20 Random Facts About Me

nomadic mattIt’s a new year and I thought a good way to start it off was in a light way. I don’t often talk about me here. Yes, I talk about my travels but I don’t often go into personal information about my life like many other bloggers do. So I’m kicking off 2011 with some random facts about me and my life:

I hate flying. I love airports, lounges, and elite status, but the act of flying makes me ill. I don’t like heights (I recently went skiing and almost had a panic attack on the chair lift) and any turbulence makes me think the plane is about to crash. Needless to say, I’m not a good flier. (Ironic considering how often I fly!)

When I was younger, I was hugely obsessed with Pinky and the Brain. I even had a T-shirt collection. I also had one of those bowl haircuts, but I prefer to forget that.

I never really traveled independently until I went to Costa Rica at age 23. My travel experiences up until then were a series of road trips with my parents and a drunken weekend in Montréal when I was 19. I also never went west of the Mississippi until I was 25.

I got really bad food poisoning when I was in Costa Rica. It was so bad, in fact, that when I came home I had to be hospitalized for three days and put on a morphine drip. It’s the only time I’ve ever been in a hospital.

I went to school to be a high school history teacher, and I ended up teaching for one whole year. I was supposed to mold the young minds of the future, but I realized it wasn’t really for me and I ended up changing careers.

I am a really good cook. I don’t get to cook much on the road because I hate how hostel kitchens aren’t fully stocked and everyone crowds them at the same time but, once in a while, I like to cook a massive meal for my fellow travelers.

I used to be a vegetarian. After reading Fast Food Nation, I decided to give up meat and was a vegetarian for four years. I gave it up when I started to travel. It wasn’t eating meat I was against but the stuff in the meat. I started eating it again partly as a matter of convenience. But I think it’s rude to turn down food in other cultures. If you go to a village in Mongolia and you are given food, it’s insulting to refuse. “Sorry, your traditional and heartfelt cooking doesn’t go with my dietary needs.” I think it’s culturally insensitive. But that’s a rant for another post.

That being said, I refuse to eat veal as I think that is unethical. It’s the only meat I won’t eat. I once got into a huge fight with an ex-girlfriend about it because, as it turns out, her grandfather made veal.

I’m a huge fan of soul, motown, blues, and jazz. It’s way better than any of the pop music out there. If I hear “G6” or Ke$ha one more time, I might scream. Sometimes it’s good to be overseas and out of the loop of all this bad music out there these days.

nomadic mattIf I could ever pick what time period I could live in, I’d pick 1920s Prohibition America. I think that would be an exciting time to live in. It seemed like a care free time in America. But maybe I’ve just read The Great Gatsby too much.

I am intensely political. After travel, politics is my second love. I live and breathe politics, and it is the only news I keep up with while traveling. I am always ready to discuss and debate the world any time of the day and with anyone, no matter how well I know you.

One day, when I become semi-Nomadic Matt, I would like to open up my own hostel. After staying in so many hostels over the past years, I think I have a really good idea of what works and what doesn’t. I want to make the coolest, most environmentally friendly hostel in the world.

I don’t have any desire to visit most Middle Eastern countries. If I went my whole life without visiting the Middle East, I probably wouldn’t regret it. The area simply doesn’t interest me. They are at the bottom of my list of places to see. Just one of those things.

People always ask “will I do this forever?” My answer: I don’t know. Forever is a long time. I’d like to travel for the next few years, but who can say what the future holds and where it will take us? For now, I’m enjoying the ride and see no reason to hang up my backpack just yet.

I watch a lot of movies, even bad chick flicks, simply because I have so much time while traveling. I’m addicted to boot leg movies as well as downloading them to my iTunes.

While I won’t ever go back to Vietnam, I sort of like Vietnamese pho and rice noodles. I have to say, Vietnamese food is pretty good.

I’ve been to over 30 Dave Matthews Band concerts. I’m a super fan.

