Sunday, 21 August 2011

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Fun, Freedom And Festivals

Shoestring's fifth issue will be out soon! Watch this space for info on Costa Rica, Kendal Calling and Burning Man and many more!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

10 items you should not travel without

Deciding on what to take along when you go backpacking can be really difficult. You’ll find yourself sitting in front of a pile of clothes that you really want to take with you but can’t fit into your backpack. No matter how much you decide to take along, make sure you’ve got room for these 10 items you should not leave home without!

1.) Passport
When you travel outside of your home country, you have to take your passport along. Make sure you’ve got all the visas you need for your trip and always know where your passport is! Your passport has to be valid for the entire length of your trip.

2.) Pocket knife
Although you’re not supposed to carry a pocket knife in your hand luggage when you fly, it makes sense to take one along on your travels. You might feel safer with it. Every pocket knife has tweezers, a toothpick and a bottle-opener built into it, so it’s perfect!

3.) Toothbrush
Personal hygiene is extremely important, and a toothbrush does not take up a lot of space. You can even use it when you run out of toothpaste.

4.) Toilet paper
How often do you go to public restrooms only to find that there’s no paper left? Take a roll of tissue paper around with you, just in case.

5.) Cotton sleep sheet
Basically, this is a thin cotton sleeping bag. It does not take up a lot of space and is light weight. It can serve as a sleeping bag or extra sheet, as well as a blanket. Besides, you never know who slept in that dorm bed before you.

6.) Hand sanitizer
Take it from me – there is never any soap when you need it! A drop of hand sanitizer is enough to kill 99.9% of all germs, so a small bottle should last you for a while. It’s also useful when you can’t get your campfire started – hand sanitizer is alcohol-based and therefore burns quite well. Tip for the ladies: when starting a campfire, you might also try burning tampons.

7.) Sarong
This is the most practical and useful thing you can take along on your travels! You can use sarongs as skirts, dresses, beach towels, scarves, blankets, sleep sheets, roll them up as a pillow or use it to cover up bare shoulders when you step into churches or temples. I’m sure you can think of even more uses for it, so take one along.

8.) Torch
Whether you decide to camp or stay in a dorm room, a torch always comes in handy. Your camp site might not have lights everywhere, and finding your way to the showers and toilets after dark can be tricky, especially when you have to navigate around other tents as well as rain-tarp ropes. And switching on the main light in your dorm at night will wake up all your fellow travellers.

9.) Comfortable shoes
Let’s face it: blisters on your feet are the last thing you need. Consider where you are going – you do not want to run through cobblestone streets in high heels. Chucks should do the trick just fine and you can go hiking in them or stroll through the big city. Alternatively, pack Flip Flops, as you can wear them nearly everywhere.

10.) Camera
You don’t have to be a professional photographer to get some great holiday photos. It does not have to be a very good and high-tech camera, throw-away cameras or point-and-shoots are fine for snapshots. Make your friends jealous and show them what a blast you had on your travels.

These essential items all fit into the corners and side pockets of your backpack, and they don’t take up a lot of space. Some of these items may be really obvious like the passport, others might sound a bit ridiculous to you, but you’d be amazed how often you find yourself in situations in which you really need them but don’t have them because you didn’t bring them along. So have them handy when you travel– it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Be a Shoestring contributor!


Fancy yourself a travel writer or photographer? Have you had a Gap Year / Career break or backpacking experience that opened your eyes and you'd love to share it? Then you're in the right place!

I'm always looking for contributors and reviewers for Shoestring! Next to features about your experiences and sound advice, I am also looking for reviews of travel books and gear, as well as simple but tasty local recipes!

I'm currently looking for stories to go into issues #5 and #6. The July issue will deal with all things festival, hippie/alternative and generally outdoors, so if you have a summer story, I'd like to hear about it.

Please have a look at the contributor guidelines before you send story proposals! Please come up with a specific topic or angle, not just a country. Please also state whether you would have photos to go along with your story - you have been there and know what it looks like, while I might have to search for photos online without exactly knowing what they should look like.

Contribution is voluntary, as Shoestring is a free and ad-free magazine. But you will get to share your experience with like-minded travellers and maybe even inspire someone else's Gap Year!

Interested? Send an email with your story idea to

I'm looking forward to hearing about your travel stories soon.

