Travel

Travel Diaries
Cuba Cuba El Bodeguita del Medio in Old Havana, Cuba Havana, Cuba U2: Joshua Tree Tour 2017 in Miami, Florida, USA (taken with the Sony RX100 Mark V) Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina Buenos Aires, Argentina Punta del Este, Uruguay Montevideo, Uruguay Bagan, Myanmar Yangon, Myanmar Vietnam Vietnam Walt Disney World, Florida, USA Walt Disney World, Florida, USA La Ventana Barrio de Tango, Buenos Aires, Argentina
All photos taken with a Sony A6300, except those taken with a Sony RX100 Mark V, as noted in the captions

The Travel Mattifesto

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Mark Twain

Having worked in, lived in or visited more than 40 countries on five continents (so far), here are some of my top guiding tenets while traveling.

  • It's better to go unprepared than to not go at all.
  • Go with your gut. Let instinct inform the autonomy and the gastronomy.
  • Live in the moment at every moment. Social media can wait. It really can. Trust me. (More broadly, put the mobile device down and pull your face out of your glass.)
  • Travel books are good as a starting point, but branch out and make your own discoveries.
  • Aside from solving for specific logistical practicalities, avoid packaged tour groups. Strike out on your own and see the world as it is, not as tourism agencies want you to see it.
  • A little bit of charm can overcome a big language barrier.
  • You're in a foreign country. Expect things to work differently. Enjoy the differences.
  • Always mind your surroundings.
  • This should go without saying, but in this day and age, I'll say it anyway: Tone it down and show respect for the people and the places.
  • Things go wrong while traveling; it's inevitable when you're really, truly out there. That's great. Overcoming problems makes for a better story.
  • Don't be stupid.

No Time Like the Present

“The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait 'til that other is ready.”
Henry David Thoreau

There are always a plethora of reasons to not do something, most especially to not take a vacation. Work. The care for my mom. The creature comforts of home. Money. Weather. Geopolitics. Scheduling conflicts. The language barrier. The time to plan and prepare.

Even so, I'm baffled by people who say they haven't taken a vacation in three or four years. Many of them don't have much of an excuse; they're every bit as single — or at least childless — as I am. Chances are they really aren't as important as they'd like to think; their workplace would probably benefit by a week or two of their absence.

For another thing, it's not healthy.

This last point I've learned first-hand by observing my own parents. I won't go into the details, but I wish they had taken better care of themselves and taken some time off. Instead, they made me and my siblings their top priority and we didn't particularly deserve their magnitude of sacrifice.

One of the many things I've learned is there's never a "perfect" time to take a vacation. That means the only perfect time is now. And, thankfully, I'm often egged on by my fandom for Indiana Jones and U2. I'm fully accustomed to making it up as I go. And a U2 tour is something not to be squandered, forcing my hand and creating the catalyst to get me off my butt and get out there, regardless of the noise on the domestic front.

As Mattopian wisdom dictates, it's better to go unprepared than to not go at all. But don't be stupid out there and always mind your surroundings.

And, in my opinion, the best trips are the ones with faults and challenges. When I ask myself, "My God, Matt, what have you gotten yourself into now?" I know I'm having a damn good trip that will be looked back on fondly. The imperfections provide a unique enrichment of the experience.

That mindset is also a major contributing factor to the state of my travel journals. They're largely incomplete because the time is rarely available to give them the tender loving care they need once I get back home. There's a ton of stuff sitting on hard drives in the sprawling archives of the Mattsonian just itchin' to get online. Patience, true believers. Patience.


Most Recent Adventures

Eva Peron

Mattopia Jones and the Heart of Evita
5-23 October U2017
Argentina • Uruguay
Journal Coming Soon


The Mattsonian Travel Library

Check out the Mattsonian's archive of travel journals translated from the original Mattskrit and brought online thanks to a generous grant provided by MATTAID.


Homes Away From Home

“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.”
Aldous Huxley

I've been fortunate to have either made travel opportunities for myself or had them thrown at me. It all started with an internship in Connecticut, the reason for my first trip out to the East Coast. That inspired what was supposed to be a two-month stint in Europe after college (I was one of the truly lucky people who did not have a job lined up after graduation). That turned into an epic 10-month odyssey that has fueled my travel approach and sensibilities ever since.

One of the really cool things about all of this is I can look at the world and identify places I can go back to at the drop of a hat and feel right at home. There are the domestic spots, including New York and Los Angeles. But it makes me immeasurably happy to know I have favorite places to tip a pint in other cultural, political and economic capitals such as Amsterdam, Paris, London, Dublin, Nice and Bangkok. I even have a favorite place for cappuccino in Istanbul.