Lots of hard work, great content, and networking like hell. I treat this as a business so like a good business, I develop a strategy, marketing plan, and purpose. I think too many bloggers take things day by day without developing a bigger picture strategy. There were a couple of big moments for the blog but one was definitely when I was featured in the New York Times in 2009. That really helped launch my site.
–You talk often and at length about how it’s possible to travel on less than $50 a day... Could you go over some of the basics for my readers?
Traveling on $50 a day is much a philosophy as it is sticking to an exact number. It’s about being frugal and finding value. Some big wins can be if you CouchSurf (stay with locals) or stay in hostels, avoid expensive restaurants, take local transportation, refill water bottles, avoid bank fees by getting non-fee cards, go to local markets for food, and get sightseeing passes for multiple attractions. It’s a lot of little things that really add up.
–What are the advantages and disadvantages of traveling cheaply?
Well, the advantage is that you clearly get to save money. Plus, by sticking closer to the ground and doing more what everyday people do, you end up closer to daily life and get to see life a little better. Luxury is wonderful but it’s very removed from the day to day life of where you are going.
The disadvantage? Hmm, I would say the one disadvantage would be that you miss out on the nice stuff and some activities. When you are traveling on a budget, you have to be a lot more conscience of how you spend money so you don’t always get to stay in nice places, have a fancy meal, or can afford all the activities you want. It can be limiting.
–I know all too well that it’s actually quite easy to travel cheaply, as long as you have some self-control, and of course, know what to look for. What are some of the things most people overpay for? What are some of those ‘secret’ travel fees that most people have trouble avoiding?
Most people overpay for their airline tickets because they don’t understand why airline tickets cost a lot of money and how to avoid paying a high airfare. It’s an art for sure but there are ways to be the guy or girl who paid the least.
Overall, the every day fee people pay for is the dreaded bank fee. So, get cards that don’t have international fees. There are a ton of ways to avoid bank fees and even if you aren’t an American and you can avoid the fees too. want to avoid fees.
–What are some of the most inexpensive destinations to visit that also offer loads of value? And Why?
Central America and Southeast Asia are probably the best regions in the world for budget travel. The regions are very cheap, your dollar goes very far, there’s a lot of guesthouses and hostels on these well worn backpacker trail. Far eastern Europe is also very good too. Ukraine is dirt cheap as is Romania and Bulgaria. All of these destinations are fun to visit.
–Like me, you also train fellow bloggers from time to time... Could you talk about the basics of what it takes to become a travel blogger? Please explain a little about the lifestyle and workload, but also the process of becoming successful in monetization:
This is a subject that could be talked about at length (and I have) but the gist of what I tell my students is this: Travel is a 1 trillion dollar industry and there are over a billion international tourists each year. There’s a lot of room for growth but if you want to be successful and make a very good living (and yes, there is a lot of money in travel blogging….err, should I say travel) you need to be different, have your own unique angle, focus on a narrow niche, be an expert, and create your own products.
You can freelance write if you want – there’s plenty of space for that if you are a great writer but if you think of yourself as your own media company, you’ll have a much larger reach.
–Well, that’s about it Matt – I appreciate your time. I have one last question for you... What were the biggest and most difficult lessons to learn from traveling the world? Is there one particular instance that sticks out in your mind – if so, could you tell us a little about that?
It’s hard to pick the most difficult lesson but I would say the best thing travel has taught is that we are all the same. Yes, there are cultural differences and beliefs that make the world interesting. These differences are what makes travel so fun but at the end of the day, under the surface, we are all the same. We all wake up, worry about getting fat, not eating right, our kids, money, healthy, friends, and family. We all want the same things and I think that is a very uplifting realization.
(Photo via, edited)