Book Review: “Ask Arthur Frommer: And Travel Better, Cheaper, Smarter”
If you’ve been following the career of Arthur Frommer—guidebook pioneer, magazine founder, and budget travel personality—you’ve probably noted his daily travel musings on his blog, “Arthur Frommer Online.” Since launching it last year, Frommer has penned more than 1,000 posts that cover a vast array of subjects, from new travel sites to censorship in Dubai.
“Ask Arthur Frommer: And Travel Better, Cheaper, Smarter,” published in March by Wiley Publishing ($19.99), reworks the most helpful of these dispatches into a 512-page budget travel encyclopedia. Flipping through the book is a trip in itself, and reading the book from cover to cover is sure to be an education in the art of budget travel.
“Ask Arthur Frommer” offers up Art’s tips-of-the-trade in an easy-to-follow structure. Throughout, Frommer pushes the idea that technology has changed the way we travel, granting us new-found independence, flexibility, and opportunity to see the world.
Frommer clusters his advice by topic, in sections such as “Airfare,” “Cheap hotels,” and “Transportation.” We were happy to note the attention he pays to less mainstream destinations (hello, Riga!) and his suggestion to open up to “alternative lodgings” like hostels. (Full disclosure: We were also quite happy to see references to both EuroCheapo and our sister site, EuropeanHostels.com on his blog and in this book.)
It’s well worth noting that while Frommer has been around the globe (his landmark book, “Europe on 5 Dollars a Day,” debuted in 1957), he’s no technophobe when it comes to his travel know-how. At 80, he’s still an active traveler, and frequently writes about emerging technologies, new travel trends, airfare comparison sites, and travel meta-search engine.
Our fave Art encounters?
We really enjoyed passages where Art goes “off the keyboard” and gets truly expressive, even controversial, about the mainstream travel media. He isn’t afraid to berate publications that kowtow to the luxury travel trade, and he names names. He’s also had it with out-of-touch editors defining “budget travel” as $250-a-night boutique hotels and (even more expensive) resorts. Go Art!
Throughout his career, Frommer has pushed his readers to do their own research, find real deals, and get closer to the cultures they visit. This book, compiling a half-century of real budget-travel advice, is a wonderful way to get started.
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