The premise of Matt Kepnes’s book is that taking a year off to travel the world can actually cost less than staying at home and living an ordinary life. If that has your attention the way I did mine, buy this book. It’s a quick and fascinating read, but it also cites so many sources that it earns its keep as a reference.
I thought I knew a lot about the travel industry until I read Chapter 5. I started flying alone at age 7, and my dad has worked for a regional airline since I was 9. There were a couple of points about looking for discount flights that I had never heard before. Mr. Kepnes, I salute you.
One of the strengths of the book lies in the How to Travel the World part of the title. Kepnes has a way of simplifying what can be very complicated topics. It’s obvious that he knows his material. He’s probably saved my family at least a couple hundred dollars in unnecessary rail passes just from a first reading. I kept saying to myself, “AHA!”
The other great strength comes through in the $50 a Day part. The book opens with the revolutionary concept that living the travel dream can be cheaper than feeling trapped in boring old Mundania. Anyone who lives in an expensive place like San Francisco or Manhattan will intuitively sense that this can be true. Living on the road means no utility or cable bills. You have to eat meals no matter where you live. Car payments and insurance can instead pay for train tickets. As long as at least part of a year-long (or longer) round-the-world adventure is spent in inexpensive parts of the world, the higher prices of more expensive places like Paris and London average out to that fabled $50 a day. It’s hard to break through the received wisdom that “travel is expensive” until you see it broken down by someone who has refuted it.
Chapter 4, “What to Do with Your Stuff,” gets a grand total of four pages. You can’t take it with you, so just sell it all and use the proceeds to fund extra time overseas. This is the key difference between doers such as Kepnes, and fantasizers like the rest of us. We can’t make ourselves step back and see our possessions as anchors or shackles. We can’t truly believe that we ourselves could have such a life. When we see the steps laid out, and we understand how many people have done what we wish we could do, it becomes harder to explain what we’re waiting for.
Travel can be such a transformative experience that one comes home ready for a complete career change. I have known people to spend a year overseas, only to come home and make more money based on what they have learned during their trip. One of my friends found a place in the hospitality industry. Others have come home with language fluency that helped them find better positions in business or education. Sometimes, they go into business for themselves. Kepnes himself became a travel writer, and thank goodness for that. Feeling broke, trapped, and bored is as good a reason as any to take off and seek your fortune elsewhere. Why not?
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.