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Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel Paperback – Dec 24 2002
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Veteran vagabond Potts regales readers with his mantra: anyone with an adventurous spirit can achieve the feat of taking extended time off from work to experience the world. In 11 short chapters that follow the same structure, Potts tells how to negotiate time off from work, prepare for travel, and get the most out of your time on the road. Each chapter contains a profile of a famous proponent of vagabonding (e.g., Thoreau, Annie Dillard), quotes from everyday people with extensive travel experience, and a tip sheet of print and online sources for practical travel advice on topics such as airline tickets and accommodations as well as safety concerns. Alternately warning readers about using drugs in foreign countries and entertaining them with anecdotes from exotic ports of call, Potts gives a thorough recounting of his outlook on traveling. This book seems squarely aimed at twenty- and thirtysomethings; anyone with decidedly nonvagabond accoutrements (e.g., children or career ambition) might be more skeptical of Potts' philosophy. For those with a bad case of wanderlust. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
“A crucial reference for any budget wanderer.”—Time
“Vagabonding easily remains in my top-10 list of life-changing books. Why? Because one incredible trip, especially a long-term trip, can change your life forever. And Vagabonding teaches you how to travel (and think), not just for one trip, but for the rest of your life.”—Tim Ferriss, from the foreword
“The book is a meditation on the joys of hitting the road. . . . It’s also a primer for those with a case of pent-up wanderlust seeking to live the dream.”—USA Today
“I couldn’t put this book down. It’s a whole different ethic of travel. . . . [Rolf Potts’s] practical advice might just convince you to enjoy that open-ended trip of a lifetime.”—Rick Steves
“Potts wants us to wander, to explore, to embrace the unknown, and, finally, to take our own damn time about it. I think this is the most sensible book of travel-related advice ever written.”—Tim Cahill, founding editor of Outside
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Top Customer Reviews
I particularly liked the section on working for travel. As a 9-to-5 worker planning a long-term trip, I needed the inspiration to keep going. I liked being told that working will actually make me appreciate travel more. After all, to afford travel, I have to be here anyway.
Throughout the book, there are great little excerpts from famous travellers, philosophers, and explorers, as well as anecdotes from ordinary travellers. Rolf has a particular liking for Walt Whitman, and I may just have to go pick up some Walt poetry now. The literary references in this book let you know that world travel and a simple life aren't new concepts.
The only problem I see with this book is that it may soon become dated with its references to specific websites.
The book is of a small and convenient size to take on the road.
People who like to plan and be prepared should treat this as a companion to more nuts-and-bolts guides. Others may find this plenty since travel is all an adventure anyway. It depends on your personality and comfort with the unknown. The rarely expressed aspect of Potts' book, however, is the acknowledgement that both work and travel are admirable and that one complements the other. To travel, you must also be productive sometimes. But to be productive, you also have to continually learn and see other points of view. Traveling abroad on more than a one-week vacation makes this possible. An entertaining and inspiring read.
Tim Leffel, author of THE WORLD'S CHEAPEST DESTINATIONS
This is the first and only travel book that's done that for me.
Rolf is clearly one who understands the vagabonder mentality. That's proven by his cautions against excessive planning, reliance upon guidebooks (even Lonely Planet), and against depending upon your cataloged preconceptions of a travel destination. For the true vagabonder relies almost entirely on serendpity, not obsession. You unplug from the media, from email, from everything. And you rely on now, today.
I thought it both delightful and completely true that one should target a destination based solely upon the flimsiest of whims (e.g., learning to play ping-pong). Because once you arrive, all will be dashed and certainly enhanced simply be being there. This is both the truth and the "zen" of long-term, vagabond travel: once you get there everything will be different, and better, than you could have imagined.
Rolf buttresses his thinking with many quotes from those who have preceeded us in the "vagabonding" mentality. Thoreau, Whitman, etc. (But where is Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness"). In any case Rolf addresses in full measure the social "oddity" of vagabonding, including the fulfillment it brings. People will not understand us. So what?Read more ›
The practical advice Potts offers is solid but also a bit sketchy. For the nitty-gritty of travel technique and practicalities I far prefer a book like Rob Sangster's The Traveler's Toolkit. Still, Potts does provide a very thorough listing of (mostly web-based) resources that will do much to fill in the gaps.
In the more contemplative sections on traveling "vagabond"-style, Potts writing is charming and mercifully free of the tendentious ideological dross that often characterizes writing about travels to what were once called "Third World" destinations. My special congrats to him for gently mocking the "traveler/tourist" dichotomy for the silly supercilious parlor games it often engenders.
Still, there is a somewhat moony, disembodied feeling to the book. Instead of all the gaseous quotations from the famous and unfamous (used as filler) I would have appreciated some more attention to hazards, dangers, and risks. These can be substantial: from wild auto-rickshaw drivers to leaky, overcrowded boats, from rabid animals to exotic diseases, and (last but not least) from rickety to downright pathological political regimes. The world can be a wild, wonderful place but it can also provide a cornucopia of nightmares for the ill-prepared and underinformed. Potts does his aspiring vagabonders a serious disservice by not leveling with them about the seamy and potentially hazardous underside of "shoestring" travel in exotic lands.
Most recent customer reviews
Mostly helpful tips, a few things are out of date. Definitely a good purchase if you're planning on travelling somewhere new either in your own or with other people.Published 23 days ago by Katy Lesiuk
Very good content and ideals, sometimes a little lacking in idea development, lots of great direct resources.Published 6 months ago by Benjamin J. Stevens
Travel is alluring to so many, myself included. We dream of a life of experiencing other cultures and sitting in cafe’s talking all day with no attachments. Read morePublished 11 months ago by curtismchale
Great book for people looking to travel. Is a good how-to book for the independent traveller.Published 14 months ago by AbsoluteNorm
Picked this book up based on a recommendation from Tim Ferriss. Read in Zurich during our travels there. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Ron Lehman
Makes me want to sell everything, quit my job and start wandering. A very dangerous book if at all dis-satisfied with your life.Published 18 months ago by D Jones