October 31, 2021 – At 5 weeks before Digital Nomad Week, TCN continues its series of keynote speaker interviews. Then Matt Kepnes, aka Nomadic Matt, who recently visited Croatia.
I can’t wait to talk to Digital Nomad Week which begins on December 6th. This is a great opportunity to share all the exciting advancements taking place on the DN scene in Croatia. Of course, I’m a total stranger on the global nomad scene, so it helps when one of DN’s most recognizable personalities is speaking at the same conference.
And I’ve thought that Croatia is pretty cool too, even more so after a recent visit.
Nomadic Matt has been nomadic for some time and has built a very successful business helping others travel more for less. New York Times bestselling author of How to Travel the World on $ 50 a Day, as well as Ten Years a Nomad, it’s safe to say that Nomadic Matt knows a thing or two about the remote work lifestyle. He kindly accepted an email interview to share his thoughts mostly on Croatia.
1. The digital nomad is a fairly new buzzword that is making its way around the world. You were there and wrote a book about your first decade as a nomad, Ten Years a Nomad. How was a nomad then compared to today?
Being a nomad when I first started traveling was very, very different from being a nomad today – for better or for worse. When I started we could only communicate through Boarding cafes, so you had to rely on guides and talk to people to learn new information.
Today it is much easier thanks to the Internet, applications like Google Maps and Google Translate, and sharing economy apps who can connect you to the premises. There is much more cheap flights these days too. These all open up so many new opportunities and make travel a lot more accessible (which is a big plus).
However, there are also a lot of pitfalls. Travelers are too often sitting on their phones, ignoring the local culture around them in favor of connecting with the people back home. People plan blitz trips to snap photos for the gram instead of soaking up every destination.
So things are better in a lot of ways, but there are also a few pitfalls where we could improve as a community.
2. You recently visited Croatia and wrote a great article titled Croatia is underrated. Tell us in a few sentences why you think so?
Croatia is one of those destinations that receives a HUGE amount of tourists … but only in a few places. So while the areas around Dubrovnik and Split can get very busy in the summer, once you pull away from the coast, the country is virtually untouched.
We see this happening in many countries as tourists tend to stick to the main highlights and rarely venture off the beaten track. Iceland and Thailand are two popular countries that are also struggling with the same phenomenon. All the more reason to think outside the box and explore away from the crowds!
(Photo credit Zagreb Tourist Office)
3. You are an experienced traveler with excellent knowledge of the global DN scene. When did Croatia first appear on your radar as a nomadic destination, and how do you rate Croatia’s progress in becoming more attractive to nomads over the past 12 months?
Croatia has actually been on my radar for quite some time. It’s a hub for cheap flights, wild parties, and great weather, all of which are huge magnets for long-term travelers and digital nomads! But it wasn’t until I recently visited the country again that I really understood how great it is for digital nomads. Once I got back to the field and got off the coast, I was much more able to appreciate the benefits of being a digital nomad here. I think it will continue to grow and attract digital nomads.
4. Many nomads who came to Zagreb Digital Nomad Week were surprised how much they loved the city and how friendly it was to digital nomads. Indeed, keynote speaker Dean Kuchel said the only thing missing was more digital nomads. What was your impression of Zagreb from DN’s point of view?
I loved Zagreb. It’s an underrated city overshadowed by places like Dubrovnik and Split. While it might not have those great views of the Dalmatian coast, the city has a lot to offer. It’s fun, there are some great museums, it’s a lot more affordable than Dubrovnik, and it’s right next to some of the most unexplored parts of the country. I think this makes a great base for digital nomads (and it’s also just a great destination for regular travelers to visit).
5. What are Croatia’s comparative advantages in attracting digital nomads, and what are its weaknesses?
I think the main advantage in Croatia is the cost of living. Once you get away from the expensive coast, the prices drop dramatically. This is a huge competitive advantage for digital nomads. The country is also easy to navigate and has a reliable network of buses and ferries to take you anywhere you need to go on a budget, and there is an abundance of nature to see and explore every time. that you need to get away from the computer.
You are also just a bus, train or fast flight to another place in Europe (and flights to / from here can be very cheap).
The downside is that the prices are high (and rising) in the main tourist areas, and they are overwhelmed by the crowds, so you can’t really settle into the nomadic life as you would be neck and neck with the visitors. all summer. Fortunately, these crowds of tourists are easy to escape!
6. You are temporarily installed as Croatian Minister of Tourism with the mission to develop Croatia’s DN strategy. What are the next key steps?
I would try to rotate tourism on the Dalmatian coast to be more sustainable. I think limiting the number of cruises would be a huge start on this front. Cracking down on Airbnb would also help.
I would also try to market other national parks / nature reserves to reduce the number of visitors who flock to places like Krka and Plitvice parks. Tons of tourists visit these places but ignore much of the other nature. I think distributing these crowds would improve the experience in these parks and also ensure that they exist for future generations.
(Photo credit J. Duval / Zagreb Tourist Office)
7. And finally, what and where next for Nomadic Matt?
i’m actually in Oaxaca, in Mexico right now, and I’m going to Brazil at the end of the year for the new year. After that, who knows where I’m going to end up. It’s the joy of being a digital nomad!
For more details on Digital Nomad Week, which will start on December 6, visit the official website.
For more news and articles on digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section.