Review: How to Travel the World on $50 a Day

My buddy Nomadic Matt (ever heard of him?) asked me to have a read through his latest book, out yesterday, titled How to Travel the World on $50 a Day. Some of you may know that I like books. It’s kind of my thing.

Matt Kepnes’ book was my first read of 2015, and an exciting one for an upcoming year of travel. I was idly keeping notes and writing down destinations as I read, and then I looked down and was amused to find that my “to-visit” list had turned into a full manuscript.

Matt’s right: you don’t need a lot of money to travel. I make shit all. I paid for my entire six months around the Balkans in 2014, and I made less than $30k last year. I’m not bragging, believe me. It’s not a luxurious way to travel, but when you do things for the LOVE of travel, luxuries are unnecessary. How much time do you REALLY spend in a $400 hotel room, anyway?

Back to the book.

I consider myself a reasonably experienced traveller, and I learned a lot. This book is heavily catered to Americans and Canadians, however, so you’d have to do your legwork if you don’t live within these countries. (But the logic still applies.)

While playing around with the other day, I used their “Budget” tool to see what kind of numbers they’d automatically give me for a round-the-world trip. No wonder people think travel is expensive. $100 a day on food?!!!! Also evidently I don’t know how many days there are in a year.


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Some things I learned:

What to look for in banking fees, etc. This sort of thing is rocket science to me. I have NO IDEA. Matt presents the info in a very straightforward manner. When I get back to St. John’s, I’m opening a TD Select Service account specifically for travel.

Hotwire: I knew what Hotwire was all about (basically bidding for luxury hotels at sell-off prices), but didn’t realize how affordable it actually was. I like to give myself at least ONE day of luxury hotel time when travelling, so that I can feed my introverted desires and lock myself in my room with a TV and a few packs of Twizzlers. I booked a 4-star hotel in Honolulu for this purpose, at just $120CAD/night.

Tourism Cards: I’ve always passed over these when doing city travel, but Matt made a very convincing argument for picking one up. The one-time fare seems steep, but it really pays off.

Round-the-World Travel Planning: EXCELLENT advice on booking RTW tickets, etc.

The info on travel insurance comparisons and vaccines is WONDERFUL.

The cons of this book: There aren’t really any. Just know that when you read it, the info is very much catered to Matt’s experiences. This doesn’t devalue the info. For example, what I’m saying is that while Matt can pack all of his life into a small pack, I require at least some wiggle room for hair products to tame this unruly lion’s mane of mine.

I also disagree with not spending money on tour groups or excursions. My favourite way to learn about a place is by taking a walking tour (although often they’re free anyway). Local guides offer a great wealth of insider knowledge. While Matt prefers spending his extra cash on food, I like spending mine elsewhere.


If you pick up a copy of this book send him a copy of your receipt and he’ll hand over his destination guides free of charge.

  • January 07 2015

    Great review! I definitely need to read this ASAP. Maybe it’s just me, but I haven’t been able to find a Canadian debit card that doesn’t charge a foreign ATM fee or a foreign transaction fee.

  • January 07 2015
    Lauren @BonVoyageLauren

    Yup.. definitely just bought this book! Great review. Also, I can’t get over’s suggestion for $100 A DAY FOR FOOD. Stop it.

  • January 29 2015
    Jenna Clark

    At first, when I read the title, I was like, “who can travel for $50 a day…that’s expensive!!!!” and then realized that I already had that saved for 10 months of travel hahaha I’m just spending too much on once in a lifetime crap, like hot air balloon rides in capadoccia or camping in the sahara desert hahaha