How I Make Money and Afford to Travel

Foreign money from around the world A lot of people ask me how I make money in order to afford my travels. New reader, old reader—doesn’t matter. Do I have a trust fund? (No) Am I rich? (No) Won the lottery? (I wish)

Before I went overseas, I saved up $20,000 USD for my time abroad. I spent that money long ago. For the last 2.5 years, I’ve lived off nothing but the money I make online.

Over the last few weeks, a number of people have emailed me and asked, point blank, if they could have all my books for free because they didn’t have the money to pay for them. I give away other information for free, so can’t I just give them those too? Another person yelled at me because, as some of you might have noticed, I’ve put a few more ads on my website.

So, with all these questions and concerns, I’d like to take a little time to do a short PSA about this website.

I know I give a lot of free travel information away. From the blog, to the travel guides, to the tips section, you can pretty much get mostly everything for free here. I don’t think there are a lot of ads on my website. I turn down 90% of the ad offers I get because I only advertise products I use myself and can actually vouch for. But these few ads keep all the other information free, and, with all the recent questions, I think now is a good time to address this subject:

Why do you have ads at all?
Many years ago, I quit my day job to travel the world. The money from that job ran out years ago. The ads and books I write pay for my entire life. It’s how I earn a living, pay rent, eat food, go to the movies, and afford the travel that creates the stories you read on this website.

Well, you’re just a sellout then. Nothing is from the heart if you’re just doing it to make money.
I could get a job doing lots of other things, but I do this because I love to travel, and I love to convince other people to travel and prove that you can do it without spending a lot of money. To say that commercializing anything makes it bad is to say that everything people do is sinister. Just like you read magazines with ads, you’ll find blogs with ads. If you think I do this as some sort of insincere way to make money, I think you’ve found the wrong website to read. I love what I do, and the ads help me do it just like the ads help keep National Geographic running.

Don’t you just get all your travel for free anyways?
Actually, I don’t. I could and I have received free stuff in the past. Sometimes, I may take a free trip or a free hostel bed, but I pay for 99.9% of all my travels. I don’t really take press trips. I find them too constricting. I like having the flexibility to do what I want. Most of the time, if I get something for free, it’s simply a city tourist card for attractions. If I do take a free trip, it is a solo trip so I can keep the flexibility I love. (My recent trip to Norway was paid for by the tourism board, but I went alone and made my own schedule.) Yet the free trips add up to about three weeks per year. Flights (which I spend a lot per year on), food, accommodation, drinks, etc. for the other 49 weeks are all out-of-pocket expenses.

Why put up more ads? You probably make a lot of money already.
I wish! I make a nice living, but I wouldn’t say it’s “a lot,” especially after paying website and travel expenses, an assistant, and, very recently, an editor to help make the writing better. I put up more widgets and ads to try to better cover all these expenses.

So you just put up anything to make a buck?
No, as I said, I only put ads up for companies I use and like. Every ad you see on this website is for a company I have used or have a lot of respect for. I only recommend companies I would use myself. I know from emails that people use many of the companies I recommend, so I want to be able to vouch for every company on this website. I don’t think of money when I put up ads. I think, “Is this company useful to my readers?” I turn down more ads than I accept. If it were just about money, I’d be making a lot more.

I just like reading your blog. If I need more information, I’ll just Google it for free.
Great. I’m glad you’re reading this blog, and I hope I can help you travel better. That’s the main reason I run this site. But keep this in mind:

For people like me who blog for a living, it’s really hard to make money and it requires a lot of work. I spend more time trying to put bread on my table than I do anything else, and often it really takes away from being able to just travel and enjoy where I am. I’m the guy in the hostel corner doing work while everyone else is going out to the beach. But the money keeps me traveling and the traveling keeps this website going, which keeps you informed…for free. So when you think “all information should be free” and get in a huff about me putting ads up or charging for a book, you make it harder for me (and others like me) to provide all the free content that you enjoy and find useful. Because when no one buys the books or uses the companies, there’s no return on investment, the money stops, and then one day I find myself broke and having to get a cubicle job again. And then you suddenly find that there’s no more “free” information.

I want to offer as much information as possible for free. If I simply wanted to do something for a paycheck, I’d find something that was a lot less work. I wish I had a trust fund that could pay my bills and that I never had to worry about money and advertising. But I don’t, and bills need to be paid and plane tickets need to be bought in order for me to keep doing the stuff that brought you to this website in the first place.

The advertising does that. I would love it if my books funded this whole website, but they don’t. The ads help make up the difference, and therefore they’re going to stay.

If you want to help support this website, keep it running, and keep ads off it, head over to my resource page and book your travels via the links on the page. You save money, support good companies, and keep the servers running here. Win-win-win. Don’t purchase anything you don’t feel comfortable using, and if you have questions about any of these companies, you can email me!

  1. “To say that commercializing anything makes it bad is to say that everything people do is sinister”

    *bows down to the king* 😉 haha! Great post man G+ and RT and FB shared all the way =) gotta spread the word! Too many people dream of traveling and think they can’t do it. Travel bloggers like us need to make it known that your travel dreams can come true. And like I love to say: “Those who seek, FIND” =)

  2. Nancy


    Don’t get the grumblers get to you. They have nothing better to do than complain. You do. Keep it up!

  3. Amen. I like to think I’ve got a 4 hour workweek, but it’s more like a 40+ hour workweek, and often many more hours than I’d ever worked at my old customer service jobs.

  4. Matt!
    I totally understand and I don’t see why ads should be a big problem to anyone.
    If you are not interested in the ad…ignore it. Just like a magazine. I love your tips and advice, and live vicariously through you wonderful travels! Thanks for all the great work.

