Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel

Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel

Vagabonding is about taking time off from your normal life—from six weeks to four months to two years—to discover and experience the world on your own terms. Veteran shoestring traveler Rolf Potts shows how anyone armed with an independent spirit can achieve the dream of extended overseas travel. Potts gives the necessary information on:• financing your travel time â...

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Title:Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel
Author:Rolf Potts
Rating:
ISBN:0812992180
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Paperback
Number of Pages:205 pages

Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel Reviews

  • Chrissy
    Jun 26, 2007

    Rolf Potts gives a ton of good resources for how to travel long-term. This is not for the person who wants to take a week vacation in Cabo, but for someone who wants to hang out in a country or two or however many for a long time -- several weeks to several years. It's inspiring and helpful to know that I'm not the only one who wants to travel this way!

  • Clackamas
    Jan 16, 2008

    ***I keep trying to find a better book for the type of travel I plan, and haven't yet, so I re-read this one... I can't quite upgrade it though, even though part of me wants to. Originally read 1/2008***

    This is a pretty simple book, designed for those who have never traveled but always wanted to. By "travel" I'm referring to long-term, low-budget travel. This is definitely not intended for the independently wealthy or those who don't know how to function without all of the conveniences of home.

    ***I keep trying to find a better book for the type of travel I plan, and haven't yet, so I re-read this one... I can't quite upgrade it though, even though part of me wants to. Originally read 1/2008***

    This is a pretty simple book, designed for those who have never traveled but always wanted to. By "travel" I'm referring to long-term, low-budget travel. This is definitely not intended for the independently wealthy or those who don't know how to function without all of the conveniences of home. Nor is meant for the person who has a couple of weeks off of work and just wants to get out of town.

    The author describes several different approaches to travel and refrains from passing judgment on any of them. He lays out the pros and cons of each style and lets you decide what's right for you. He provides dozens of resources and is continually adding to them on his website. Somehow, he passes on all of this information without making the book feel like a typical travel book.

    I took six months off after college and traveled around the U.S. with my then-toddler son. Sustained travel can be difficult even in this country. When my son graduates high school, I plan to try long-term international travel. This book was a great jumping off point for me. I was surprisingly impressed.

  • Heather
    Nov 23, 2008

    This is a short read that I intend to read over and over. Basically, it explains that you don't have to be in college or retired to experience long-distance travel. Hiking the Appalachian Trail or spending a year in Thailand is completely do-able for even 30 or 40-somethings. It's a reminder for me not to get caught up in the rat race and the sequence of school, job, marriage, kids, more job, 1 week vacations at a time, retirement, and then death. Although I take away a bit of inspiration and li

    This is a short read that I intend to read over and over. Basically, it explains that you don't have to be in college or retired to experience long-distance travel. Hiking the Appalachian Trail or spending a year in Thailand is completely do-able for even 30 or 40-somethings. It's a reminder for me not to get caught up in the rat race and the sequence of school, job, marriage, kids, more job, 1 week vacations at a time, retirement, and then death. Although I take away a bit of inspiration and liberation from this book, it's actually a practical piece with tips on how to incorporate long distance travel in your life and not spend eterninty looking forward to a one-week vacation every year. It's my little escape from routine reality.

  • Scott Dinsmore
    Jul 09, 2009

    Why I Read this Book: Travel and exploration is an essential part of the development of a successful and fulfilled life. Rolf provides an awesome and inspirational guide.

    Review:

    All I can think of is travel right now. Not just travel, but moreso exploring, adventure and discovery. Where will my next adventure be? I have that excited feeling right now that only the best possibilities bring us. You know, that one we used to all feel the night before Christmas? Something like that, but for adults. M

    Why I Read this Book: Travel and exploration is an essential part of the development of a successful and fulfilled life. Rolf provides an awesome and inspirational guide.

    Review:

    All I can think of is travel right now. Not just travel, but moreso exploring, adventure and discovery. Where will my next adventure be? I have that excited feeling right now that only the best possibilities bring us. You know, that one we used to all feel the night before Christmas? Something like that, but for adults. My long term travel adventures have been occurring off and on for the past few years ever since spending eighteen months exploring the south of Spain, Portugal and Morocco. Since then the addiction has taken over, and Rolf Potts has fully fired me up again with Vagabonding.

    When I first saw the title of this book, Vagabonding, An uncommon guide to the art of long-term world travel, I thought it was a joke, as unfortunately most people probably did. But the truth is, this should be required reading for anyone about to enter the real world after university. In fact it should be required for everyone period. Tim Ferris, author of The Four Hour Work Week, first recommeneded it to me and given my great admiration for him, Vagabonding was the next book on my list.

