When Life Gives You Lemonade

lemonade and lemons on a trayI’ve often complained about how hard it is to travel and work at the same time. Usually something gets sacrificed—and it’s usually work. I like to travel more than I like working on this site. And I often have to spend days catching up on stuff when I could be out hanging with new friends.

However, this site usually brings me more lemonade than lemons. Like how one day last month I opened my inbox to find this email:

“Hi Matt,

My name is Maria from Penguin/Perigee Books. I’ve been following your blog for a while, which I found through Chris Guillebeau‘s site. We are interested in publishing your ebook “How to travel the world on $50 a day” as a print book. We think it would be a great inspiring book for people.

If this is something you are interested in, I’d love to talk to you more about this over the phone.



People have often told me I should write a book about my travels. (And not just my mother!) They tell me I have an interesting story and that it would be cool to read in a book. But I’ve never really given it much thought. No one really wants to read about a single guy traveling the world, do they? There’s a reason guy versions of Eat, Pray, Love never take off. Moreover, the more I travel, the less special I realize I am. Lots of people do this, and I’m just like everyone else. My story isn’t unique or even that interesting. I really don’t think I have much to give in the way of a book. Furthermore, I’m lazy and I’d rather travel than write a book.

Plus, to get a book deal, I’d need to get an agent, write a proposal, shop it around, and then maybe I’d get a publisher for it. Or maybe not, and all that work would be in vain. The book industry isn’t as strong as it used to be, after all, especially since Borders has now closed. Why bother when I could be doing something more appealing in Europe?

Nomadic Matt's how to travel the world on $50 a day book coverBut here was a book deal landing right in my inbox for a book I’ve already written. An offer direct from the publisher that would let me avoid all that hard work. It was an offer wrapped and tied up with a bow for my taking.

Now that was worth thinking about.

Opportunity often only knocks once. Though I was skeptical about the seriousness of the offer at first and what I would have to give up, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I would be a fool for turning this offer down. This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. I couldn’t say no to this, even if it meant (and it does) changing my plans. (Plus, it would fulfill a childhood dream of becoming a real author!)

So I got an agent to negotiate all the fine print, and the ink is currently drying on the contract. Sure, by taking the book deal I give up the right to sell my ebook on my own and will get a lot less money per book, but it greatly increases the reach of my book and this website. It’s not all about the money, after all. And there’s something to be said for being able to walk into a book store and see my book on the shelf. Giving up the direct-sale aspect is worth a book deal.

The book won’t be published in print until early 2013. The editor and I both want it out for the summer travel season, and, because of the way book print cycles work, I missed the summer 2012 deadline. (I probably shouldn’t have let the original email sit in my inbox for so long.)

But, the more I think about it, I’m happy about this. It means I don’t have to rush out a manuscript to them quickly and cut my current trip short. (For the print edition, I need to basically triple the size of the book). The new date gives me some time to relax and write it thoughtfully. Most likely, I will spend some extra time in Asia, relaxing on some island, with nothing but me and my laptop.

Sometimes, my website takes me away from my travels and it’s all lemons. But then, other times, it allows me to fulfill childhood dreams of becoming an author, traveling the world, and living a pretty amazing life. And then I realize this site isn’t lemons, it’s all lemonade, no matter how much I might complain sometimes.

This book might not make me Rick Steves (or maybe it will—watch out, Rick!), but I’ll be able to look back one day and say, “You know, once I had a book published, and it was awesome.”

  1. Hi Matt,

    “The more I travel, the less special I realize I am. Lots of people do this, and I’m just like everyone else. My story isn’t unique or even that interesting.”

    I sometimes feel the same way about my “I quit my corporate job to travel for a year story.” Then I remind myself that if I don’t feel special anymore it’s because I’ve gone from being around sleepy cubicle dwellers to being surrounded by brave, curious and imaginative travellers who are making their own paths.

