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Journey mini-series: Nomadic Matt’s journey hacks

Travel mini series Nomadic Matts travel hacks

That is an audio transcript of the FT Weekend podcast episode: ‘Nomadic Matt’s travel hacks’

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Lilah Raptopoulos
Hello FT Weekend listeners. Welcome to the ultimate episode of our mini-series on journey.

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This week, I converse with Matt Kepnes. He’s higher often known as Nomadic Matt. That’s the title of his widespread journey weblog. He has been travelling the world for nearly 20 years on a finances. He’s written about it in his ebook Learn how to Journey the World on $50 a Day, and his memoir, Ten Years a Nomad. And I invited him on to the final episode simply to speak ideas. All the information, the best way to get good offers on flights, the best way to get factors, how to decide on a vacation spot, how to save cash when travelling. It’s filled with nice stuff. So that is FT Weekend, the podcast, particular journey version. I’m Lilah Raptopoulos. Let’s go.

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Matt, welcome to the present. Thanks for being right here.

Matt Kepnes
Thanks for having me.

Lilah Raptopoulos
So you’re the keeper of many best-kept journey secrets and techniques. I might like to be taught your methods. However first, earlier than we begin, you understand, this is sort of a enormous query, however why ought to we journey?

Matt Kepnes
It simply exposes you to quite a lot of new concepts. However I feel extra importantly, it reveals a shared humanity. You realize, everyone is like, oh, I wanna go to, you understand, Berlin and do what the locals do. OK. Properly, you understand what the locals do? They rise up, they eat breakfast, they go to work, they arrive dwelling and decide up their dry cleansing and watch Netflix and go to mattress. Everyone around the globe is basically the identical. So I feel it actually offers quite a lot of perspective. However the how and the why change it, proper? You realize, how folks work, how folks assemble meals and relationships and the emphasis on leisure time, you understand, work-life stability, dinner. For those who take into account the world a puzzle, journey lets you put the items collectively quite a bit simpler than you’d for those who simply by no means left your hometown.

Lilah Raptopoulos
So for those who’re trying on the yr forward and also you, like, know you wanna take a number of journeys, what would you recommend as a great way to consider it?

Matt Kepnes
Properly, I might actually take into consideration whenever you wanna go, after which go the other of everyone else. Proper? (Laughter) The primary strategy to get an affordable deal is to go the place folks aren’t going after they aren’t going. Like, for those who actually, you’re lifeless set. You’re a instructor. You may solely go to Europe in the summertime time, proper? OK, nicely, you understand, don’t go to Paris. Go to a smaller city elsewhere. I might additionally take into account that placing extra stuff in your schedule goes to detract from the general expertise. Journey is basically at its greatest whenever you simply kind of let serendipity take over. If you say, OK, I like, I’ve a few issues I wish to do as we speak. Let me begin off with wine after which see the place the day takes you with out stressing an excessive amount of about it. So I feel the perfect a part of our journey is taking it slowly, being somewhat contrarian within the sense that you simply go the place folks aren’t going. After which simply having this sense that you simply don’t must do all of it.

Lilah Raptopoulos
It jogs my memory of the time that I went to Stockholm in the midst of the winter. And truly it was, like, actually a delight. If you say, “Be contrarian,” are you able to give a pair examples of what which means?

Matt Kepnes
We’ll return to that instance of Europe, proper? You wanna go in Europe in the summertime. OK. You wanna go to France. You’ve at all times wished to go to Paris. I can’t cease you from going to Paris. Proper? (Laughter) To say it’s tremendous touristy is to say that one space of that metropolis could be very touristy. So for those who have a look at huge cities, the touristy stuff is normally multi functional space. And that’s the place the lodges are usually. That’s the place the crowds are. So for those who decide part of town that’s just a bit off centre, you’re gonna get to expertise Paris just like the locals do, away from the crowds. Actually you’ll have that Parisian expertise with out being like, oh, Paris is so touristy.

Lilah Raptopoulos
That’s a extremely good concept. The place do you suppose folks make the largest spending errors on journeys? What are the pointless journey bills that, like, quite a lot of us are losing cash on?

Matt Kepnes
For me, I might say lodging, with the caveat that it actually will depend on the type of journey you’re occurring. For those who actually wished simply to sit down across the resort, extra energy to you. However if you’re gonna have a really energetic, you’re-gonna-be-out-all-day journey, you understand, you’re sightseeing, dinners and all that stuff, yeah, you need a good, snug mattress and an honest place, however do you actually need some resort or the Ritz.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Proper.

Matt Kepnes
You’re not gonna be within the room all day, so that you’re not likely gonna, like, get the advantage of the luxurious. I additionally suppose folks actually go unsuitable with meals. They’re kind of like, oh, we’re on this metropolis, let’s attempt all the pieces. However they’ve simply avenue meals tradition in so many locations, proper? You realize, you go to Mexico Metropolis, get avenue tacos for $1.50. You realize, standing round that avenue stall, consuming with the locals might be gonna be simply as memorable as getting all these reservations at fancy eating places. And moreover, I feel the place folks go unsuitable with meals is that they’re not keen to be unsuitable.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Proper. I feel flexibility is sweet when, I imply, I are likely to underplan, however I feel flexibility is sweet whenever you’re travelling.

Matt Kepnes
Yeah. So if you’re, say, one week in Sydney, you need each meal to be nice. However what if it’s not? If it’s not, you’re gonna really feel like a failure.

Lilah Raptopoulos
However it’s not possible.