Happy Travels, everybody!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Shoestring Language Lesson in French

The latest language lesson from Shoestring issue #4!

Have fun in France, people!

Friday, 29 April 2011

Shoestring Issue #4

Today is a very special day.

Prince William has just married Kate Middleton in Westminster Abbey. The Royal Wedding has been a massive cause for celebration in Britain and I am chipping in with the latest issue of Shoestring as a wedding gift.

But Shoestring itself has a reason to celebrate today as well! Today one year ago, the very first issue of Shoestring was published. One year of support from contributors and readers alike means that I am now able to give you the fourth issue of Shoestring, on its first anniversary!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

GioSafari on the Eagles and Snowbirds tour

Check out Gio Andollo performing "Yoshimi" on his Eagles & Snowbirds tour!

You will be able to read more about Gio, his music and how he goes about funding his tours with Kickstarter in the upcoming Shoestring issue # 4!

For more of Gio's music, check out his Youtube Playlist!

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Something for the note takers

While strolling around Lancaster today, I came across this little clever thing.

It's a notebook, but the cover is actually a ziplock bag! For somebody taking notes as meticulously as I do, this will probably be a lifesaver.

First of all, your notebook is in a waterproof cover, which means that you'll still be able to read your notes even if you splash your drink over the cover.

Secondly, the bag wraps all the way around, so it's big enough to keep a map and pens in. And the inside covers has holders for business cards and other documents, as well as a hoop for an extra pen!

But the best thing is, that you can use the cover over and over again, when you change notebooks!

So far, I've seen this cover in various bright colours (easy to spot in a bag) and in sizes A6 and A5.

They might not be the cheapest, but if you like keeping your notes, entry tickets, and maps together they will come in handy and valuable. I wish I had one of these while I was on my gap year... You would not believe the amount of tickets I threw away because I thought they were receipts from newsagents etc collecting at the bottom of my bag!

Check out

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Christchurch earthquake update

It's confirmed that iconic and historic Christchurch Cathedral (above, photographed in 2003) and the YHA hostel are among the buildings destroyed! People died when buildings collapsed on them, including when debris fell on two buses. Shop fronts collapsed on shoppers and throughout the city water pipes burst.
The Anglican cathedral (above) lost its spire, while the Catholic cathedral half collapsed. Many public buildings in Christchurch were still being repared or strengthened after an earthquake hit the city 6 months ago. Now, they are in ruins, because they were weakend by the first shake.

Rescue efforts continue throughout the night and there are fears that the death toll will rise further by daybreak. New Zealand media reports that people can be heard shouting for help from underneath the rubble, and the Prime Minister has remarked that today's quake is New Zealand's darkest day. The worst earthquake to ever hit the island nation destroyed the city of Napier on the North Island in 1931.

The earthquake in Christchurch struck at lunchtime, when the city centre was busy with workers on lunchbreak, school children and shoppers.

Apparently, the epicentrum was located close to the city in Lyttelton Harbour, only 5km under the earth's surface. Although this quake was less powerful than the earthquake that hit Christchurch in September 2010, it was much closer to the city centre and at the busiest time of the day, which probably contributed greatly to the loss of lives. The September earthquake happened around 4am, when the streets were deserted.

Christchurch airport has been closed except for emergency transport. Already, hundreds of Kiwis are planning to travel to Christchurch by any means necessary - some even coming from Auckland on the North Island - to offer their support and help with the rescue efforts.

UPDATE on travellers in Christchurch:

Scott T. informed that his parents, visiting Christchurch from the UK, have gotten in contact with him and are safe.

Aucklander Simon B. is still trying to track down is uncle Gerry. Gerry has been in contact with the family after the initial shock but is now missing. Gerry is described as a diabetic, living by himself and not in the best of health. If anyone has heard about a man called Gerry living on Cowes Street, Avondale, Christchurch, or knows where he is, please get in touch, as his family is very worried!

Christchurch earthquake

A devastating earthquake has hit the city of Christchurch on New Zealand's south island today, registering over 6.0 on the Richter scale.

The death toll has risen to 65 so far, with many buildings destroyed and people trapped under the debris. One New Zealander commented that the images on TV strongly remind him of 9/11, with all the dust and debris in the air.

For the full story, please see

Are you or someone you know living or travelling in Christchurch? How is the situation there now? What's being done to help? What's been destroyed?

