Why I Don’t Like “How To Travel The World On $50 A Day”.

I didn’t realize I had this blog  linked to my Amazon profile (eek!), but I’ve been seeing more traffic since I posted a 2-star review of a new book by Matt Kepnes (Nomadic Matt): “How To Travel The World On $50 A Day”. My review on Amazon pretty concise: you can get everything he talks about in the book on his blog or on other blogs for free. There’s nothing new or groundbreaking in it, and to someone who’s on our budget, $10 for the book is a cheap dinner out, movie tickets, or an hour and a half of Hindi lessons. I returned the book so I can’t cite exact page numbers or the like, but I did take quick notes as I was reading it. Since I’ve been contacted by a couple people already…

Here are my three biggest issues:

  • There’s no Table of Contents in the Amazon writeup – another reviewer has posted one. This would tell you there’s no description of Africa, the Middle East, North America, or that India isn’t covered in Southeast Asia. Sometimes India is, sometimes it isn’t, so that’s okay. I’m not sure who writes the product descriptions, but the TOC should have been included. What I need is India, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East, plus China and some of the -stans (all places I want to travel). SEA in the book covers Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and I think one more place. I also would have liked to know that there’s an entire chapter dedicated to credit cards; I don’t have the USD income to sign up and cancel and sign up and cancel (long or short term) with a variety of cards just to collect miles.
  • I can find everything mentioned in the book for free, online. If you’re going to be as passionate with hunting where to find cheap hostels, comparing credit cards for collecting frequent flier miles, and comparing fares as Nomadic Matt thinks you’ll be – and writes this book for — you should be equally as willing to do your research for free resources. If you’re so budget-focused, the book may save you time, but it won’t save you money. If you’re going to plan budget travel, a round-the-world trip, or any extended holiday, it’s worth it to do your research, and there’s nothing in this book I haven’t read for free somewhere else.
  • This book is written for an American/Canadian-based USD/CAD-earning audience, which is fine. I’m not that audience: I’m an expatriate on a local budget. While there are chapters on useful things like buying a backpack, and saving money while travelling, the former is painfully short and the latter is broken in to one or two page blurbs that are common sense, easily researchable, or are irrelevant for chunks of the parts of the world. It is so strongly focused on that USD-earner that a lot of it cannot be translated into different currencies (what I’d hoped for – general tips, tricks and advice for cost savings).

Now, Nomadic Matt knows what he’s doing – he’s done well for his brand and he’s well-known, and I’m sure if I was living in the USA, a lot more would be relevant and useful for me. But I’m not – I’m an American expat, married to a Canadian expat, living in India and making a middle-class Indian wage. The majority of the book is neither relevant nor useful to someone in my situation, and for anyone in a similar situation, I just can’t encourage them to get the book. For a certain audience, it’s great – but I’m not part of that audience.

2 Comments on “Why I Don’t Like “How To Travel The World On $50 A Day”.

  1. I have found that a lot of those “How to Do ____ on $___ a Day” things include the “helpful” idea of not tipping anybody. I guess that can fly in countries where tipping isn’t customary, but in the U.S. it is downright insulting and rude. I’m guessing this book doesn’t cover travel in such places, and therefore doesn’t expect a person to be that awful, but I have seen people do it on TV shows, and it is extremely irritating.

    • In this case, a lot of it also included “Use credit cards to collect miles and free hotel stays, thus bringing your average daily costs down”. Tipping is always a struggle – but notably, the US and Canada weren’t even mentioned. Probably more out of that assumption that the audience is American/Canadian, and that no one reading the book would be foreign wanting to travel to North America (despite the fact that the title is “The World”…).

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