I’m a Japanophile. I love everything about the culture – the food, the history, the etiquette, the landscape, the architecture- all of it. I would also eat sushi every day if I could. I’ve even eaten it for breakfast.

I’m a workaholic. Maybe because I grew up in New England, I have the Puritan work ethic but if I don’t have work, I think something is wrong and create work for myself. My 2011 goal is to relax more and realize that most of my blog runs itself and that it is OK to take a break.

I decided to travel after meeting 5 backpackers in a shared taxi while on vacation in Thailand. I was so amazed at what they were doing that the next day I decided to quit my job. They were two Australians, a Canadian, and a Belgium couple. They changed the course of my life and have no idea.

  1. Matt, I feel like I know you much better now! The only think I don’t ‘get’ is the politics; I’ve never been able to engage myself in this. I think a hostel is a great idea, even if only for the marketing synergies!

  2. That was fun, Matt, thanks. I, too, hate flying – probably BECAUSE I’m a frequent flyer. I used to love it, but I sometimes have an irrational fear that the more I fly, the more I increase the odds of crashing. I even have an irrational fear that writing that fear down might tempt fate. I, too, am a huge fan of soul, motown, and blues… also old-school rhythm-and-blues, jump blues, and swing. I dig Dave Matthews. I definitely relate to creating work even when I’m supposed to be enjoying down time. When I did my global trek, I felt like I had to have one task or goal every day. I can even turn laziness into a goal: like where will I go to be lazy? will I read a book while being lazy? will I get better at meditating while being lazy? I’m working (oops) on overcoming that.

  3. Nice to hear more about you Matt after reading your travel adventures for a while. Best of luck and much health and happiness (and good travels!) in 2011!

  4. One of my most sacred travel rules is when meeting new people, never, never, ever talk about Religion or Politics! People have such strong views and it always gets heated.

    I use to love politics and thought about going into it at a local level. But I very quickly learnt that just the urge to become a politician should be enough to warn you off. Modern politics is just spin and trash.

    Travelling is much more fun and dignified :)

  5. Fernando Jr

    Matt, it was great to know you better, as I’ve been following your adventures for some time. I wish I could be a fulltime traveller as you. That’s why I’ve been studying English for more than 20 years. Now I’m teaching English here in Brazil so that later on, with a CELTA certificate, I can teach it abroad and travel, just like you did (or still do). I hope you have many good adventures in 2011 to keep on feeding your blog and its readers!! Cheers, mate!

  6. When you open your hostel don’t forget about us older travelers. We enjoy the adventure of meeting fellow travelers in a community minded environment.

    Best of luck to you in 2011.

  7. Bibi

    Very interesting post. Takes courage to reveal yourself to so many while not knowing much about us! I wonder why you aren’t curious about the Middle East?

  8. I would really encourage you to reconsider your views on visiting the Middle East. We’ve been living among Arabs for the past five years and have found them, in general, to be incredibly hospitable. As for the food, Lebanese food is one of my favorites! :) If you ever make it to our neck of the woods, you would be welcome to stay with our family.

  9. Needless to say I loved this post. As I realized myself, readers tend to like more personal posts rather than generic ones. Plus, considering the reputation you have in the travel blogosphere, it’s even more interesting to read.

    ps I hate flying too. Like, really, really hate.
    pps I totally understand the lack on interest for a particular region. While yours is the Middle East, I’m not too fond of SE Asia. Dunno why. Except for the beaches of Thaïland, maybe, but that’s about it. No interest at all!

  10. As a kid I too was obsessed with Pinky and the Brain and I made my mum buy me the pencil case and lunch box. Even now at 24 I get the theme song stuck in my head and I watch the marathons on Foxtel.

  11. Jill

    It’s neat to get to know the person behind the blog much better. I don’t eat veal too.. err, well, I’m a vegetarian so I guess that should be obvious :p But we’re going to Mongolia next year and we’ll see if I have to do some compromises there.

