In this edition of Celebrity Travel Addicts, we speak with Tobi and Marcel, a pair of friends from Germany who runs the travel blog Home is Where Your Bag Is. We chat with Tobi and Marcel about traveling through Southeast Asia, living on the gorgeous Thai island of Koh Phangan, their favorite destinations around the world, and much more. Check out their best travel advice and find out where they’re off to next!
How did your passion for travel get started?
Marcel: It started with our first overseas travels to the United States and the Dominican Republic. Before we have already explored much of Europe. However, Asia was still a white spot on the map and so we made our first trip to Thailand in 2012. We liked it really much and in 2013, when we quit our jobs and decided to go on our first long-term trip, our blog “Home is where your Bag is” was born.
What does travel mean to you? Why do you feel it’s important?
Tobi: Travel is a piece of freedom for me. I find it important to get to know other cultures and thus to open up. You get to know other values, different habits and a completely new picture of what is really important in life. Of course, traveling is not the most important thing in life, but it shows that all people are the same everywhere and I think that if everyone would travel and had friends all over the world, there would be possibly even less racism.
You guys run a travel blog called Home is Where Your Bag Is. Can you please tell us a bit about it? How did it come about? What makes it unique?
Marcel: The focus of our blog is traveling in Southeast Asia. Although we also have some posts from Europe, most of it covers countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Cambodia, Singapore, etc. We both live in Thailand for several years and can give our readers some different insights. For us, however, it’s not always about insider tips. In our blog articles, we like to combine popular spots with some hidden places so you have a mix of both. We, personally, don’t think that the tourist hotspots generally have to be avoided in any case. You can have a great time there, too.
You guys have been traveling through Southeast Asia since 2013. What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started?
Tobi: That you don’t have to plan a trip to Southeast Asia much in advance. You can just go with the flow and see wherever it takes you. The first time we had some round-the-world or around-Asia tickets and chose our flights according to these tickets. We ended up not using a lot of these flights because the plans changed much during traveling.
You’ve made the Thai island of Koh Phangan your home base during your travels. What makes Koh Phangan a great travel destination? What should people see and do when they visit?
Marcel: It’s probably one of the most beautiful islands in Thailand. Although most places are still quiet and remote, you still have a certain infrastructure and there’s always something going on. There’s good wifi if you need it, a big choice of food, many beautiful bungalows and beach resorts, lovely bars, and great viewpoints.
Of course, everyone should visit the beautiful beaches of Koh Phangan. Along the west coast, you have many of them as well as in the north, Chaloklum. If you want it really quiet, you can even spend your whole holiday in Thong Nai Pan, in the northeast of Koh Phangan. If you like to party, you obviously go to Haad Rin, where the famous Full Moon Party takes place. Also, don’t miss one of the amazing sunset bars such as Three Sixty or Apichada. Just grab a scooter and explore the island on your own. Outside of Thong Sala town, there is hardly any traffic.
More information about the Koh Phangan beaches you can find in our guide. Make sure to check out all of them. There are even some more great beaches and we will write another blog article.
How many days/weeks do you travel in any given year? What types of places do you like to visit?
Tobi: in total around 3 to 4 months each year. Places that I like to visit differ greatly, depending on what I’ve visited last. I love beaches, but I also love big cities like Bangkok or Tokyo. It’s all about the mix.
What do you want audiences to gain and learn from your work?
Marcel: Don’t be the typical tourist. Be open-minded while traveling, try the local food, talk with locals, don’t be afraid of traveling off the beaten paths. And also, very important for us: Travel slowly and don’t rush from one place to another.
What are the top three destinations you’ve visited?
Tobi: My top three destinations would be Koh Phangan in Thailand (it’s the island we chose as our home base), Tokyo in Japan and New York in the USA.
Marcel: Some places in Thailand, Lombok in Indonesia and Tokyo in Japan – well, there should be at least a top 5 for me. 🙂
Give us your ‘Top 5’ list for one of your top 3 destinations. Like a mini-guide or a to-do list of sorts. It can be anything from your favorite hotel, the best place to have lunch, the best sightseeing, etc.
- View from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
- Marishiten Tokudaiji Temple
- Tokyo Skytree
- Shinjuku Gyoen Park
- Shibuya Crossing
How many countries have you visited so far?
What are your top 3 favorite cuisines?
Marcel: Thai, Indonesian, Italian.
Tobi: Thai, Italian and Japanese/Turkish.
What is your favorite restaurant in the world? What dish do you recommend there?
Tobi: I don’t have a favorite restaurant, because I love to always try new ones.
What is your favorite travel movie?
Marcel: Even they are not really travel movies, I love Indiana Jones. Still, someday I want to visit Petra in Jordan, only because of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”.
Tobi: Probably “The Beach”.
What is your favorite international airport?
Tobi: Haneda Airport, Tokyo, I was just surprised by the great food offer.
Marcel: It’s always a great feeling to be back at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok.
Which city had the friendliest people?
Marcel: In Southeast Asia, I would say Myanmar and the Philippines. Apart from the tourist places such as Bali etc., Indonesians are really friendly, too. Also, I loved the people in Japan.
Who is your favorite travel companion?
Tobi: My girlfriend or Marcel, both are easy to travel with.
What is the best way to kill time while traveling?
Marcel: Music, Netflix, food, have a coffee, etc. Also, sometimes I like to just sit and watch people. 🙂
What is the most exotic place your career has taken you?
Marcel: Traveling across Palawan, Philippines was a great adventure.
What is your best bit of travel advice for someone who wants to, or is about to, embark on a life of travel?
Marcel: Don’t compare too much. You’re not in your home country, things and people are different. Enjoy the fact that you can learn a lot from this. As I mentioned before, try to travel slowly and go with the flow. You don’t have to visit all the places that are on your list if there is not enough time. Traveling is not about just another Instagram photo. It’s about people, adventures, learning, and stories that you can tell after.
What are 4 things you could never travel without?
Tobi: Smartphone, credit card, power bank, Kindle.
Marcel: And headphones. Also, we always have our laptops with us, no matter where we go.
What is your ultimate dream destination?
Marcel: This year I actually have visited 2 of my dream destinations: Japan and the Maldives. As my wife and I are expecting to have a baby, there will be probably no big trips in the next 1 or 1 ½ years. After that, we plan a trip across Switzerland. Also, someday I need to visit Raja Ampat in Indonesia.
What is your favorite travel quote?
Tobi: I actually don’t have one, but if I have to choose, it would be this one: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”.
Where are you headed next?
Marcel: See question “What is your ultimate dream destination?”.
Tobi: Probably to Vietnam in early 2020 and later on that year to Europe in summer. Hopefully, I can make my dream come true with a trip to Hawaii at the end of the year.
We are Tobi and Marcel, two friends and bloggers from Germany. In 2013 we started our travel blog “Home is where your Bag is” with a focus on Southeast Asia. Today, we even live in Thailand and our home base is the beautiful island of Koh Phangan. Also, follow us on Instagram to get some inspiration for the most beautiful places in Southeast Asia.