32 Random Facts About Me

matt kepnes standing in front of some mountains
Updated: 07/8/20 | July 8th, 2020

Back in 2011, I wrote this post featuring some personal facts about my life. It was a window into non-travel me. Well, that was a loooooong time ago. Life changes. People change.

Since a lot has happened in the last nine years (professionally and personally), I wanted to update this website so you can learn a little more about me and my interests. There’s more than just a writer and travel fanatic here.

So, to kick off the second half of the year, here’s a little bit about me:

1. I hate flying. I love airports, lounges, and elite status, but the act of flying makes me sick. I don’t like heights and any turbulence makes me think the plane is about to crash. I’m not a good flier. (Ironic considering how often I fly!)

2. When I was younger, I was obsessed with Pinky and the Brain. I even had a T-shirt collection. I also had one of those bowl haircuts, but I prefer to forget about that fact.

3. I never traveled independently until I went to Costa Rica at age 23. My travel experiences up until then were a series of road trips with my parents and a drunken weekend in Montréal when I was 19. (I also never went west of the Mississippi until I was 25.)

4. When I was younger, I wanted to be an archaeologist because of the Indiana Jones movies.

5. I got really bad food poisoning when I was in Costa Rica. It was so bad that I had to be hospitalized for three days and put on a morphine drip.

6. I went to college to be a high school history teacher. I’m still technically certified to teach high school history.

7. I am a really good cook. I don’t cook much on the road because I hate how hostel kitchens aren’t fully stocked and everyone crowds them at the same time, but once in awhile, I like to cook a massive meal for my fellow travelers.

8. I used to be a vegetarian. After reading Fast Food Nation, I decided to give up meat and was a vegetarian for four years. It wasn’t eating meat I was against, but rather industrial farming and the chemicals/antibiotics in the meat that I didn’t like. I gave up vegetarianism when I started to travel.

9. I think it’s rude to turn down food in other cultures. If you go to a village in Mongolia and you are given food, it’s insulting to refuse. “Sorry, your traditional and heartfelt cooking doesn’t go with my dietary needs.” It’s culturally insensitive. But that’s a rant for another post.

10. I’m a huge fan of soul, Motown, blues, and jazz. It’s way better than any of the pop music out there.

Nomadic Matt with a lemur in Madagascar

11. If I could ever pick what time period I could live in, I’d pick 1920s Prohibition America. I think that would be an exciting time to live in. But maybe I’ve just read The Great Gatsby too much.

12. Speaking of Gatsby, I learned to swing dance so I could throw myself a Gatsby-themed birthday party. I did it for three years in a row. They were epic birthday parties.

12. I am intensely political. After travel, politics is my second love. I live and breathe politics, and it is the only news I keep up with while traveling. I am always ready to discuss and debate the world any time of the day and with anyone, no matter how well I know them.

13. I don’t have a burning desire to visit most Middle Eastern countries. There are parts I want to / have visited (Dubai, Jordan, Israel, Qatar, Oman) but, as a whole, the area is low on my list of places to visit relative to other regions in the world (India, Bhutan, and Nepal being the highest).

14. People always ask will I do this forever. My answer: I don’t know. Forever is a long time. I’d like to travel for the next few years, but who can say what the future holds and where it will take us? For now, I’m enjoying the ride and see no reason to hang up my backpack just yet.

15. I’ve been to over 30 Dave Matthews Band concerts. I’m a super fan.

16. I’m a Japanophile. I love everything about the culture: the food, the history, the etiquette, the landscape, the architecture — all of it. I would eat sushi every day if I could.

17. I’m a workaholic. Maybe because I grew up in New England, I have the Puritan work ethic, and if I don’t have work to do, I think something is wrong and create work for myself. Idle hands are the Devil’s playground!

18. I decided to travel after meeting five backpackers in a shared taxi while on vacation in Thailand. I was so amazed at what they were doing that the next day I decided to quit my job. They were two Australians, a Canadian, and a Belgian couple. They changed the course of my life and have no idea.

19. I’m an unabashed Taylor Swift fan. Not only do I think she’s an incredible businesswoman and marketer, but I also love her cheesy pop songs.

Nomadic Matt standing on stage talking at a conference

20. I’m also a huge fan of Sia. Incredible songstress and writer.

21. After college, I also worked at a hospital doing administrative work for the BMT and surgery departments.

22. I don’t play any sports nor know anything about them. I couldn’t think of anything more boring than going to a sporting event. In fact, I once fell asleep at a hockey match.

23. I don’t drink coffee. It tastes like shit to me. And I don’t want to put added sugar or milk (or soy milk) in my cup of joe. Drinks should be able to stand on their own! Nothing is going to change my opinion on this. I’ve tried for years to acquire a taste for it. It’s just not going to happen.

24. I drink tea. Lots of it. Especially green tea. That’s my drink of choice!

25. My alcoholic drink of choice is an old fashioned. A few years ago, a few friends turned me onto whiskey and I’ve been obsessed since. I judge a bar by the quality of the old fashioneds they serve.

26. One day, I’d like to learn how to garden. I want to grow my own food. I love cooking and think it’s a logical step.

27. I used to be a professional poker player. I funded a lot of my original trip with poker winnings and lived in Amsterdam for a few months playing “professionally” at the casino in the city.

28. When I was younger, I worked for the Sierra Club in Massachusetts. I created a PowerPoint that we took to different community organizations to show that, by being energy efficient, they could save money and the environment at once.

29. I don’t eat sweets. Maybe once a year I’ll have a cookie or brownie but, for the most part, I don’t do desserts or sweets as I don’t like all the sugar.

30. When I’m working, I’ll often play one song on repeat over and over again. It helps me focus because it ends up just being white noise. As I write this post, I’ve been listening to Sweet Annie by Zach Brown Band on repeat for the last two hours.

31. I don’t have a favorite color. I have two: blue and green.

32. I was one of the spokesman for Asiana Airlines. I did a commercial for them that aired for two years on TV. They dubbed out my voice though. It always sounds so weird when I watch it.

***

There you have it! Some fun facts about me. Now, it’s your turn. Tell me about yourself in the comments below.

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Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the largest inventory. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use them all the time.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

  • World Nomads (for everyone below 70)
  • Insure My Trip (for those over 70)

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and that will save you time and money too!

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