  5. Sharlene

    Matt, you are such an inspiration. Don’t let people get you down. Not everyone realizes that life is a give and take – everyone has to work a little to get the things they love. We just all do it in different ways. Your way sounds glamorous as hell to me sitting at a desk wishing I was somewhere far away but I realize that where ever you are reality is close by – it’s not always fun & games.
    Anyway – thanks for the blog – I’m a recent follower – but I really enjoy your blog. You remind me that anything is possible if we set our minds to it!

  6. I totally see where you’re coming from, and I don’t have any problems with the ads at all. Besides, there’s far less ads on here compared to what I’ve seen on other sites.

    The problem is simply that there are always a few complainers out there that don’t get it. Now, with the internet, there are some people that think everything out there is for free. This is ridiculous and it’s not worth your time trying to cater to these people anyway. Just keep up what you’re doing!

  7. Glad to hear you’d saved up $20,000 for the first time you went abroad as well. Also surprised to hear you get complaints about advertising because I’ve seen a lot more sites with a lot more advertising.

  8. You’re dong what you love for a living, so if you have to put up some ads to keep you going, who cares? All the ads, as you said, are helpful and not obnoxious. As for the book deal, congrats! I think most bloggers would kill for that opportunity, and you definitely deserve it. Keep on doing your thing!

    • NomadicMatt

      I’m still shocked someone actually wanted to publish one of my books. I don’t think it has really hit me.

  9. Kim

    I recently found your site and found it to be one of the most useful ones around with alot of information that you don’t have to give but you do. Because you love to travel and love to share what you have learned in travelling with others. I don’t have a problem with the ads and understand why they need to be here. It isn’t often that you find someone who only uses ads of places they would recommend cause more often then not most people don’t. I applaud you for keeping us up to date on your travels as well as information, travel tips that we could use in our own travels. I also can’t believe some people would ask you to give away any of your books for free. It takes time to sit down and write what to put into a book, time that takes away from other things you could be doing. Do these people expect all books to be free? Again, I applaud you for all that you do!


  10. Matt,
    It’s a shame that you have to post explanations. The “complainers” can just go to another website if they don’t like the ads. I personally like ads because it introduces me to new products.

    I will say that I found this article very informative as I do all of your articles. I didn’t realize that you paid out of pocket for your trips, I just assumed they/you were sponsored. Knowing that you have paid for these trips yourself makes travel for me seem more attainable. Either way, it doesn’t make a difference how your trips are paid for or if you have ads on your site, your information is priceless to lots of readers!
    Keep up the traveling and the great work!

    • NomadicMatt

      Nope, it’s all paid for by me. It helps me stay focused on budget travel and I don’t like feeling obligated to write for others. I’m a free spirit. I like doing my own thing. I take a trip here and there if it fits with my schedule.

  11. I am spending lot of money for traveling. I am making thousands of dollar through affiliate marketing and also from google ad sense for travel expense.

  12. Rod

    Ads? What ads? Never noticed any. Too much useful info to look at. You do what you have to do. If you can afford to travel. You can afford a book.

  13. Dustin

    Someone will always complain because someone else is living the life they wish they had. I love reading your articles and have never thought twice about ads or buying your information. I have just recently found your site and greatly appreciate all the tips. Keep up the great work.

    • NomadicMatt

      There’s a big portion of folks who believe monetizing a blog, no matter what niche, is just wrong. It takes away from the purity of it. But those people usually have day jobs. This is my day job.

  14. Arjun Ray

    Matt, you are doing a fantastic job of keeping the world informed, inspired and enjoyable!! So for that and to keep your website running if you have to endorse few companies, their products or services, so be it. You can’t make everybody happy all the time, so what’s important is to enjoy yourself and visit newer destinations and keep us inspired. How I have always wished to go for a long term trip like you! Maybe one day. God bless you, always.

  15. Sorry to hear about the complaints and the expectation that everything should be free. You don’t have to justify yourself, your choices, etc. You are a generous soul, yet need to take care of yourself too. Enjoy the life that you have chosen. I do appreciate the information in your site, books, etc., gives me ideas of how to do my life differently. May the money flow to you more easily so that you can enjoy more of your travels. Thanks!

  16. I do the ads and like you I am selective. I wish there were other ways to make money besides this. I know some people are creative and find other ways to make money. I like to limit my ads to my homepage to keep posts and photos clean of advertising. It works for me so I see that as a good balance so my readers aren’t too annoyed and aren’t overwhelmed.

    • NomadicMatt

      I also have a few sponsored and such besides the ads. You can great creative with some membership programs and such but travel is the wrong market for such like that, especially budget travel.

      • Lauren

        Hi Matt, I am usually so busy reading your stories and learning to become a better traveler, I don’t even notice the ads. Thank you and keep up the good work.

  17. I think people making a living for themselves from nothing and providing fantastic free content should be applauded, not ridiculed. Keep up the good work and never let the haters get you down – they are probably just jealous they didnt think of it themselves!

  18. I want to use this opportunity to congratulate Matt for his work. He has been an inspiration for me and my girlfriend. On Tuesday we will start our own travel adventure as we leave Germany and all it’s commodities for a life of travel and blog writing. My first goal is to have at least halve of what Matt has accomplished (ads, income, audience) in the near future. All I can say now is THANK YOU MATT for showing people like us that it is possible to live on the road and inspire others by giving them useful information at a very fair price, highly appreciated MATT! Hope to meet you one day on the road. Cheers from the Tasting Travels team Annika and Roberto.

  19. My wife and I run ads and affiliate links on our travel-planning site, too. We aren’t trust-fund babies or pensioners, so–like Matt–we don’t have the luxury of working full-time on a hobby site. Our annual research budget runs well into the five figures, and it isn’t vacation travel, either. (While the louts who criticize Matt or us for being “commercial” are drinking in sidewalk cafes and cruise-ship bars, we’re out taking photos of subway ticket machines, sampling different forms of airport ground transportation, looking for local laundromats, and researching articles on other topics that will make life easier for travelers.)

  20. Appreciate ALL your intuitive information on your website, Matt. Speaking for myself AND my wife. That being said, you unfortunately can’t appease everyone, obviously noted by the harsh comments posted above. But those that aren’t grateful will get over it. Life goes on!
    Great site! Tons of valuable information, and will soon purchase 3 of your books of my choice, since they are far from being financially out of reach! And the Ads on this site? If you don’t appreciate them, DON’T LOOK AT THEM! Simple! In this “Advertising” world, I see multiple billboards as I travel for work on a weekly basis at every exit, block, etc. Doesn’t mean I’ll discontinue driving on highways or city streets! It’s 2011! Welcome to the new world!

  21. Wow, people are ridiculous. Having worked in customer service multiple times I’ve concluded that there are people who just like to complain about something and they’ll use every platform they can get to try and bring others down, regardless of whether or not their complaint is valid or not. It just blows my mind. Your site is awesome, you are awesome and you have helped so many people. Thanks for all you do!

  22. Ray

    Matt – I am sorry that you felt compelled to write today’s post. Don’t let the turkeys get you down. There will always be people looking for handouts; I don’t know where those others get off telling you what you should or not be doing with your site. If they don’t like what you are doing, they can always vote with their feet. It is VERY obvious to me that you are not getting rich off Nomadic Matt’s. I have no doubt that if you wanted to, you could be making much, much more…off of this site, or (cringe!) in the full-time job market. Nomadic Matt’s fills an important niche…your passion for travel helps fuel our passion. Keep up the great work! -Ray in Seattle

    • NomadicMatt

      I never felt compelled but the questions keep coming up and I hate typing the same over and over again!

      Thanks for the great kind words though!

  23. Antje

    Hey Matt,
    I’ve been following your blog for a while now and while always enjoying it, have never felt the need to comment, but this time I absolutely have to. And to make it short: I agree with all the positive things said above! It’s a shame that the negative people put on so much pressure that you felt the need to justify yourself. Do what you love and forget the idiots who dislike you for that!

    And by the way, I never even thought about the possibility of you not paying for everything you do.

    • NomadicMatt

      I never felt pressured to write this post. I just wanted to answer a question that keeps coming up.

  24. It’s all a balancing act. I don’t find the ads on your site to be too intrusive, but I understand where people could be turned off by them, so I think it’s a good idea to explain why they’re there. After all, you wouldn’t be making the money you are without the people who come here.

    As far as the people begging for free books, that’s ridiculous. I’m sure almost all the information in them is available for free on the internet, but digging it up will take hours and hours of research. If they want to skip all of that research time then they should pay you for doing it. It’s that simple.

    Make as much money as you can in any way that you feel comfortable. That’s what I do. As the saying goes, “Haters gonna hate”. Just don’t forget to be open to constructive criticism or you could end up with more haters than fans. I think you’re a long way away from that, but remember there are two sides to the coin.

  25. Amber

    Wow! I can’t believe you receive that much harassment. If these people don’t like your blog and wish to complain and criticize then why do they come in the first place? I really think you should just ignore those people.

    You have provided a great service to me personally and I am certain many others as well. Your blog has provided so much encouragement and support motivating me to making the greatest and most important decision of my life. For this I am thankful and would only hope that you could make a living from it as well.

    Your ads don’t bother me one bit and I trust the services they offer because you support them.

    Blog and ad on!

    ***Just a thought: People tip street performers right? Blogging is just another form of art and entertainment or for some a full time career…

  26. Nicole

    Hi Matt,

    I’ve been following you around the world for a few months now. You have inspired my husband and I to take off for an extended RTW trip next year!

    I’ve bought and loved ALL of your books and have been MORE than happy to pay for them. They have been very insightful and truly helpful in planning our RTW trip.

    I always look forward to reading your next article and when your book is published Ill be lining up for it! :)

    Keep living your dream and encouraging others to live theirs. Thank you for all the valuable advice and I hope to run into you one day on the road.

    • NomadicMatt

      Glad you have enjoyed the books. Have a great time on your RTW trip next year. Blog good stories about it!

  27. Lisa

    Matt, You do a great job sharing so much information with your readers. People who are complaining need to just move on, seriously. Where can they get great free travel info without any advertising? No magazine, show or travel site that I know of.

  28. Sam

    I dont give a crap about ads vs. no ads. but i thought your title was misleading when it came to actual content provided in this story. So you make most of your $ from your site via ads on the page? The post felt to me as a q&a to defend why you put ads on your site as opossed to how you actually make money besides ad revenue. Hope this isnt percieved as complaining but as constructive cricitism for actual content.

    “Exit light. Enter night. Take my hand, We’re off to never never-land”

  29. Matt, it’s amazing the information and value we get on the internet for free. We all seem to take it for granted.

    You’re site has integrity and balance. You do a great job walking the line.

  30. hey matt good article. im trying to start my travel blog too. only have a few followers ( family and friends) im gonna buy the book youre selling. looks like a good read and hopefully it help me. thanks!

  31. face it man, you’re a public figure. I certainly understand and appreciate how much work and effort goes into building what you’ve built, but with a huge following is going to come a few haters. Don’t let ’em get you down!