    Not many people take the leap of faith or find the clarity to leave their comfortable lives and live their dreams. So I bet that puts you, and the rest of us crazy long-term travellers, in the top 5% of the bravest people in the population. :)

    – Lily

  2. Rod

    Congrats Matt. Hope it works out for you. You have done the hard work already. Your writings appeal to the masses. I’m travelling the world for all of 2012, I may have to get your eBook before its too expensive.

  3. Mike


    Congratulations on such amazing news! I’ve been following your site for quite some time, albeit in the shadows. Your stories have been exciting and fun, and your style of living has been a big motivator in me now pursuing my own travel/web business interests.

    Thank you for all the work you’ve put into nomadicmatt.com over the years, and again, congratulations on now being able to put a nice, strong backbone to your paper words!


  4. Congratulations Matt! I bet you’ve been bursting with this news!! I agree with you, and Lily…once you step out of the regular world you realize that there are plenty of other people doing amazing things and it can be difficult to remember that what you are doing really is still amazing!! Great work.

  5. Congratulations!! And don’t lose that feeling of being special. Not so many people -I would say actually only a few- are able or dare to do this and travellers are in my opinion the most special and luckiest people of the world, they really get to open their minds in a way that those who don’t travel will never be able to do.

  6. jaw drop!! congrats on an easy ‘yes’ of an answer!! I loved how you wrote about your mind rationalizations too. 😀 I can relate to that.

  7. Congrats, Matt! The book will be a great opportunity to share your knowledge with more people and to grow the travel community. I’ll buy a few copies to give away to my readers when it comes out.

  8. Great story and great news–congrats! I’m looking forward to a thoughtful book about travel and budgeting. Often I see gimmicky numbers thrown around about the cost of travel per day when it’s actually pretty complex and filled with tradeoffs. People often ask our family how we afforded our trip around the world. Well, it goes something like this: We rented delux cabanas in small towns in Argentina and enjoyed the wine for cheap, but we ate lentils out of can and couldn’t afford alcohol in Switzerland. Where you go, what accommodations you choose, how frequently you move around, how you get from Point A to Point B etc etc affects the budget enormously. Good luck!

  9. Wow! Big congratulations Matt, that’s got to be one of the top 3 highlights since you started this blog surely?

    Best of luck with the book, although you’ve already got this blog to start off promotion so you’re already ahead of the competition in that respect too, it’s a big saving on marketing.

  10. That’s really exciting news. I think it’s great that you got the deal for something you had already worked on, so your hard work paid off more than you had imagined!
    About this line: “The more I travel, the less special I realize I am. Lots of people do this, and I’m just like everyone else. My story isn’t unique or even that interesting.” It is true that when you meet travelers, either in person or online, you realize that there are SO many of them, and that having a serious passion for travel is not really unique. However, it’s also true that many people don’t have the time/resources/courage or whatever is keeping them from traveling, and they see people like you as an inspiration. Obviously you are special and your story is very interesting or you wouldn’t have such a following.

  11. Congratulations, Matt! That’s HUGE, and a great accomplishment! Just proves that even nomads can be successful =) Good luck with the writing. You’re an inspiration to all!

  12. Laura Lippstone/planetlippstone

    Big congratulations from a fellow (mostly) travel blogger who’s relatively new to the game. Had to laugh at your constant struggle between exploring and taking time to feed the site. I sure can identify.

    You do a fabulous job and make it look so easy.

    The book deal is no surprise to me. It’s just confirmation that you don’t have to aspire to *be* Rick Steves, or anyone else. You’re already a name in your own right.

    All the best.

  13. Congratulations -that’s amazing news! I love that it came to you – the benefit of having a successful blog. We also feel that travelling permanently isn’t that special, as we know so many others doing it. It’s only when we get back to the ‘real world’ that we realise it’s not that normal after all. Your book will open up the possibilities of cheap long term travel to so many people who haven’t considered it.

    • NomadicMatt

      I hope so. That’s the goal. Convince Americans like my parents that it’s not all resorts and fancy vacations.

