Learn the Art of Long Term World Travel: Vagabonding

Written by Scott October 22, 2008

Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel
by Rolf Potts
Pub. Date: December 2002, Random House Inc.
ISBN- 9780812992182
203 Pages
Success Rating:4

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 posibilities 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

Buy Vagabonding at Amazon

Valuable Quotes:

“Most of us choose to live like monks anyway, rooting ourselves to a home or a career and using the future as a kind of phony ritual that justifies the present.”

“The notion–that material investment is somehow more important to life than personal investment–is exactly waht leads so many of us to believe we could never afford to go vagabonding.”

“Indeed, the most vivid travel experiences usually find you by accident, and the qualities that will make you fall in love with a place are rarely the features that took you there.”

“On the road, a big prerequisite for keeping your sense of humor is to first cultivate a sense of humility. After all, it can be hard to laugh at yourself if you swagger through the world like you own it.”

“If you can find joy in insults–if you can learn to laugh at what would otherwise have made you angry–the world is indeed “all yours” as a cross-cultured traveler.”

“People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore ar home.”

“What better way to discover the unknown than to follow your instincts instead of your plans.”

“Travelers are the ones who truly “see” their surroundings, whereas tourists just superficially “look” at attractions.”

“Vagabonding is–at its best–a rediscovery of reality itself.”

“The thing is, few of us ever “are” where we are: Instead of experiencing the reality of a moment or a day, our minds and souls are elsewhere–obsessing on the past or the future, fretting and fantasizing about other situations.”

“Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.”–Annie DIllard

“And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”–T.S. Eliot

“Objects which are usually the motives of our travels are often overlooked and neglected if they lie under our eyes.”–Pliny the Younger

“Hitting the road to get travel out of your system rarely works, so the best remedy upon returning home is to make travel a part of your system.”

“Allow for unstructured time in your day-to-day home schedule. Don’t let the vices you conquered on the road–fear, selfishness, vanity, prejudice, envy–creep back into your daily life. Explore your hometown as if it were a foreign land, and take an interest in your neighbors as if they were exotic tribesmen. Keep things real, and keep on learning. Be creative, and get into adventures. Earn your freedom all over again and don’t set limits. Keep things simple, and let your spirit grow. But most of all, keep living your life in such a way that allows your dreams room to breath.”

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