Ask the Travel Guy: Arthur Frommer Will Now Take Your Questions

Travel much? While we’ve written a good bit about traveling on this site, from airplane dining to nightmare vacations to chocolate-friendly hotels, we are plainly pikers compared to Arthur Frommer. He is the founder of the omnipresent Frommer’s Travel Guides as well as Budget Travel magazine.

His career was accidental: after graduating from Yale Law School in the midst of the Korean War, he was drafted into the Army and sent to Germany. He self-published his first travel book, The G.I.’s Guide to Traveling In Europe, in 1955. His first big hit came two years later with Europe on $5 a Day, which was also self-published. It was an instant best-seller and is credited with influencing the way Americans looked at international travel.

Frommer returned to New York to practice law but he quit in 1962 to found Arthur Frommer International, Inc. The company has published more than 350 guides and sold nearly 80 million copies.

At 78, Frommer is still a frequent traveler (he’s about to leave for a 10-day tour of Spain) as well as a radio host, syndicated travel columnist and avid blogger. He has witnessed an awful lot of change in an industry that has changed in virtually every aspect in recent decades — the economics, the politics, the technology — and he has kindly agreed to answer whatever questions you may have. Fire away, and we will post his answers in a few days.

Addendum: You can find the answers to these questions here.


Mr Frommer,

In theory, the places (restaurants, clubs, scenic locations, etc) recommended in travel guides offer the best the country and its people have to offer, within the traveler's budget. How can these places balance authenticity with the increase of tourists who come based on the book's recommendation? On a similar note, how often do you (or your staff) leave off great places just because you don't want to see them "spoiled" by foreign visitors?

Unrelated: did Frommer's pay for any of the prominent product placement in the film "Eurotrip"?



Did Frommer's see a boost in sales following the 2004 film Eurotrip? What did you think of Patrick Malahide's likeness of you? (complete with Money belt?)


Here are a few short ones...
- What is one place you will never go, and why?
- What is the biggest mistake people make when traveling?
- What was your greatest discovery while traveling?


Other than a camera, what is the one gadget you would recommend every traveller bring?


If you had to recommend a week-long "trip" to anywhere, where would it be? (I'm trying to figure out where to travel to next)

My wife and I would like to take a trip to somewhere outside the US once a year, every year, but are not wealthy. What travel tips do you have that might help decrease costs, etc, so we could accomplish this goal?

I have heard that some African countries will not allow you in if your passport has an Israel stamp. Is there any truth to this?


What's one travel secret you *haven't* published in your books?


Why is it so very hard to register to post to your (Frommer) blog? Is there a way to tell if I am the only one to be unsuccessful at commenting?

Do any of the companies mentioned in your blog pay you in any way?


Would you prefer to go to big events like Carnaval in Rio and Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, or these countries during "non peak" travel times.

It seems that many tourists now try to go during non-peak times. Is the growth in the travel industry leading to a world where no matter when you go, you will be surrounded by tour groups on buses and cameras around their necks?


What would you say are the biggest benefits from travel, other than the textbook answers of expanding yourself, seeing new places, etc?


What's a good trip for a 70 year old man with rheumatoid arthritis and wants to see something other than Mid-Atlantic and New England USA where he's lived and vacationed all his life?


Some fodder for other questioners:

1: The cost of visiting the eastern hemisphere is impractical (to say the least) for anyone without a few thousand dollars to spend -- on airfare alone. With the dollar's buying power falling in the world economy, it's looking even worse for the future.

2: Universities in the US have been pushing students to participate in study abroad programs ( For instance, my school, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has expressed wishes for 100% of its students to participate in the program.


Hi Arthur,

How often are you offered money in exchange for the positive recommendation of a particular establishment?


In 1957, you showed how it was possible to travel Europe on $5 per day. What would be the current price for a day of European travel, given inflation, etc.? Thanks!


I'm a college student off to London for the year (LSE General Course), what's the best way to avoid those nasty international fees? Where to get the best exchange rate, if that's even possible these days, going all cash and using the credit card sporadically or just other insider tips on saving oneself from getting robbed at the bank.


Hi Mr. Frommer, Can you recommend a web site where I can get good advice on traveling with kids as well as recommendations for family-friendly hotels and resorts? I have a site in mind, but want to know which one you think is best. Thanks.


How do the internet travel sites like TripAdvisor, Orbitz, travel sections on NYTimes, AOL, etc. influence your businees since they offer almost the same type of information for free and in the format that is more convenient? Although I think the convenience aspect is a bit misconceptional, you can't beat the book in ease of access and convenience.



What are your thoughts on Xavier De Maistre's 'Voyage autour de ma chambre' in which the french writer urged that before we jet off to see the world, we should apply that same curiosity and attentiveness to our immediate surroundings? Do you think our obsession with travel blinds us to local pleasures? Is it always the places hardest to get to that we should strive to reach?


Where is the most comfortable place to stay in while you are traveling?


Mr. Frommer,
Nothing lasts forever, but if you could go back in time to be a tourist again to a country that you visited since your travels began, which country and what year would you pick? Why? Phil


What countries outside of the US can be managed by persons who have limited mobility and use a wheelchair for walking?