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.
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 am, 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.