July 22, 2024

Slow Travel is Cheap Travel, with Nomadic Matt Kepnes | Afford Anything Podcast (Audio)

Published May 28, 2023, 11:20 p.m. by Bethany

Slow travel is the best way to see the world on a budget. It's cheaper than traditional travel because you don't have to pay for things like airfare, hotels, or car rental. And, you can often find ways to get around without spending any money at all.

Nomadic Matt Kepnes is the host of the Afford Anything podcast, where he talks about how to travel on a budget. In this episode, he interviews Slow travel expert, Eileen Hsu. They discuss how to slow down your travel, what are the best ways to save money while traveling, and how to make the most of your travel experiences.

If you're looking for ways to travel on a budget, this is the episode for you!

You may also like to read about:


you can afford anything but not

everything every decision that you make

is a trade-off against something else

and that doesn't just apply to your

money it applies to your time focus

energy attention it applies to anything

in your life that is a scarce or limited

resource and so the questions become

twofold number one what's most important

to you not what does society say ought

to be important to you like a fancy car

or a big house but what actually matters

in your life does travel matter does

spending more time with your family

matter like just having more meaningful

work matter what is your highest

priority that's the first question and

then the second question is how do you

align your day-to-day lifestyle the way

that you spend your money your time your

energy in a way that reflects those

priorities answering those who questions

requires a lifetime of practice and that

is what this podcast is here to explore

my name is Paula pea I'm the host of the

afford anything podcast now first of all

we are normally a weekly podcast we air

a new episode every Monday morning but

once a month on the first Friday of the

month we release a First Friday bonus

episode so welcome to the July 2019

first Friday bonus episode in today's

episode nomadic Matt joins us on the

show to talk about how he has spent the

last 13 years as a full-time traveler

back in 2006

Matt kepis worked at a hospital in

Boston and he was unhappy he knew that

his future was not going to be in

healthcare he had gone back to school to

get his MBA and he thought before he

made the career transition from

healthcare to whatever his MBA might

lead him to he thought you know what

I'll just take a gap year I'll just take

one year off and go travel for a while

so he saved up some money he saved

$30,000 quit his job in healthcare and

took off to go travel he thought that he

would only be gone for a year but he

ended up being gone for 18 months and

when he came back to the United States

and then got a job he hated it so he

quit that

and went back out on the road and now he

has been traveling full-time for 13

years he makes his living from his

laptop as a digital nomad in today's

podcast episode we talk to nomadic Matt

about how he saved that initial $30,000

how he made the decision to travel even

while he still had student loan debt and

how he manages to travel on a budget of

$50 a day which is about $18,000 per

year Matt is a New York Times

bestselling author and his writing has

been featured in The New York Times CNN

National Geographic The Wall Street

Journal and BBC Matt has one of the most

popular travel blogs in the world with

millions of readers and he has traveled

to more than 100 countries if you have

ever been interested in the money

management of full time traveling you're

gonna enjoy today's episode here he is

nomadic Matt


hi Matt hey Paul how's it going it's

great how are you doing doing well in

this fine evening in Paris

Oh fantastic I'm glad you're enjoying

Paris you've been travelling speaking of

Paris you've been travelling for

thirteen years correct yeah since July


a long time so I want to talk about

spending 13 years as a full-time

traveler but let's go back to the origin

of all of that because in 2006 in July

2006 before you began traveling you were

working in health care in Boston tell me

about how that began how did you come to

work in health care and then how did you

come to quit and become a full time

traveler so I had graduated college in

2004 during that mild recession in

around 2003 or so and don't worry really

wanted to hire history teachers I went

to school be history teacher so I needed

a job my mom knew somebody at a hospital

well nepotism goes a long way got a job

doing some basically admin stuff and

sort of worked my way up a little bit as

you could in a couple of years during

that time you know you're supposed to

take a vacation right you got vacation

time you go take a vacation so I took a

vacation to Costa Rica 2004 fell in love

with travel 2005 taking Nullification to

Thailand I had never been in backpacker

and they never studied abroad in Europe

or stayed in hostels but they were

fascinating here were people who were

just traveling and doing whatever they

wanted and meeting people from around

the world and I just really loved their

lifestyle and so I decided that I would

quit my job to go travel I was getting

an MBA at the time and I knew health

care wasn't gonna be my career for life

so when the MBA was finished and I

started looking for another job I

figured why don't I use this as sort of

a bookend go travel for a bit then come

back and you know start my career

and so that was when you quit your job

in health care and went on what you

thought would be just a one year

sabbatical basically a one-year gap year

yeah my goal was travel for a year and

it all mapped out and leave in July 2006

come back around July August 2007 then

start looking for a job I didn't come

back to the end of January 2008 which

was not a good time to look for a job

given the recession and all and I sat

back down and cubicle and I was just not

into it I said I want to keep going keep

traveling I'm not ready for this yet I

would like to become a writer solely

because travel writer sounds like a job

that I could do that would allow me to

travel I knew nothing about the field it

just seemed like hey you know if you our

child writer you get to travel started a

website called the mouse mat and really

was just there to be sort of an online

resume where people could see my by

lines and hire me and then I in May June

of 2008 I went away again and then here

we are today so you came back to the

United States in early 2008 did you get

a job at that time

yeah my cousin nepotism again on a temp


and so while I sort of figured out my