  12. Abdul-Hashmi

    Matt – I am really disappointed by your narrow mindedness regarding travel to the Middle East.

    Do the Pyramids of Giza, Jordan’s Petra, or the streets of the oldest continuously inhabited city on earth (Damascus) not interest you in the least? Or is it just the “Islamic” aspect that doesn’t interest you?

    I’d be curious to know what your political leanings are, now that you brought it up.

    • NomadicMatt

      I do want to go to Egypt but that’s Africa :)

      It’s just not a place that interests me.

      Politically, I’m super liberal!

      • Abdul-Hashmi

        Fair enough, but like the poster below, I’d also think a “super liberal” travel enthusiast would be interested in the Middle East.

        Oh, and Cairo is most definitely in the Middle East (as well as on the continent of Africa). In fact, Cairo is the largest of the world’s Middle Eastern cities. :)

  13. Earl Squirrelson

    Hi Matt, I am new here so nice to learn some about you. I too am very interested in politics though tend not to talk about it too often..hehe.

    I love flying, more turbulence the better, and I love airline food…weird hey!!?? must be all te little packets or something.

    If you wanna hear something a bit different music wise go to triplej.net.au and stream live on line, mainly cool up and coming aussie bands.

    best of luck and fun times in central america


  14. It’s interesting to me that you’re into politics but don’t have a desire to go to the Middle East. For me personally, my college classes on the Middle East (I was a poli sci/international relations major) were SO interesting and really made me want to see that part of the world, so it’s just interesting to hear how people can share similar broad interests – like politics and travel – but have totally different specific interests.

    And I have to admit that your last point made me smile because it sounds suspiciously like a chance encounter that changed your life – I thought those were just for idealistic new travelers 😉

  15. Thanks for sharing. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised you hate flying, that much of it would turn anyone off. Myself, I find that part barely bearable, but airports and security are much worse. Coming to dread it in fact. Love trains, would very much like to do more long distance train travel.

    It’s funny how different parts of the world appeal to different people. I couldn’t care less for going to Australia for example, but absolutely love Mexico, the States, and France.

    Here’s hoping for a great 2011 for everyone!

  16. I find your lack of desire to visit the Middle East interesting. When I was younger, I knew I wanted to travel the world. Ironically, I never had a desire to visit Africa, yet that changed in college and it’s actually the first place I went overseas alone! A friend of mine changed my opinion, so maybe like your decision to quit your job, you may just end up in the Middle East after all :)

  17. Interesting how even though you came home from Costa Rica sick, it still inspired you to travel.

    Would be amazing if someday one of those people from the taxi read this post.

    All the best in 2011!

  18. Sofia

    Great post, a fun way of getting to know you better!

    Both me and Nathan are vegetarians, and like you, if we were given food by someone in a Mongolian village, we wouldn’t deny it (but we wouldn’t just go out there and buy meat snacks on the street either) :)

  19. Dan and I have been fortunate enough to meet up with you in person twice in 2010, so I knew a few of these things (e.g., like being political) but didn’t realize you were such a good cook & feared flying so much. Always fun to learn new random facts.

    When I was a first year at UVA, Dave Matthews still played at the local joint (Trax) for $5 every Thursday night. He made it big later that year, but I still feel fortunate to have seen him in small venues in Charlottesville and London…and then later at a big stadium in San Francisco. Incredible band.

  20. Thanks for sharing, Matt. This was a really great way to get to know you. We’ve met at various events over the years but just haven’t had time to enjoy any in-depth conversations. I’ll have a nice starting point next time our paths cross!

  21. The fact that we are the same age (I think) and you didn’t travel independently until you were 23 (!) and you have this HUGE blog was what inspired me to start mine.

    I don’t have the skills to be as big, but it gave me the motivation to start somewhere and get it all down and experiences out there!

  22. the question is.. are you going to travel there anyway because of the travel site? Or would you rather guest blog and get opinions from other travel bloggers you value?

