20-best-travel-books

The 20 best travel books (not including mine!)

I’m about to head off on a trip and for my holiday reading I’ve decided to take one of my old favourite travel books with me. The only problem is that I’ve gone through my entire book shelf (which is mostly made of travel guide books and travel literature) and I can’t decide which book to take. I have so many favourites. If I could take (and read!) 20 books with me these would be my 20 favourite travel books:

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dog-house-idaho-airbnb

The 14 wackiest places to stay with Airbnb.

There was an old tourist who stayed in a shoe. Actually, anyone can stay in this shoe. It’s one of the wacky places to stay in listed on Airbnb. I follow Airbnb on Instagram because I love seeing all the amazing and cool places that you can stay in, but there are also some seriously kooky places you can stay in as well. I’ve trowled my way through the Airbnb website and found my 14 favourite wackiest places to doss down for the night (make sure you click some of the links to the actual Airbnb sites – the insides of some are just as kooky!):

 

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5-best-travel-instagrammers

The 5 best travelling Instagrammers.

I joined Instagram not long after it started and for quite a few months I had no followers or followed anyone (although that was because there was no one I knew to follow). My first post (since deleted) was a shot of my foot. I loved the filters and frames on Instagram and it soon became my favourite app and social media tool – even if no one was seeing my brilliant post of my blue Converse runner on grey carpet.  Since then of course it was sold to Facebook for a paltry billion dollars (that’s Instagram was sold, not my brilliant shoe pic) and now has over 300 million monthly users (more then Twitter) and I at last have some followers! Read more

street-food-vietnam

The best street food on the street.

Street food is certainly big in Australia right now. Every night there is a small army of food trucks touting any kind of street snack you can imagine, and ‘street food’ or ‘hawker food’ restaurants are popping up everywhere. Only a short stroll from where I live there has been a string of ‘street food’ restaurants that have opened up recently, including Radio Mexico, Hanoi Hannah, Si Senor Art Taqueria, Saigon Street Eats and Uncle. Melbourne now even has a big International Street Food Festival. But, long before we in Australia jumped on the street food wagon it has been an integral part of the street life of cities and towns around the world for hundreds of years. Read more

old florence city map

Travels in my Shoebox – City Maps

It’s time to dig into my shoeboxes again. So far on my Travels in my Shoebox blogs I have dragged out my beer coaster collection, boarding passes and bank notes. My largest collection, however (filling up an impressive three whole shoeboxes), is my collection of city maps. Remember them? Why I say that is because you don’t really need a city map anymore. On my last couple of trips I simply used the map on my phone. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but the map on my iPhone didn’t work without wi-fi and now it does. Once you hit the streets the map stopped working, but now you can follow the little blue dot as you traipse around the city. I have since navigated my way around San Francisco, Phnom Penh and Ubud without a city map. Read more

ultimate-mancation

Where to go for a Mancation.

I often get asked for travel advice (which I love giving because I love any excuse to talk about travel) and if it’s about a certain destination then I usually have some ideas of what to do or where to stay or were to eat. But last week a guy I was working with asked me, ‘I want to go away on a Mancation. Where should I go?’. Besides the fact that there are so many different places to go to in the world, there are also countless ways to have fun and experiences to have. We ended up figuring out that what he wanted was a trip away with a mate with lots of adventure and lots of partying. We got it down to Queenstown and Vegas. So, what are other good Mancations? Here are the Top Ten from my travels: Read more

abbey-road-legs

Album cover tourism.

A couple of blogs ago I talked about searching out movie locations while travelling. In a similar theme, have you ever searched out the location of an album cover? I’ve spotted some purely by accident (Pink Floyd’s Battersea Power station and the inflatable pig from ‘Animals’ is one – except the floating pig wasn’t there), but I have also gone out of my way to find the exact spot where an album cover was shot. Probably the most famous (and most photographed – to the chagrin of locals trying to drive down the road) is the cover of the Beatles’ Abbey Road. It was only my first week in London as a backpacker and four of us were playing Aussie rules footy in Hyde Park when I suggested that we had the perfect number of band members to recreate the Abbey Road Album Cover shot. Read more

Vietnam local feast

Dining with locals.

‘What was your best meal?’ That’s the first question I ask friends when they have returned from a trip – whether it’s a three month backpacking trip to Africa or a week holiday in Queensland. Trying (and savouring) different foods is such a big part of travelling for me, so I love to hear about other people’s culinary adventures. Recently I asked that question to a friend and they told me that their food highlight was a meal at a local’s house. ‘It was better than any restaurant meal we had,’ he said. ‘And better wine!’ I must say that on quite few trips of mine I have eaten with locals (and not at a restaurant) and had some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. Not only is it truly authentic local food, it is often lovingly prepared. But, you don’t have to know a local to eat a local meal. There are a number of websites where you can ‘book’ a table at a local’s house. EatWith and WithLocals are much like Aribnb by connecting people who have an interest in cooking to people who are looking to eat out and eat local food. Dinner guests pay a fee similar to what you would pay if you went out to a restaurant. I’ve been lucky enough on many occasions to experience local food (and local hospitality). Here are some of my favourites over the years: Read more

eat-pray-love-Ubud

The hills are alive with Eat, Pray, Love.

‘EPL,’ our Balinese waiter whispered to us with a wink. He nodded in the direction of a woman in her mid 30s sitting at a table by herself with a cocktail reading a book. Our waiter was referring to Eat, Pray, Love, the mega-best-selling book and subsequent film starring Julia Roberts. The book had already fuelled a boom in Eat, Pray, Love tourism in Ubud, Bali, but the film had sent it skyrocketing. There is even a big bunch of tour operators and travel companies that offer up ‘the EPL experience’, which has given rise to a new customer for Balinese tour operators: spiritual seekers. Or, just hoping to meet and fall in love with a handsome and charming foreigner. Read more

Starbuck$ Ubud

Bloody Starbucks.

That’s what I said when I spotted a Starbucks in Ubud. ‘Are tourists that desperate for a shitty chain coffee?’ I asked my wife as we strolled past the giant Starbucks right in the heart of central Ubud. I knew that they were coming to town because a local had mentioned their imminent arrival the last time I visited and they weren’t happy about it. And here it was in all of it’s faux Balinese glory. They were trying to ‘pretend’ that they were all culturally sensitive and had this fakey-temple thing going on with a giant Balinese Starbuck’s gong at the entrance. I really can’t understand why people on a one week holiday can’t last a few days without having a Hazelnut Vanilla Double Frappe Macchiato. I searched the Ubud Starbucks on Trip Advisor and there were comments like: ‘It’s really expensive; but it’s such a nice luxury,’ and ‘I was SOOO excited to find a Starbucks in Ubud!’ If you have read any of my books you will know how much I hate those big horrible ‘restaurant’ chains that set themselves up right in the heart of historical towns and cities.

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