life I got a temp job ironically back in

the hospital covering this woman who was

on maternity leave so they cut me down

in her chair and said don't break

anything just answer the phones and

direct calls and you know sort the mail

so I had a little free time on my hands

I used that time to turn my website when

I was back in this office again you know

with five co-workers and I saw him every

day 9:00 to 5:00 and it's like this is

exactly when I had left I you know a

month ago I'm in Australia and now I'm

getting ready to go to a cubicle and put

on my tie again and it was just like no

no I had

as a person and I wasn't going back into

the same life I was going back into the

matrix so let's talk about that first

trip that you took because at the time

that you took it you had just finished

your MBA so you had a decent chunk of

student loan debt and you had also been

working while simultaneously being a

grad student so you didn't have a whole

lot of money so let's talk about your

financial picture at the time that you

quit your job and went on a one-year

trip around the world how much debt did

you have and how much savings did you

have at the time you left I had about

$40,000 in student loans which I'm still

paying off and I stayed $30,000 and how

did you save those $30,000 that was all

the money I had been saving since I

started working so I had some money in a

401k and my my employer has a match but

I also worked hourly on the weekends and

at nights so I would just work work work

work work so you know when I came home

in January 2005 I told my boss hey I'm

gonna quit but I'm gonna quit in six

months I'm and then I was for the next

year finishing my degree that's why I

left in 2006 so I worked for another six

months quit the hospital always needed

staff to cover you know somebody sick

and so I would just work but wasn't

school if I didn't have anything to do I

would work do you have an estimate of

how much you worked at that time yeah I

probably worked about 60 hours a week

there was a guy who also worked a lot

and we were battle it out so who worked

more that week I'd always try to edge

him out by a couple hours I mean it's a

sick thing to think about you know ha ha

I can work more than you can't have but

oh yeah he had a big family and I was

trying to save as much money as I could

so you know temporary pain for long-term

gain all right so you worked 60 hours a

week you saved $30,000 and then you quit

your job and went off to travel did the

fact that you also had student loan debt

concern you or did you figure that you

would be able to you'll make your

monthly payments on that while you were

simultaneously exploring the rest of the

world yeah so when I made this plan to

quit I also cute up this spreadsheet and

you know I but every guy book under the

Sun and did everything possible to

research costs and so I sort of created

a spreadsheet as how much money I would

need how much money I want to come home

with and I knew I would have to pay

student loans so I factored that into my

cost equation the plan was always to

make the minimum monthly payment

whatever I could set as the lowest I

would make that payment regardless of

anything else what was your budget while

you traveled were you living on like

1500 a month

I lived on about fifty dollars a day

fifty dollars a day so that's yeah so

that's about fifteen hundred a month

issue it's eighteen thousand two hundred

and fifty dollars a year that was that

you know that's a daily average you know

when I'm in Thailand I'm spending your

twenty twenty-five bucks a day you know

in Paris you're spending a lot more than

that so it's sort of averaged out that

way I actually recently found my

original notebook I had all my savings

and all my cost in there and had all my

notes from the rose it was really nice

to see I've been looking for it for a

long time it also has all my redone

budgets and it - I always been changing

them around mmm what are some budget

tips that you have for people who want

to travel on fifty dollars a day now

it's a lot easier to do so because the

Internet has created this great

community where back in 2006 there were

no air B&B ease or sharing economy

websites no ubers no discount or

websites or ride-sharing websites so

it's become a lot easier to find

information that allows you to travel

cheap you know these things that you

sort of have a hunt down all that

information is out there on the web a

couple of key specific points is one you

need to be flexible with where and or

when you go if you want to go to Paris

the first week of German and

it whatever is the price of a ticket is

the price of the ticket but if you're a

little bit more flexible as to maybe

when you go to Paris you might find a

flight deal or maybe you just have to go

away in the first week of June

but you're not married to Paris so you

might find the flight deal somewhere

else the difference of a day can mean

the difference of hundreds of dollars

it's always best to be a little bit

flexible in your travel plans

so essentially flexibility is the key to

affordable travel yeah it sure is

because you know I mean there's so many

deal websites out there like Scott's

cheap flights the flight deal holiday

Pirates these websites spending all day

every day just looking for great travel

deals and so if you see one pop into

your inbox you know and it's Vegas the

Paris 300 bucks round trip but is that

in July you know but okay it's not June

but you really want to go to Paris so

you're gonna take that flight because

that's a great deal and so if you're a

little bit flexible or maybe there's a


we're on trip deal to Shanghai and

you're like going to Shanghai no fun

cheap flight so if you're if you have

back in the flexibility you can always

find a deal

it's also really important not to travel

when everybody else is traveling if

you're like dead set on going to Hawaii

during Christmas you and everybody else

wants to go there so you got to pay the

price right so go during the offseason

yes what are some of your biggest

expenses as you travel because you've

been traveling now for 13 years and

you've transitioned from the hostel

backpacker circuit to being more of an

established expat in a community tell me

about how that affects the way that you

both live and spend in other words how

not only how does it affect the way that

you spend your money but how does it

affect the way that you spend your days

a travellers biggest expenses are always

food and accommodation

everything else is negotiable so if you

can eat cheap and find cheap

accommodation it's um pretty much travel