  23. Kellee

    Mr. Nomadic Matt,

    So I don’t even know if you read any of these, this is the first time i’ve ever commented on someones blog like this but I liked reading about you. I’m just a random person and if I were you I might feel a bit awkward having someone I don’t know at all reading about me. You’re like a celebrity. But your story is very interesting. More intriguing than most celebrities, at least to me. Isn’t it pretty inspiring that five backpackers could change someone’s life so dramatically? I’m attending college at the moment but my dream is to travel. I think about it everyday. I ask myself what I would put in my pack? WHere I would go first? What I could live without and what I couldn’t? It’s pretty incredible what people have turned into necessities these days… Anyways, I also love movies, the 1920’s and Dave. I’m a huge fan. Nice reading about you and safe travels.

    Peace and Love,

  24. As a nomad – beyond must peoples’ ideas, I SAY: yes, it’s all good. Especially, the ISLAM world … go and see IRAN, IRAQ, JORDAN, SYRIA … etc. Start with YEMEN.

    the candy trail … a nomad cross the world, since 1988

  25. Wow what a great idea for a post, it’s great to learn some more about you. I find it funny just how many of us traveller types are bad fliers too and totally understand where your coming from on that front. Incidently, where would open your first hostel?

  26. Good stuff Mr Interesting! And yes, scary turbulence, I still hate it even tho it’s the everyday part of my job and free time!

  27. Amy

    I found your blog via the Miss Alabama program (one of the contestants listed your blog as her favorite), and the title alone intrigued me enough to Google search for your site. I have a travel destination for you since I noticed you like blues: the Mississippi Delta. If you haven’t been, go. The Mississippi Blues Trail starts in Memphis and goes all the way down to New Orleans (I think), but there are some incredible museums (ex. B.B. King in Indianola), traditional juke joints (ex. Morgan Freeman’s Ground Zero in Clarksdale, Po’Monkeys in Merigold), and fabulous restaurants boasting Delta like prices (read dirt cheap) and larger than life flavors (ex. Doe’s in Greenville, Lusco’s in Greenwood). If you want to really feel the blues, drive down U.S. 61, U.S. 82. or MS-49 while listening to Robert Johnson or your blues musician of choice and look out your window… it’ll be tough not to feel the sorrow and joy you hear in their voices. Alright, sorry for the obnoxiously long diatribe about the Delta. I look forward to reading more of your posts, and I love your travel tips.
    Great work!

    • Shiloh

      I enjoyed blog as well (and I’m really not that into blogs) 😉 Just got back from a 10 day trip to Mississippi/TN/AL and AR and did the whole blues thing. It was almost a life changer. If interested, I can give you some tips/insights if you ever get down that way. Good luck in future travels and hostel goal!

      British Columbia, Canada

  28. Wow. I just found this site, and I’m so inspired by your nomadic life! I’ve secretly wanted to just pack up and go for years now. I’ve been unemployed (not by choice) for 5 months, so maybe I should just sell all my stuff and go! Except that it’s expensive to travel. And I’m stuck in the rat race mentality even currently without a job. But I will definitely live vicariously through your adventures! And maybe someday I’ll become a nomad as well. :)

    Happy travels, and thanks for sharing your life with us!

    P.S. Do you ever read about other travelers? Two of my favorite books are Cold Beer and Crocodiles, by Roff Smith, and Tales of a Female Nomad, by Rita Golden Gelman.

  29. Evelin

    Yep this is the answer i will give if someone will ever ask me to marry him, adapting it to my context :-) “People always ask “will I do this forever?” My answer: I don’t know. Forever is a long time. I’d like to travel for the next few years, but who can say what the future holds and where it will take us? For now, I’m enjoying the ride and see no reason to hang up my backpack just yet.”


