10 Years a Nomad, a new memoir by Matthew Kepnes (also known as Nomadic Matt) is not a book about building a 7-figure business in travel.
Rather, the book is about travel itself, and about a love affair with the world that turned into life lived intentionally.
We begin with Matt’s early travels, before the creation of his blog in 2008. Back then, he was working in healthcare in Boston and wondering what else was out there. Knowing he’d lose his vacation days if he didn’t use them, he books a trip to Costa Rica where he meets a group of travelers and finds curiosity in their stories about extended travel.
As the story so often goes, one trip turns into another. Which turns into another, and in Kepnes’ case, turns into 10 years of living a life more or less fully nomadic.
The book takes you through some of his favorite and most memorable adventures, and touches up on how he’s made a living in places he’s chosen to spend more time in. It discusses making the switch from traveler to expat, and eventually, the decision to look for something more permanent.
Who This Book is Great For
In this book, you’ll read about Matt’s early struggles in traveling and the ever-constant concerns of travelers as they initially get out there: will I meet friends? Will other people think I’m weird? Can I even talk to strangers?
It’s relatable and honest, and most importantly, vulnerable.
It’s also what I enjoyed most about the book. It can be really easy to stick to your online personality when you run a website or become “famous” in travel. Letting that guard down to share with your audience your internal thoughts and emotions takes courage.
In subject, the book is also a love affair with travel. It’s about friendships formed in unlikely places; about love that develops on the road and fizzles out with distance. It’s about finding your sense of purpose, and being open and okay with what that looks like—even when it isn’t what you initially envisioned for yourself.
It’s a great read for travelers, like me, who miss their backpacking days. It would also be a great read for those who have yet to experience the world, because it paints a picture of what life is really like when you travel and immerse yourself in a place.
It’s exciting, and it’s also depleting. Enriching, and also depressing. The constant chorus of hello’s and goodbye’s, the never-ending sunsets—this book is a story of all of that, and of how travel can show you who you are, and what you really want.
I really enjoyed the flow of the book: it starts off initially just being about travel and adventure, and delves into something more substantial and more personal. Kepnes took the leap to be vulnerable and share more of his personal life in the pages of this book, which I appreciate as a reader and I think you will too.
The book also ends with a helpful “appendix” of lessons learned. Lessons like: “relationships come and go on the road” and “there is no such thing as a mistake” and “it’s never too late to change.”
If you’re curious to know a bit more about the man behind the blog, want a snapshot into what a life of travel looks like, or just want to reminisce a bit more about your own backpacking days, give 10 Years a Nomad a read.
It’s a pretty quick read that I finished (fittingly) on a plane ride and enjoyed. And it definitely made me think about the experiences I’ve had on the road that have changed me, and forced me to contemplate who I am and what really satisfies my soul.
That’s something I don’t think we talk about enough when we talk about travel. It isn’t always just about the places you visit—it’s about you, in and amongst the places, and how you change.
The burnout, the love lost, the food poisoning—your experiences while traveling change who you and how you view the world around you. Pick this up for your next vacation read.
What books have inspired you to travel the world?