there's always some free activity going

on in the city and I was just walking

fine stuff but if you're eating at

restaurants every meal

that's going to get expensive if

you're in a hotel every night or private

dorm private room the hostel that's

gonna be an expensive what you really

have to understand yourself for me I

don't really care about a combination

yeah I mean if you want to throw me in

the Ritz I'm not gonna complain but if I

have to pay for it

I wanted to keep us I'd rather save that

money for food which is really important

to me so my food budget is always bigger

than anything else that's the one thing

I will not really go cheap on especially

now that I have like an income coming in

to me food is important I will sacrifice

everything else so that food gets a

larger percentage in my budget as a

traveler if you can lower those two

costs that's gonna have the biggest

impact in your budget and as I mentioned

before you know there's so many ways to

lower those costs now with the

combination hostels are like cheap

hotels these days they're not what you

imagine them to be from the movies they

have incredible amenities pods and you

know curtains and comfy beds private

rooms private showers and then you have

Airbnb which is great at lowering costs

home shares home exchanges so there's a

lot of options for lowering your cost on

accommodation food-wise I was tell

people just need to how you eat at home

there's nothing in the rule book because

there's no rule book that says you have

to eat out every meal you have to go to

a restaurant if you really want to know

food you're gonna eat everywhere right

go to a market if you really want to

understand the cultures relationship

with food go to the local markets go to

the supermarket that will give you a

much better understanding of like what

local cuisine is like than just popping

into a bunch of random restaurants

taking a cooking class go eat cheap for

breakfast make some sandwiches for lunch

do dinner specials or do lunch specials

and cook your dinner you know don't

always feel the need to eat out there's

this weird just feeling that if you're

traveling you you can't cook because

that's like how am i know the local

cuisine well you know everyone here in

Paris they cook their own food the

entire city doesn't eat out every night

people cook

go to the market then you can really

understand like what locals are eating

because you see it

that's the ingredients that they use in

their cooking I imagine one of the

aspects of long-term travel which is

what you've done for the last 13 years

is that you're not simultaneously paying

for two lives you you don't have a home

in the United States or a car in the

United States or lots of bills in the

United States that you simultaneously

have to support when you're traveling

full-time then you only have one life

one set of accommodations and it's

wherever you're at exactly first all my

expenses are here when I go home on like

sensitive they're you know when I quit

my job to travel and sold my car no car

payments anymore didn't have to worry

about car insurance or gas I don't even

know what gas prices are I haven't owned

a car in 10 years when I cancelled my

cable cable bill is gone once you go on

the road you actually find out life is

actually much cheaper wing travel then

it is at home I mean if you think about

a year's worth of expenses as $18,000

most people spend way more than that 50

bucks a day you know if you think of

like as total costs there's not like I'm

just spending eighteen thousand on

day-to-day I mean that's everything for

a year right and so your money goes a

lot further on the road it goes a lot

further when especially Americans think

it does because we don't have a travel

culture we have a vacation culture you

go away for two weeks and go to a nice

hotel or resort or a cruise or fancy

places around Europe you staying like

two star hotels and you come back home

and you tell your friends and they

internalize that and books and movies

and just what you hear in the news and

suddenly we have this way of thinking

about travel that nobody else in the

world really thinks about we don't have

a travel culture I would not really

exposed a lot of this and if we are

we're told it's weird ooh

you mean you're gonna like stay in

somebody's home as weird or you're gonna

share with something you don't know it's

weird right and so a lot of times when

people assume that travel is expensive

they take vacation culture and apply

that framework to long-term travel

culture when in fact long-term travel is

a completely different lifestyle and it

is a lifestyle that is cheaper than

living in the United States yeah so much

cheaper we're on vacation you have a

fixed start and end date you you're

going away to Europe for two weeks so

you wanted to see Berlin in London and

say Paris because you're out here in

Paris so I'll use it as a reference a

lot so you're not really concerned about

making your money last because you know

it only has to go until 14 days from now

when you move a lot your costs go up

because you're always on the move so

your transportation costs does go way up

but when you're traveling you have all

the time in the world but not all the

money in the world so you really have to

shift your focus it's not about seeing a

lot quickly it's about moving slow and

it was saving and understanding that

less is more that's a philosophy I try

to take to people even if they're they

only have two weeks

don't try to squeeze everything in and

the more you rush the more it's just

going to drain you and the more it's

gonna drain your bank account right the

more you rush the less you see but if

you travel early you really can absorb a

culture and a place yeah exactly and I

totally get why people wanted to see you

know 10 European cities in two weeks

when are they gonna get back I don't

know but if all you do is just rush

through you don't really see anything

you're just checking off like yeah I've

been there but what do you weigh to be

seen because you were physically there

doesn't mean you actually were there

especially if your ideas not travel with

a ton of money you guys are slow down

slow travel is cheap travel cheap travel

is slow travel the faster you go the

more you'll spend as you've been

traveling you've probably met quite a

number of families who are traveling can

you what tips do you have for people who

are listening who want to travel long

term with their children

when you're traveling with your your

kids you know those costs or to multiply

right so a great website for family