  30. Dave

    Why wouldn’t you go back to Vietnam? I lived in Saigon for 9 months… it’s dirty and noisy, but I rather enjoyed it. It’s the closest thing I’ve round to living in the wild west. You can drive your motorbike the wrong way down a one way road or on a sidewalk and no one blinks an eye. Outside of the city there are lots of beaches other than Nha Trang that are less developed than other places in SE Asia. Oh and Pho is delicious… of course I live in San Diego so there are plenty of Vietnamese people and Pho places here too, it’s just a lot more pricey.

  31. Interesting about veal. I won’t eat it in the US, but when I mentioned this to my (Italian) husband, he seemed confused about why anyone would keep a calf in a box. I think torturing production animals is often a US conceit, though it’s by no means exclusive. Humane treatment of farm animals is gaining popularity in here in Europe, though it probably was never as bad as the US. In any case, I did have Wiener Schnitzel in Austria at a restaurant that is known for raising its own cows in a healthy manner. I try to consider the source when making decisions like this. My €.02. 😉

  32. Betsy

    Love this getting to know you article! You are an inspiration to me.. I love to travel, but my life gets in the way.. I have been to Italy, but mostly I travel the USA. Some day I will get to go farther.. My husband and I have a 40th Anniversary in 2 years. We were thinking of seeing Ireland, or Australia, or have even thought about Spain.. Out of these where would you suggest?… Or any place else instead? I would love your input!
    GREAT blog. I love reading it!

  33. Olivia

    Hi Matt! I don’t know you at all but I ended up in your blog after doing some research online and…I LOVE HOW YOU THINK! Dont stop doing what you do and Keep it up :)
    Besos desde Spain!

  34. Raya

    As someone who currently eats about 90% vegan, I am already planning on abandoning (or putting on hold?) a good percentage of that when I leave my job to travel next June. Between convenience, and cost, and the amazing food I’m sure to encounter abroad (french pastries, greek gyros, etc) I’m just not willing to sacrifice that part of my journey. Veganism will still await me when I return. Whenever that may be. And also-I’m with you on the work ethic! I was born and raised in upstate NY, and if I’m not working or being productive, I feel like I’m being lazy. It’s just something that’s been instilled in me!

    • NomadicMatt

      I’m glad your giving up veganism. Food is so important to so many cultures that you can’t ignore it and if locals offer it to you, you shouldn’t turn down that hospitality.

  35. Loved reading more about you! One thing though – although I totally understand (and used to share) your feelings about the Middle East, I recently came back from a trip to Israel and Jordan and it was truly fantastic! Highly recommend those places if you ever get the chance and change your mind about that region :)

  36. Regin

    @Matt. Have you been to the Philippines? If not, you must visit the Phil. too. I recommend Banaue Rice Terraces, Sagada and Coron, Palawan.

  37. Airijos Skelbimai

    Happy to heard your traveling adventure, even i want to go at adventuring places and want to make my tour memorable of whole life. Interesting all 20 facts about you. I got help for how to do a adventure traveling. that’s why it is so appreciable post. Please update your blog with new article!

  38. Avi Wenger

    good day… you are quite the young man. i admire your pluck. remind me of myself. having said that, i just finished a session with a good friend who insisted i desist from the travelogues i have written for many years, send as pdf’s to friends, and get down with what is current, begin a blog and get advertisers, companies whose products you are already using, to foot some of the bill. with that in mind, i thought i’d write and find out how you got started with your blog and your advertisers.

    thanks much, and happy new year to you… avi

  39. Walter

    It’s sad that you would eliminate going to an entire region of the world, the Middle East, without at least visiting it once. Your views are based on ignorance not facts. I’ve been all over the Mideast, from Eygpt, Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan to Qatar, Oman, UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain. It is one of the most interesting places in the world, with probably the most amazing and friendly people in the world. I have not made it to Syria or Iran unfortunately, which according to other travellers has even friendlier people.

    If you just want to believe the US media’s portrayal of the Mideast, then I guess you are a typical ignorant American. I’m American and it’s sad that even someone like you, one of the view Americans who actually bothers to travel, would also have such pathetic views of the Mideast without even trying to visit it once.