  14. Nice job Matt. I have come to believe that if you stick to your dreams and what you love most, especially through the tough times, things will begin to turn in your favor and it will all work out. This is just one example of yours that makes that belief seem more true. Congrats buddy.

  15. Interesting article – on the one hand, your blog keeps you on the road; but on the other, it sometimes keeps you from enjoying the experience with a carefree attitude that often accompanies those on a finite rtw adventure. I’ve honestly never blogged seriously while travelling although I got VERY serious about photos/videos on my most recent backpacking adventures to the point that I put pressure on myself when I felt I was slacking off. Although I’m passionate about my projects I sometimes crave those carefree travel days of my first backpacking adventures in 2008 when I just spontaneously drifted and did whatever I wanted each and every day.

  16. Arjun Ray

    Matt, CONGRATULATIONS bro! I’m Arjun from India & have been following you on twitter and reading your blogs regularly. Many a times, I had thought that had you released a book, how helpful it would be for aspirants like us. Your book could be like a bible for travelers like you (us)! I am very proud of you for having started this journey to find yourself and discover new people, culture, cuisines and customs of foreign lands. I dream of having a life as yours, I bet u have bad moments but allow me to take just the positives from this journey of yours and weave happy travel stories in my mind. I had thought of doing a long term travel on a shoestring budget as it gets more challenging with an Indian passport, but then I do have my family with my little girl and other responsibilities. So bon voyage traveler and hope to pick a copy or two of your book when it hits our shore!! (Sorry, for this never-ending comment… Had a few thoughts pent-up you see…)

  17. That’s living the dream–congrats to you! I’m trying to do my own version of the dream–I’m an American who moved to Europe to live life differently.

  18. Hey Matt,

    When life give you lemons, you wrote a book. When life gives me lemons, I add vodka and make a lemon drop martini.

    That’s why you’re a published author and I’m just a wannabe travel writer who drinks!

    Nicely done, good chap.

  19. So awesome!!!! Something I hope to do someday – although I imagine it will be a self-published affair! I am still so new to the system – having worked so hard on a career in a different field all these years. Great job Matt – you inspire me to believe it is possible!

  20. Keith

    Hey Matt, Well I think the biggest thing you’ve taught people is that if you start your own travel blog, you can eat and stay for free by giving free plugs. I have found ZERO useful information from all of your posts. I think I could get more information from the local phone book. All you do is highlight places you eat and stay for free. You never write about what you did ..really. “The beach is beautiful here” at blah blah blah resort…”The food is fantastic” at blah blah blah restaurant. REALLY ? I could look at brochures all day and write the same stuff ! Hmmmmm…maybe that’s what you really do. I don’t see you in any pictures of the places you go. You sure your not holed up in some little apt in NY and make up all this stuff?

    • NomadicMatt

      Actually, none of those places are gotten for free so I think you’ve found the wrong blog. I pay for my travels.

    • Mike


      Travel blogs come in two stripes. One, the kind I write when my wife and I travel, tells what we did, how we did it, what we liked and what we didn’t, and pictures of the sights we saw. It’s more like a travelogue.

      The other, like Matt’s, are more how-to’s for people who want to get away, anywhere. They probably couldn’t care less about whether they see the Eiffel Tower, or the Dordogne caves, and thus wouldn’t read the blog for ideas on what to see.

      We plan our trips and read guidebooks and web blogs and by the time we’re on our 3rd writeup on the shiny marble street of Dubrovnik we skip further reading. But our objective has been to find places to go and see. After a lot of travel we’ve started now looking at the how’s, how to travel more, longer, cheaper, and only secondarily as to what to see. We will do that, we don’t want to end up in some city that has nothing to see or do, but first comes figuring out how and what to do to get there.

      So, as Matt noted, you probably fall into the blog reader that’s looking for the first type. And that’s fine. It just means that your needs are satisfied with a Fodors, Frommers, Steves book, and not Matt’s ‘how to leave your country for anywhere’.

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