travel is mommy points M om my P o IM TS

talks all about like vacationing with

your kids one thing if I don't have kids

so I don't claim to be the Seminole

expert on family travel but family

travel sorta like group travel if if you

think of like are you gonna get four

beds in the dorm well if you add up

those beds you're better off just

getting there being bait so family

travel we getting it in the Airbnb

because the per person cost is much

lower than anything else that's sort of

like lodging is really difficult when

you have four plane tickets to buy but

also is really difficult

that's where travel hacking and points

and miles really comes into play because

even if you can only offset two of the

four tickets or two of the five tickets

whatever there's still two tickets you

can offset so it's really important to

do points and miles utilize and this is

a good tip for everybody the Tourism

Board when you go to a city walking to

the tourist information booth

and ask them where some friendly

friendly but cheap activities because it

is their job to know everything there is

to know about the destination you just

came to visit they sit there every day

and they tell visitors what to see what

to do and there are also locals and more

often than not on people are working

tourism offices tend to be older and

they probably have kids themselves so

there are gonna be a great resource

because and it's also important how you

frame the question what should I do

it's not the question you ask because

they're gonna look at you and say what

should you do as a tourist well go and

see this touristy stuff if you say what

do you do with your kids they will

direct you to the things the locals do

and the locals aren't spending tons of

money with their kids every day they're

going off to the parks and the

playgrounds and finding the the fun

family-friendly activities that don't

cost a fortune

so that's always a good way to phrase

any question when you travel hey what

should I do is hey what do you do for

fun here because then you're getting the

local answer it's a subtle shift but it

creates a vastly different answer there

are a number of people who are listening

to this who are interested in quitting

their nine-to-five job and traveling but

they've never traveled long-term before

and they're not quite sure if they even

are going to have the stamina for it you

know there's always that doubt in the

back of your mind of what if I think I

want to travel but after three months or

six months I burnout how do you plan for

a long-term travel if you've never done

it before and you're not sure if you're

even going to enjoy it once you try it

the beauty of travel is that it teaches

you about yourself and I've met a lot of

people who have phoned up that they'd

all like to travel and I go home and

there's nothing wrong with coming home

if you do it for three months four

months and you're like not really

digging it Travel burnout is real it

happens to everybody

the longer you travel the more

frequently it will happen after four

weeks of like constantly moving I just

want to stay at home for like a month

and just catch up you know but before

when I had just left

I could go once a months a month you

know it was all new it was all fresh I

had no responsibilities could you keep

going but eventually you hit this

burnout phase I mean the reason I went

home back in 2008 you know I didn't

actually have to be home till May

because that was when my sister was

graduating in college but I came home in

January because I've just really burnt

out 18 months I was just tired of

meeting people all the time and you know

having same conversations and packing

and unpacking and figuring a laundry and

getting around it was just like I just

want a break and that happens so that's

that's a natural part of travel travels

work you know everyday you have to

figure out where to go where to see how

they find the place to eat

you're basically restarting your life

every day and that can really drain you

Travel is

battery it's not in a limited Wellspring

so you need to recharge it and so you

know if you're traveling you don't

really like it stop sit down relax for a

bit recharge your batteries stay in one

place watch Netflix create some routine

after a couple of weeks go on if you

still hate it go home I know many people

who have gone home they miss their

friends and their family they miss their

boyfriend either just don't like it this

style of travel they're not just not

into it and there's nothing wrong with

that I think people get caught up like

oh I've told everybody I'm going away

for a year so I have to do the whole

year otherwise I'll seem like a failure

there is no failure in travel you can't

lose travel as a personal journey that a

person takes for themselves there's no

winning or losing if I go away for five

years and you only go away for five

months doesn't make me the better

traveler and doesn't make you a lesser

traveler it means nothing means I went

away for five years and you went away

for five months there's a matter if you

are in Central America Europe or

Australia Russia China nothing matters

there is no there's no measuring stick

you have been a solo traveler for the

past 13 years how do you combat

loneliness when you travel you know you

have this idea when you when you're

going away by yourself you're like

that's gonna be great I'm gonna just be

by myself do what I want when I want and

then meet people

no one's gonna hold me back and then you

go and you realize that you're alone

that's cool and then you're alone I mean

like wait I haven't talked really human

in like five days what the heck then you

really want to start to know people and

then you realize that actually there's a

lot of other travelers out there and

you're just gonna find them just like

you they are all so alone so this is why

I like staying in hostels this is why I

like yet the app couchsurfing even if

you don't want to stay in someone's

couch they have a lot of meetups there

are lots of events and stuff going on so

you can just like go meet that

I went to a bunch when I was here in

Paris lots of language meetups walking

tours are great pub crawls you don't

want to get you know crazy drunk you

know it's just something that gets

people together you know and people who

are travelling like you

there's awesome lots of message boards

and meetup forums online you know calm

is a good one if you're staying in a

hostel it's really easy to meet people

because you're just surrounded by

travelers all the time so it's sort of

like a hostel is a natural breeding

ground for friendship