    Excitement and inspiration are some of the words that come to mind to describe the feelings that go through the reader’s body as they hear of Rolf’s adventures throughout the world. Whether it was his 9-month adventure through Southern Asia, his experience hitch-hiking through Russia or simply a curious conversation he had a with a farmer in Africa (there’s no doubt he has done all of these), there is something to learn from each. Some of his stories are extreme and have you reading in disbelief whereas just as many make you realize the simplicities in life that we so often let pass us by.

    Travel is not something that should be reserved for one or two weeks out of the year where you blow through 10 attractions in just as many days. It is a time to go out and learn from those whom you’ve never come in contact. A time to get out of your comfort zone and be a stanger as you learn how others approach life. To you that might mean spending six months or a year on a beach in Thailand contemplating the “simple life”, or to the more adventurous, it may mean spending a few months with nomads wandering through the Sahara. Or it could be anything in between.

    The point is that travel and exploration are a fundamental part of life and development. We can only understand and learn so much from what we read, see on TV or experience in a class room. It is hard to have true compassion and understanding for life outside of your life if you never get out there. My mind was first opened on six month study abroad adventure in Spain and England. I can’t tell you how close I was to not going because I thought I’d be ‘missing’ something back home. I’m grateful for making the right decision ever since. In fact, study and experience abroad should be a requirement in our socitey as far as I’m concerned, but that’s another topic. For those in question, I have simple advice. If you are ever on the fence about going somewhere, just go. You won’t regret it.

    The wonderful thing is that these opportunities are available to everyone. They are are not just for the mega-rich as so many of us have been trained to believe. In fact, often times it is overabundance that causes us to lose those first-hand experiences with other cultures. As nice as a five-star hotel is in Oman, it is showing you next to nothing about the Omani culture. Quite often one or two-week long travelers, especially the wealthy, travel far and wide to experience the same nice comforts and amenities and even people as at home. Why not just save the travel time and stay home?

    Part of what’s so inspiring about this book is the way Rolf explains the incredible possibilities that exist for long-term travel regardless of our economic situation. Did you hear that? Please read it over again to let it sink in. Regardless of our our economic situation. He often travels on five or 10 dollars a day. How many of you could afford that? Could you imagine traveling using only your daily Starbucks budget? The next time you head out for a party-filled weekend, think of how far that $250 could go at $5/day in Indonesia. That’s almost two months of pure and original exploring! So think about the the next time you tell someone (or worse off, yourself) that you don’t have the money to travel. We all have the money, it’s just a matter of knowing what exists and making it a priority. No excuses. And if you have happen to doubt it, Rolf is quite convincing in his first-hand accounts as well as his seemingly endless resources he provides to guide you through making it possible. Whether that means tips on the cheapest countries and towns, or how to get quick international jobs here and there to fund your way through, you’ll find the advice you need.

    I am saddened by the ever-growing frequency and list of excuses that so many young people have. If I had a euro or pent (or whatever currency is relevant on your next journey), for every time I heard someone say “I wish I could do what he’s (or she’s) doing, but…”, I would spend every last day of my life traveling and exploring the world. Then again, maybe I’ll do that anyway.

    It is so easy to have excuses for inactivity and simply revert to the norm, especially when our institutions and generations before us tend to tell us that things like vagabonding just aren’t possible. Well it’s becoming clear that they are, and it is those very things that lead to truly great success. I challenge you to find someone who has experienced genuine and extreme success and fulfillment by always listening to others. That’s just it. Be different. Learn from different people, places, things and experiences. After all, our life is made up of one experience to the next. Why not make them unique and wonderful? You, and the people you touch, will no doubt be better for having done it. And the wonderful thing about travel is the more you do it, the more you have to do it. If only all personal development could be like that.

    Rolf has given us the inspiration, tools and stories to guide us on an endless string of journey’s. We all have the resources if we want them. So this leaves us only with the important questions. Where will you be heading for the next six months, a year, or more? Who might you meet? How might your life be changed for the better?

    Where ever it is, I look forward to running into you.

    -Reading for Your Success

  • Derek
    Aug 07, 2009

    Rolf Potts’

    was recommended to me by a friend who apparently thinks I:

    a) Need to get out of the house (and the city/state/country)

    b) Enjoy books that heavily rely on quoting Walt Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road”

    It’s not a bad book, certainly not the type I would pick up on my own, but there’s nothing really life-changing here either. Potts is conversational (almost to a fault), and he makes some fine points about living with less and accepting circumstances on the road for what they

    Rolf Potts’

    was recommended to me by a friend who apparently thinks I:

    a) Need to get out of the house (and the city/state/country)

    b) Enjoy books that heavily rely on quoting Walt Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road”

    It’s not a bad book, certainly not the type I would pick up on my own, but there’s nothing really life-changing here either. Potts is conversational (almost to a fault), and he makes some fine points about living with less and accepting circumstances on the road for what they are: experience. It’s standard self-help book advice that works at home as well as abroad, of course, and the book does leave one with an itch to travel.

