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