but if you're not staying at hostels and

you don't really want to do that whole

thing chuckle meaning meetup calm check

out couchsurfing check out what other

sort of meetup groups are in that city

you know if you're traveling for family

there's this thing called the film

Travel Association you know they can put

you in touch with locals there's always

people around but you have to make the

effort you know that's the one thing I

learned in my head I was gonna live all

these like crazy wild dreams you know

I'd be at a cafe and next thing I know

people would see me eating alone they'd

fight me out and you know I ended up in

like to sail to France and partying on

some guy's yacht and then someone's like

hey you want to come to Italy with us

and drive the yacht to Italy and crazy

things would happen that I need this

week trance and I'd butcher somewhere in

the local language and she'd think it

was cute and next thing I know you know

we're dating and all that jazz that

doesn't happen and I find it really

quickly is like if you want stuff to

happen you have to go make it happen

okay sitting alone in your Airbnb isn't

going to get you friends

this isn't going to cure that loneliness

and going back to what I said earlier

about how there's so much information

online now and now is a great time to

travel because of it it's also a great

time to meet people because there are so

many apps and websites and groups out

there that facilitate people meeting in

a way that didn't exist back in

2005-2006 yeah I

think that often I traveled from 2008 to

2010 I traveled for those two years full

time and the amount of technology

available today compared to back then is

multiple generations apart oh yeah I

mean 2005 it's like this donut joke the

Internet and it wasn't even that long

ago right so let's talk more about money

you mentioned that you spent fifty

dollars a day as you traveled but let's

talk about how you made your money last

I spent so long saving it you know I had

all these spreadsheets I'm actually

flipping through my whole notebook as we


looking at these daily budgets you know

from day 208 you know on the road and

where I spent 20 23 bucks the key to

really make your money last is whitening

it down what I really noticed is that

people who go home early have no idea

where their money's going so they they

start out with this set dollar and that

they have say twenty thousand dollars

and then just go through spending and

they're like oh my god it's gone now

gonna go home it's like oh where did you

spend it I have no idea but the people

who I noticed who lasts the longest on

the road every day they write down what

they spent you know I was recently in

New Zealand and I watched these two

girls at dinner go through their budget

and you know they had receipts and

everything and I was like oh you guys

write down anything but again that's how

we know we're staying on budget and I

was like these are my people right here

because if you don't know where you're

spending money you don't know how you're

gonna save money same with creating a

budget back home you don't know what you

can cut if you don't know where that

money's going so I always wrote down

everything I I was spending so I could

see like oh well I've the last couple of

days I've been spending a lot of money

I should really pull back so I can get

that average down again

you know let's see oh I've been drinking

a lot well I won't do that for a couple

of days or look I've been eating out you

know for the next couple of days I'll

cook and taking one of Tours let's not

take a lot of tourists so I really

I mean sort of tracked my my daily

budget and see what I was doing how I

was doing and how much I left and so I

think that is really the secret to

long-term travel is budgeting and

knowing yourself to you know going back

to talking about how much I love food I

love food if you're the type of person

who likes to eat budget more for food if

you're the type of person who has to

have like a really nice place to sleep

budget more for accommodation again

there's every price you can want is

online so you can get a real good sense

of prices just by researching online and

and so the people who also go all of the

people who just don't know the cost of

things or even bother to put any effort

into learning what do you do when

unexpected expenses cause your budget to

go significantly over I always had an

emergency fund so you know when I

calculated okay I had $30,000 I knew I

wanted to come home we have five does I

figured if I had lived home with my

parents for a bit that would be fine

I needed to for school the student loans

spend 20 and I had a $3,000 sort of

emergency slush fund that ideally was

for when I came back but if something

happened it would sort of come out of

that so one I prepared for that you

should always prepare for the worst

expect the best but you know if

something like really bad happened I

would just adjust accordingly if I had

to buy a new camera or something I would

you know be like all right for the next

you know couple of weeks I really just

gonna be cheap no drinking I'm gonna

cook my own meals you know maybe if I

find the cheap place to stay I'm just

gonna stay there long term travel is not

a vacation it's like life and you make

these adjustments when you travel just

like you do when you're in life because

there's no ending or if there is none

Dave's usually really far away so it's

like there's no end date this is your

day-to-day life you know on vacation you

can't worry about it when you get home

because you know how long

your home is where you are and speaking

of budgeting while you're travelling in

the same way that you budgeted at home

you also mentioned that when you left

your full-time job in Boston you had 30

thousand dollars saved you mentioned

that you earned this by working 60 hour

weeks so you were certainly working a

lot but how did you save money while you

were working so much and you have any

other tips for for that working so much

as we have a lot of opportunity or time

to spend the money you're making but I

do a lot of sort of case studies on the

website about budgeting and so I take

readers and I'm like okay let's you say

you can't travel but let's make this


and so I mean for me it was first I

tracked all my expenses you know and now

you have things like mint comic but I

can do that right but just get a sense

of like if I bought water I would write

it down gum write it down

and so over the course of a month I

really got a sense of okay what am I

really spending money on and then I

divided into wants and needs I need is

