I recently came a cross a travel book in my neighborhood book shop Curious Iguana that said right on the cover “How to travel the world on $50 a day” and let me tell you my skepticism was was sent into high gear. I just had to pick it up and give it a good read. We were about to head out of the country and it seemed an appropriate read.
The introduction was clear, you weren’t going to travel to every possible destination and survive on $50 a day, but when you averaged out your expenses across the expensive countries (like Scandinavia and Europe) and your cheap countries (like Southeast Asia and Central America) the magical $50 equation begins to take shape. Matt Kepnes or @nomadicmatt attacks the $50 solution like he is defending a thesis in front of a group of learned scholars while keeping a conversational tone and giving plenty of real world examples.
The book is divided into several parts: planning, on the road, then breaking all of this information down by region. He doesn’t just look at the practical side (logistics), either, the first thing he covers is getting over your fears. From chapter one:
“… most people stay at home, dreaming of that ‘one perfect day’ they will finally travel. But you know what? That day never comes. It will never be perfect.”
Kepnes’ philosophy is in line with my dislike of the bucket list concept. A bucket list is too focused on things you want to do eventually. We’re in agreement that there’s no magic moment when travel (or any other bucket list item) will present itself as an obvious opportunity. You have to go out there and get it.
The book also explains some important concepts a lot of other travel books simply don’t. Kepnes demystifies foreign banking, giving great region-specific advice on how to and where to set up accounts. He even explains the easiest ways to handle your bills (which won’t stop coming when you leave the country, unfortunately) and the simple things you can do to save up for your trip.
Along the way, Kepnes introduces readers to other travelers and bloggers and relates their experiences and expertise to ground his work and show he’s not just pulling this information from his own experience. I recommend following everyone he cites.
A central part of his $50-a-day thesis is to shop and eat like a local. He spends a lot of time explaining the hostel system in a variety of regions and other non-hotel accommodations like couch surfing that can save you loads of money. He also seems to keep in mind that not everyone is up for the communal experience (hear, hear!), so he also gives you the ballpark budget for private hotel rooms. Choosing private accommodations will bump up your budget a bit, but it’s a choice every traveler has to make for him- or herself.
I really can’t say enough about this book. It’s the best book on travel I’ve ever read. I say buy it, grab a highlighter and mark it up. You can also check him out at nomadicmatt.com, but then get planning and GO. The time may not be “right”, but “right now” can work.