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How to see the world on the cheap

In addition to offering lots of travel tips and tricks, the author of a new book says you've got to do your homework before you leave home.

By MSN Money Partner Feb 20, 2013 5:28PM

This post is from MSN Money contributor Tanya Mohn.

Image: Couple reading guidebook in Rome (© SIMON WATSON/Lifesize/Getty Images)Stretching dollars to be able to travel more frequently and for longer periods of time is a common dream.


A book released earlier this month, "How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter," aims to help people do that.


The author is Matt Kepnes, who left his day job in 2006 after inspiring trips to Costa Rica and Thailand, and has been traveling around the world ever since.


"People always ask me, 'How can I do what you do?' This book tells you how to do what I do, and travel more,” says Kepnes. "I'm frugal because I want to have money for what matters."


For Kepnes, that means lots of time on the road, and eating good food, especially sushi. "I'd rather have a nice meal or a few more rounds of drinks. I never splurge on accommodations," says Kepnes, who favors hostels, house sitting and other low-cost options. He also prefers buses to trains, and connecting flights, which are cheaper than direct ones.


One of the biggest financial mistakes people make is to not know themselves, he insists.


"They mis-budget," he says, because they are not realistic about what they plan to do and see. For example, in Australia outdoor activities and drinks tend to be quite expensive. Going online to research prices in advance can help travelers plan more sensibly.


The book is an outgrowth of Kepnes’s travel blog,, and dispenses advice for everything from prime value gear to buy (like a sturdy backpack) and what to look for in an insurance policy, to which credit cards are best for free flights and information on travel discount cards that can save money on hostels, tours, and transportation.


There are even region-specific chapters, which detail hidden gems like free walking tours and the secrets to eating cheaply.


"It is a practical guide about how to be a nomad in the 21st century," Kepnes says, for adventures of any length, and is intended not just for 20-something backpackers, but for people of all ages.
The book also includes tips on financial planning before the travel begins, like how to cut corners to save money (give up Starbucks; get rid of cable television.). 

Other highlights of the book include a range of smart banking tips and practical money-saving strategies, including how to:

  • Avoid paying bank fees anywhere in the world;
  • Earn thousands of free frequent flyer points by shopping at member stores via airlines’ websites, finding specials that may offer more than the customary number of miles for select routes, and be sure to put everything on a credit card.
  • Figure out how to get cheap -- or free -- plane tickets;
  • And learn about the many options for budget-friendly accommodations, like the simple trick of booking an overnight train to avoid paying for a room; doing farm work, called WWOOFing, in exchange for room and board through organizations like World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms; and accessing websites of hospitality exchange services that connect travelers with locals who offer a free place to stay, like Couchsurfing and Global Freeloaders.

Kepnes, who is currently in the U.S. promoting his book, plans to hit the road again in May. First Europe, then on to the Caribbean, a part of the world he’s never been to. His approach to planning his itinerary and deciding where to go first?


"I'll check to see what island has the cheapest flights, and then I will book one of them," he said. "Travel has helped me. It’s made my life better, and I'd like to help other people."


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Feb 24, 2013 3:47PM
Right bedbugs, being mugged and waiting forever for the bus.   Great way to travel. 
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