Nomadic Matt Shares His Travel Wisdom
By Max Hartshorne
Matt Kepnes, or Nomadic Matt, is one of the hardest working travel writers and publishers I know. He spends hours and hours compiling really good travel deals, ideas, and special fares for his weekly newsletter. He replies to hundreds of his readers one by one, and his website is at the top of the list for the Top 50 Travel blogs consistently.
Try as I might, I can’t fault him for his work ethic and though many of us in the business are envious, none of us can ever call Matt a slacker. Travel the World on $50 a Day has already been selling well, and it’s no wonder. It’s a useful book written by a guy who has inspired many to take the plunge as he did.
This new revised and updated edition of his book provides some tips on how you can save on accommodations, flights, meals, and activities, and mostly, it’s a book designed to help get travelers out into the world. As you’ll see below, traveling in a state of mind, one that Kepnes has embraced for all of the years he’s circled the world.
Excerpt from the book: Getting Over Your Fears
The most difficult part about traveling the world isn’t the logistics of the trip—it’s finding the motivation to go. It takes a lot of courage to leave your life and journey into the unknown. It’s the step that most people never get past. For me, it took a trip to Thailand to get me to make the leap. For others, it’s a lot more difficult. Instead of the nudge, I required, some people require a full-on shove.
While most of this book will talk about the practical, financial side of travel, the first thing I wanted to tell you is that you don’t need to be afraid of traveling the world. It’s only natural to second-guess yourself when making a big life change.
And this is a big change. One of the most common emails I receive asks me whether or not someone should travel the world. Do they quit their job and go for it?
Are they in the right stage of life? Will everything be OK if they leave? Will they get a job when they return? These emails are peppered with nervous excitement over travel’s endless possibilities, but there is also always one underlying tone to the emails: “Matt, I want to go, but I’m also afraid. I need someone to tell me it will be all right.”
In my meetings with strangers, they pepper me with questions about my trip. People are curious about my travels, experience, and how I got started doing this. They dream of traveling the world. “It must be such the adventure,” they tell me, “I wish I could do it.” And when I ask them what stops them, they come up with a book full of
excuses as to why they can’t:
I can’t afford my trip.
I have too many responsibilities at home.
I won’t be able to make friends on the road.
I don’t want to be alone.
I have too many bills to pay.
I’m not sure I could do it.
I’m simply too scared.
With all that fear and doubt, it’s easier for someone to stay home in his or her comfort zone than to break out and travel the world. As
the saying goes, “People go with the devil they know over the devil they don’t.” Home is our safe zone. We know it. We understand it. We may not always like it, but we get it. In the end, held back by their own fears, most people stay home, dreaming of that “one perfect day” they will finally travel.
But you know what? That day never comes. It will never be perfect.
Getting Over Your Fears
Tomorrow, you’ll still have bills.
Tomorrow, you still won’t have just the right amount of money.
Tomorrow, there will still be someone’s wedding to attend or a birthday party to go to.
Tomorrow, you will still second-guess yourself.
Tomorrow, you’ll find another excuse as to why you can’t go.
Tomorrow, people you know will still feed the seeds of doubt in your head.
Tomorrow will come and you’ll say, “Today isn’t the right day. Let’s go tomorrow.”
Dropping everything to travel takes a lot of courage, and while many people claim “real world responsibilities” are the reason for not traveling, I think fear of the unknown is really what holds people back.
If you bought this book, you are probably already on the right track. Taking a long-term trip is already on your mind. Maybe you are already committed or still on the fence about it. But no matter what side of the coin you fall on, know that even the most experienced travelers had doubts when they began. I want to reassure you that you are doing the right thing.
Right here. Right now.
“You Aren’t the First Person to Travel Abroad” One of the things that comforted me when I began traveling was knowing that lots of other people traveled the world before me and ended up just fine. While long-term travel might not be popular in the United States, it is a rite of passage for a lot of people around the world.
People as young as high school graduates head overseas in droves for long-term trips. As you read this paragraph right now, millions of people are trekking around the world and discovering foreign lands. And if millions of eighteen-year-olds on a round-the-world trip came home in one piece, I realized there was no reason I wouldn’t either.
There’s nothing I can’t do that anyone else can do.
And the same goes for you. You won’t be the first person to leave home and explore the jungles of Asia. There is a well-worn travel trail around the world where you’ll be able to find support and comfort from other travelers. Columbus had a reason to be afraid. He had no idea where he was going and he was the first person to go that way. He blazed a trail. You’re going on a trail that has already been blazed. That realization helped take away some of my fear because I knew there would be other travelers on the road to comfort me.
You Are Just as Capable as Everyone Else
I’m smart, I’m capable, and I have common sense. If other people could travel the world, why couldn’t I? I realized there was no reason I wouldn’t be capable of making my way around the world. I’m just as good as everyone else. And so are you. Early in my travels, I managed to turn up in Bangkok without knowing one person and live and thrive there for close to a year. I made friends, I found a girlfriend, had an apartment, and I even learned Thai.
Sink of Swim
It was sink or swim, and I swam. I recently navigated my way through Ukraine, a country where few people speak English and even fewer signs are in the Roman alphabet, as they use the Cyrillic script there.
Then there are little things like figuring out a local subway, using a map to navigate unknown streets, and making yourself understood without learning the local language. I once went “choo choo” to a taxi driver to make it understood I needed to go to the train station. It worked. Nobody steps out into the world knowing it all. They pick it up along the way. Don’t doubt yourself. You get by in your regular life just fine. The same will be true when you travel.