Wednesday, 21 May 2008



Don't want to end up like her above? Listen to us!

Okay, here at Tracks we’re all about giving practical advice. But I’m not going to bombard you with tips such as wear sunscreen and drink lots of water. We know you’re not stupid! But I am going to tell you some things I think are essential:

ALWAYS take a roll of black bags with you. They can be used for anything. A DIY raincoat, dress or just to put your dirty underwear in at the end of the weekend.

NEVER believe anyone when they say ‘Herbal Highs’ are harmless because they’re legal. I have seen first hand that they can be just as bad if not worse than their illegal equivalents

ALWAYS take water purifying tablets. Yeah sure I know there’s drinking water there and it must be clean, but I for one am not taking the risk.

NEVER buy any kind of meat on the last day of a festival. I’m not claiming that all vendors will sell you anything, no matter how inedible it is, but there are some. And I should know, having spent the best part of Billy Talent in Download festival last year throwing up what was meant to be a ‘fresh hotdog’.

Laura Elizabeth Johnson * Tracks Culture Editor

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Always read the small print

Ok, so you think you’ve spotted a great travel bargain, you’re all set and desperate to get away and get on that plane, get out of the country and have some fun. Next thing bang… it’s not such a great deal after all and you find yourself getting ripped off with hidden surcharges from the travel industry.

All this holidaying and travelling on a budget is not always easy - some travel companies are worse than others for grilling you of the mollah. To make matters worse, I discovered an article on the Times Travel website, which says more and more tour operators are adding surcharges to their published prices and most are blaming the euro’s strength against the British pound for it.

Operators can demand up to 10% in surcharges of the price of your holiday, as long as they have reserved the right in small print and the first 2% of any price rise is absorbed. So before you dig deep into your pretty empty wallets and get rinsed by the travel industry, I warn all you trackers out there take even more care when planning that oh so important trip of a life time, and another thing…make sure you read the small print!

Jo Grewx
Photo: Caro's Lines

Friday, 16 May 2008

Slow down

This week I discovered the website Slow Planet. It promotes the idea of ‘slow’ travel – making sure that when you’re seeing the world, you’re really seeing it, not just ticking off a to-do list.

Here at Tracks HQ we’re all for this. But for some people it seems to have become something that they do just for the sake of it, hopping from place to place without really seeing it. The ‘gap year’ has become the norm, but maybe we shouldn’t be trying to see the whole world in a single year – but breaking it down into more manageable chunks.

Slow Planet is an example of the backlash against the wham-bam approach, and this week the US held the world’s first ever National Train Day, a ‘slow’ way of travel far superior to the plane (if only it could get you everywhere). Just take the Terminal 5 mess as an example, or this week’s story about a man being forced to sit on a toilet for the duration of a flight.

Hopefully the idea will catch on. Let us know what you think at Tracks online - how do you like to travel?

Ruth x
Tracks Deputy Editor

The Yoo Ess of Ay

Given six weeks to revise for exams and get some invaluable work experience I decided to waste three of them going to America. It's not somewhere I'd normally choose to visit, having already been a couple of times and preferring the wild and untrodden to the fast, cheap and built-up, but since my boyfriend is studying in Cambridge, Massachusetts for a year I don't have much of a say.

I stayed with him on the stunning Harvard campus for three weeks from which I explored Boston and its surrounds, took in the harbour and the Aquarium and saw whales and dolphins in the Atlantic Ocean.

In the evenings we experienced Boston's culture. We went to see Hot Chip at Paradise Rock Club, Indian classical music at the Boston Museum of Fine Art and ate at Top of the Hub, a restaurant at the top of a skyscraper in the middle of Boston, it has amazing panoramic views of the city.

One weekend we took a greyhound bus to New York, and got a bargainous last-minute deal on a 5th Avenue hotel and spent the weekend sight-seeing, shopping and eating. I love Brooklyn's music scene so I was so happy to get the chance to see Kevin Devine at the famous Music Hall of Williamsburg and ate the best pizza of my life in a nearby restaurant.

