Melvin Boecher of Travel Dudes
|Melvin Boecher of Travel Dudes
TRAVEL INTERVIEW WITH MELVIN BOECHER OF TRAVEL DUDES
Travel Dudes ’By Travelers, For Travelers’ has become a very popular online travel community and resource, with a whopping 66,000 Twitter followers and nearly 5000 FB friends. Travel Dudes is packed full of stories, tips and photos from a large group of world travelers all sharing their travel lives.
The man behind Travel Dudes is Melvin Boecher. While many many people obviously know and love Travel Dudes, perhaps not so many people know much about Melvin. Today we get behind the scenes to find out Melvin’s personal travel experiences, preferences and favorite places. Melvin also tells us how Travel Dudes got started and has grown into the great, far-reaching community it is today.
Here we go…
Q1. Hi Melvin. Please tell us about yourself- where you grew up, how you got into traveling. I don’t actually know anything except that you’re German!
I grew up close to Cologne, Germany in the country side. Traveling started at an early stage… My first big trip was when I was four years old. My parents took me along on a road trip from the Atlantic Coast to the West Coast of the USA. Since then I have been traveling abroad at least once a year.
Q2. Where have you traveled thus far in the world?
The furthest away from home was Australia and New Zealand. But culture-wise I would say that the furthest away was Indochina and India. I loved it all!
Q3. What are your 3 favorite places in the world, and why?
I’ll go for Tanzania for the wildlife. I just love the nature! We did a self-drive tour and I could have stayed much longer. The people were very welcoming, the landscaped rocked, and the encounters with wild animals were great.
I also really like Laos, as it was a bit laid back, had great landscapes and very nice people. Compared to the surrounding countries, I didn’t get treated like a walking wallet nearly as much.
Then there is Havana. I really love Havana. I just planned to stay for 2-3 nights out of 8, but in the end I stayed 7 nights. The colours of the renovated areas and the rest of the city are amazing. Life on the streets, where kids play baseball and older ones play domino, give it a relaxed atmosphere. I met so many nice people. It’s definitely one of my favorite spots in the world.
Melvin Boecher of Travel Dudes
|Fixing the car in Western Australia’s outback
Q4. What kind of travel do you prefer? In terms of length of trip, destinations, activities, type of
accommodation ? Give us an example of your perfect trip.
For me it’s important that I travel independently. The best is to have my own car so I can just head anywhere. I might be well informed (or not), but have nothing planned. I love to see what happens and have all the freedom. I would find a nice hostel, b&b;, guesthouse or cozy hotel. If I couldn’t find one, I wouldn’t have a problem staying a night in the car either. It’s part of the fun, as long I find a nice spot to park, maybe right at the beach or with a panoramic view?
Q5. Most travel bloggers start their website by writing exclusively about their own travels and travel
knowledge. How did you get the idea to make a community site- a collective of stories and photos from dozens of travelers?
We first shared our own experiences as well. But we soon realized that there were so many more travelers with so many more experiences. It was a logical step to let them share their experiences as well. Then you have guidebooks, which have limited space and are just written by one or two persons. These 1-2 authors know how to travel, but there are so many more people who know how to travel as well. With a new and smart site structure, you can offer so many more tips online. It’s pretty much limitless.
|Melvin in Luang Prabang, Laos
Q6. Did you start Travel Dudes on your own, or with a core group of travelers/ contributors- an initial
community, of sorts?
I started Traveldudes.org
with a friend. We traveled for 3 months through Indochina and started our own site, where we shared our experiences via an online diary. We had never heard of blogs at that time, but I guess it was a kind of blog.
Q7. Starting out, how did you first attract travelers to Travel Dudes to contribute their posts and
Just by asking. Most travelers are happy to share their experiences, especially if they like what you do.
Q8. Are most of the contributors and members native English speakers (ie. From US, Canada, England, Oz) Or do you also have many European members/ contributors?
Most are native English speakers, but there are also many others. We check the quality of the content and that there aren’t any big grammar mistakes. But in the end, it’s about a good travel tip, which we want to share with others. Who cares where the comma is in a sentence, as long you find that special spot for your next trip? That doesn’t mean that we accept badly written tips. We edit each tip before it gets published.
Q9. Is there a German version of Travel Dudes, or just English?
There is a German version, but we are concentrating on the English one at the moment. That’s enough work already.
|Melvin motorbiking on a Cambodian beach
Q10. Do people have to be members of Travel Dudes to read the stories / see the photos / enjoy the
No, everyone can enjoy the tips. It’s the internet and I love projects like Wikipedia, OpenOffice, Mozilla and so many others. It’s no problem to offer good quality for free online. Other sites might like to charge for their content, but they are pretty much profit oriented, in order to pay out their shareholders. Their background is also often in the old media and their internet performance has to pay for the high costs and structure of print media.
If you are interested in sharing your own experiences on Traveldudes.org, you need to get registered, which is free and easy to do.
Q11. Are there any benefits to joining vs. just coming to read the content without becoming a member?
Your benefit is to become a travel dude and to share your own travel experiences with other travelers. It’s fun to help each other and to know that you’ve written part of a worldwide guidebook. We also allow accommodations, tour operators and guides to present themselves completely for free. They don’t have to pay a commission, elsewhere known as deposit, or an annual fee. That way they save a lot of money and travel dudes will be able to get better rates.
|Riding a helicopter over Doubtful Sound in New Zealand
Q12. Nowadays, you must be quite busy running Travel Dudes and #TTOT! How much do you
actually get to travel now? (times/ year or total weeks/month per year)
Yep… both keep me very busy. But I never started with the illusion that I would be able to travel all the time. That was never the goal. It’s just great to work online, as I pretty much can work from anywhere, as long I’m connected. I work much harder and longer than when I was a travel agent. Now I can work in my own office, at the beach in a hammock, in a 4×4 while watching wild elephants, or in a hut surrounded by huge mountains. Each time I travel now, I need to be well prepared and try to get online at least a few times.
|Watching the sunset at the Pinnacles in Western Australia
Q13. Recently, lots of travel bloggers are out traveling the world nomadically and long-term. Would
you like to embrace that lifestyle, or do you prefer to have a home base and make shorter trips? In
either case, why the preference?
I traveled with my wife for half a year through Australia and New Zealand. We loved it, but we also realized that we like to have a base. The base could be our home or a short term apartment somewhere. It’s nice just to come home and dump our stuff in a corner, knowing that we don’t have to pack everything right away again. It’s also nice to come home in the middle of the night, without thinking about disturbing other travelers’ sleep.
Check out Melvin and Travel Dudes. Find great travel tips, stories and photos… or become a Travel Dude yourself: