As part of our goal to make life easier for bus travelers, we contact travelers who’ve had firsthand experiences around the world. Last time, we featured Michael Hodson from GoSeeWrite. Today, we’re happy to share an interview with Matthew Kepnes from NomadicMatt, a MBA graduate who quit his cubicle job to travel the world in 2006.
In 2005, Matthew Kepnes met five backpackers during a trip to Thailand that made him realize that he didn’t need to be rich to travel. So when he came back, he quit his job, finished his MBA and then embarked on a year long adventure around the world. And he hasn’t stopped since, writing over 200 destination guides. We’re happy he took time to answer our questions.
1) Where are you now, and where are you headed next in your travels?
I’m currently in Thailand. I’ll be here for a few more weeks and then I’ll be going to Laos and Cambodia. I’m not really sure after that. I may stay in Asia or I may head home to America.
2) You’ve written an extensive section on travel tips, from how to save money to when to when to eat at expensive restaurants (at lunchtime). What tips can you give solo travelers who are planning to travel by bus? And which countries do you consider most bus-friendly?
I don’t think any one country in the world is better to travel by bus than another simply because all countries have buses. However, countries in South America make the experience more enjoyable by providing comfy chairs that become beds, they provide blankets, have nice meals. They really are something special, especially the ones in Argentina.
3) You’ve listed Amsterdam, Paris, Stockholm, Vancouver and five more cities as your favorite in the world. What do these destinations have in common?
They don’t really have anything in common otherwise than they are places I feel the most comfortable. Sometimes you just click with a city and you feel connected to it. I feel that way with those cities. I love their looks, the people, the food, and just the love the way of life there. It’s hard to explain because it’s just a feeling.
4) This past April, you announced that you’ll be embarking on one last round the world trip until spring 2012. What’s left for you to explore? What’s left on your travel bucket list?
The idea was partly just a good challenge, partly just something that people don’t normally do, and partly to get good fodder for a book, which I am writing next year. I fell in love with ground travel as a result. Personally, I think it is not only much, much better for the environment than flying, but you get a much greater sense of a place and of how just plain huge our planet is when you travel by ground transport. I am a strong advocate of staying on the ground as much as you can afford time-wise.
5) Finally, what advice would you give people who are considering traveling for the first time and who are afraid of costs, culture shock and safety?
When it comes to costs, just budget wisely and go. You’ll never have the perfect amount of money. Just take what you can get and go. You can always work overseas but no matter what it is better to go a few days than no days at all. There will always be culture shock and there’s really nothing to do about that. You will always be taken aback by what is different. It doesn’t matter if that is in Dubai, France, or a different part of your country. Regarding safety, I always tell people to use the same common sense they would if they were back home. Do that and you’ll be fine.
Photo by Matthew Kepnes.