    He briefly touches on his own experiences, and the passages where he makes flippant remarks about the diversity encountered in his travels (think, “Ah yes, it was in Borneo where I met a half-Korean, half-Polish French émigré who discussed with me the politics of Ugandan foreign policy”) struck me as pretentious even if they were true. I don’t doubt my knee-jerk reaction has much to do with my un-travelled life, but I think I would still feel he’s propping himself up even if I were a fellow globetrotter.

    In Potts’ defense, he makes fine points about the commoditization of travel, such as “extreme” sports or the dubious desire of the ultra-rich to visit “unspoiled” cultures. As a Gen Xer who seems to have taken the lessons of

    to heart, he’s in a good place to critique the way in which everything has been bought and sold, including the “alternative” lifestyle of travel. I only wish these thoughts could have been expounded.

    He seems well-read, but I think he wrote a book specifically designed for people who

    do much reading. The exceedingly short chapters lack depth, the columns are unbecomingly wide, and the whole thing is peppered with “profound” quotes from Eastern philosophers, famous travel writers, and American poets. One gets the impression these chapters would function better as blog posts or magazine articles than in a book. And maybe that’s the point. Perhaps we’re just supposed to flip through quickly and get our asses out the door.

  • Ru Viljoen
    Dec 27, 2011

    "...deliberately not carrying a camera and sedulously avoiding the standard sights, the anti-tourist doesn't have much integrity or agenda beyond his self conscious decision to stand apart from other tourists."

    That comes half way into a book that at first states that vagabonding is all about your personal lifestyle choices and not about contrasting with or criticizing other people's choices. I have read of at least 5 labels for travelers which RP stereo typically dismisses.

    The book is filled to

    "...deliberately not carrying a camera and sedulously avoiding the standard sights, the anti-tourist doesn't have much integrity or agenda beyond his self conscious decision to stand apart from other tourists."

    That comes half way into a book that at first states that vagabonding is all about your personal lifestyle choices and not about contrasting with or criticizing other people's choices. I have read of at least 5 labels for travelers which RP stereo typically dismisses.

    The book is filled to the brim with useful tips and resources but the hypocritical criticisms are wearying. Does RP expect people to identify other travelers by these few tip offs label them as pretentious travel snobs and judge them to be "dong it wrong"?

    RP spends a lot of time teaching people the correct mindset as he perceives it. I expected more travel tips and less attitude conditioning. Admittedly his advice, condensed into, keep an open mind and travel with spontaneity, seems sound. However it applies to everything else too, so it is hardly vagabonding specific.

    The majority of the book is an attempt to cover each contingency wherein open mindedness would be useful and a description of where others have gone wrong.

    Very disappointing.

  • Matthew Trinetti
    Nov 10, 2012

    I finished reading Vagabonding for the second time. The first time I read it was about four years ago, when I first started to experience serious wanderlust. It was inspiring and echoed the way I felt about traveling, but it wasn’t applicable yet. One Day, I mused, I will go on a long-term trip. One day, I will go “vagabonding.” It put the bug in my ear that long-term travel is possible.

    But finishing it now, in the midst of an extended journey, is incredibly satisfying and comforting. It’s satis

    I finished reading Vagabonding for the second time. The first time I read it was about four years ago, when I first started to experience serious wanderlust. It was inspiring and echoed the way I felt about traveling, but it wasn’t applicable yet. One Day, I mused, I will go on a long-term trip. One day, I will go “vagabonding.” It put the bug in my ear that long-term travel is possible.

    But finishing it now, in the midst of an extended journey, is incredibly satisfying and comforting. It’s satisfying to know that I am actually DOING IT — realizing my ambition and living out a dream. And it’s comforting to read something that describes exactly what I’m experiencing physically, mentally, and emotionally. I feel welcomed among a league of travelers who have come before me, walk alongside me, and will follow in our footsteps.

    Here are my favorite takeaways from the book.

