How did you approach a country like, say, Japan, when there were no prior budget guidebooks to serve as a baseline and no Internet to search on?
I was very lucky in Japan. My column in The Voice had been picked up all over the place, including the Mainichi Daily News in Tokyo, and my editor there introduced me to a couple of guys who were doing an underground paper in Tokyo. He also took me all kinds of places I wouldn’t otherwise have found, like a whale meat restaurant and a bear meat restaurant. But there were other people there – as there always are – who speak English or actually are American. After I wrote the Mexico guide, my contacts said, “How did you find all those things? I’ve lived there for years and I only know some of them,” and I said, “Yes, but I spoke to you and 20 other people.”I find the comments especially interesting. In my edition of E5D, Arthur Frommer notes that some people have been complaining to him that he's not frugal enough--they've traveled the continent for $2 a day or less. (His response is that, sure, it's possible, but he's trying to show how you can do it while still having a modicum of comfort and not sleeping in ditches or fleabag hostels.) A few of those naysayers are still around--and commenting on this blog post.