  32. Hey Matt,

    Wow, I can’t believe people are soooo anti-any-advertising! And I can’t believe people think they should get everything for free!

    Do they think you should do ALL THIS work completely for free, with no compensation?! How are you supposed to earn a living? Why shouldn’t you be earning a living from ALL THIS information you’re putting out there? Of course you should! And why aren’t they grateful for what you do provide?

    Perhaps they don’t realize that until maybe 10 years ago it would’ve been impossible to get ANY of this travel info free. Until recently, you could only find this stuff out by buying a guidebook, like Lonely Planet.

    I actually find it amazing that people are putting out SO MUCH FREE information. Why should anybody work their ass off without compensation? Why should some one write a book, simply to give it away, with no compensation?

    I think the whole advertising scheme is great for everyone. Travel bloggers ARE ABLE TO give out loads of free information, tips, photos to their readers BECAUSE advertisers will fund the site, at least partially. Advertisers go away, bloggers go away. Free info gone.

    Apparently a lot of people don’t realize that SOO MUCH work goes into writing and publishing a book or running a blog. Just let any of them try to write ONE book or run ONE blog for.. a week.. and they’ll maybe start to get a new perspective.

    Never mind those naysayers and complainers. They don’t appreciate things. They can go away if they want!

    That’s my 2 cents. cheers, Lash

  33. Matt, with your following it is not surprising that there are naysayers but I was really surprised as to how mean and low people can go (Like one of the posters above). To me, the content on this site is extremely useful and inspirational in many ways. As you mention elsewhere, you travel towards life, not away from it. One day I hope I can narrate at least a tenth of the stories you have about the world around.

  34. Jenna

    I have no problems with the ads at all! It is necessary so you can make a living. I have ads on my Youtube videos and on my blogs; I don’t mind them at all.

    Love your site, by the way. I am only fifteen but this has actually helped me realize that I want to study abroad next year (junior year of high school), and it helped me realize which path I want to take with my life! :)

  35. Criticism is a sign of success. No criticism means nobody gives a ______. You don’t have to justify anything you’re doing & as you’ve mentioned most of the advice on your site is entirely free.

  36. Kimberly

    Very well written. Spoken with dignity, self-respect and respect for others. You’ve cleared up questions I had found impolite to ask.
    Reading this blog has moved me a few steps closer to my travel goals.
    Thank you, safe travels.

    • NomadicMatt

      It took me time to get to where I am but hard work and dedication pays off! Plus, long hours at the computer!

  37. Great post.

    I am traveling for all of 2011 (budget = $20,000 or so), but I don’t make a living of my blogs (FAR FROM IT!), so I find this interesting :)

    I work as a freelancer (consultant), which is how I have so much free time and I’m able to save up money to follow my love of traveling.

    Keep it up! I salute you.

  38. Power to you, mate. I’ve just recently made the decision to monetize my blog and it’s guys like you who inspired me to make that decision. Someday I’d like to be in a position where I can quit my day job and follow in your footsteps.

    So far it’s a pipe dream, but I sold my first ad last month and I’ve got my first sponsored post going up this week. Baby steps :-p

  39. Your blog just spam tagged me because I was too eloquent with my first reply. So I’ll flesh it out! Nicely said. I’m always amazed when I read the reviews on Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ how many people criticize her for receiving a $100,000 advance to write the book. That advance was probably to cover a couple of years worth of work. Apparently, writers don’t deserve to get paid.

  40. Rachel

    I just found your website today and appreciate your words on the nomad life more than you know.

    I am a professional writer/editor who jumped ship from cube life and started a freelance business in May 2010. When my husband graduated from university this past spring, we randomly decided to travel Europe for a year via housesitting/pet-sitting/farm help. (Of course, our families didn’t expect that deviation from the norm.)

    We’re now in the UK, trying to decide where to go from here. I’ve been wondering how we can adjust to this much freedom, expand our career opportunities, and maintain our lifestyle over the long-term. It’s a wonderful, and surprisingly difficult, way to live. Just to see that there are other people out there who are living freely is comforting and inspiring. I’m in the process of refocusing my (very neglected) blog and hope to stick with it and see what happens.

    Thanks for the encouragement!

  41. Holly

    It is so fantastic that you’re able to support your life and your travels through your website. I don’t think you need to explain yourself or apologize for ads or anything else like that. However, I’d love to see a post on your site about how people can travel who don’t have a flexible job like you (and me). Its very difficult to travel if you have a normal low to medium wage 9-5 job with only 2-4 weeks vacation a year, especially an overseas trip. Do you have any insight for those people? I’ve thought a lot about that but don’t have any good answers….


  42. Natasha

    Shame you have to waste your time and energy justifying yourself to judgemental, whinging, moaning people who clearly don’t have a clue about much at all!

    Keep up the good work and thanks for all your generous tips and advice!

  43. Hi Matt,

    I just found your website and will be spending the next few hours, probably the next few weeks digging through all your awesome content.

    I just want to say keep up the awesome work and keep living the dream!


  44. Matt,

    Really appreciate the candid vie you have potrayed here and love what you are doing. I have some ideas which could free up more time for you when you are travelling from earning your keep and give you more time to get more creative and crazy :) Please contact me if you think its worth your while


  45. Kayvee

    Some people feel they are always entitled…and some people always complain…always…no matter what

    What you are doing is win/win…so im happy for you

  46. elizabeth

    New reader here, and I see your ads are neatly placed and I probably wouldn’t have noticed them had I not been looking at any good links you may have added on the side. I think it’s a bit sad that you even had to add a page justifying the ads. It boggles me that they actually thought you would be able to travel without earning anything.