    It really comes down to priorities. I believe if you have a burning desire to travel or do anything really, you can make it happen [See: Desire + Decision = Magic]. But this isn’t just a lesson I’ve learned from the book — I’m seeing it firsthand with the people I’ve met on the road:

    - A young Texas couple traveling and working in Europe indefinitely;

    - An Australian architect taking year career break to travel from Europe to Asia;

    - A few German university students hitchhiking around Europe during a three month summer break;

    - A Japanese woman dropping everything to travel the world for a year after living through Japan’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami;

    - A 70-year-old Estonian man who escaped the Soviet rule at nineteen and vowed to travel around the world and return to Estonia only when it became a free nation (which finally happened in 1991).

    The only common thread between these people is a strong desire to see the world and making the decision to do it. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. It just requires removing the reductive lens from which we view our lives and the world and expand our belief of what’s possible.

    Although Vagabonding teaches the techniques to affordably travel for extended periods of time, it more importantly introduces a way to find adventure in everyday life.

    This mentality isn’t reserved just for long-term journeys; it can be achieved by looking at the everyday world with new, curious eyes. It’s about seeing things for what they are, and not for what you think they should or want them to be. It’s about being intensely curious and observant about about the lives around you at the moment, whether that’s your neighbor from Ohio, your hostel roommate from Chile, or the local Latvian you meet at a bar.

    Potts introduces the concept of how work and pleasure fit into our lives, and how the first step of vagabonding is earning your freedom to take an extended journey. Yes, this speaks to financially preparing yourself to live on little or zero income. But it also advises how to handle your career, relationships, and attitude prior to taking a leap.

    It’s interesting how this represents the same belief of the entrepreneurs profiled in Chris Guillebeau’s $100 Startup, while echoing the lesson about the Deferred Life Plan in The Monk and the Riddle. I love when seemingly unrelated books communicate a similar message.

    Like most things, long-term travel starts with taking ownership of your actions and fate. It won’t happen unless you make it a priority.

    When I first fantasized about taking a long-term trip, my goal was simply to experience life in different places around the world and to learn about the culture firsthand. Vagabonding suggests the best way to achieve this is to travel simply, slowly, and without the confines of a specific agenda.

    Traveling simply means freeing yourself from “stuff”, leaving you with only the bare necessities to live. By freeing yourself physically from the stuff that defines you, you’re stripped down to just yourself — a sometimes scary reality that forces to figure out who you actually are.

    Traveling slowly represents engaging with your surroundings, absorbing a place rather than “ticking it off”, and seeing and listening rather than looking and hearing. It’s the difference between being a traveler and being a tourist: one is active, the other is passive.

    Traveling without a strict agenda or bulleted to-do list, you’re led mostly by heart instead of brain. You do what feels right. And without a feeling like you need to be somewhere or get things done, you give people and places the love and attention they deserve.

    For me, vagabonding has led to incredible experiences, most of which revolve around conversations with people: spending hours at a cafe talking to an Estonian about growing up under Soviet rule; sharing a typical Icelandic Sunday dinner with locals and discussing elves; hitching with a car full of Lithuanians and learning about their love for the countryside and local beer. Contrast this with my attitude a few short months ago, while working under a strict hour-by-hour daily agenda. I would have rarely allowed myself the time to have such conversations.

    This review and more at

  • Chris
    Nov 26, 2012

    I hit the road for 8 months--7 countries, 4 continents--because of this book.

    College behind me, an ex-fiance, and a wad of cash in the bank (invested since I was a child)--that was when I discovered this book. I boarded the plane 5 months later.

    I carried it with me the whole trip (it's very light). When I was feeling homesick or just sick, down, or in a rut I'd read a bit of this book and it would fire me up and give me ideas of what to do next.

    Being on the road for an extended period of time

    I hit the road for 8 months--7 countries, 4 continents--because of this book.

    College behind me, an ex-fiance, and a wad of cash in the bank (invested since I was a child)--that was when I discovered this book. I boarded the plane 5 months later.

    I carried it with me the whole trip (it's very light). When I was feeling homesick or just sick, down, or in a rut I'd read a bit of this book and it would fire me up and give me ideas of what to do next.

    Being on the road for an extended period of time has a LOT of challenges. Potts doesn't tell you what each of these challenges would be--that's impossible--but he does show you ways of thinking and doing that can help you get the most out of these challenges.

    This book isn't necessary for a successful trip. Hardly. People learn on their feet all the time, and what better way to learn than to jump in head first. I will say I'm glad I had this little guide to help me open my eyes to the world of long term travel when I never even knew it existed.

  • Priya
    Sep 28, 2015

    I found this book Strictly OK and I fail to understand the hype this book has generated so much so that it comes under "Top 10 books travel books".

