Matt Hartog: Netherlands to Southeast Asia finally had the chance to get a hold of the ever-busy Matt Hartog in order to interview him, and get our head around some of his incredible candid travel shots.

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RJ:  Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Matthijs, most people call me Matt. I grew up in a village in the Netherlands, and have always loved traveling. When I was 16 I moved out to live on my own, making my own money working in a supermarket, finishing high school at night. I loved it, living in a city that seemed vibrant, even though it seems sleepy by my standards by now.

When I was 21 I was studying at Utrecht University, and a friend approached me with a freelance job offer. The incredible fact that I could be working on my own computer, or any computer anywhere, and be making money remotely, was amazing. He paid me rather well too, better than any job I had before. That’s how I got introduced to the possibility of working remotely.


RJ: How old you were you when you first went overseas?

As a kid I joined my parents on holidays or course, but the first time I traveled overseas with friends was when I was 18. The first time I traveled solo, while working on my laptop, was when I was 25 years old; 3 weeks on Gran Canaria. Another world of possibilities opened.


RJ: What do you remember about your first travel experience, or what is your first travel memory?

Holidays with parents, I vividly remember Greece even though I was only 3 years old. I have a thing for summer and sun, warm climates, warm colors. Since I started doing this digital nomad thing I have always stuck around in Southern Europe and Southeast Asia.

RJ:  What first inspired you to travel?

My trip to Gran Canaria made me aware that I could experience so much more. A few months later I packed my backpack, laptop, and flew to Bangkok with a one way ticket.


RJ: What is a special travel memory that stands out to you?

How incredibly helpful people here in Southeast Asia are when you are in need. E.G. broken tire, running out of gas, being dehydrated. People went to extremes to help me out. At home, you require paid services for these things. These people here absolutely did not accept any money for their help.

RJ:  What is something you would never travel without?

My laptop, of course ?


RJ:  Where is the nicest establishment you have stayed? Why was it special?

If by establishment you mean a hotel, it would be a five star hotel in Istanbul. It was special because I was on my way to Spain, from Vietnam, to work on an in-house project at an office there on the Costa del Sol. I had to transfer at Istanbul Airport, when tragedy struck: terrorists attacked innocent people, very close to where I was standing at the moment. My PA in the office in Spain helped me out tremendously and booked a good hotel for me to stay at, until flights resumed 2 days later. It was not a nice experience at all, but something that I will never forget. Part of real life.


RJ: If you could recommend a place to a fellow traveler, where would it be?

To digital nomads, I would recommend Chiang Mai, but only if they are already making money online. To backpackers, I would recommend Southeast Asia in general.

RJ: Describe a culinary experience that stands out from a vacation abroad.

It may sound a bit weird, but that would be Pizza 4Ps, a pizza restaurant in Vietnam run by Japanese. The best pizza I’ve had in the world.


RJ: What is your idea of an enjoyable vacation?

NO laptop, NO work emails, lots of hiking and motorbiking, enjoying fresh air and good food. I don’t care much about the sea, I like mountains and tropical nature.


RJ: Who would be your ideal travel companion?

Someone who also works online and has also been at it for several years.


RJ: What do you miss the most when you are away from home?

My best friends at home.

RJ: What country do you believe to be under-rated? What about overrated?

Some parts of Portugal are under-rated, unknown, and amazing (it starts with an A and is surrounded by ocean). Some parts of Spain are overrated (starts with a B and consists almost entirely of AirBNBs). I can’t really think of one country of which everything is incredible or disappointing.


RJ: Where is next on your list of places to travel to? Why?

Dalat in Vietnam, Danang and nearby UNESCO town Hoi An. I love Saigon, where I’m staying at the moment, but I want to go hiking again. I should take advantage of the fact that I work remotely. Saigon is really lively and has many many things to offer, but nature is not on that list. However, I have many great friends here, so I will surely return later.

Later this year, I might go to Taiwan, back to Spain, back to the Netherlands, and visit Nepal later. These are all possibilities, nothing is for sure yet.

I just go with the flow and stay where I feel good!


Be sure to see more of Matt’s story on Instagram: