Advice From a Travel Guru A few weeks ago, I got to sit down with Tony Wheeler, who founded the ubiquitous, quasi-biblical Lonely Planet series of guidebooks. He never expected the franchise (which BBC bought out last year) to be the juggernaut that it is today—it started when he and his wife tried to get from London to Afghanistan overland and ended up in Sydney, and then decided to write about it. (The first book, about Asia, was also supposed to be called “Lovely Planet,” but a typo led to the name we all know now.) He had a couple of tips for Hong Kong travelers, so here goes: The Best Hotels Aren’t Always the Fanciest Clearly, Wheeler doesn’t need to travel “on a shoestring” anymore, but he maintains that the best accommodation doesn’t always come with the highest price tag. At the end of the year, he likes to take stock. “What was the most expensive hotel [I stayed in] and what was the cheapest hotel?” he asks himself, and then evaluates their value for money. “The cheapest thing [this year] was a mission guesthouse I stayed at in the Solomon Islands. I think it was 12 or 15 [US] dollars a night.” Pack Light Being on the road isn’t the same as working at an office—you’re not seeing the same people day after day. Wheeler holds you only need to bring one shirt to wear, one shirt for the next day, and a third that can hang in the bathroom drying after a hand-wash for the day after. “If you need a fourth shirt, go out and buy it,” he says. “Pack your bag, reopen it, throw half the stuff out and take twice as much money.” Top Places To Visit Now Burma should be at the top of everyone’s list of holiday destinations—it’s changing fast, but still worth a visit. The same goes for Indonesia, which relatively few folks explore beyond Bali. He recommends targeting places where others rarely venture. “India gets millions of tourists, but it doesn't get as many as Thailand. I'm always kind of amazed there aren't more,” he says. “One of the places I've been to in the last year is in the Pacific, the Solomon Islands. Quiet resorts, and it just doesn’t get many visitors. It's not 100 percent easy to get to, and as a result people don't go there.” Travel for a Reason What’s en vogue right now, Wheeler says, is to visit a place not just to see the sights, but because you want to do a particular, niche thing. “To learn the language, learn cooking, develop a skill,” he observes. “Bird watching—in Peru, Ethiopia, Australia.” Becoming an expert in an obscure area in a far-flung part of the world has other advantages, too. “Do you speak some weird language, or have you lived in some strange place and worked at the local paper or magazine there?” According to Wheeler, if you want to start a career in travel, you have to a) travel a lot (duh) and b) have some kind of unusual expertise. Why “Bad Lands” Can Be Good Wheeler penned a book in 2007 called “Bad Lands,” about traveling to places with autocratic regimes or other dangers—think the Congo, Palestine, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Papua New Guinea—and he’s readying a sequel. ”You feel like you're pioneering in a way,” he says. “The Congo was a real surprise. It's kind of interesting to see how countries go so wrong. It'd be fantastic to go if you have the chance." He cites gorillas as an example, which many see on safari in Rwanda but could also be spotted in the Congo. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter: @HanaRAlberts.