    There are bloggers who even ask for donations to reduce the number of ads or to completely take them off. People like me who are not backpacking material would contribute because we like to live vicariously through you guys and perhaps only live out snippets of your travelogue in real life.

    • NomadicMatt

      I wouldn’t ask for donations. I should be able to afford travel on my own merit, not through the hand out of others. But that’s my own philosophy on work.

  47. Hey Matt,
    people will always try and find something wrong with things..keep travelling the world and inspiring us to do the same :)

  48. steph

    People are ignorant… don’t waste your breath.. theres always going to be people bitching about everything!!!

  49. Matt – Screw the folks who’ve yelled at you. It’s your site and you should feel free to do what you wish!

    Readers are consuming gobs of free info, and the list they can do is buy your information guide that may contain even more valuable information!

    Best, Sam

    • Hey cool! Didn’t realize I left a comment here from one year ago! And since that one year, I’ve retired and spent the last several months working on my own online business. It’s fun, but I do have the occasional longing for earning that nice paycheck again.

  50. ally

    My God, i am supposed to be sleeping but now my eyes are wide awake reading your inspiring blog about travelling. Yeah i am a fan of true blood too. Keep up the work. I am now inspired even more to write my blog about travelling..Thanks a lot

  51. MSF

    I too am enjoying the site and I’ve only just started. I like the down to earth friendly manner that you write with Matt. Its very engaging and much more preferable to the proper tourist info sites I’ve trawled through so far.
    I personally haven’t even noticed the ads! I like the header bar on the home page. The site is easy to navigate too.I say keep up the good work.
    I fully understand your wanderlust. I have it too but am constrained by responsibilities that keep me tethered. That said I am now enjoying some adventures with my two young sons. The last was driving across the states (well a bit of it!) in a vw camper, down to Mexico which was on a whim, then up to San Diego then LA. Then I had the ol’ bus shipped home! One of the best bits was camping in the desert (-: We all gained something from the trip which will live on in us forever.
    One of my sons has special needs and I was s**t scared of going far from home. However with careful planning all went well. I am now planning our next trip to Iceland.
    Happy travels.

  52. As someone who’s a writer first and a travel blogger second, I respect you for hiring a professional to help you improve the quality of your written content. This being said, I never thought the quality of writing on your site was abysmal, just average.

    Now, don’t get me started about the “writing” on many other popular travel blogs — you’d hardly know some of these people were native speakers of English! I won’t name names, but I definitely think it’s immoral to make money off writing if you can’t write extremely well. Not that my opinion means much in the blogosphere (yet!), but I commend you for making sure you never become a part of this shady contingent.

  53. kiwigram

    I find it hard to believe that people would make such a deal over ads. It is the content and information that you give that is the important thing. Maybe it is just a bit(?), of jealousy? They could do the same thing if they had the courage or foresight to do so.

  54. Funny because when I first stumbled on your site I was wondering, where is his ads!? How does he makes money from a site with no ads? The only ads I knew before are Google ads but now I know there’s a lot out there. I’ve seen sites with a lot of ads but that’s there site. Readers should be thankful bloggers provide them with free info and you’re absolutely right. We need to make money too to run it for free. You don’t really have to explain yourself Matt, you’re doing a great job inspiring and helping people. Keep it up! :)

    When you make a mark in this world, expect that you will attract erasers. There will always be mean people out there who will envy your success, so just ignore them, not worth your precious time. thanks for inspiring us Matt! :)

  55. DougisaNomad

    No explaining needed kid. Be who you are and continue providing awesome tips on great travel..
    Hope to see you on the road

  56. Hey Matt,

    Thanks for all the great articles. I’m a fellow travel blogger here and would like to follow in your footsteps. I’m learning a great deal from all the information you post on your website.


  57. Hey,
    I don’t understand why you justify yourself. If the ads bother your readers they should go to another website with no ads. I think they came to your website for the information, and the ads are not annoying. It’s just my opinion.
    Do you know where can I buy your books in Ireland?

  58. Ginger

    I don’t think everyone can do what you do. So for those of us who do want to take just a two week vacation, your blog is very informative either way!!! Can’t decide what would cost less, going to Hawaii and stay within my comfort zone or go to Phuket? And with Hawaii, I am thinking about staying at these places on… which is less costly than resorts and hotels. With Phuket, it would be best to stay at their hotels perhaps?

    • NomadicMatt

      Phuket has a lot of cheap guesthouses for 10 USD per night. I’m not sure what your travel style is though but you’ll find basic and cheap accommodation there.

  59. My husband and I have been sailing the world the last couple of years now, and we spend a significant amount of time working on our blog. We have had multiple people ask us why we do it and tell us that we’re supposed to be “out there vacationing/relaxing/whatever”. Our response is always the same – I’d rather be working in a tropical paradise out here int he South Pacific than stuck in a cubicle back home!

  60. Late to the party, but I have a feeling I’m not going to leave. Great info, great stories, great to see someone living the dream by just deciding to do it, rather than whine and moan.

  61. I don’t get what the big deal is about having ads on blogs is. I mean if it is EVERYWHERE, and doesn’t look like it blends at all…then I guess that could be annoying….but if you don’t want to click it, just don’t click it. I don’t see what the big deal is.

  62. Matt you shouldn’t care what they say to you! Ads is not a problem and everyone who is bothered shouldn’t pay attention to ads 😉 Besides it is your website and you can include anything you want! Big fuss for nothing

  63. Jacob

    Matt, are you a travel writer or a Travel Photographer? If so, does a Travel Writer purchase their own ticket with their own money, or does someone else pay for a ticket. By ticket I mean a plane ticket.

