Top travel tips from Lonely Planet's CEO Matt Goldberg
Matt Goldberg, Lonely Planet
DG: What's the best way to prepare for a trip?
MG: Indulge on research and go light on the packing. Think carefully about what you want to get out of the trip, whether it is to immerse yourself in a new culture over an extended period or an opportunity to bond with family or friends on a short break. Start with a Lonely Planet guide to work out your priorities – we have one for almost any destination you can imagine – and then connect with other seasoned travelers online via Thorn Tree.
When I plan a trip with my wife and three young children, we always get the planning started early by watching movies and reading books about our target destination and then creating a loose framework for our visit.
How can travelers get the most out of a place or journey while they're on the road?
Be sure to build in plenty of flexibility in your schedule to be spontaneous on the road. It's always fun to lose yourself in the moment. Even a wrong turn can result in some of the most interesting discoveries. Think of every experience on the road as a possible story to share with others. The best souvenirs are travel memories, so be sure to take photographs, keep journals, blog from the road, or share through your favorite social network tools.
What's the biggest mistake travelers make?
It disappoints me to think there are some people who travel but don't seem very interested in scratching the surface of a destination. It is a mistake not to learn something from the locals. It's a mistake not to try local food, even if it's only one bite and you decide the dish is not for you. It is a big mistake to leave your curiosity at home.
What are your favorite places to travel?
I'm always excited to go somewhere new, as well as return to tried and true favorites on shorter stints. It's always fun to be somewhere that I can speak the language, which has frequently taken me to Spanish-speaking destinations in Central and South America and of course Spain. I am a fan of extremes – I love the hectic pace of a vibrant city or the desolate silence of the most under-populated places. And lately, I've enjoyed exploring Australia and New Zealand with my family since we now live in Melbourne.
Two very different experiences spring to mind: first, falling in love with my wife Liz in Peru and Bolivia. I was amazed at her intrepid spirit on the Inca trail to Machu Picchu and her calm nature when we ran into trouble negotiating our way through a rural strike on the road to Lake Titicaca. And recently, I had an amazing journey with some of our Lonely Planet authors in Thailand and Malaysia. In Borneo, we learned about a new travel route up the Batang Ai River in Sarawak to visit with the Iban tribe and had a great cultural experience that culminated with an evening over-indulging in local rice wine.
What was your biggest travel discovery of 2010?
For me it was learning to travel with a young family. I discovered a whole new way of thinking and approach to trip planning. Through the eyes of my children, I also discovered another lens through which to view destinations and cultures and that has been very rewarding.
What excites you most about travel in 2011?
I'm looking forward to doing much more travel this year – I always visit our offices in the US and UK at least 4 or 5 times a year and I plan to go back to China and make a visit to India. I'll work hard to get out on the road for an extended trip with a Lonely Planet author doing first-hand research in some destination I've never been. And I'm also excited about the Top 10 countries our authors have rated this year in Best In Travel 2011: 1. Albania 2. Brazil 3. Cape Verde 4. Panama 5. Bulgaria 6. Vanuatu 7. Italy 8. Tanzania 9. Syria 10. Japan.
For the behind-the-scenes story on Lonely Planet, check out the interview on Gadling.
- Travel Trends for 2011[AOL Travel]
- Lonely Planet's Top 10 Countries for 2011[Lonely Planet]
- National Geographic's 20 Best Trips of 2011[National Geographic]