|by Sean O'Neill||Pop Culture and Travel||216|
In the past four years, while a lot of people talked about how to travel in high style on a low budget, Matt Gross is a singular exception in that he consistently did it—and told captivating stories about it, too. Last Sunday, the Times' published "Frugal Europe, on Foot," the last article by Gross in his official role as the paper's Frugal Traveler. (The job will now go to somebody new.) As he notes, Matt has "gone round the world, across America, and grandly circled Europe, so what was left to be done?"
Matt is a genius at friendships. Before Facebook and Twitter, he had talked to far more people than any previous Frugal Traveler columnist had. When the new technologies came along, he used them savvily. I bet he's exchanged notes with more travelers around the world than any other previous Times' travel writer ever. In a game of six degrees of separation, you probably know someone who knows someone who knows him. If he runs into trouble in Ulan Bator, he can get strangers to help him out.
It's the stories told about other people, rather than just his budget-travel focus, that has made his articles fun to read. In any given week in the past few years, the Frugal Traveler was typically one of the most e-mailed articles on the Times' site, including this year's piece on exploring Tokyo through its ramen shops.
What's next for Matt? He's jumping into a new project, using Kickstarter to try to raise funds to film the pilot for an TV series about real travel by real travelers: "Strangers in Strange Lands." He knows its time for him to tackle a new travel challenge. Hopefully that will inspire many of his fans to challenge themselves, too.