my utility bill can't not pay the

electric bill right a want was Starbucks

turned out I really had a really bad

Starbucks of diction I had a phone plan

that I wasn't using all like the bells

and whistles on so like what if I can

downgrade that you know can't get rid of

the phone but why do I need such a great

plan by putting everything into the one

in need category and thinking of every

decision within that mindset a lot of

needs to go okay well I want to go out

with my friends I don't want or need and

by always be like gonna cut the wand

it's gonna cut the wands I got to just

cour spending I only spent on what I

needed and got rid of all the ones I

would cook dinner that was really

important restaurants are very expensive

but I I used to play this game with

myself because I was like constructing

all these budgets I had a sense of like

how much I would need and so I would

always ask myself if I'm going out with

my friends or I need to go get this

thing or see this movie or or do

something that is three days in your

is what I'm going to worth giving up

three days in Europe sometimes the

answer would be yes you know it's a

friend's birthday somebody's getting

married spending that money was worth

giving up a couple days in Europe

because the connections and my friends

was great right but she's just another

night out I was like oh I I want that

extra night in Europe one thing I think

is important as much as the hard numbers

are really important getting to the

right mindset and thinking about your

expenses differently will shift how you

think about money and know how to stay

quicker you know I had this guy we

interviewed him on the website he was

making minimum wage and you know he did

a lot of overtime too but you know he

followed that same mindset just like I

worked I bought only what I needed

because I knew the sacrifice but I was

making now was worth all those extra

days on the road and so it doesn't

matter if you make minimum wage or

$200,000 a year there's money that you

could say from your budget even if it's

only a couple of dollars a day there's

still something there it doesn't matter

if it takes you a month or a year to

save up I mean it took me three years to

save up you know there's money there

it's just you got a always thing if I'm

gonna buy this thing it's worth giving

up time traveling right so you frame

money in the context of time and that

helps you make smarter decisions about

how you spend your money right I still

do it today if I go or I'm like oh I

have to move somewhere and I have to go

buy your furniture and someone's like oh

you can buy this you know go see a couch

it's like a thousand bucks like a

thousand dollars for a couch I could

spend almost a month in Thailand all

that much money you know so I so like

thinking about money in terms of that

way but it's like the first thought I

had because I trained my mind so long to

think that way

wanted needs and framing it between

every expenses days not traveling has

really taught me to think about what's

important because I have plenty of

friends who will tell me they can't

afford to travel I'll be like yeah we

just bought these really expensive


the buggy ever they needed those like

did you really need them or did you

really just want them more than you

wanted to go on vacation and so you

really learn to prioritize them for some

people travel is just like the desire

that they have like whoever want to

travel they don't really want chavo and

ones those sunglasses more than they

wanna get on the flight to Paris but

once you really start thinking about

what is a want and what is the need you

really understand what it is you want

and what you want your money to do for

you you know I want my money to get me

trips and good food everything else I

don't really need fancy clothes or a

great TV or sunglasses I want

experiences to me that's the sacrifice

well thank you Matt where can people

find you if they would like to know more

about you and your story they can find

me on my website nomadic matcom n om AD

I see ma TT as well as more about my

story on my new book ten years of nomads

a travelers journey home which is all

about the ten years I spent backpacking

around the world sort of follows the

theme of world trip lots of how do you

plan lessons I've learned stories how do

you make friends what do you do when you

fall in love you know those great things

that you hear about where you can travel

so that's my new book so travel tips on

the website travel stories in the book

well thank you Matt thanks for having me

thank you for spending this time with us

Matt what are some of the key takeaways

that we got from this conversation here

are six number one flexibility is

affordability one of my favorite quotes

comes from JL Collins he's the author of

the book the simple path to wealth he's

also a former guest on this podcast he

says that flexibility is the only true

security and what he means by that in

the context of financial independence is

that we can make all of these plans

around budgeting and money management

and asset allocation within our

portfolios and safe withdrawal rates

from our portfolios in retirement we can

make plans and plans and plans

but at the end of the day the only true

security comes from our capacity and

willingness to be flexible and to adjust

course in whatever way that the

situation might demand whether that

means radically altering the cost of the

way in which we live or being

enterprising and entrepreneurial and

being willing to hustle for our food

your flexibility as security and that

same ethos of flexibility also applies

to travel as nomadic Matt describes when

it comes to travel flexibility is the

key to affordability a couple of key

specific points is one you need to be

flexible with where and/or when you go

if you want to go in Paris the first

week of June and that's it whatever is

the price of a ticket is the price of

the ticket but if you're a little bit

more flexible as to maybe when you go to

Paris you might find the flight deal or

maybe you just have to go away in the

first week of June but you're not

married to Paris so he might find the

flight deal somewhere else the

difference of a day can mean the

difference of hundreds of dollars so

many years ago I used to be a campus

representative for the Peace Corps to be

clear I did not serve in the Peace Corps

as a Peace Corps volunteer I worked for

the Peace Corps office in Denver I

worked part time for them for two years

while I was in college and I was their

campus representative so I would go to

different college campuses and encourage

