How I Travel So Much

By Nomadic Matt | Published April 4th, 2008

What is the secret to traveling long term? How can I travel so much, so often? Am I rich? Do I have a trust fund? Are all my trips paid for by someone else? What is the secret?!!!

Well, while money does help, want to know the real reason I can afford to travel so much?

DESIRE.

That’s it.

No secret trust fund.

No illegal activity.

I just focus on making it happen.

After my first trip to Costa Rica in 2004, I was bitten by the travel bug and have been traveling ever since. I live to travel. I make the time, I budget for it, and my life revolves around it.

Traveling is what’s important to me, so I find a way to make it happen.

I skip the Starbucks, don’t shop that often, and don’t eat out a lot. I cut corners elsewhere so I can have the time and money to do what I love: travel.

I fake plan dozens of trips every day. If I have unplanned time in my calendar, I think “hmmm, where can I go that week? Let’s figure out how to get there.”

That’s it. I’ve built my life around traveling more.

I often hear from people that traveling is out of their reach, that they don’t have the money or the time. They have just too much responsibility. And while there are certain constraints on traveling that time and money create, people do what they want. When you truly want something, you go after it. If you truly wanted to travel, you would. You wouldn’t make excuses; you would just find a way. Excuses are simply a convenient way for people to ignore their own fears.

I travel so often for the same reason my friend always seems to be at a Patriots game, or my other friend has a new pair of shoes, and another always seems to be hiking. That’s what we love and we actively work to realize those goals. You want to get that new iPhone? You’ll make it happen.

We always want to make our desires come true.

I choose to work towards making my travel desire a reality.

There are a lot of unknowns in long term traveling and a lot of people aren’t ready to deal with that. However, even if you’ll never spend a year traveling around the world or dedicate your life to vagabonding, that doesn’t mean travel will be out of your reach.

Travel is a wonderful thing. Life is short and I don’t think we were ever meant to spend it droning away in cubicles. Travel can show you all the beauty in the world — from chaotic markets in Asia and majestic cities in Europe to dense jungles and exotic wildlife in Central America. Everywhere you go, every day something new happens. New people, new places, and new experiences.

People like to think that travel costs a lot of money or that you just can’t make it happen. My only hope is that by reading this blog, you realize that you can. I’m not rich, but I budget well and I find good travel deals. I work hard so that I can play hard. With a little flexibility and a little price scouting, you can get anywhere on any budget. People are always amazed when they see how cheap it can be and how little effort it really takes.

Once you have the desire and motivation to go, nothing can stop you.

comments 22 Comments

amy

I definitely fell like I’ve been bitten by the travel bug lately, maybe it’s because I’m still not used to the routine that my job has me in — I have more of an urge to get out and about now that I can’t just up and leave. But! the job will hopefully allow me to do more traveling in the future, and now that I have a partner-in-crime, I look forward to it a lot more. Keep the tips coming, and hopefully I’ll be able to use them soon. :)

Agreed! I always make time to travel and save my pennies til they add up!

Ra-Ra-Ra-Rachel

Hey Mr. Matt! It’s Rachel Allen (Drama_Angel) here leaving a comment on your new blog!! You are such an inspiration! After I went to California for a week for Spring Break I have wanted to go go go! My next plan is to make it out to New York to see Eqqus when it hits Broadway. Eventually we will get over seas at some point … hopefully soon!
Can’t wait to hear more about cheap ways to travel! Any little bit will help! Going to California was great because I had a friend out there to stay with … I don’t know anyone in New York so it’s going to be a little harder to go cheap :)

Talk to you soon!!

Jacqueline Helpern

Hey! Just came across your website and loved this post.

I went to London when I was 16 and knew from that trip forth that I wanted to travel. Since then I’ve backpacked through Europe for 2 months, studied abroad in West Africa for 5 months and lived in Indonesia for 3 months.

Going to Indonesia was the hardest for friends and family to understand. After I graduated from college I wanted to get out of NYC, disappear for a bit, so I chose a country that was far away and one that I knew relatively little about. I had an awesome time volunteering at a birthing clinic, playing music with people from all over the world….but my stay was cut short when I was in a motorcycle accident and had to fly back to the US for medical treatment.

I’m fine now, all recovered…and I’m saving up to travel again next year. I just made a down payment on a trip to Antarctica then plan to spend as many months as possible in South America. People question my living situation and my plans all the time as I live in a shoe box and work 3 jobs…but I love it! I wouldn’t have it any other way as I can’t see spending money on an apartment when I could use it to travel. My family’s support of my vagabonding dreams is waining and I get the “Why don’t you go to law school already?” speech all the time…

Ah, you know the deal. That was rather long but I really just wanted to say thanks for the post and I wish you the best (and the worst because that often turns out to be the best)in your travels!

Jackie

great posting!! there’s a quote from the documentary “a map for saturday” where a backpacker captures this idea too. she states that she’s not lucky that she’s able to travel but has made a conscious effort to do it. And it couldn’t be more true what she and you are saying! It’s about finding a way and making it happen. You can tell people’s passion by where they put their time, energy and money…if the passion is travel, anyone can make it happen!

thanks for sharing!