    Also, I know you covered this in another post once before, but I really have no idea what the point of your blog and travels is when you just go to “safe” countries, mostly in Europe. I know you “travel for me” – whatever that means – but it’s pretty sad that you aren’t more open to going to other places. I started backpacking ten years ago and first went only to western Europe. After a while I spread out to new regions and each time I visited a place the first time, whether Africa, the Mideast, Asia, or South America, I fell in love and wanted to see more. You should be more open minded and take a trip to Africa or the Mideast instead of having this American attitude towards the world.

    • NomadicMatt

      Has nothing to do with being American or the media. I travel lots of places (been to all over Asia, Central America, parts of South America, places in Eastern Europe most people don’t visit) and Africa is very high up on my list of places to see. Hopefully will get there sometime this year. But you know what? I don’t have to want to see every corner of this world. Neither do you for that matter. And I’m OK with that. I’ll see what I want to see in the order I want to see it.

  40. I admire what you do, Matt, truly! I would LOVE to just spend my life wandering the world. However, I will just have to live vicariously through you – I don’t foresee myself becoming a nomad! As much as I enjoy traveling, I also LOVE my job (I’m a junior high teacher, and teaching and watching those kids grow into adults is super rewarding). I have a great husband and a house I love to fix-up… I could never walk away from it all. But you are an inspiration, and a great reminder to follow your dreams, so even if I don’t “go nomad”, I can still travel and see the world whenever possible! Thanks for sharing about yourself, and keep posting about your fabulous adventures!

  41. Nautical Mile

    Hey Matt! If it wasn’t for your article “There’s not enough money in the world to get me to go back to Vietnam” I wouldn’t have found your blog. The article made quite a stir in the Vietnamese online community, and I’m sorry for those astonishingly defensive comments that have been thrown at you recently. Matt – you probably don’t know this, but even the Vietnamese people don’t treat each other nicely, so don’t expect anything better when it comes to their interaction with foreigners. Having said that, I admit there are still good people here and there, but still, it’s getting increasingly difficult to be a good person in Vietnam society nowadays.

    So I just drop by to say hi. I’m also a world traveler myself, just not as frequently… I own a business so although my schedule is quite flexible, I cannot really go anywhere for too long. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to leave everything behind to become a nomad :)

    Thanks for sharing about yourself and your adventures – they really inspire me!

    • NomadicMatt

      Thanks for the message! I have some very nice Vietnamese friends. I’ve sort of have been shocked at the comments I’ve gotten but it doesn’t bother me! Thanks for stopping by. Come back again.

  42. Another Bostonian heading out into the world

    Hi Matt,

    I just stumbled upon your website today for the first time and honestly, I cannot wait to explore it even further!

    I, like you, have lived in the Boston area my whole life, went to college to become a high school history teacher, and realized that at my age (23), if I took a full time history position and settling down in the next forty years, then I would live the same life that my parents and now my friends stive to accomplish. I wouldn’t be happy and I would only satisfy the needs of my parents and not mine. Also with the Great Recession, I couldn’t find a job in this economy, and it made me dream of other possibilities.

    While I am not on the road of vagabonding quite yet, I have accepted a position to teach in South Korea for a year with the option of either signing another contract, or backpacking my way from South Korea to Italy (or where my feet and heart take me). It is an exciting time but there are those worries that I’ll have because I never travelled by my own (except Mexico where I would love to travel and visit once more).

    You give hope and inspiration to those who have never made this step in their lives. It has not hit me fully yet, but once I am saying goodbye to my parents at Logan, I think that’s when the actual reality will hit me.

    Have good, safe travels in the future.

    Oh, and go Patriots!

  43. Me

    I was searching around the Web for Vietnam vacation tips and found your article on HuffPo. Boy! Didn’t you have a good time there! All in all, I was wondering how much money were you cheated out of while you were in Vietnam? I’m trying to gauge your experience against my ripoff threshold.