people to come to meetups in which they

could learn more about serving the Peace

Corps if that's what they wanted to do

upon graduation and when I would go and

give these presentations in front of

classes people would often ask me do you

get to choose where you go and my reply

was always the same what I said was hey

think about three variables there's

where you go there's what you do when

you get there and there's when you leave

like the month in which you leave so

those three things where what and when

all need to come into alignment and if

you're highly committed to one of those

variables then in order to have the best

chance of getting that variable you need

to be flexible on the others

and that is an analogy that also applies

to travel when you travel there's when

you go there's where you go and there's

how much it costs so these three

variables when where and how much if

you're highly committed to one of those

variables in in this case that variable

is how much it costs then to have the

best possibility of that outcome

you've got to be flexible on the others

everything is a trade-off and everything

works in collaboration and tension with

one another so if your firm about how

much or how little you want it to cost

then be chill about where you go when

you go and what you do when you're there

so that is key takeaway number one key

takeaway number two Travel is exactly

like life in that the big three expenses

are housing transportation and food now

in travel if you use rewards and points

and travel hacking that eliminates or at

a minimum greatly reduces your

transportation costs and that means that

you're left with food and accommodation

as your two big expenses travelers

biggest expenses are always food and

accommodation everything else is

negotiable so if you can eat cheap and

find a cheap accommodation it's a pretty

much travel and so if you think about

the cost of travel in those terms if you

think about the big three well okay

transportation doesn't need to cost very

much because of rewards and points and

travel hacking I have a page on my

website afford anything comm slash

travel where I point to some of my

favorite resources for travel hacking

and then when you're left with food and

accommodation those two things they

don't have to be that much you don't

have to go to restaurants you don't have

to stay in hotels you can stay in

hostels where you'll meet other

travelers and there are family-friendly

hostels where a family can rent a

private room in which a couple with

young kids can stay

not every hostel is like that but many

are you can stay in low-cost guest

houses you can Airbnb a private room in

a home in which the family also lives in

that home

and that's a great way not just to get

your cost of accommodation down but also

to meet local people in the place that

you're visiting and when it comes to

food well that leads to the third key

takeaway go to the grocery store go to

the grocery store in South Korea go to

the market in Thailand if you travel to

the UK visit a Tesco that's part of the

fun food wise I was tell people just

either how you eat at home there's

nothing in the rule book because there's

no rule book that says you have to eat

out every meal you have to go to a

restaurant if you really want to know

food you're gonna eat everywhere right

go to a market if you really want to

understand the cultures relationship

with food go to the local markets go to

the supermarket that will give you a

much better understanding of like what

local cuisine is like than just popping

into a bunch of random restaurants so

one of my favourite and earliest travel

memories happened when my friend Kim

Anna Kim the firefighter who is she's

been on this pot he has several times

she and I were in Spain together we

spent a month and a half six weeks there

and we would go to the grocery store in

Spain and this was before either of us

really knew how to cook we'd go to the

grocery store and we'd buy these bags of

frozen paia and we'd come back to this

little rundown little apartment in

Madrid and just cook frozen Paia over

the stove and then we needed to do

laundry so we Google Maps the word

lavender Tia thinking that that would

lead us to a laundromat but instead we

like we then we packed this big bag full

of like dirty clothes and we hauled it

all the way over there on like the

subway system only to discover that

actually it was a car wash so then we

lugged all of our dirty clothes but I

can just wash them in the thing I'm like

that's what travel is those are some of

my favourite memories it's travel is

living your normal life somewhere else

it's cooking and laundry done in a

different location and when you live

that way when you just live your life

elsewhere you get to experience the

culture and the food and the people in

the lifestyle of that location you get

to see who you are

in a different context and that is what

makes travel so much fun it's not about

taking a selfie in front of some tourist

trap it's about discovering yourself and

creating yourself in a new context

that's the difference between a vacation

and travel and that leads perfectly to

the next takeaway takeaway number four

the distinction between travel and a

vacation your money goes a lot further

on the road it goes a lot further when

especially Americans think it does

because we don't have the travel culture

we have a vacation culture you go away

for two weeks and go to a nice hotel or

resort or a cruise or fancy places

around Europe you staying like two star

hotels and you come back home and you

tell your friends eyes and they

internalize that and books and movies

and just what you hear in the news and

suddenly we have this way of thinking

about travel that nobody else in the

world really thinks about we don't have

a travel culture and we're not really

exposed a lot of this and if we are

we're told it's weird now just imagine

for a second that you stay in your

hometown let's for the sake of

illustration forget the Travel component

for a second and imagine that you

currently live in Kansas City or Wichita

or Cincinnati or wherever it is that you

live right so imagine that you don't

leave your current town but you didn't

wake up tomorrow morning and you decide

that you're going to move out of your

house you're going to move into a nice

hotel a three star hotel in downtown

Cincinnati and you're going to eat at

restaurants for every single meal if you

did that even in your own city where you

currently live or you're in your

original hometown where you grew up if

you lived that type of lifestyle there