  64. Amy

    You owe no one any apologies. Charge what you want. Anyone complaining is undoubtedly just jealous that they have no made the type of choices to lead them to the kind of life you’re enjoying. They don’t have to buy if they don’t want. Love the blog! Enjoy your travels.

  65. frank

    I have been reading all you travel normads websites. and your wonderful travel experiences, and your stories. It certainly seem like a great lifestyle and make money while traveling the world. But I can’t help but to question your retirement plan. No one has ever talked about their retirement plan. Some of you may come fro ma country where you don’t have to worry about health care as much as being a US citizen. But can you perhaps have a post about your life style and your retirement plan?

  66. Haha…I still like “Matt Does The World”. Good luck on your travels, I’m doing something similar, but more with English teaching. I’m currently in China!

  67. Sarina

    Hi Matt, you rock :) Like you, my husband and I have traveled around the world on the cheap, loved every minute, but settled down this year to give our little girls a home. We are adventurers by heart so after a full day of working “real jobs” and playing with the kiddoes we put them to bed and work on our website together… we’ve created our own travel search engine with user-added content ( The site is free. We allow businesses to place coupons there for free too. Money we’ve gained from ads so far? $20. Maybe it will be more some day, but for us the process of creating something that can reach and connect with so many is what drives our work. Every hour we’ve spent working as a team has been nothing less than magical because we are doing something we love together. I’m sure that sense of magic and freedom is what you feel everyday – kuddoes to you for being able to make a livin doing what you love! Only the best, Sarina

  68. Hey Matt,

    Kudos to you for making it work! I’ve recently started along this path and am dealing with my own financial struggles and critics.

    Where in the world are you now?

    All the best,

  69. A lot of people I know have traveled for a year on 20,000. I spent about 12,000 while traveling for 7 months. I still can’t understand how, since I was couchsurfing a lot and not eating out much. That was between NZ, AUS and South America. I’m curious how long did 20,000 last you, or about how long? I am looking to save this amount for my next long term trip.

  70. STeve

    People who complain about you selling out, need to get a more realistic take on the world. Ya gotta eat. Kudos to you for making a living out of doing something you love, and helping others (like me!) at the same time. We should all be envious, but not jealous!
    Take care and continue the good work!

  71. "BOB"

    I love this. “Anyone can do it”… Then we find he was able to save $20,000 before his first trip. Most of us are paying off student loans whilst juggling rent. See, folks? There’s always more to it – former high-paying job or lived w/ parents so could save… monetary gift from parents… taught English abroad… fired or laid off, took a trip, in right place at right time & got hospitality job or teaching or gardening job. It’s all very individual. There is no formula that’s why no one comes out and says. They want you to buy something. This site doesn’t seem that big/popular to generate enough money fly 25 times/year. My niece has a bigger blog than this. Like I said, everyone wants to seem lucky. There’s always more to it than anyone will let on. I’ve been to 20 countries, but that’s because I’ve had rich friends/lovers & affluent parents. I once had a job that took me places, too. See? I said it. That’s honest. No expensive books w/ some secret. I’m not trying to sound lucky or like I now something because I’m not selling anything.

    • NomadicMatt

      There’s always a cynic. Anyways, my parents paid for nothing. I earned 30,000 as an assistant, which in Boston, is not a lot of money. I saved (sometimes poorly) for over 3 years for my original trip. Then, when I ran out of money, yes, I did teach in Thailand…but OMG! so can you! In fact, you could go travel on a hospitality job too!

      My friends/lovers/parents don’t pay for any part of my life. Everything I do, I pay for…out of pocket.

      I know you are really trying hard to poke holes in my story, proving that it can’t be done, but as the people who use my tips have said, yes it can be one. I’ve never once hidden the fact I used my savings to pay for my original trip. It’s right in the open. Read more than one blog post. In fact, read this blog post, because, you’re just like Jessica!

      P.S. – I’m still paying off my student loans…..only 40,000 dollars more to go!!

      P.P.S. – You just inspired a new blog post, thank you!

  72. Don’t let the haters get ya down. I’m really glad I found this site, you have some amazing articles. I was especially excited to find the travel guides because I’m planning out my first major trip and I’m aiming for Peru to hike Machu Picchu.

  73. Keep doing what you are doing Matt. It may look like a breeze just wandering around the world but I know different. Ask Ben Southall, The Best Job in the World winner.
    With public appearances, filming and blog writing, he barely has time to scratch himself. A tremendous ammount of stamina and self sacrifice is required to perform the duties he has to fulfill in the course of representing Queensland, Australia.
    I spend countless hours just running a Queensland Travel site that I hope brings interesting info to the public, and fortunately am retired and can do it at my leisure.
    Matt, you are providing an invaluable service to the travelling public for free and long may you continue to do so.

  74. There seems to be this fantasy where you set up a turn key travel website work 2 hrs a weeks and then laze on the beach the rest of the time. Anyone I know working for themselves put in way over the average number of hours and yet it doesn’t feel like it because their passion is their work. So find what you love doing and do it is the key. But of you’re just lazy and want a website that allows you to travel 99% of the time while raking in the cash you’ll have to think again!

  75. I read the blog about Bob. He is probably not able to imagine the sacrifices needed to save the money for travel and therefore justifies his cynicism by attacking you and suggesting you have a secret. There is no secret as you say it’s just find a way figure it out, do it. Every day that is happening. Someone is figuring something out while someone else is suggesting it is not possible. Good for you figuring it out and sharing with those of us who appreciate your knowledge!