    For example:

    When I buy one of those 99¢ 20z Lipton Sweat Tea bottles (in CA) from a 7-Eleven, which costs a total of $1.09, and if I give the clerk $1.10 (a dollar bill and a dime) and he doesn’t give me a penny back, I probably won’t swear off 7-Eleven for the rest of my life. Believe it or not, it happens all the time. One time, I asked the clerk for the penny back and the guy tried to give me a mint claiming he’s completely out of pennies! I didn’t file a complaint with 7-Eleven either because I didn’t think he would ever get fired over a penny.

    Last week, I bought a $4.99 pair of plastic flipflop from the local flea market. The band came right off the sole after the second day. I’m pretty sure the flea market crooks who sold me that flipflop are having a good time laughing behind my back right now. Still, I won’t swear off flea markets either.

    Now. I did swear off Discover Card altogether because they sided with a crooked seller and ripped me off $50 “penalty fee” for canceling a repeatedly late delivery.

    So I guess my ripoff threshold is $50. I was wondering how much were you ripped off when you were in Vietnam and if that ripoff amount is over my ripoff threshold?

    Hope to see your reply post

    • NomadicMatt

      It wasn’t about the money. It was about being treated as a walking ATM and respect or as a person. I don’t care about a penny or a dollar or two dollars. I care about being treated like a person.

  44. jad

    this is what i wanna do but i wanna know in detail how u do it… I’m Lebanese (live in orange county) and i am obsessed with geography/traveling/linguistics… i speak arabic, french, spanish, and obviously english (planning to learn Portuguese, Dutch, and Italian)…. btw u should go to Beirut awsome city!!! help me please

  45. Matt, I am so glad to have seen your tweet from Aria today. Just added your feed to my google reader and pulse. Looking forward to reading more about your adventures. I went to college in Vermont, and studied Japanese there for two years. Wish I had studied it more and studied & lived in Japan. Have been through NRT many times but have not visited. I know, long over due. Good luck with everything!

  46. Navin

    I read you post on Vietnam and then I read this. Sorry friend, but you are the perfect example of ‘Ignorant American’. And about Vietnam, It is to a large extent true that a lot of their problems (political embargo being the biggest) is a cause of American greed. My travels to Vietnam have been fairly safe and awesome.

  47. Nice articles on Thailand. I think if you ever again find yourself in Chiang Mai, after subduing your fears in Sweden, drop in for a real home cooked Thai meal. Don’t worry, I don’t cook but my sister does very well!

  48. Jad Najjarine


    Haha we have too many things in common…. its actually a bit scary. I love your site alot and honestly sometimes I envy your lifestyle because I’m only a sixteen year old who still has to go to school. Yet I want to travel so badly… I’m in love with Europe (except Scandanavia) and South America and I really want to travel. I want to let you know that your blogs and postings are true inspiration to people like me who one day want to travel as a lifestyle. Being a Lebanese, I encourage you to travel to Lebanon (yea its in the middle east) but you wont feel like youre in the middle east. Anyway, keep moving and send me back if you can :)

  49. I agree with you on Vietnam. But I find Thailand to be far worse. After my visit there last year (fifth and final time) I have no intention of ever going back They herd travelers like cattle now Everything revolves around money. There are plenty of good people in that country, but like Vietnam, the ones that work with travelers usually don’t have the best morals.

  50. Hey Matt,

    I discovered your blog today. I will certainly spend several weeks reading the articles and all other stuff! I just wanted to know if you still have contact with those 5 backpackers you met in Thailand? It’s funny that you met a Belgian couple during that holiday as I’m from Belgium myself. Just wondering if you still see or hear these people these days.

  51. Emily Kimble

    Hey Matt,

    Just read your blog and loved it. My girlfriend told me about it so I researched a little and fell in love. I am planing a trip to Spain and hoping to see Barceona and Sevilla :)

    Thanks for all the great tips on finding cheap flights/hostel it really helps-Now if I wasnt so lazy and could have someone do it for me-J/K
    I saw your competition for Europe and maing a video I am thinking about it-who knows maybe I’ll win:)

    Thanks again and wish me luck on my adventure to see culture, diversity, and meet some great people:)


  52. asli

    hey matt, if you could just read a bit more about middle east. it’s not cool to have prejudices, saying “the area doesnt interest me.” regards and best of luck, a middle easterner.

