Bino Chua is the blogger behind I Wander, an award-winning travel site featuring destination guides to off-the-beaten-path locales, luxury hotel reviews, airline trip reports, and food reviews. We recently spoke with Bino Chua about his travel experiences and what travel bloggers look for when making vacation arrangements.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Why did you decide to start a blog?
The reason was really for information sharing. I traveled quite a bit and often had friends and family asking me for tips on places to go and things to do. I thought that by starting a blog, I could have one outlet where I could list all my answers to these questions!
Since you are based in Singapore, could you give us some suggestions on what types of vacation experiences are available for travelers in your city?
Singapore is a relatively compact city but receives over 10 million overseas visitors in a year. The types of vacation experiences you can find here are similar to what you will find in any other major city. You've got excellent food options that cater to all budgets, a vibrant nightlife scene, and plenty of historical attractions to fill your day. A lot of people come here in order to experience a slice of Asia that is convenient but lacks any of the chaos that you'd find in other cities in the region.
What is your approach making travel arrangements? Do you try and see the main tourist sites, or do you instead go "off the beaten path" and look for experiences with more local flavor?
It really depends. There are some destinations that fascinate me because of a particular tourist attraction. There are some that I choose to visit because of a local experience that a particular place is known for. At the end of the day, I guess it boils down to the main thing that brought me there!
Could you give us some secrets or tips on how to get the best deals on airline fares when booking overseas travel?
To start with, buying a plane ticket way in advance will really save you some money. Personally, I would also look at various websites to check and compare prices. To really save on airfare, however, I do recommend joining a frequent flyer program and redeeming miles for free flights. You can earn miles through your everyday spending for groceries, dining, and even utilities, with some cards giving you more miles for every dollar you spend. I've booked many flights this way - even those on business class or first class!
Finish this sentence: "The biggest unexpected problem or issue that I experienced when visiting a city or country for the first time was..."
...when I crossed the border from India to Pakistan by foot. I had made arrangements for someone to meet me at the Pakistan side so that I would have a car to take me into the city. However, when I got to the agreed place, the person was not to be found. To make matters worse, my phone was not registering the mobile network for Pakistan and I had no way to call this person. Fortunately, I managed to find someone willing to lend me their cell phone for a call.
When choosing a vacation rental property, what qualities or aspects are the most important to you?
The most important for me would be location. Cleanliness comes next, followed by security.
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