    Given that the author is well-travelled, there could have been a lot of meaningful things to be shared with the readers from his personal experiences. Unfortunately, all that the book contains is a whole bunch of website links and references to read. And an equal number of quotes from all kinds of travellers.

    At best, this book can serve as a dictiona

    I found this book Strictly OK and I fail to understand the hype this book has generated so much so that it comes under "Top 10 books travel books".

    Given that the author is well-travelled, there could have been a lot of meaningful things to be shared with the readers from his personal experiences. Unfortunately, all that the book contains is a whole bunch of website links and references to read. And an equal number of quotes from all kinds of travellers.

    At best, this book can serve as a dictionary for one who is looking for sources of reference on how to travel on your own. Even those references appear inadequate.

    Saying things like 'speak to people who have traveled extensively for advice' or 'you must always travel safe', 'save money for travel' makes no sense whatsoever unless the target audience is a five year old. They certainly do not warrant whole chapters.

    It looks like the author has randomly aggregated a bunch of blogposts, thrown in a long list of weblinks and created a book.

    I would give two stars simply for some of the weblinks which I found useful.

  • Kate
    Dec 12, 2015

    As someone who lives a nomadic life, I found enriching what he has to say about long-term travel and living an alternative lifestyle.

    He give some excellent, concrete ideas to those who want to travel but claim they can't afford to. He also helps us see how living a traveling life can be greatly rewarding. And also how "vagabonding" is really about being open to life.

    Some of my favorite quotes:

    "Vagabonding is about not merely reallotting a portion of your life for travel but rediscovering the en

    As someone who lives a nomadic life, I found enriching what he has to say about long-term travel and living an alternative lifestyle.

    He give some excellent, concrete ideas to those who want to travel but claim they can't afford to. He also helps us see how living a traveling life can be greatly rewarding. And also how "vagabonding" is really about being open to life.

    Some of my favorite quotes:

    "Vagabonding is about not merely reallotting a portion of your life for travel but rediscovering the entire concept of time."

    "As Pico Iyer pointed out, the act of quitting 'means not giving up, but moving on; changing direction not because something doesn't agree with you, but because you don't agree with something. It's not a complaint...but a positive choice, and not a stop in one's journey but a step in a better direction. Quitting--whether a job or a habit--means taking a turn so as to be sure you're still moving in the direction of your dreams.'"

    "There are always people who dare to seek on the margin of society, who are not dependent on social routine, and prefer a kind of free-floating existence." (Thomas Merton)

    "There is still an overwhelming social compulsion--an insanity of consensus, if you will--to get rich from life rather than to live life richly."

    "Vagabonding is, was, and always will be a private undertaking--and its goal is to improve your life not in relation to your neighbors but it relation to yourself."

    "I refuse to spend money on haircuts."

    Thoreau: "Money is not required to buy one necessity of the soul."

    Kurt Vonnegut: "Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God."

    Antonio Machado: "Paths are made by walking."

    Eknath Easwaran: "Excitement and depressions, fortune and misfortune, pleasure and pain are storms in a tiny, private, shell-bound realm--which we take to be the whole of existence. yet we can break out of this shell and enter a new world."

    "On the road, you learn to improvise your days, take a second look at everything you see, and not obsess over your schedule."

    Robert Pirsig: "I don't want to hurry it. That itself is a poisonous ... attitude. When you want to hurry something, that means you no longer care about it and want to get on to other things."

    Ed Buryn: "The challenges you face offer no alternative but to cope with them. And in doing so, your live is being fully lived."

    "Vagabonding is like a pilgrimage without a specific destination or goal--not a quest for answers so much as a celebration of the questions, an embrace of the ambiguous, and an openness to anything that comes your way."

    "When in doubt about what to do in a place, just start walking through your new environment. Walk until your day becomes interesting."

    Buddha: "We see as we are."

    "Should sickness or crime catch you off guard, the best response is to humbly accept these things as part of life's adventure."

    "Break through the static postcard of fantasy and emerge into the intense beauty of the real. in this way, 'seeing' as you travel is somewhat of a spiritual exercise: a process not of seeking interesting surroundings, but of being continually interested in whatever surrounds you."

    "As anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss pointed out fifty years ago, mourning the perceived purity of yesterday will only cause us to miss the true dynamic of today."

    "Long-term travel is not the exclusive realm of rebels and mystics but is open to anyone willing to embrace the vivid textures of reality."

    "The vagabond frees in himself the latent urge to live closer to the edge of experience."

    Annie Dillard: "What we know, at least for starters, is: here we--so incontrovertibly--are. This is our life, these are our lighted season, and then we die. In the meantime, in between time, we can see."