We recently caught up with budget travel expert Matt Kepnes, best known through his blog, Nomadic Matt. Since 2008 Matt has been chronicling his travels and sharing carefully researched information on how to travel better, cheaper, and longer - aka on a budget. His new book, How to Travel the World on $50 a Day, compiles years of budget travel wisdom into one place.
In our Q & A interview with Matt, he lays out practical travel advice, his one can't-live-without splurge, and where he'll be travelling next.
A traveller who spends his money wisely, no matter how much he spends, is a budget traveller. It’s not about being cheap, it’s about being frugal and looking for value when you travel. I don’t think there’s a process to become a budget traveller. If you travel on the low end, you’re a budget traveller.
You can’t get around the price of the ticket - it is what it is. That being said, you can take an alternative method of travel. Go overland as much as possible, use budget airlines, use travel reward credit cards to gain points for cheap flights. It’s less convenient but it’s cheaper. Is that expensive plane ticket worth it? Only you can decide that.
That depends on where you are going. As I talk about in my book, the typical year long round-the-world trip costs about US $18,250 ($50 per day). But, if you are just going to Asia, you’ll need less. If you are going to Europe for a year, you’ll need more. Same with Australia. It really depends on where you are going.
Anything that you’re passionate about. For me that’s sushi, for others it’s wine tours. For one of my friends, it’s golf. Whatever excites you is worth spending money on. After all, the purpose of money is to spend it, right? Spend it on what you love.
Ask. I usually ask the hostel or hotel staff where they like to eat. Same with taxi drivers. Yelp! [an app] is also good for discovering which places are popular where you are.
I avoid the same things - big name hotels, touristy restaurants, expensive tours - no matter where I go and no matter what tourist season I’m in. Picnicking and taking advantage of free walking tours are two great ways to keep costs down.
You should always keep enough [money] to buy that return ticket home, even if you leave with just a one-way ticket. Keep a little extra just in case. I’ve seen too many travellers go broke with no way to make money or plan to get home. It’s a recipe for disaster.
I stay inspired because travel is my passion. It’s what I love. I love exploring new cities and places and seeing how people live.
Living on the island of Ko Lipe in Thailand for a month in 2006. I came for three days and left a month later. It was one of the best times of my life. I met some amazing people on the boat over and just couldn't bring myself to leave. It was before the island was really popular so there was only a small group of us on the island, and no one really left. We became good friends with a lot of the locals and I even picked up some Thai!
This year I plan on exploring a lot of the Caribbean, Ireland, and hopefully Bhutan.
Got a question about budget travel for Matt? Leave a comment below, at our Facebook page, and on Twitter using the hashtag, #RGTravelHelp.
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