Matt Kepnes
It’s not possible, proper? And so what you actually received to do is be keen to say a few of these random locations I am going into would possibly suck. And on this data age, we obsess over the place the, you understand, star score on Google, you understand, what number of Yelp opinions does it have? We analysis. It’s like, you understand what? Simply stroll down. If it seems to be attention-grabbing and there’s folks inside, attempt it. And if it’s unhealthy. Oh, nicely, no matter. That’s a part of journey.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Yeah. OK. All proper. So let’s discuss reserving a flight. You’ve stated that among the finest issues that you are able to do to get an excellent deal is to type of go the other manner that different folks could be going, or not kind of taking the journey that everybody’s taking. However is there anything we should always learn about the best way to get an excellent deal on a flight, the best way to get upgraded?

Matt Kepnes
I’ll reply the second query first — the best way to get upgraded.

Lilah Raptopoulos
OK.

Matt Kepnes
Each article you ever learn on-line in regards to the secret hacks to get upgraded from financial system to enterprise are all lies. You may’t get upgraded. Except you’ve got standing, you’re unlikely to get upgraded.

Lilah Raptopoulos
And having standing comes from simply taking quite a lot of flights on the identical airline.

Matt Kepnes
Yeah. These days planes are actually full and there’s numerous elites on the market. And so actually with out elite standing, it’s very laborious to get an improve. By way of discovering low cost flights, there are at all times flight offers, OK. All the time. An amazing web site out there’s Scott’s Low cost Flights, after which there’s one referred to as HolidayPirates, which focuses extra on the Europe market. And day by day they kind of monitor all these flight offers, proper? Airways you understand will drop costs for, you understand, an hour, flash gross sales. So actually quite a bit about how do you get an excellent deal? One, be prepared whenever you see an excellent deal.

Lilah Raptopoulos
So simply seize it.

Matt Kepnes
Simply bounce on it, yeah. As a result of one good factor that occurred out of Covid for journey was that airways dropped their cancellation charges. So for those who ebook an awesome deal on United to Cape City, you may’t make it, they’ll provide you with that as an e-credit for subsequent time. However it’s higher to get the deal than not get the deal after which perhaps use a flight credit score in a special time.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Yeah. Yeah. Matt, thanks a lot. I’ve one final query. My final query is about factors. I imply, folks have numerous data ranges about factors. And as kind of perhaps a mean particular person, I’ve a number of bank cards. They offer me totally different ranges of factors. I’d kind of money them in for flights typically. It appears to be working fantastic, however I’ve this sense that there are individuals who know a lot greater than me which might be like residing luxurious lives without cost. (Laughter) And I simply, you understand, don’t know one thing that they know. Is that true or is {that a} fable?

Matt Kepnes
I might take into account myself above common within the data of journey hacking, as they name it. And I watched a few of my associates do all these loopy issues and I’m like, wow, you’re residing this, as you stated, like, luxurious way of life for nothing. However whew, it takes quite a lot of time. (Laughter) I imply, they are saying it’s a pastime factor, however I’m like, I really feel such as you’re working, like, extra on that than your full-time job. (Laughter) Form of like couponing, proper?

Lilah Raptopoulos
Proper. (Laughter) Proper.

Matt Kepnes
It’s like, the folks, like, who’re actually into couponing, they spend quite a lot of time doing it and naturally, yeah, they save a ton of cash nevertheless it borderlines on obsessive. And so I’m an enormous advocate of factors as long as you’re not gonna get into bank card debt.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Proper. And also you’ll save more cash the extra obsessive you get. However that will depend on the way you wanna spend your time.

Matt Kepnes
Yeah. I’m fairly obsessive about it. However for those who’re simply, you’re common, you understand, single particular person, couple, household taking one to 2 journeys a yr, do, simply your on a regular basis spending in, ensuring you’re benefiting from all of the class bonuses for eating out or groceries or gasoline, you’re gonna type of earn sufficient factors to get you there and again on a free flight. For most individuals, they don’t really want greater than that.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Yeah.

Matt Kepnes
I imply, my mother was like, I’ve, like, all these factors. She doesn’t actually, you understand, journey that a lot, however she retains racking them up. And I’m like, they don’t expire. Simply use them whenever you want it. You’re shopping for these Christmas presents it doesn’t matter what. May as nicely get some, you understand, free journey out of it.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Completely. Matt, this has been so helpful, so informative. Thanks a lot on your time.

Matt Kepnes
Properly, thanks for having me. I at all times like speaking about journey.

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Lilah Raptopoulos
That’s the present. Thanks for listening to FT Weekend, the podcast from the Monetary Instances. I’ve shared hyperlinks for the place you could possibly discover Matt within the present notes. That’s additionally it for our journey mini-series, and I actually wanna thanks for listening. We’d love to listen to what you suppose. You may e mail us at FTWeekendPodcast@FT.com. You may say hello on social media and observe us. We’re on Twitter @FTWeekendPod. And I’m on Instagram and Twitter @LilahRap. For those who missed the opposite episodes, you’ll find them on our feed. There’s the best way to journey like a neighborhood from our associates at FT Globetrotter. There’s what it’s like to go to each nation on the earth from Jessica Nabongo, and an awesome episode on the newest traits in tourism with our journey editor Tom Robbins.

This present was produced by Zach St Louis, govt produced by Topher Forhecz and sound engineered by Breen Turner, with unique music by Metaphor Music. Particular due to Cheryl Brumley and Alastair Mackie.

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