Hey Matt, it’s amazing but i feel the same way that you do about travelling!!! I am another one that has been bitten by the travel bug as well, and it was last year in Fernando de Noronha island, in Brasil, my home country. By the way, you all should pay a visit to this wonderfull island, specially the ones who loves to dive, like me! I will be posting an article about the island soon on my blog.

Anyway, my go is to live to travel, just like you do, and i think your blog is going to be really helpfull !!! I am just begginig to follow it but through this post i can see i am going to like it.

Congratulations and keep on the road!

virginia

Ok Matt,

Help a sistah out…. she needs traveling 101private lessons

I spend most of my time in the Philippines so I guess I get to travel every day – it’s a beautiful place and the people are nothing short of amazing! I agree whole heartedly Matt – you’ve just got to do it :) By the way, anyone interested in heading off to Madagascar should join us on twitter.com/acaciaafrica as we’ll be holding a tweet up on the destination this Friday 21 August between 10am and noon (bst). If you’re looking to get those itchy feet in motion – drop by and ask away…

Matt, you are amazing! What a great site. I was born with the travel bug and traveled around the globe, solo, for years. Then I had kids -Yikes! I still have the travel bug, but I now have to do things a little different. I have to plan things out more (I’m kind of like a tour guide now I guess). And I have to fork up funds for the 5 of us now (ouch). But you are completely right, don’t let those things keep you from traveling. Just get out and go. Thanks for the inspiration!

NomadicMatt

Thanks for the encouraging comment!

Mika

Hi Matt – You don’t really say how you pay for travel though. Do you work from place to place? Odd jobs? How do you budget for your trips? I too am tired of living the cubicle life and would love to see the world.

Mika

NomadicMatt

Nowadays, this blog pays for all my travel.

Matt

Forgive me if the answer to this question is obvious, but you keep alluding to your income coming from this blog. Are you referring just to the advertising? Or, is there some other way you are bringing in the funds that allow you to live the way you do? Also, could you address those of us who, though we are single and young and healthy, etc, etc, owed tens of thousands in student loans? Thanks. Awesome site, by the way.

not sure on ur nationality mate but i owe $30k AUD, I’m irish and went to uni in england and i dealth with my loans like all true vagabonds :P that is, i left the country on graduation never to return! a full proof plan… sort of :S

NomadicMatt

Advertising and ebook sales fund my whole life.

Katey

Avoiding paying back the student loan is definitely the way to go!

Holly

Hi Matt-
Just found your blog and it is great. However, most of won’t be able to start a blog or write a book and secure a flexible lifestyle. Your tips for traveling cheap and saving are all well-taken. Having the money for most if not the issue if they open up their minds. What the real problem is TIME. You have a flexible career so you can travel as often and for however long you want. Most of us have a M-F, 9-5 job with maximum three weeks vacation a year. Am I supposed to quit my job so I can do a three month trek across Southeast Asia? Even if that is an option (to quit your job), then you’re always faced with the uncertainty of being jobless (and perhaps broke from traveling) when you get back. I think, especially given the economic situation in the world right now, that even if you’re a smart traveler, a frugal traveler, and a smart saver, quitting one’s job is just not an option, and using an entire year’s worth of vacation time in one shot isn’t an option either. I’d love to hear your response to this issue, and any tips you have for those of us who, because of economic necessity, are pretty much tied to our jobs.

Ray

Great message to start off this blog! Passion is the key to being successful in anything in life – travel, careers, sports, social lives, etc.

As per Holly’s post above, I think your missing Matt’s point. If you really want to travel, you’ll make it happen.

Who says you have to quit your job to travel overseas? If you have the opportunity to take a short sabbatical from your position – whether it’s 1 month or 1 year – then why not look into doing that?

If traveling overseas isn’t a reality now, then why not quench your travel appetite with some staycations or weekend getaway trips?

Is it possible for you to get geographical transfer if you work for an International company? Even a temporary assignment for a 1 or 2 year project before coming home? If so, then take advantage of that opportunity to work and live in a different part of the world. That’s still a form of travel!

The key here is to think outside of the box depending on your own situation, which is what Matt is basically implying.

I love this article. People often say I’m “lucky” to travel like I do but luck has only something to do with it (being born in America, being healthy etc.). I wanted to travel more than anything else and I worked towards that single-mindedly for YEARS. Like you, I skipped the expensive coffee, worked a lot, had an $800 car, and didn’t buy anything i didn’t NEED. I can say with 100% confidence, it has been so worth it. If you want it, you can make it happen.

I hate when people treat us (being permanent or frequent travelers) like we must come from money in order to afford such a lifestyle. Um, no; you learn tricks and tips to traveling on the cheap (or cheaper), you sacrifice other things (like a house in some people’s case, though we actually own two, or children in others), and you just…go. There’s nothing to it really other than what you said: motivation and desire. I wish more people (Americans in particular) would realize that THAT is the big secret to it all.

Yahoo! Big congratulations six years of blogging. What a site you have created! Way to lead by example as being one of the best.

And the same goes for everything else in life I guess. Always a matter of priority. If something really matters… just gotta find a way to make it happen.

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