At TravelLocal, we love getting to know the wider travel community. This month we caught up with Melvin, founder and CEO of TravelDudes.org. Travel Dudes is a site created to enable travelers to share advice and tips on little-known gems across the planet. We chatted to Melvin about his favourite destinations, travel experiences, and advice for novice and seasoned travellers alike!
TL: What inspired you to start travel writing? Was it a particular destination or experience?
It's started with the desire to share travel experiences and to encourage people to get out to see the world. I got the best tips from locals and other travelers. Print guidebooks are limited in space, that's why we created TravelDudes.org, one of the first online guidebooks created by a community of travelers. Even if you have seen many parts of the world, there are always others who have seen more or something different. It's just awesome when you can share your memories with others and inspire them to make their own.
TL: What’s the most immersive, ‘local’ experience you’ve had while travelling?
I've had a thrilling encounter with an elephant in Tanzania. We rented a 4x4 and set off to explore Tarangire National Park. We found a river and there was an elephant herd nearby - we watched them for an hour and I saw that a few were crossing the river. We drove to the point where I expected them to come out and parked the car behind some high grass. The first elephant came out in front of us and second behind us. The third one was not too happy to see us and charged, stopping only 2-3 steps short of the 4x4. When you’re travelling you’ve always got to remember to respect the locals!
TL: What's your favourite destination and why?
Hard to choose one so here’s my top 3...
I love Havana! The vibe in this city was amazing. The renovated part is so colorful and a must-see but other parts were even more interesting as that is where you can see the daily life of locals. It's not as shiny, but more lively. Kids play baseball, men play dominos and women chat. It’s a great atmosphere and all of it happens on the street.
Tanzania is another favourite as it is such a great place to see wildlife, especially the Southern part of the country. As we explored it we got close to the local people and,with their knowledge, we were able to see lions without 20 other jeeps in the way!
Laos was my favorite country on our 3 month trip through Indochina. It's not as well traveled as neighbouring destinations like Thailand, Cambodia or Vietnam. I think this is exactly what makes it so interesting to visit.
TL: What advice would you give someone who was thinking about going travelling?
Travel is about people. That's why I recommend to connect with locals and other travelers. It all starts with a smile and a simple question like "Hi, how are you?" Everybody has got a story to tell. Listen to those and I'm sure you will have a fantastic trip.
You should also be open to trying new things like local foods and dishes. Strange food is never as strange as it seems in our minds. So just go for it!
Follow Melvin on twitter (@traveldudes) or click here to read his blog.
If you fancy a wild encounter in Tanzania or a meander through rural Laos, head to our website. Check out our destination pages or send an enquiry to our lovely local experts - they’re always happy to help!