Nomadic Matt was one of the first travel bloggers out there and he’s among the most successful. He also happens to be living MY personal dream of publishing a real flesh and blood book.
I’ve known Matt for a long time and he’s a pretty good guy who definitely knows his stuff. That’s why I know that his new book, How to Travel the World for $50 a Day is going to be a great value for potential budget travelers.
You’re like, a big deal round these parts, so I’m sure a lot of people are familiar with your story. For those who aren’t, can you give us the 30-second summary of who you are and why you started traveling?
I didn’t take my first trip overseas until I was 23. I went to Costa Rica and got the travel bug. A year later, I went to Thailand where I met five backpackers who inspired me to travel the world. It was life changing. After that trip, I went home and knew I wanted to backpack the globe. I finished my MBA, quit my job, and, in July 2006, set out on an adventure around the world. That trip was supposed to last one year. I didn’t come home until 18 months later and, once back, I knew I couldn’t go back to my old life or a typical job. Three months later, I was on the road again. I haven’t stopped since.
Why do you think it’s important to travel while you’re young?
I think it’s important to travel at any age but when you are young, you have the least responsibility and the most flexibility. It makes it easy to travel far and wide without having to really worry about a job, health care, mortgages, or retirement funds.
Your new book is all about how to travel the world for cheap. What do you think are the advantages of budget travel?
A lot of people think cheap travel means you don’t do much but I always found traveling on a budget means you end up closer to the local populace because you end up skipping out on expensive resorts, restaurants, and private buses and instead up in family owned guest houses, at the local markets, and on the public bus. You get many more chances to interact with the people and culture you came to see. Luxury travel is far too isolating for me.
What about the disadvantages? Are there ever times you wish you had more money to spend?
Yeah, there are sometimes you miss out on that nice meal or that expensive activity but over all, if you budget right and know what you like to spend money on (for me, sushi) then you shouldn’t be wishing you had more money. There will be times you can never save the perfect amount of money but with good budgeting, you should always be able to afford some “splurge” item once in awhile.
Which parts of the world are the best for budget travelers? Which parts are the worst?
There are many economical destinations for budget travelers – Southeast Asia, Central America, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. All of those places offer great value for travelers. You can really stretch your budget here. The worst places in the world are Scandinavia, Australia, and Japan. These expensive destinations are not for people who are on a really tight budget.
I’ve known you for ages, and over the years it seems that your travel style has evolved quite a bit. How do you think you’ve changed?
Well, these days I travel a lot slower than I used too. I am not so much about the backpacker party scene. I’d rather go somewhere for a while, relax, explore the sites, and eat good food. A lot of that change has to do with the fact that my website is my business so I have to spend time “working” while I am overseas so I can’t be as care free and wild as I used to be. I have responsibility and I need to make money. Part of it is just age. I’ve been to enough backpacker parties and clubs in my life. I’m over them.
I know that you recently decided to settle down in New York City. Of all the many places in the world, why New York?
It’s the best city in the world! NYC is a microcosm of the world – you can find every ethnicity here. No matter what time of the day it is, there is something to do, see, a place to eat and a place to drink. It’s always on the go and I like that crazy energy.
What’s your biggest dream destination you haven’t visited yet?
The Seychelles. I love the beach and every photo I see of those islands just makes me think it’s paradise on earth. They are my utopia and I will get to them one day. Preferably with someone. They aren’t really a solo traveler destination.
Matt’s new book is called How to Travel the World on $50 a Day and it comes out Feb 5 (today!)