  76. Those who are bothered by ads can easily block them using some adblock plugin for their browser. Actually there are much more popular travel sites filled with ads but people do not complain about them… You should not be concerned about it, those are just envious eyes…

  77. I’m late to the party but just wanted to say, glad you wrote this article. People need to know that writers, bloggers, and artists alike have to put in a lot of effort to bring the wonders of the world to their computer screens and homes. I’m currently in my “investment” period, so your story is inspiration for me, hoping that I can make it work too. Kudos and best of luck continuing forward!

  78. Trina

    Hi Matt,
    I am new to your blog but I just wanted you to know that I have found several of your posts very informative and useful. I am a relatively inexperienced traveller. To your critics, I say: stop whining..find something else to read..Jeez!

    Best Regards!

  79. Awesome post, and good on you for creating a business out of your passion. Some people are so negative … but it’s all ignorance. Glad to see you have had so much support on this, and I say what you’re doing IS inspiring. I’ve been that person working and typing away in the corner while everyone else is drinking and having fun (ok, well I was probably drinking too, but…) as others here have said, we love writing about our travels. And if you love your work, you’ll never work another day in your life. Sarah :-)

  80. You’re doing a great job with this web site. You’re providing your unique perspective on interesting places and cultures for free. That’s a great value for anyone interested in traveling, so keep it up.

  81. It’s pretty ridiculous that anyone would suggest this is selling out. Putting travel expenses aside, who do they think pays for the server/domain bills? Not sure where people are getting this sense of self-entitlement. If you want great content for free don’t get bummy when the publisher tries to earn a living off of it.

  82. I definitely don’t consider putting some ads up as selling out. I can imagine this blog is a time/money consuming venture and costs need to be covered. In the end, you are still traveling like most people would like to be doing, and helping people with their travels as well. Good work!

  83. Prasanna

    Hey Matt!!
    Congrats for doing what you wanted to! I love travelling a lot too, but my job doesn’t allow me to! (I’d travel only on weekends…)
    One of my friends recommended that I’d read this blog so I read it! And now I am seriously thinking about leaving my job! It would be really helpful if you’d provide some tips, as I am from India and here, leaving your job means you life is wasted!!
    I want to travel on my bike, with a camera to the places only I’ve dreamed of being there…It’d be really great if you’d help me on how to convince people around me!!
    And all the best for your journey…! and please do not bother about ads at all! 😉

  84. Hi Matt, I’m just in my second year with my blog and I think I’ll hit between 75K views to maybe a bit more this year. (niche is fall foliage in New England) I only have adsense and no outside ADs. At what point did they start coming to you, to purchase AD space? Or did you go to them?

    Keep up the good work…

    Jeff Foliage

  85. Lysa

    I love your site, your creative revenue-generating ideas and adventurous spirit! If someone doesn’t like the ads, he/she can surf elsewhere. Travel on!

  86. Doing what makes you happy allows you to do it to the best of your ability. Having a job that you hate usually means you’re unhappy and unable to enjoy your life. Unfortunately, there are those that only want to benefit themselves and not help or understand others. Knowing that your ads are all from personal experience should be a bonus not a down fall since you’ve had positive experiences with them. Also, who are they really bothering? This is my first time reading one of your blogs and I must say, I’ll be coming back!

  87. Adam

    Hi Matt!
    This is a great post and very inspiring. I also agree that advertising is literally everywhere and just because you use it to fund your travels you should not be looked upon negatively… you are providing so much great information to readers free of charge.

    I have only just set up my own website regarding my travel adventures & reviews etc. it is – It would be awesome to get your feedback considering your wealth of experience….


  88. Carol Katrawitz

    I love to travel but I am still trying to pluck up the courage to go somewhere where it’s not warm! I would love to see snow capped mountains and the Northern Lights but I can’t stand the cold! Even the south of The UK gets too cold for me during the winter. People say I must have no blood in my alcohol stream but I very seldom drink more than a couple of beers, except for the few times I’ve stayed at a AI so why am I so intolarent to the cold?
    I have a neighbour who says that she would never travel abroad because they don’t speak English and they are not ‘white’ (????) although she put it a lot more rudely. She said she went to London once (about 76miles) and said that she didn’t like it. She does not leave her home town! She doesn’t know what she is missing! One trip to London in nearly 80 years and that’s her lot! I feel sorry for her.
    No travel, no happy, my motto. Love to the world!

  89. I do travel writing part of the time and I have not yet figured out how to do it all of the time. I admire your courage.

    I wrote guidebooks – it’s what I enjoy the most. But it doesn’t pay well so I completely understand your need to place ads.

  90. Jim

    “Well, you’re just a sell out then. Nothing is from the heart if you’re just doing it to make money.”

    Who says that? Some kid living at home with Mom and Dad paying their way?

    You shouldn’t apologize to any idiot that thinks like that. Only someone who isn’t making their own way in the world would even say such a stupid thing.

    Of course you only recommend stuff you think is quality. If you recommend crap then people will quickly figure it out and not buy anything from you or through you.

    Nothing wrong with making money. And if you can make money doing something you love then so much better.

    “Man, MacDonalds, made me pay for my happy meal. Fuckin’ sellouts.”
    “Electric company wants me to pay for my electricity. Fucking sellouts. They should be generating electricity from the heart. I hate my parents.”

  91. I can see that this post has created a bit of controversy. I guess that I never gave much thought to whether advertising on a website was questionable or not. I generally select a website to follow based on the information presented…nothing else. If I am interested in a product that is being field tested by the admin, I may take a look at it if I think that the writer has some viable experience with the product and recommends it. It isn’t much more complicated than that for me.

