Answering Reader Mail: Travel, Life, TEFL, Instagram

questions for mattEarlier this year, I started posting video Q&A’s on my Facebook page. But between slow internet connections in rural Cambodia, a book to finish, and everyday life, I just couldn’t keep up with the videos and they stopped. But since I really love answering reader “mail,” I wanted to do something. Knowing I don’t have the time to record, edit, and process a video at the moment, I decided a blog post was just as good.

So a few weeks ago I asked for questions. Here are those questions and my answers:

Paul wants to know why I haven’t been to the Philippines.
I just haven’t been there yet. It’s a big world. It’s on my list though. Then again, everywhere is on my list!

Jim asks a travel question: “I am flying into Ganzhou, China in February, and am going to be backpacking for 17 days. Any suggestions on where to visit and what to see while I am there?”
For China travel advice, ask Mike or Benny. I haven’t been to China yet.

Cat wants to know if I have any tips or advice for first-time conference attendees.
Introduce yourself to anyone and everyone. You can’t succeed in blogging without help from other bloggers.

Tyler asks another travel question: “What city in Europe is the best hub for cheap air travel within Europe?”
I don’t really think there is one city that is better than all the rest. There are a lot of cheap flights out of London, Barecelona, and Berlin though.

Joel is curious about some of the worst mistakes I’ve made while traveling.
I make mistakes everyday. I can’t think of one monumental mistake that totally changed everything. It’s mostly little things like forgetting to buy a train pass or not planning my route smartly and having to backtrack.

Michelle asks: “What do you like best about Germany?”
Cheap beer, sausages, and German women. They are quite pretty. (The women, not the sausages!)

Dustin asks: “One greeting, fist bump, high five, or hand shake? What’s it going to be?”
Duh! Always a high five! *high five*

Becky wants to know if it is worth visiting Estonia in February.
I’ve only been to Tallinn, Estonia but I thought it was a stunning city. I would highly recommend visiting if you can, but in February, it’s going to be very, very cold.

Steve asks me: “Do you think airlines make coach travel so brutal on purpose in order to give people an “incentive” to purchase a better seat (like business class)?”
No, they do it to save money. For them, it’s a way to cut costs, add fees, and make more money. Passengers don’t look at economy and think “I’ll spend 10x more money for business class.” Economy is where people who want cheap flights sit. If people had the money for business class, they wouldn’t be buying economy tickets. Economy sucks because airlines can get away with it because people care more about saving money than they do about service.

Joe Murphy asked the best question: “You mention on your site how easy and affordable it is to travel for long periods of time, but short of starting a blog, how is it possible for the every-day person to travel without huge savings behind them?”
Joe, the whole purpose of my blog is to teach people how to do that. It is the glue that binds every post of mine together. Here are just a few posts where I give tips on how to do that:

20 ways to cut your expenses and save for travel
8 budget vacation ideas
The ultimate travel hacking guide
How to find a cheap flight

You can also check out my “getting started” page which links to all my planning articles.

answering questionsMark asks: “What is your favorite city for travel in the United States?”
New York City!

Alberto asks a planning question: “What is the best (cheapest yet convenient) way to go from Belgium (or Netherlands) to London? I’ve never really tried so-called low cost airlines like Ryanair. If there’s a train option I could consider that too.”
You can take the train (but that would be pretty expensive), a cheap Ryaniar flight, or a ferry. I don’t know how much the ferry costs. Simply: look up all three and go with what ever one is the cheapest on the date you need.

Becca asks: “How can you determine if a TESOL or other English certification site is legit?”
There are a number of global sites that are good. I like the I-to-I TEFL course because they are cheap and their courses can be taken online. Look for courses that are accredited, connected to a university, or recommended on teacher forums like Dave’s ESL cafe.

Kellye wants to know if any family members, such as my parents, have joined me on my travels.
No, no one has joined me on my trips.

Matt asks: “If you could offer one piece of advice to someone who doesn’t have much money saved up (and may even have student loan debt like myself) but wants to begin traveling as soon as possible, what would it be?”
Go somewhere cheap and close.

Saeyoon needs a good conversation starter.
I’m a big fan of “Hello, my name is Matt.” It’s simple and straight to the point. Travelers are friendly – just go up and say hello.

John asks me: “Do you have Instagram?”
Yes, I use it for photos in my Twitter feed. My username is “nomadicmatt.”

Kelsey Kay asks: “My boyfriend and I want to move out of the country. I’m certified to teach English (Bachelor’s plus TEFL) and he’s a certified scuba dive instructor. Any advice on a place that would be good for both of us?”
I would go with somewhere in Southeast Asia where there is a high demand for both professions.

