With the promise of warmer temperatures on the horizon, we’ve got sandy beaches, long hikes and cold drinks on the brain. And since we always have budgets on the brain, we love bloggers who manage to seamlessly merge all of the above.
Among them we find Matt Kepnes, author of How to Travel the World on $50 a Day and the blogger behind cost-conscious travel site Nomadic Matt, who abandoned a nine-to-five existence to travel—full time. Here, Kepnes shares his essential travel tips to get your wheels spinning for spring and summer travel.
Smarty Cents: What inspired you to launch NomadicMatt.com?
Nomadic Matt: I launched the website as a way to create an online resume for myself so that I could become a freelance travel writer. I wanted to write guidebooks, but over time, the website grew into what it is today. Now, my mission is to help people travel cheaper, better and longer. I want people to travel better, make fewer mistakes and understand that budget travel can be done everywhere.
SC: Of all of the places you’ve visited, are there any that stand out as more “budget-friendly” than others?
NM: Southeast Asia is definitely the most budget-friendly region in the world.
SC: What essential tips can you share for finding the best airfare—both domestic and international?
NM: The best thing way to find cheap flights is to be flexible. The difference of a day can mean the difference of hundreds of dollars. Be flexible in your flight times too. The more rigid you are, the more you are stuck with whatever price the airline gives you. The best tip is generally to book 6-8 weeks in advance. There’s more information on my blog to help you—How to Find a Cheap Flight.
SC: What advice for staying in hostels can you offer? How do you go about finding a good fit?
NM: Hostels are widespread throughout the world. You can find them on booking sites like HostelWorld and HostelBookers. To find a good fit, take a look at what the top rated hostels are, and look at the reviews of each one. Look through until you find one that seems to be what you are looking for.
SC: Can you name any rookie travel mistakes you wish you’d known to avoid from the get-go?
NM: I learned to bring a no-fee ATM and credit card, pack light, not over-plan your trip—there are a lot.
SC: When you travel, do you work from a detailed budget? What tips can you share for establishing an appropriate travel budget for a specific trip?
NM: I don’t stick to very detailed budget, but I do create a general budget, and I do so by doing proper research. There is a lot of information on the web that can help you estimate the cost of everything in your next destination. Based on the information I find and knowing what I generally like to spend money on, I create a realistic budget and general overall spending figure that I try to stick to.
SC: Does your interest in doing things as cheaply as possible extend to other areas of your life, or does it just come naturally in this case because of your love for travel?
NM: I travel on a budget because I am a very frugal person by nature. I like to get more for less and don’t think you need to spend a lot of money in order to get the most out of life. That philosophy translates into my travels.
NM: My blog and book are great resources, but I also like:
- Vagabonding by Rolf Potts
- Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree Travel Forum
- Legal Nomads
- Wandering Earl
- Uncornered Market
For more cost-conscious travel inspiration, keep up with Matt Kepnes at www.NomadicMatt.com.