4 Cheapo Questions for Sam Daams of Travellerspoint.com
We’re big fans of Travellerspoint and the service they provide to help travelers from around the world share useful tips and advice. Interested in learning more? Read on, Cheapos…
1. Please tell us the story behind Travellerspoint. How did it get started?
We first discussed Travellerspoint over an MSN chat session in the middle of 2002, while I was living in the Netherlands and Peter, my brother and co-founder, was living in Australia.
The idea originally was to create a “find lost travel friends” site, as we had both traveled and met people, just to lose contact with those same people soon after ways parted. Three months later, we launched Travellerspoint with that function, a basic travel diary and a travel log function.
Throughout the years we’ve added forums, blogs, mapping, a wiki travel guide and a pretty advanced budget accommodation booking system as we moved along and our ideas developed or new possibilities came along. A few years after launching we all of a sudden realized that the focus had changed to that of a travel community, with great members keen to help each other out with advice and share their experiences.
From then on our focus has been to keep developing complementing services to make it easy for travelers to share experiences with one another, whatever stage of their trip they might be on.
2. Are there any recent travel trends or topical themes you’ve noticed within the TP community?
I often notice waves of posts around a topic, but I’m not really sure if I can blame it on a trend, or just some Google algorithm that all of a sudden sends a lot of traffic looking for information about overstaying their Schengen visa, or visiting the US with a criminal record!
Broadly it seems to me that there are a lot more people asking about traveling to Europe this year than last though. Lately it also seems that “everyone” is visiting Machu Picchu. There are also trends that are very indicative of our times, for example traveling with a laptop seems to be more and more accepted than it was just a few years ago.
One thing that I’m definitely noticing is that no matter how many sites are currently being started trying to help take the hassle out of trip planning, there is just no substitute for personalized advice and interacting with other travelers, whether it’s on travel specific sites like Travellerspoint and Bootsnall, or broader sites like Facebook.
3. How often do you travel, what is your favorite destination to visit and where are you heading to next?
If I define traveling as leaving home for a minimum of one night, I probably travel about 10-20 times a year. Most of it isn’t particularly glamorous though; just short trips for work to conferences, meetings and the like.
I also try and get back to the Netherlands at least four or five times a year to visit friends, and like most Norwegian residents, a year isn’t really complete without at least three or four cabin trips. This year I’m particularly excited about visiting South Africa for the first time in June, and especially as it’s for the World Cup, the greatest sporting event in the world.
What’s also fun about the trip is that I only know one of the guys that I’m traveling with through TP. We’ve met a few times in the past few years so aren’t quite strangers anymore, but it all started with him posting on our forums.
I’m also looking forward to visiting China later this year, even if it is for a conference.
Still, if I had to pick my favorite destination, it would be Australia. I studied and worked there for a while, and there’s something about the combination of the people, country and lifestyle that makes it a fantastic destination. Luckily my parents and brothers live there, so I have both the excuse of visiting for personal reasons and work reasons, even if it is a long trip with a toddler in tow.
4. What is the best travel advice you’ve ever received?
Oh, there’s been so much throughout the years! But last year, for example, my wife and I were looking for a place in Malaysia to spend a relaxing 10 days with a three-year old on the way back from Australia. I asked on the TP forums and got some great tips, one of which led to a lovely stay on Redang Island at a place that was exactly what we were looking for on that particular trip.
I love how you can ask open ended questions like that and get good advice, based on a specific situation that might be totally different next time when I’m travelling alone or travelling for work.
Bonus question: We came across this wonderful photo of you traveling at a very young age. Please tell us more about this and your other early travel experiences.
Ah yes, part of my collection of early childhood photos from the Solomon Islands, where I grew up. The main reason for uploading those photos was this “unofficial history of Travellerspoint” blog post.
In seriousness, I was about a month old when my parents left the comforts of the Netherlands to head to the Solomon Islands, by way of PNG (where that photo is taken). For my first six years, we lived on an island called Rennell, which isn’t very well known, but Gary Arndt of Everything Everywhere has it listed as one of his favourite articles.
After that, we moved to Honiara which is on Guadalcanal, a name that rings a few bells with people due to its part in the second World War. We lived in the Solomons till I was nearly 13, so I have lots of memories from growing up there, but for me it was pretty much just “home.”
We traveled going back and forth to the Netherlands and US every three to four years, usually trips of between two and six months. I really remember those trips well; all the luxury that surrounds you, escalators, fast food, supermarkets that are stocked, etc.
Once in Singapore we were staying at a hotel with a McDonald’s on the ground floor and Peter and I would just endlessly take the elevator from the hotel room down to McDonald’s–such luxury! Living in the Netherlands, travelling just is one of those things everyone does, every year, so it wasn’t hard to keep the travel bug alive from then on.
Thanks for your time, Sam! And keep the photos coming!