Please get in touch if you have any news or made it out of Christchurch just in time. We just want to know you're all safe!!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Language Lesson in... German

Here is the first of hopefully many Shoestring Language Lessons!
Issue #3 featured editor Conny Kaufmann's native language German. This podcast will help you pronounce these basic sentences correctly, so you will be able to check in, ask your way around and interact with the locals!

Check out the new PODCAST section for more recordings and clips!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Have your say!

Shoestring is a travel magazine from backpackers for backpackers and those taking Gap Years and Sabbaticals. And as such, you, the readers and contributors, should have say in what you want to write about. After all, this magazine is meant to inspire as well as share advice and experiences.

With the third issue out in late January, it is time for a bit of feedback.

What do you like about Shoestring?

Are there any topics/sections you would like to see included? If so, what would you like to read more about?

Do you find the advice/info handy and useful?

Your feedback will help shape Shoestring, and provide you with the one-stop travel magazine you want. So please leave a comment below, every response will be appreciated!

Thank you.

Conny Kaufmann - Editor in chief

Friday, 28 January 2011

Shoestring issue #3 OUT NOW!!

The third issue of Shoestring is online now, and packed full with travel experiences and advice from backpackers like you!

Check it out!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Publicity for Shoestring in Germany!

This article is available on and will be published in the Solinger Tageblatt, on Karl. youth page on Saturday 22.January 2011

Wie plane ich ein Gap Year?

Von Conny Kaufmann

Ein Jahr nach dem Abi oder der Uni im Ausland verbringen: Das ist der Traum vieler junger Leute. Doch ein „Gap Year“ verlangt Planung, bis es so weit ist und man im Flugzeug der Welt entgegenfliegt.

Welche Art von „Gap Year“ will ich?

Zum einen bietet sich Freiwilligenarbeit in Einrichtungen wie Tierschutzorganisationen, Schulen und Waisenhäusern an. Beliebt sind zudem Praktika im Ausland und Au-Pair-Aufenthalte. Natürlich besteht auch die Möglichkeit, einfach zu reisen – ob auf selbst-organisierter Weltreise oder als Teil eines „Work & Travel“-Programms, bei dem man hier und da arbeitet. Außerdem werden so genannte „Multi-Sprachen-Jahre“ angeboten, bei denen man in drei Ländern lebt und arbeitet oder studiert. Die Programme lassen sich mit Reise-Intervallen verbinden.

Soll ich mit einer Organisation oder auf eigene Faust reisen?

Einige Projekte wie Freiwilligenarbeit oder Multi-Sprachen-Jahre werden meistens von Organisationen angeboten und sind schwer, selbst zu organisieren. Für Praktika und „Work & Travel“ sind Organisationen jedoch nicht unbedingt nötig. Obwohl Organisationen nicht billig sind, haben sie den Vorteil, dass man Ansprechpartner vor Ort und zu Hause hat. Viele Anbieter bestätigen die Programmteilnahme am Schluss mit einem Zertifikat – Arbeitgeber trotzdem zusätzlich um ein Zeugnis bitten. Auf eigene Faust zu reisen, bedeutet mehr Freiheit, was Ziele und Reiserouten angeht. Und es ist meistens etwas billiger. Allerdings kann es schwer sein, Hilfe zu finden, wenn etwas schief geht. Wer Kataloge angefordert hat und sich nicht entscheiden kann, kann auch Beratungsdienste wie „Weltweiser“ in Anspruch nehmen (siehe Kasten, unten).

Welches Visum benötige ich?

Wenn man in einem anderen Land arbeiten und Geld verdienen möchte, sollte man sich entweder ein „Arbeitsvisum“ besorgen oder ein „Working Holiday Visum“. Allerdings werden „Working Holiday Visa“ pro Land nur einmal im Leben vergeben. Daher sollte man sich gut überlegen, wie lange und wo man arbeiten will. Freiwilligenarbeit und Praktika unter drei Monaten kann man mit einem Touristenvisum absolvieren. Man sollte sich aber immer bei den zuständigen Konsulaten und Botschaften informieren. Wer Visa für mehrere Länder braucht, sollte beachten, dass der Pass frühestens sechs Monate nach Rückflugdatum ablaufen darf – sonst ist er ungültig. Da der Pass unter Umständen an mehrere Konsulate geschickt werden muss, falls kein elektronisches Visum erhältlich ist, sollte man pro Konsulat mindestens zwei Wochen für die Bearbeitung einrechnen.

