Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hobo Traveler

Before leaving for Myanmar, Dave and I met Andy, the man behind the well known hobotraveler web site (and the hobotraveler blog). Who is Andy? Well, Andy quit working a normal job around 11 years ago when he was about 40 years old. He decided to start traveling and he has never stopped since then. He comes back to the US for a few weeks every year. He documents his travels and budget travel tips on his web site. At first he was traveling on the super cheap, like maybe for 5000 dollars per year. But he started generating income from his web site and now he is able to travel much more comfortably. Andy's web site now gets over 10,000 unique readers every day!

I first looked at Andy's web site about five years ago. It opened my eyes to the fact that international travel did not have to be expensive at all -- in fact, it is often cheaper than just living in one place in the USA. I had always wanted to travel more and realized that it was easily within my grasp to see the world. People in the West have this idea that vacations have to be expensive or luxurious -- but for me that is not the best way to travel because it would mean that my vacations would have to be short and spending all that cash creates a barrier between me and the local people. Most package tourists end up spending a lot of money and only meeting English speaking hotel staff without much exposure to the local culture.

Well, naturally, I had always wanted to meet Andy -- but he refuses most meeting requests since he gets so many. But we had some interests in common and had communicated over time on a number of topics and so Dave and I met with Andy and his girlfriend in Bangkok. Andy is starting a new web site called hobohideout that allows hotel owners to easily catalog their hotels on the internet and he wanted to bounce some ideas off of techie travelers.

Andy is a person who says exactly what he thinks and is never, ever politically correct and so the conversations can get entertaining! I should mention that there is no picture of Andy here since he has a no picture policy -- when he criticizes places or people he will sometimes get threats and so he chooses to maintain some privacy.

I met with Andy several more times after Dave left. Andy knows everything about how Google's cataloging of web sites works and he even outsources most of the techie work to a programmer that he has groomed in India giving him lots of spare time. I felt like he had a good head for business and was a good salesman like most successful businessmen.

After meeting with Andy, I realized that I am sometimes too introverted when I travel and I am often not frank enough in my own writing and speaking. Well, those are things I need to work on ;-) Anyway, I felt like Andy really enjoyed talking with us and he made plenty of time to discuss whatever we wanted. Thanks, Andy!

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