriad natural treasures, head into town. Bustling capital Bogotá is seeing a new wave of boutique hotels and craft breweries, while the colonial port city of Cartagena still inspires like it did when it fuelled the fiction of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. When here, Crowther loves La Vitrola restaurant: “great for people-watching, and the band that plays every night is so special,” she says. [caption id="attachment_25863" align="alignnone" width="667"] A colourful fruit seller in Cartagena, Colombia.[/caption] 10. Beyond Barcelona Catalonia, my country, is more than just Barcelona. Don’t look for flamenco or bullfighting there (flamenco will be inauthentic and just for tourists, and bullfighting is illegal). Instead you should drive north and head towards Cadaqués, a lovely and very well-preserved fishing village close to France. From there you can travel inland, towards the Pyrenees. In the highlands you’ll find the Aigüestortes National Park, my favourite park in the mountains. And finally, maybe head south, to the Ebro Delta, where you can enjoy amazing rice dishes and the beauty of the huge wetlands natural park.   Jonathan Camí, portrait, landscape and travel photographer   Check out more of the best 100 tips, tricks and hacks from travel insiders by category   Europe | Beaches and islands | Classics | Hacks | Food and wine | No place like home | More for less | Off the beaten track | Asia
100 tips, tricks and hacks from travel insiders – More for less
Want more for your money? Silly question - who doesn't? Our travel experts have served up just the ticket when it comes to reserving more moolah for great food and drinks...
100 tips, tricks and hacks from travel insiders – Food and wine
When it comes to visiting any destination, getting your head around the food and wine secrets is everything... here's what you need to know.