Interview with Frugal Traveler and Writer, Matt Gross

In December 2009, I saw the tweet that changed my life. It was from Matt Gross, who was then the Frugal Traveler for the New York Times. He tweeted asking if there were any travel bloggers who were earning any money from their blog. I tweeted back the Internet equivalent of “Teacher, pick me, pick me, pick me!”

And pick me for an interview he did.

I remember eating lunch when I got his call and holding up my Kiwi Experience group while he interviewed me on blogging, press trips, and travel.

A few weeks later my interview went live on the New York Times website and within a few hours, crashed my server (first world blogger problems, right?).

That was my first big break. Everything changed after that day and that interview led to some amazing opportunities that never seemed to have stopped.

Since that interview, Matt and I have become good friends. We both live in NYC and frequently see each other (he just recently got me to eat some fiery tripe for the first time at a local Szechuan restaurant).

A few months ago, Matt released a new book, The Turk who Loved Apples. This travelogue chronicles (some) of his misadventures around the world since he left to teach English in Vietnam after college.

I had Matt over at my apartment to interview him about his book. Here are two Matts talking travel, (mis)adventure, and whether Vietnam is awesome or not (spoiler: it’s not):

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I enjoyed Matt’s book tremendously, not least because he’s a better writer than I, but also because each chapter uses a different story to highlight lessons for beginner travelers – from feeling alone, to wanting to go home, to getting lost, and everything in between. I dog-eared a number of pages. One of my favorite parts of the book was when he writes about the ephemeral nature of travel friendships and the constant good-byes. As Matt says “While I’d be overjoyed to see them again…I harbor no expectation that will happen. The best and most responsible thing I can do is to remember them, to honor the brief joys of our relationship….and to cross my fingers our paths will cross once more.”

If you are looking for a good travel book that provides interesting stories as well as travel advice, pick up The Turk Who Loved Apples. If you’re an experienced traveler, you’ll be able to see yourself in many of his stories. If you’re a new traveler, you’ll learn to avoid some common travel mistakes.

And if you want more of Matt, you can find him now as the online editor of Bon Appetite as well as on Twitter at World Matt World. You can pick up a copy of his book on Amazon.

  1. If you travel enough, you will have “sh-t happens” stories. It goes with the territory. Having said that, I don’t let my husband book our hotels anymore because you know how when you fly from the east coast of the US to Europe on a night flight, you arrive in Europe the next day…..well…..he forgot.

    • NomadicMatt

      He has some really interesting travel stories. I think it’s doing pretty well….from what he’s told me so that’s good!

  2. Shannon

    The timing of this post couldn’t have been better – I *just* finished reading his book! That’s great you two are friends:)

  3. Total empathy for Matt’s car story. We bought a cheap banger of a station wagon in Oz, and during the 20,000km trip, we racked up mechanical bills costing over double the cars initial price. An economic lesson well and truly learned, but we still had the most wonderful road trip in that car, albeit more expensive than we could have imagined!

  4. I loved Matt Gross’ book, but also that he loved reading Patrick Leigh Fermor’s travel books about walking across Europe, A Time of Gifts & Between the Woods & Water. I recommend both.

  5. Damn, I guess it was a big stress to have your server crashed.
    Anyway, it all finished pretty well for you and it was really clever to take this opportunity to meet the frugal traveler. He looks like a eally cool dude.

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