I was amazed at how much I enjoyed New York, it's bustling and overcrowded, but you really do feel like you're in the place where everything is happening.



Tracks Senior Designer

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Hello to the Trackersphere!
It seems this year the UK is to have a summer - and it has just arrived! Cardiff is looking beautiful with cherry blossom everywhere, and plenty of people eager to strip off adorning the parks, all accompanied by the tinkle of the Ice Cream vans. However, as you might gather from my Tracks profile, at this time of year I'm more interested in the Cornish coast.
This weekend I took advantage of the Bank Holiday (and the weather!) and headed down to St Agnes for some sun and surf. Unfortunately the surf wasn't up to that much, but the sun was lovely and so were the May Day celebrations. Cornwall is interesting in that although it is part of England its customs are separate, ancient and defined, much like Wales's. I witnessed my very first Bolster, a pageant celebration of the start of summer, annually held on the cliffs overlooking St Agnes's Chapel Porth. Look out for the video of this weird and pretty wonderful event next week on Tracks!
While I was down there, too warm in my jeans yet not hot enough for a bikini, I was thinking about the British seaside holiday and how difficult it is to pack for, especially in May. I saw some strange mixtures on the beach - shorts and sandals with a fleece, wellies and jeans with a vest top - all that was missing was a dad with a string vest on and a hanky on his head! I came to the conclusion that, short of packing everything you have and hoping for the best, the only way to solve the problem is to get into your wetsuit and get wet; you can't tell the difference in the sea anyway!

Sarah x

Tracks Art Director

p.s. Check out Tom and Josh; they were very proud of scaling the St Agnes rock!

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

True Lies?

A former travel writer, Thomas Kohnstamm, has written a book called Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?

As travel writers go, he was pretty crap by all accounts. Stealing other people research, getting freebies in exchange for writing good reviews, and sometimes not even bothering to go to the places he was writing about.

He told Australia’s Sunday Herald Sun newspaper: “[Lonely Planet] didn’t pay me enough to go to Colombia. I wrote the book in San Francisco. I got the information from a chick I was dating who was in an intern in the Colombian consulate.”

After all this lying, cheating and stealing, perhaps he will end up in journalist hell. But what would that consist of? 10-hour interviews with Joe Pasquale? Glamour shoots of Maggie Thatcher? A thousand page article on why he is so rubbish..?

Let us know what you think about Kohnstamn and his dubious antics in the name of 'journalism' over on our forum.

Over and out,

Tracks Editor x

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Tracks is back...

Good day to you trackers, or in the interest of our intrepid international readers across the trackersphere; Bonjour, guten tag, buen giorno, bon anniversaire und wie komme ich die besten am bahnhof.

It’s been a wee while since we paid a visit to our little piece of the blogosphere. Where have we been? You might well ask. Well we’ve been spending our Easter break getting out and doing work experience at all manner of other magazines, from The Guardian Guide to I-DJ, to Grand Designs to The Sunday Times Travel and even Seafood International. Why? Well we want to make Tracks the best shoestring travel magazine it can be, so we’ve been collecting all the experience, ideas and contacts we can get so we can pump them into Tracks and make it even better than it is already. “Is that possible?” We here you cry. Well it’s going to be difficult, but in true Tracks style, we’ll give it our best shot.

But enough about us. We want to know about your Easter escapades. Whether you went snowboarding in the Alps, or egg-hunting in Skegness, or simply discovered an awesome new mountain bike trail near where you live. We’d love to know about your experiences, bad or good, so we can spread the word.

Even more importantly, if one of the veritable smorgasbord of travel ideas we’ve suggested took your fancy – if you rocked Brighton, blagged your way into a swish nightclub (or Thai jail) or Wwoofed your way Devon – then we’d love your feedback. Was our advice useful? Were there things we missed out? Did we suggest a lovely English pub and it turned out to be an underground brothel? Whatever your experiences, please let us know.

All you need to do is join the conversation at the tracks forum, or email us at

In the meantime, check out our website for all the latest breaking news, features and practical advice from the trackersphere.

Until the next time,
Happy Tracking
(Deputy Online Editor)