your cost of living would skyrocket you

would never live that way at home so why

would you assume that just because

you're in a new city you're supposed to

live that way it doesn't even make sense

but unfortunate

a lot of people right off travel as

expensive because they take their

vacation experience your vacations are

by definition they're inefficient if you

check into a hotel you eat at

restaurants it's it's an inefficient way

to live and when you do it for three or

four days then fine it's only three or

four days but people take that paradigm

and then they apply it to a three or

four month trip automatically assume

that it's going to be expensive and then

write-off travel as something that's

tremendously expensive the only

quote-unquote rich people can do when in

fact as nomadic Matt has described his

annual cost of living is $18,000 now

imagine that imagine meeting somebody in

the United States meeting somebody in

Indianapolis or Cincinnati or Kansas

City who says yeah my annual cost of

living is $18,000 you would say that's

amazing congratulations tell me how you

do it because that's a very cheap annual

cost of living for one person and when

you travel when you're in locations

where the US dollar goes a lot further

it's pretty simple it's not hard to have

an annual cost of living of less than

twenty K a year the key to doing it is

to live there and to live as efficiently

as you would live at home like really

the the whole magic of travel is that

you're at home in a new place that's the

distinction between travel and a

vacation and that distinction is that

fourth key takeaway key takeaway number

five slow travel is cheap travel don't

just rush through cities or countries go

to fewer places and spend longer amounts

of time in each place I totally get why

people want to see you know ten European

cities in two weeks when are they gonna

get back I don't know but if all you do

is just rush through you're not really

seeing anything you're just checking off

like yeah I've been there but what a way

to be seen because you were physically

there doesn't mean you actually were

there especially if your ideas not

travel with a ton of money you got

slow down slow travel is cheap travel

cheap travel slow travel my rule when

I'm traveling overseas is that one week

is the minimum amount of time that I

will spend in any country I refuse to go

to a country if I can't be there for at

least one week minimum and quite

honestly that's not long enough that's

the bare minimum and so if if people ask

me how many countries have I traveled to

when I give that answer I only count

countries where I've spent at least one

week and many places I've stayed for

between three weeks to a month or longer

so Cambodia I was there for three weeks

Wow three weeks Vietnam two weeks

Spain six weeks Indonesia two months

Australia ten months so you get in the


Thailand I've been back there eight

times and I've cumulatively spent at

least six months there and what that

means is that I'm efficient at knowing

how to live a normal ordinary life there

I'm efficient at knowing where to buy

groceries how to use local public

transportation rather than taking taxis

everywhere you know I've taken the bus

not the tourist bus the local bus and

when I'm there I fill my days with

normal things like going to the dentist

or getting a haircut and so when I talk

about how long I've spent in various

places I'm not saying it to brag I'm

saying it for the purpose of

illustrating that by settling down in a

place for a while you become efficient

at living in that place you develop

routines you meet other people make a

group of friends there you get to know

what the good deals are you reduce

transportation costs because you're not

moving around very much and that's why

slow travel is cheap travel and cheap

travel a slow travel and that is the

fifth key takeaway finally key takeaway

number six frame your spending in terms

of your time that $36 pair of sunglasses

at REI that costs a day in medicine like

that costs one day of every expense your

accommodation your food

your coffee your transit every expense

for a full day of your life is

equivalent to that $36 pair of

sunglasses so do you really want to

spend $36 on a pair of sunglasses or can

you forego that purchase and instead

spend an extra day in medicine are you

surprised am with myself because I was

like constructing all these budgets I

had a sense of like how much I would

need and so I would always ask myself if

I'm going out with my friends or I need

to go get this thing or see this movie

or or do something that is three days in

Europe is what I'm going to worth giving

up three days in Europe sometimes the

answer would be yes you know what's your

friend's birthday somebody's getting

married spending that money was worth

giving up a couple days in Europe

because the connection to my friends was

great right but it's just another night

out I was like hmm I want that actually

90 in Europe this works not just for

spending decisions but also for earning

related choices and for side hustles if

you start a side hustle even a small one

where you earn an extra hundred and

fifty dollars a week well after a year

that's almost eight thousand dollars

after taxes that leaves you with an

extra six grand save all of that put it

in a travel fund do that for three years

now you've got 18 grand you can quit

your job and live on that for a year if

you go to countries where the dollar

stretches a lot further

so frame your spending and your side

hustle income in your earnings in terms

of the time that it will buy you that is

the sixth and final key takeaway from

this conversation with nomadic net that

is our show for today I would love to

hear what you think about this podcast

episode find me on instagram at paula

pant that's PA ula pa NT and let me know

what you thought about today's episode

you can also chat with other people in

the afford anything community by heading

to our Facebook group you can find that

at afford anything comm slash Facebook

that's afford anything comm slash

Facebook that'll take you to the afford

anything community on Facebook

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reopening for enrollment from September

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interested in enrolling this course

that's the one week September 23rd

through September 27th 2019 when we will

be opening our doors reopening for

enrollment and welcoming our second

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students in the course will go through

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