    Having said that, I, too, travel and live abroad at a pretty continuous rate….for the past 8 years or so. It is a lifestyle that has developed over time and each year is tweaked to fit my personal situation at the time. I started an international-house-sitting business which has made it possible for me to live for up to 90-day stretches all over the world. That reduces a huge amount of financial strain for me. But, I am a digital nomad as well. That didn’t happen over night. I agree with Matt when he says that trying to support your lifestyle of nonstop travel can be challenging. Since I never really consider myself a tourist no matter where I am in the world at any given time, it is a tad easier for me to carry my trusty iPad wherever I go and put together a daily schedule that includes producing 400 to 1000 words, cooking most of my own meals, and taking care of people’s animals and gardens. That means that while others may be trotting about with a tourist guide in one hand and a camera in another, I am often back at the house writing. Whenever I house sit, I can’t wander to far afield anyway, which suits me since I prefer a quiet, less frenetic pace to life.

    It is a challenge to step away from the pack, give up things and certain creature comforts, living here, there and everywhere. This life is not for the faint of heart, but for those of us who have been willing to make those material sacrifices and managed to sever the cord that kept us tied to one spot, we welcome the hardships. The trade off? Freedom, adventure, and creativity is our aphrodisiac. Just another way to live a life.

  92. I found your website a while ago and when I read your posts about travel blogging, you really got me hooked. So here I am now, I gave up my job, my flat and all the comforts, moved to a country where I can live for a lot less money and started blogging. It’s fun, but the truth is, I never worked so much in my life. 12 hours a day is pretty normal for me. But reading the comments on my blog posts and seeing that my stuff has been shared over and over again feels rewarding.
    Thanks for the inspiration.
    Cheers from Istanbul, Sab

  93. Well said on many fronts. I’ve started to find other avenues of making money online, though the ads are ever present. So far I’ve been successful in keeping my site ad free, and only linked to sponsored reviews of a product, but this proves to be quite difficult. Good on you for standing up against those that don’t understand this is very much like a newspaper, or National Geographic, and needs to drive an income somehow! :)

  94. Would be glad if we could live without ads, agree with Matt, it’s a way to support a blogger, not links, shares, encouraging words and few ads clicks. He’ll keep on doing his thing then.

  95. Clay

    Late commenter! I discovered your site about a month ago, and honestly, I am so grateful for everything that you have already given me. I come here nearly everyday to read up on your information to get ready for my future traveling. Currently I am only 18 years old and i’m going to a University in Michigan next fall for journalism. I’m hoping that through writing, whether through a blog, or more so through a traveling magazine that I can support myself enough to travel around the world for a way of life. I just wanted to take some time and thank you for doing all of this and helping me get such an early start on such valuable information.

  96. Man, you don’t have to feel guilty to charge for some content of your website. If somebody does not like it, then don’t read it.

    Some people don’t seem to understand that blogging is a business at the end. You give some information for free, but your knowledge, time and dedication to the community should be rewarded. Otherwise you would be working for free and that is not sustainable.

    Kudos to this great blog!

  97. Did you really open your blog in 2008 as I can see in Web Archive? As I can see, you’ve used DoubleClick at this time. Why don’t you use AsSense at the present time? May be for the years you’ve understood that Adsense is not too good for travel blogs?

  98. Doan

    Matt. You don’t have to justify your lifestyle to anyone. People shouldnt be so quick to response until they walk a year in someone else shoe. A stripper still got to work and make a living, so people don’t have the right to judge. BTW, I find a lot of your tips very helpful and whenever I do my travel I alway go to your site and look up the city/state/country guide. I also got a free flight to Asia from your credit card tip and bought insurance through your site and used it when something happen to me while traveling. Thank you for continuing to motivate and encouraging everyone to travel. Just keep on doing whatever you’re doing, at the same time think about your future too. You cant travel forever and will need to put down root at some point?! Good luck and keep on trucking!

  99. I love the honesty Matt. For people like most of us who prefer not going about searching for travel tips online. You have got it here! and most of all quite an interesting website for virtual viewers aswell! It sure does take a lot of effort and hard work to keep your living going out of a website and its definitely not everyone’s cup of tea.

    Cheers to your moxie!

  100. RG

    As for the asshole: thank him or her…cause it just made you look more legit and that your site is not all sunshine and rainbows. It’s like reading an article about a location and not seeing anything negative; peeps begin to wonder, Kapeesh?

  101. koomelina

    Personally have no idea why people would make this an issue.
    You would have to make money somehow to sustain your lifestyle. And being able to sustain yourself and do something that you love – thats just fantastic!!!

  102. Donna

    It’s pretty darn SAD when you have to explain yourself to strangers, about something that is NOT their personal business in the first place.

    How you make money to support your lifestyle is your business, and ONLY your business in your personal, private life.

    Make the people that criticize you explain their personal financial affairs to YOU, it seems only fair, and see how they like it.

    Seems like they are “leeches” if they are trying to suck valuable things out of you for nothing. Your experiences are valuable, so don’t let the leeches devalue that, brush them off like the vermin they are……………

  103. Tammy

    To @dense_mattr for this quote: “Too bad there isn’t any useful content, information, or stories on your site. You’re a pinhead and you couldn’t write your way out of a paper bag. This whole site is SEO bait and you know it. You couldn’t publish anything because you can’t write.”

    You are an asshole of epic proportions.

  104. Pru

    There’s no need to be so mean. However I see your point. Maybe some classes in story telling & narrative writing would be beneficial.

  105. Tee

    Pru, he doesn’t need any writing classes. This is not a technical site. It’s entertainment. And his writing is fun and informative. It’s all that’s required.