Linda has a question about Thailand: “Can you suggest a beach area to stay at for a week that isn’t totally tourist? We are mid 50’s, like a little comfort but aren’t fussy.”
Good laid back places in Thailand include: Ko Lanta, Ko Samet, Ko Kuk, or Ko Mak.

Carlie asks: “Where would you recommend for a destination wedding?”
I’d love to get married in the Seychelles. If there is a heaven, it probably looks like that but without knowing more about you, it’s hard to recommend a place for you.

Cali is wondering about my taste in music at the moment.
I listen to all types of music. My current favorites include Neko Case, La Roux, The Head and the Heart, and Susan Tedeschi. There’s also never a big gap between Dave Matthews Band songs on my playlist.

That’s it for this round of questioning. I’m going to try to do these every few months and if I can get somewhat of a routine going in my life, I do plan on doing some videos. If you have questions, leave them in the comment section. I’ll answer as many as I can.

  1. Like your ideas for saving money for travel.

    I have been to Tallin in February. For some reason, I once traveled through the Baltics in February. Yes, it is very cold, and as you say, it’s beautiful. There are lots of great museums, cafes, and galleries to pop into when you get cold. I don’t think I would have seen nearly as much as great art as I did on my trip if I had gone a different time of year.

  2. dusky

    have u bein to new zealand yet you so should you will love it there make sure its summer thr thjo bludy cold other wise

  3. Matt

    Hi Matt!

    I am an Anarchist and I do not believe any organization has the right to demand that I pay them a fee or ask their permisssion in order to visit “their” land. I believe that the earth is our common heritage and is free for anyone to walk it as long as they do so peacefully. Please set aside whether you agree with this and instead agree that we are all adults capable of deciding what is moral for ourselves.

    What I’m curious to know from you is how often you are actually asked to present a Visa or passport stamp? What do you think the feasability is, of going wherever you want without caring about visas? So far, I have a US passport… it’s worth it to jump through the hoop to visit Europe since there’s no fees, and I pretty much had no other choice when flying in. When I go to the middle East, and Asia, however, the visa fees are quite large and the paperwork is quite demanding. I would have to get a second passport because I will be travelling continuously. I travel by hitchhiking and walking.

    I imagine that in some countries it is more feasable than others to travel without papers.

    Please understand that my beliefs are sincere and I’m not trying to simply save money or time. If I think I legitimately owe someone money, I pay them.

    I understand that by advising me, you are not endorsing my behavior or beliefs.



  4. Hey Matt,

    I’m currently in The Perhentian Islands working on a community project. I wanted to get your thoughts on volun-tourism. Have you done any traveling for a cause?

  5. Becca, in your questions/answers section, asked the right question! I am considering tefl and with all of these ‘schools’ popping up, I wanted to pick the one with the best certification program and credentials. I will check out the link in your response. Thanks Matt!

  6. Mauricio

    We are having difficulties flying from Yangon (Burma) to Laos on wards. We have to return to Bangkok. Likewise, with the other airlines, some fly, some don’t. What wouold be the best way to fly from one coutnry to another e.g. Yangon, Laos, Cambodia and vietnam? Not in that order. Your assistance will be much appreciated. Thank you

  7. You’re an expert in traveling. You’re comments in every question are really informative. How long have you been traveling to have that handful of that knowledge?

  8. Here’s a great idea for protecting your phone, tablet, laptop and even your camera, keys, luggage and passport while traveling. Two years ago, I found MYSTUFFLOSTANDFOUND and obtained tracker tags for OKOBAN, a free global lost and found service. I placed tracker tags on all of my valuables.
    It paid off in Rome. I left my passport at a cafe at lunch. That afternoon, I received a text message from Okoban saying that my passport was reported found. I did not know it was even missing. The café reported the found passport’s tracker number online and I was immediately notified (text and email).
    I called the number in the text message which also listed the location for retrieval. My Okoban tag from MYSTUFFLOSTANDFOUND on my passport saved my trip. No hassle. Good karma.

  9. CS

    A bit belated, but if you can book a few months in advance, the ‘best’ way from Belgium to London is the Eurostar. Tickets are quite cheap when they are first released, I think 90 days in advance, and you can get a connection to/from anywhere in Belgium for only a few pounds more.

    It’s much quicker than a bus, and both quicker and cheaper than flying by the time you factor in transport to/from the airport.

    As for a hub for cheap air travel, London is a good choice, as you can reach almost all of Ryanair and Easyjet’s destinations from there. Also, all London airports have good train and bus connections, which you certainly can’t say of many of Ryanair’s airports.

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