Gesund reisen: Impfschutz, Erste-Hilfe-Paket und sterile Spritzen

Alle für die Reiseziele empfohlenen Impfungen sollten eingeholt oder – wenn nötig – erneuert werden. Außerdem sollte sich im Rucksack ein kleines „Erste Hilfe Paket“ befinden samt Pflastern, Thermometer, Bandagen, Tabletten gegen Kopfschmerzen, Durchfall und Entzündungen. Der Standard in Sachen Gesundheitsversorgung und Hygiene ist in vielen Ländern weitaus niedriger als in Deutschland. Für alle Fälle ein paar sterile Spritzen mitnehmen.

Welches Flugticket soll ich wählen?

Bei größeren Fluggesellschaften kann man seinen Sitz meistens bis zu einem Jahr im Voraus buchen, was oftmals die billigste Alternative ist. Ein paar Reiseveranstalter bieten Weltreise-Tickets an, die „Round-The-World“-Tickets genannt werden. Allerdings sind dort Routen vorgegeben. Wer ein Land besuchen will, das nicht auf einer dieser Routen liegt, sollte entweder alle Flüge einzeln buchen oder ein RTW-Ticket mit separaten Flügen kombinieren.

Wie bleibe ich in Kontakt?

Wer unbedingt zu Hause anrufen will, sollte lokale Telefonzellen benutzen oder sich eine SIM-Karte im Gastland zulegen. Eine günstigere Alternative ist das Online-Programm Skype, das auch über Telefone funktioniert. Allerdings haben nicht alle Internetcafés das Programm installiert. Eine eigene Website oder ein Blog sind weitere kostenlose Alternativen. So kann der Reisende Fotos und Videos zeigen und mit Familie und Freunden über Gästebücher oder Foren in Verbindung bleiben.

Wie bereite ich mich vor?

So viel wie möglich über das Gastland und seine Kultur lesen. Auch das Durchschnitts-Wetter beachten und dementsprechend packen. Mit Foren für Gap-Year-Reisende und Interessierte Kontakt aufnehmen: Die Reisenden waren vor Ort und wissen, wovon sie reden. Einige können helfen, Kontakte zu Menschen im Gastland aufzubauen. Wer einen gültigen Studentenausweis besitzt, sollte sich die „International Student Identity Card“ anschaffen, mit der es in vielen Ländern Vergünstigungen gibt. Ohne Studentenausweis bekommt man die „International Youth Travel Card“, wenn man jünger als 26 Jahre ist. Auch eine Mitgliedschaft im „Deutschen Jugendherbergsverband“ (DJH) lohnt sich, weil man so billiger in allen YHA- und „Hostelling International Herbergen“ schlafen kann.


EINSTIEG ABI Eine wichtige Messe, die nicht nur zur künftigen Berufswahl, sondern auch ausführlich rund um Auslandsaufenthalte informiert, ist „Einstieg Abi“. Nächste Messe: 11. und 12. März, Koelnmesse (Freitag, 9 bis 17 Uhr; Samstag, 9 bis 16 Uhr), 5 Euro. Freikarten (begrenztes Kontingent) und Infos zum Gap Year auf

WELTWEISER Kein Reiseveranstalter, keine Austauschorganisation – aber dafür ein unabhängiger Bildungsberatungsdienst und Verlag: Das ist Weltweiser. Über Homepage und Handbücher liefert Weltweiser jede Menge Infos über Auslandsaufenthalte, internationale Bildungsangebote wie Schüleraustausch, Sprachreisen, Au-Pair, Work & Travel, Praktika, Freiwilligendienste sowie Studium im Ausland.

REISEBESTIMMUNGEN Verlässliche und aktuelle Meldungen zu Visa-Bestimmungen, Impfschutz, Wetter und Reisewarnungen liefert das Auswärtige Amt auf

MAGAZINE Empfehlenswert sind zudem die engagierten Magazine Itchy Feet (auf Deutsch),, und das englischsprachige Shoestring ( von der Solingerin Conny Kaufmann, die ihren Uni-Abschluss in Reisejournalismus in England gemacht hat (siehe Artikel unten). lm

Solinger Tageblatt, 22. Januar 2011