Book Review : Vagabonding; An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term Travel


by Rolf Potts.

I got this book from the reading list of Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Work Week.

I would describe this book as part Philosophical Inspiration and part How To for the idea of extended travel.

It certainly supoports the idea of mini retirements.

“Vagabonding is about taking time off from your normal life, from 6 weeks to 4 months to 2 years – to discover and experience the world on your 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
  • determining your destination
  • adjusting to life on the road
  • working and volunteering overseas
  • handling travel adversity
  • re-assimilating  back into your ordinary life

Not just a plan of action, Vagabonding is an outlook on life that emphasizes creativity, discovery and a growth of the spirit.

There is a quote in Oliver Stone’s movie Wall Street when the Charlie Sheen character Bud Fox – a promising big shot in the stock market – is telling his girlfriend about his dreams.  “I think that if I can make up a bundle of cash before I am 30 and get out of this racket I would be able to ride my motorcycle across China.”

I nearly fell out of my seat in astonishment.  After all Charlie Sheen, or anyone else can work for 8 months as a toilet cleaner and have enough money to ride a motorcycle across China.  Even if they did not have yet their own motorcycle, and then a couple of months of scrubbing toilets they would then have enough money to buy when they got to China.

No combination of 1 week or 10-day vacation would truly take you away from the life you leave at home.  The more we associate experience with cash value, the more we think that money is what we need to live for.  The more we associate money with life, the more we convince ourselves that we are too poor to buy our freedom.
Long term travel does not require massive bundle of cash it requires only that we walk through the world in a more deliberate way.  Vagabonding involves taking extended time out from your normal life –  6 weeks, 4 months, 2 years – to travel the world in your own terms.  But beyond travel, vagabonding is a way to increase your personal options instead of your personal possessions.
In this way, vagabonding is not merely a ritual of getting vaccinations and packing suitcases. Rather it is an ongoing practice of looking and learning, or facing fears and altering habits, of cultivating a new fascination of people and faces.

“A good traveler has no fixed plan, and has no intent on arriving”

by Lao-Tzu – the way of life.
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