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Type ‘travel blog’ into Google and most of the time the first thing that comes up for me is Nomadic Matt. Matt Kepnes is the O.G. of ‘I quit my corporate job to travel the world and write about it on the internet.’ His journey dates to 2005, which is old by internet standards though of course I’ve been writing this blog since 2002 and I still have my corporate job.
Of course Matt still stays in hostels and that was never my bag. Matt is so dedicated to the hostel experience, and the shared community of travel that it engenders, that he even bought one in Austin.
More than a decade in Matt’s had a best selling book How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter, courses, and two years of an incredible conference TravelCon.
Last year I spoke at Travelcon alongside James Boyd from Singapore Airlines and then-USA Today writer Ben Mutzabaugh. This year I was on a panel with One Mile at a Time‘s Tiffany Funk and more. Matt brings together hundreds of travelers each year now for this event, a great opportunity to meet people and some fantastic speakers. I consider Matt a friend, which is why I make the time to participate.
Today he’s out with his most ambitious project to date, Ten Years a Nomad: A Traveler’s Journey Home. Matt was kind enough to send me a copy, and I breezed quickly through its 300 pages.
Matt’s last book was more ‘how to’ and this one is more ‘how come’ — why he traveled, why he comes home, what he’s learned alone the way. He’s an easy guy to hang out with but I never knew he was this funny – or this willing to put himself out there in print (including relationship stories that carry a lesson).
He talks about meeting people, something I’ve always had a hard time doing (it’s a lot easier just to write on the internet). He was sitting alone in his hostel in the Czech Republic after he got started, eating pizza (knowing nothing of Czech food) and he heads to the bar hoping to meet people and winds up sitting there alone.
Matt talks about the romanticism of traveling alone and the loneliness of it, the flip side of Stephanie Rosenbloom’s Alone Time. But his second night in the hostel bar he said there and someone in a group invited him over. He talks about serendipity and saying yes.
And he’s even honest about blogging, how it becomes the very job he vowed to leave behind to travel. I write because I have something to say and I love that people will listen… I don’t do much besides write, everything else sort of takes care of itself (but that means I lag in things like SEO, and don’t take advantage of myriad opportunities). But there can be a tradeoff between experiencing travel and documenting it, taking photos of everything versus letting it all sink in.
I enjoyed Matt’s stories, I related to some and lived vicariously through his very different travel style than mine at other times. The book is thoroughly enjoyable and more real than most of what you read about travel and for that Matt’s book deserves to be read, if only to encourage that honesty and humility. If you enjoy travel and are looking for a good beach read this is it.