Michael Taylor is an experienced traveler who specializes in luxury travel. Though he's originally from Oakland, California, he now lives in Hong Kong and writes about his travel experiences over at AccidentalTravelWriter.com. Michael was kind enough to take the time to answer some of our questions about his interests, experience and opinions on travel. Check out his interview below...
TA: How many years have you been traveling and what got you hooked?
Michael: I have been traveling since I was 18. I have been working as a travel writer for 10-plus years.
TA: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.
Michael: I am a Hong Kong based travel blogger.
TA: Do you specialize in a particular type of travel?
Michael: Luxury travel is my speciality.
TA: What is the best vacation you've ever taken?
Michael: My first trip to Vietnam was a life-changing experience.
TA: What's one place you've always wanted to visit?
TA: What's one thing you ALWAYS pack when you travel?
Michael: I usually travel internationally, so I always pack a power adapter.
TA: If you could only give a traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
Michael: Be patient and keep your sense of humor.
TA: What are some of your favorite travel blogs and communities?
Michael: Plush Places and the Business of Blogging.
TA: What are the top 3 websites you use for research/inspiration when planning a trip?
Michael: I glance through the official websites of tourism boards to get an overview of a place. But I tend to rely more on serendipity when I travel. I like making my own discoveries.
TA: Do you have any good airport or flight hacks for people traveling by plane?
Michael: Be prepared to go through security! Wear shoes that can be easily taken off and put back on. Wear clothing without metal. Don't wear jewelry. Keep a little pouch you can throw your car keys, coins, mobile phone, watch etc., into before it goes through the X-ray machine.
TA: What is the best piece of travel advice you've ever been given?
Michael: Make digital copies of your passport and credit cards and send them to yourself and a trusted friend. The numbers on your credit cards might not be legible, so you might need to write them in, as well. In the event they are stolen or lost, it will simplify things.
Is there something you think most travelers worry too much about?
Michael: Yes! Some travelers spend far too much time trying to get the best possible deal, wasting time comparing prices or haggling when they could be doing something more meaningful.
TA: What's a travel scam travelers should be wary of?
Michael: Tuk-tuk drivers in Thailand are notorious for taking you to places where they will get a kick-back rather than to your destination.
TA: Which country has surprisingly good food?
Michael: Vietnam has excellent food and it's also VERY reasonable. All things considered, however, I think the United States offers the most variety - especially California. I've spent the last six weeks exploring California, and I've been blown away by the quality and the variety of the food here.
TA: What was the most romantic place you ever visited with a partner?
Michael: I had a very romantic dinner at the beachfront restaurant of a five-star hotel in Bali.
TA: What is the most beautiful and affordable city you've ever visited?
Michael: The most beautiful city I've ever visited HANDS DOWN was Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The landscape was breathtaking. The most affordable city would have to be Ubud in the highlands of Bali. Bali represents extraordinary value. Ho Chi Minh City, a.k.a. Saigon, was also very affordable, and the people were delightful.
TA: Which underrated destination deserves to be more famous?
Michael: The Philippines is Southeast Asia's best kept secret. The beaches are beautiful, and water is clean and unpolluted. The service standards are high. Prices are reasonable. I particularly liked Boracay, Palawan, and Cebu. If you have the chance, fly on a small aircraft between islands. I flew on nine-passenger aircraft from Palawan to Boracay. Not only were the views spectacular because of the low altitude. It was cheaper than flying on a conventional airline. Also, I was able to fly non-stop rather than changing planes in Manila!