Most everyone loves to travel. But do you want to travel like a pro? Get expert advice from Melvin Böcher, founder of Traveldudes.org, who took time away from his many travels to answer a few questions about his successful business and share some valuable travel advice.
Traveldudes.org was the first social travel platform where travelers could find social travel content about the destination they want to travel to. With nearly 200,000 Twitter followers and nearly 80,000 likes on Facebook, Traveldudes is one of the top three websites for travel.
Originally from Germany, Melvin is also a partner of iambassador.net, which operates the most successful social media marketing campaigns with the best travel bloggers worldwide, in addition to being the founder of onlineROIcalculator.com, which helps the travel industry calculate online media values.
How Do You Go About Getting Tips From Locals While Traveling?
“Talk to them! It’s that easy! You are probably staying overnight, so ask the guys in your hotel, B&B or hostel. It could be the one at the reception, but also ask the other staff. Go for the guys where your gut feeling will say: ‘Yes, I would trust his tip.’
I usually also check Twitter. It’s unbelievable how many good tips I got from there. Then there are of course other sites like TripAdvisor. But there, you have to be careful, as the industry tries to influence the results. And why don’t you check Traveldudes.org?”
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What’s The First Thing You Do When You Get To A New Place?
“I go out and get lost! I wander around the block and see what’s around. That way you get a good feeling for the place. Stop for a coffee and get a snack in a supermarket. Watch the people and surroundings.”
What Are Your Preferred Types Of Travel Accommodations And Why?
“I love places with personal touch and atmosphere. It could be a hotel, B&B, hostel or an apartment. But all of those places should give me a warm comfortable feeling. I travel quite a bit, and I look forward to places where you just head back and feel “homely” after a day of exploring or presenting on conferences. A place where you can jump onto the couch, relax, watch some TV, read a good book or surf the internet.”
How Do You Organize Your Trips? Do You Prefer To Research The Destination Beforehand, Or Be Spontaneous Throughout The Trip?
“Usually I love to read about the destination upfront and even prepare a full itinerary, but without booking any accommodations. Then I head there and travel from day to day. This way my itinerary might (and hopefully) change completely. The best stuff happens when you stay spontaneous. For that, you have to be able to stay a night longer than planned. Or you might travel somewhere else than what was planned. When I visited Cuba, I wanted to stay only two of eight nights in Havana. In the end, I stayed seven nights in Havana, as each day was so good that I just had to stay.
But in the last few years, I’m traveling so much that there is not much time to get prepared. So I just pack my bag the night before and head into the plane. Often I land and have no clue how to get to my accommodations and I take care of it when arriving.”
What Inspired Your Love Of Traveling The World?
“I’ve been traveling my whole life. My parents took me on trips since I was three years old. Since then, I’ve been abroad at least once a year. I lived in LA (I’m from Germany) and in Leeds, UK for a year. I worked as a travel agent for eight years and spend all my money for trips around the world. With a friend, I traveled through Indochina for three months and two years later, I traveled through Australia and New Zealand for half a year with my wife.”
How And Why Did Traveldudes Get Started?
“It all started with the trip through Indochina. We wanted to share our experiences with our family and friends so we created a site called Traveldudes. At the beginning, it was more of a blog with diary entries and we soon added our own travel tips. But we realized that there were so many more experienced travelers and opened the site for them as well. From there on, it just grew bigger with every month. With the trip through Australia and New Zealand, I’ve decided to work full time on Traveldudes.org. That was around eight years ago.”
What Was The Best Piece Of Travel Advice You’ve Received So Far?
“Not to worry too much about things. Just take it spontaneously and step by step. It will all work out, maybe not as you had it in your mind, but then it will be a good story to share afterwards.”
What Was Your Favorite Place To Visit?
“There are so many; that’s a very tough choice. But my favorite places have been Havana, Laos, Tanzania and Cape Town. They are all very different, but all very special and unique in their own way.”
Where Are You Headed To Next?
“Give me five more minutes and I’ll be packing my bag for a snowboard trip to Alta Badia in Italy. I’ve checked the snow report and that does not look good. It seems that the winter comes with a delay this year. So I have to be spontaneous again and see what else is going on. So I’m a bit disappointed, as I was really looking for some good snowboarding. But I’m fine with that, as I’m sure I’ll experience something very special still. Stay spontaneous!”
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Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.