  53. Hey Matt!

    Andy had made a list of blogs I should visit, and I knew I wanted to check out yours. This is the fist post I clicked on just because I love learning little things about different people. I think it is really neat to see all the relations between travelers.

    Like you- I am also terrified of heights. I thought for sure our gondola in Keystone, CO was going to fall into the depths of the mountains! I think it’s interesting that you do not have a desire to visit the Middle East – it’s your choice, and after reading the comments, I don’t understand why people don’t see that. I don’t have a strong desire to visit China. Sue me. And my first big trip was this year to Puerto Rico because I do not have a passport (yet), and was frankly too afraid to fly out of the country for my first trip!

    Thanks for sharing more about you :)


    PS… I agree with the music…ugh… Ke$ha…

  54. Shail

    I am Shail , a 28year old girl.
    KUDOS to u man and what you are doing is an inspiration and an eyeopener
    for all of us.Especially for all those who are diehard travel lovers.
    I am tired of being an intellectual who all thinks about is studies .
    Well I would want 2 visit Italy but just dont know what should I do about
    Expenses and also how 2 travel alone.

  55. Josh

    I respect your opinion in having no desire to travel the middle east but I honestly think your missing out on a great adventure. I did a middle east trip last year and it was the best trip Ive ever been on. There is so much diversity between places like Dubai, Egypt, Lebanon and Israel and they were all nothing like how I was expecting them to be. Im planning another middle east trip for next year, visiting some different places to last year and I cant wait.

  56. It’s so interesting how us human beings are or not attracted to specific places without really knowing why. For instance, I had an amazing time in China, although I was initially biased going there. It was perhaps the most significant life changing trip I tool. But, at the same time, I am not in a rush to go to Japan, which you mention you are in love with. I am however, obsessed with the Middle East, the mix of cultures in a place like Istanbul for instance, and cannot wait to see Beirut, Morocco and other similar places. Just like you said, it’s one of those things. I wouldn’t live there necessarily, but am utterly fascinated by it.

  57. Hi!
    It’s great to know that you were vegetarian and had to give it up for the same reasons I did. It’s just comforting to know I’m not the only one. I agree, traveling with dietary restrictions is more than annoying: it can be plain rude sometimes.

    By the way, if you like to COOK. I made a site with some friends, http://www.mealsharing.org
    which is basically perfect for what you’re missing. You just go to people’s homes and share a home cooked meal with them.
    It all started with an incredible night that a friend of mine had while traveling in Cambodia. He went to a man’s house, had great food and ended the night with a impromptu music session.
    Check it out… and if you’re ever in Berlin… I’ll make you tortilla de patatas! :)

  58. AmandaMarta

    It’s been a year since I’ve reading your blogs, following your twitter, and gaining various advices on traveling. Since reading your “Pick the right tour group”, I chose G Adventures for a trip to Cuba. I must say, on that adventure, it was an eye-opening experience for me and very much enjoyed it, the locals, the fellow travelers, the tour guide, and the well-rounded travel experience in Cuba. I would recommend G Adventures again to anyone. After opening my mind with traveling with GAdventures, I’ve decided to tour various other companies such as Tucan Travel and Intrepid. I am quite fascinated with your blog and will continue taking your advice on traveling.

    Happy Travels!

  59. Hi Matt,

    I am looking forward to your mentorship program in May. I didn’t read “20 Random Facts..” before I signed up. But, after reading them, there is a lot we have in common! Neat! Ok, talk with you soon!

  60. Why not at least experience the Middle East? There are some really cool places in Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain and Israel. I wouldn’t knock it until you try it…