Today we are traveling with Matt from Nomadic Matt
I’m Matt Kepnes and I run Nomadicmatt.com, which is all about how people can travel cheaper, longer and smarter. The goal of the blog is to get people on their dream trips as fast and affordably as possible!
What type of traveler would you say are you?
I’m a backpacker who likes a little bit of luxury. I’m a travel hacker, so I collect points and miles to use on flight upgrades and fancy hotel rooms. Although most of the time you’ll find me in a hostel dorm and a local bus. I’m a budget backpacker about 80% of the time nowadays!
Plus, you’ll always find me carrying a backpack. I haven’t rolled a piece of luggage since I was on a family vacation!
What’s inside your backpack? What is that one thing that you ALWAYS have to carry?
My iPhone. I can’t do much without my iPhone these days. I use it for almost everything! The second thing is hand sanitizer – I don’t like germs. But generally I pack very light.
How is your Spanish? Did you practice before taking this trip?
I learned Spanish while growing up! While not fluent, it’s enough for me to get around, be understood, and engage in conversation.
Are you usually traveling alone? Why?
This is a two-part question:
The reason I started traveling solo was because I had no other option. Before my first long trip, I had one other friend who wanted to join me. After he pushed back our start date a few times, I realized that if I wanted to go, I just had to go. Waiting around for a partner could take forever. So eventually, I just started traveling by myself.
The reason I continue to travel solo is because it’s actually very freeing. If you travel with a partner, you usually have to compromise and make time for what both of you want to do. I like being free to make my own choices for what I want to do with my day without having to explain or factor in what anyone else wants. Plus, traveling solo constantly pushes me outside of my comfort zone. Without a travel buddy, I have the opportunity to talk to and make plans with lots of strangers that I probably wouldn’t have talked to otherwise.
I believe everyone should take at least one solo trip in life.
Which country did you find have the most hospitable people?
People all over the world are nice. You can’t single out one place as having the nicest!
How is a day in your life when you aren’t traveling?
When I’m not traveling you can find me in either NYC or Austin. I like to wake up early in the morning. I break up my day of working with time spent with my friends. In a day, I like to watch a TV show or two, go to the gym/exercise somehow and I usually meet people for lunch, dinner (or both), and read before bed!
What’s the big reason why you are traveling?
Finding beautiful places in the world and seeing them with my own eyes is another big reason I travel around as often as I do. Once you get bitten by the travel bug, you’re bitten for life!
Can you tell us about your longest trip? How long it was and how much did you budget ?
Since I’ve spent the better part of 10 years on the road, how about I tell you about my very first trip. The moment I decided I wanted to live a nomadic life, I cut out all of my extra expenses and started saving all of the money I could. I lived a very simple life for about two years (which included using the public bus and living in my parents’ basement) as I saved up the nearly $20,000 USD that I wanted for the trip.
Once I met my goal, I left for a yearlong trip around the world. 18-months later, I returned home.
What’s your favorite gastronomy/food cuisine that you had in your travels?
I love, love, love sushi! I make it my mission to try sushi everywhere I go in an attempt to find the best sushi places in the world. I’ve found good sushi in lots of places around the world, including Denver, NYC, Bulgaria, Paris, Bangkok, and Japan (of course)!
Has there been any challenging and bad moments during your trips?
Well, there was that time when some guy shit in my hostel dorm room in Barcelona. That was pretty horrific! Hopefully I won’t have to encounter something like that EVER again!
Other than that, my life has its ups and downs just like anyone’s. Right now, I’m trying to get my work/life balance under control.
What has been your favorite destination on all the trips you’ve done?
Warm beaches have a special place in my heart, but for some reason, the landscape of Iceland has captivated me. Even though I’m a self-proclaimed summer chaser, there is something about that Mars-like landscape that I can’t get enough of.
Is it easy to find love while you are traveling?
The brutal truth is that it’s very hard to have and maintain a relationship when you travel.
How did you start financing your trips? Before becoming an influencer in the travel space.
I earned and saved up. By making travel a priority, I was able to cut out a lot of things that previously I thought I couldn’t live without (like my car).
How many hours do you usually work in your blog?
My assistant Erica says that I work “super full time”. But I spend anywhere from an hour to 10 hours on my work, depending on the day and the amount of projects going on. Next week I will spend exactly zero hours working since I’ll be hiking the gorgeous mountains of Patagonia!
Which one would you say is your favorite post?
Why I’ll Never Return to Vietnam got the most traction post-wise. After I wrote this post, it got so much attention on the Internet that the government of Vietnam itself wrote a comment on my blog disputing my claims!
Even though it was written 6 years ago, I get weekly emails from readers either strongly agreeing with it, or battling me on my opinions.
Have you always thought that you wanted to monetize your passion by blogging? Or did someone mentor you, and advised you to finally go that path?
I knew I wanted to get out of the cubicle, and I knew I loved travel. I wanted a job that got me out of the cubicle and exploring the world. Maybe I should become a travel writer, I thought. I bet writing guidebooks would be pretty cool and that would get me out of the house! It sounded perfect.
But how would I get started? I had no idea. I had no established writing resume or any experience. Being the Gen Y-er that I am, I thought—the Internet can solve this problem. I’ll create a website, write for some other websites, and then I can submit to Lonely Planet when I have some experience. It was a foolproof plan.
I harbored dreams of guidebooks for a long time, though, even after the success of my first ebook. But when I went to my first travel conference and everyone called me “Nomadic Matt,” I realized that was who I was and what I was meant to do. I started out on one journey, but ended up somewhere completely different. I couldn’t be happier.
Do you know many books did you sold? Are you planning to write another book soon?
I’ve sold a lot of books. I’m working on my second one right now. It’s going to be fiction though. It’s not going to be a planning book.
You’ve traveled a lot. Do you still keep a bucket list of things you want to see next?
Of course! On my travel bucket list is Antarctica, spending a month or more in the Seychelles, Mount Everest, a sailing trip along the Amazon, hopping on the Trans-Siberian Railway, searching for the meaning of life in Borobudur, walking across the Camino de Santiago, spending a few months in India and basking in the beauty of Petra.
Amazing story Matt, thanks for your time!
Matt is one of the top bloggers in the traveling world. He started as a solo and a budget traveler and has written books on how you can do the same. Right now, Matt is currently traveling in South America. Matt also has a blogging course called Superstar Travel Blogging, where you can learn all the basics about blogging, and how to take your blog to a business, packed with interviews and case studies. Go check it out. And if you want to hang out with Nomadic Matt on social, you will find him on Facebook and Twitter.
If you want to know more travel stories read the interview with Patrick Martin Schroeder who was traveling by bicycle around 130 + countries around the world. Or you can read the Tomislav Perko’s story who’s been traveling around the world in a low budget, $10 per day during his travel around the world.