3 Best Travel Secrets – Let Me Give You Some Ideas

by brian on December 2, 2009

I’ve been nominated by both Shannon @ A Little ADrift and Liz @ Travelogged to participate in the best travel tips from travel bloggers on the Internet started by Katie @ Tripbase.

So I wanted to give some ideas to my new readers and remind the loyal readers of some things I’ve been advocating for a long time in this forum.

Travel Secret #1 – Hostels
The world is in a recession. Folks are being laid off or worried about hanging on to what they have. Does that mean that you don’t travel for the next year? Two years? Five years? Whenever the global recession end?

What happens if it takes ten years? Can’t wait forever…

Which brings me to HOSTELS. Longtime loyal readers know this is how I traveled around the world. But consider hostels if you are taking a week long trip to Europe. Or to a big city in the United States.

Why are you paying $200 for a hotel room when the majority of your time in the room will be spent sleeping, showering or brushing your teeth?

Remember the last time you were in a hotel? What did you do there? Not much I’m betting.

My favorite hostel when I traveled: Lub d (means ‘sleep well’ in Thai) in Bangkok
Great modern look, fantastic location that is close to everything (but not so close that it keeps you up at night), bar on the ground floor, A/C in every room and a friendly staff
Go there and you won’t be disappointed. OK maybe you will be but it the odds are very low…
Lobby of Lub d, Bangkok, Thailand

 3 Best Travel Secrets   Let Me Give You Some Ideas

Travel Secret #2 – Southeast Asia
Everyone wonders where to go if they are traveling for the first time. Or traveling by themselves. Most people consider Europe right away. Not sure why. Sorry my European friends. Super expensive. Maybe they think it is ‘easy’ and familiar because it’s Europe.

I say get on the next long haul flight and head to Southeast Asia . The region consists of Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, Laos, Singapore and more. Why go there? I’ll tell you!

- Cheap Prices

This is the biggest reason to head there. I talked extensively about my $7US HOTEL room in Cambodia (yes I contradicted myself from above, but $7 is $7). Prices even cheaper than $7 for rooms can be had.
Cheap food does not necessarily mean bad tasting food. Thailand has such great, tasty eats. Street food is amazing all through the region. But always look for LOCALS on line for street vendors and in crowded restaurants. These are the places you want to eat. There is a reason there is a line…and even more so if there is NO line.

Cooking lunch on a boat – Bangkok, Thailand

 3 Best Travel Secrets   Let Me Give You Some Ideas

- Safety
Especially for solo female travelers, I think SE Asia may be one of the better places on Earth to get your feet wet. In fact from what I saw I would say females may have more to contend with from OTHER travelers than locals in Southeast Asia. Ladies please chime in here.

- Weather
Being near the equator means tropical weather year round. Of course this means you might have to contend with a typhoon/cyclone or hair frizzing, sweat inducing humidity. Some of you may like the cold weather. Give me hot temps anyday, especially if I to walk around.

The weather is also conducive to outdoor activities – SCUBA diving in the Philippines, playing with elephants in Thailand, motorcyles and motobikes all over (make sure your travel insurance is up to date).

Be forewarned however, the poverty you’ll see in Southeast Asia can be intense if you’ve never been in that type of environment. Cambodia struck me in particular. People tend to be apprehensive, but generally come out for the better after leaving and then being able to reflect on what they experienced. Don’t be afraid!
Travel Secret #3 – Penguin Beach (Boulder Beach)
A 45 minute drive outside of Cape Town, South Africa, it may be one of the few places where you can interact with wild animals on their own ground…without adult supervision and without worrying about being mauled or eaten. Isn’t that nice?
Watch out for the beaks though!

African penguins at home – Penguin Beach, South Africa

 3 Best Travel Secrets   Let Me Give You Some Ideas

It’s the code of Penguin Beach: You don’t bother me, I don’t bother you. That means no attempted petting or picking them up. The colony of African penguins are lounging around and living life like you aren’t there.

The water on the beach is cold given the relative proximity to Antarctica. EX-tremely cold. I heard the stories, but when I dived into the water I shivered for a good 10 minutes, my teeth chattering so loud you could send an SOS message. Eventually your body adjusts and you enjoy the cold water, especially when the summer sun is bearing down on you.

About the only thing you have to avoid is the penguin waste on the beach. They are not cute and cuddly stuffed animals so they have to do their business somewhere. Just tiptoe around it and enjoy the sights.

One thing that can be creepy/fun: If you stand in a spot and don’t move, you could hear a pin drop. You see all these penguins around you and they are not making a single solitary sound. You feel like you’ve landed on an alien planet.
So there you have it. 3 travel secrets from me. Thanks again for Shannon and Liz for inviting me to join in the fun.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeremy Jones December 3, 2009 at 7:00 AM

I really want to go to that penguin beach. All the stories I've read about it make it sound insanely awesome.


Marta December 3, 2009 at 7:30 AM

we went through South Asia too travelling from Singapore, through Malaysia up to Thailand and it was much more easy than expected, safer than many places in Europe (I never felt once in dangerous) plus, as you said, it still a cheap destination, we would recommend it to anyone with no doubt.


Shannon OD December 3, 2009 at 7:36 AM

Wow, Penguin Beach looks so neat! I've never heard of it before but now I really want to go :-) As for the other two tips – right on. Hostels is the way to travel, the kitchens and common rooms enough are a better deal than hotel rooms! And I can't wait to go back to SEA, you have me yearning!


AdventureRob December 3, 2009 at 8:28 AM

Penguin beach looks awesome! I've not heard of that one before.

I had a few weeks in Lub'd this year, it's a nice place but they keep putting the price up, it's cheaper to stay in a guesthouse in Bangkok unfortunately.


brian December 3, 2009 at 11:56 AM

@Living the Dream
It is. The water is fantastic when you go in the Summer (Dec-Mar).

No place is perfect, but I would be comfortable telling a female solo traveler to go to SouthEast Asia.

@Shannon OD
Penguin Beach is fantastic. That water is ice cold but you really feel like a penguin in those waters.

I checked and I think I paid $12-13US a night when I was there a year ago. Hostelworld listed them around the same price range today. What were you being charged??


AirTreks Nico December 4, 2009 at 4:38 PM

I hate to say it but personally, hostels make me feel old. Not that I'm old per se (I'm 39), but when I'm checking in with 19 and 20 year olds, I feel little out of my element. I understand the choice, because there's a lot of very classy hostels around. (I stayed in an amazing one in Amsterdam that I would've recommended for my Dad.) Some get a bit too loud and chaotic for my taste.

Definitely agree with the South East Asia bit. I think people feel Europe is easier because they can understand the languages easier. But once they find that they can communicate just as easily, and without the European attitude, it's a super convenient destination choice.


Philippines Adventure Travel December 5, 2009 at 1:51 AM

Southeast asia has long been regarded as a backpacker's paradise. But unknown to many, most countries here also have options for the more discerning tourists with world- class resorts and hotels.

But besides that, countries here offer countless adventure activities and natural tourists destinations.

explore. experience. enjoy. Philippines.


mina December 11, 2009 at 9:37 PM

Wow. Great post. I can't wait to see all of these places. I'm really hoping we never have to use our travel insurance.


brian December 14, 2009 at 12:01 AM

@Airtreks Nico
I hear you on hostels. With some good online investigative work you can avoid the party hostels and get a nice, quiet place.

@Philippines Adventure Travel
7107 islands make up the Philippines. I remember that from a presentation. Great scuba diving there.

Yeah the travel insurance, you hope you never need it, but you'll be happy you have it.


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