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

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Overview

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
? determining your destination
? adjusting to life on the road
? working and volunteering overseas
? handling ...

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

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Overview

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
• determining your destination
• adjusting to life on the road
• working and volunteering overseas
• handling travel adversity
• re-assimilating back into ordinary life

Not just a plan of action, vagabonding is an outlook on life that emphasizes creativity, discovery, and the growth of the spirit. Visit the vagabonding community’s hub at www.vagabonding.net.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Many of us harbor the fantasy of just packing up and taking off to travel the world, but few can really imagine having the time, or the money, to do such a thing. Enter Rolf Potts, veteran globe-trotter, adventure travel writer, and vagabond. As Potts explains, extended world travel is not really about having the time or the money; it's about adopting the right outlook and giving yourself the freedom to pick up and go. This book will sway readers to adopt such an outlook, with encouragement to "loosen your grip on the so-called certainties of this world" and take "control of your circumstances instead of passively waiting for them to decide your fate." The author's alluring prose is accompanied by questionnaires to help readers develop a more specific picture of their planned journey, as well as profiles of vagabonds such as Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, and Annie Dillard.

Of course, there are also practical matters to be addressed. Vagabonding instructs on those topics as well, providing information on funding your extended sojourn, quitting your job on good terms, finding work overseas, managing your time, meeting people, and remaining safe on your travels. Potts includes ample additional resources, with helpful books and web sites listed in each chapter.

Vagabonding is an inspiring book that will prepare you mentally and pragmatically to embark upon the travels you've always dreamed of. And, if nothing else, it will provoke you to cultivate the "friendly interest in people, places, and things that makes a person an explorer in the truest, most vivid sense of the word." Karen Burns

KLIATT
Most people plan and save during the year for their two-or three-week vacation. After Disneyland, Yosemite or the Caribbean, it's back to work, home and routine. But for people like teacher and author Rolf Potts, home is temporary and work just supports their real avocation—traveling or vagabonding. "Vagabonding is not merely a ritual of getting immunizations and packing suitcases. Rather, it's the ongoing practice of looking and learning... of cultivating a new fascination with people and places... it's a personal act that demands only the realignment of self." Although there are good, practical tips on traveling for extended periods, especially if alone or in countries with non-Western customs, Vagabonding is primarily a meditation on living this particular lifestyle. Like licorice or Las Vegas, vagabonding is something that one craves or dislikes, understands or finds incomprehensible. "Vagabonding is not merely reallotting a portion of your life for travel, but rediscovering the entire concept of time... you learn to improvise your days... and not obsess over your schedule." For those who are contemplating such a change, or for those who have tried it once and want to compare notes with a more experienced vagabond, this title will be an education and an encouragement. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2003, Random House, Villiard, 205p., Gillen
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812992182
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/24/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 101,964
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Meet the Author

Rolf Potts funded his earliest vagabonding experiences by working as a landscaper and an ESL teacher. He now writes about independent travel for National Geographic Adventure, and his travel essays have appeared in Salon, Condé Nast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, and Best American Travel Writing 2000, and on National Public Radio.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, Going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.

-Walt Whitman, "Song of the Open Road"

Declare Your Independence

Of all the outrageous throwaway lines one hears in movies, there is one that stands out for me. It doesn't come from a madcap comedy, an esoteric science-fiction flick, or a special-effects-laden action thriller. It comes from Oliver Stone's Wall Street, when the Charlie Sheen character - a promising big shot in the stock market - is telling his girlfriend about his dreams.

"I think if I can make a bundle of cash before I'm thirty and get out of this racket," he says, "I'll be able to ride my motorcycle across China."

When I first saw this scene on video a few years ago, I nearly fell out of my seat in astonishment. After all, Charlie Sheen or anyone else could work for eight months as a toilet cleaner and have enough money to ride a motorcycle across China. Even if they didn't yet have their own motorcycle, another couple months of scrubbing toilets would earn them enough to buy one when they got to China.

The thing is, most Americans probably wouldn't find this movie scene odd. For some reason, we see long-term travel to faraway lands as a recurring dream or an exotic temptation, but not something that applies to the here and now. Instead?out of our insane duty to fear, fashion, and monthly payments on things we don't really need - we quarantine our travels to short, frenzied bursts. In this way, as we throw our wealth at an abstract notion called "lifestyle," travel becomes just another accessory -a smooth-edged, encapsulated experience that we purchase the same way we buy clothing and furniture.

Not long ago, I read that nearly a quarter of a million short-term monastery- and convent-based vacations had been booked and sold by tour agents in the year 2000. Spiritual enclaves from Greece to Tibet were turning into hot tourist draws, and travel pundits attributed this "solace boom" to the fact that "busy overachievers are seeking a simpler life."

What nobody bothered to point out, of course, is that purchasing a package vacation to find a simpler life is kind of like using a mirror to see what you look like when you aren't looking into the mirror. All that is really sold is the romantic notion of a simpler life, and - just as no amount of turning your head or flicking your eyes will allow you to unselfconsciously see yourself in the looking glass - no combination of one-week or ten-day vacations will truly take you away from the life you lead at home.

Ultimately, this shotgun wedding of time and money has a way of keeping us in a holding pattern. The more we associate experience with cash value, the more we think that money is what we need to live. And the more we associate money with life, the more we convince ourselves that we're too poor to buy our freedom. With this kind of mind-set, it's no wonder so many Americans think extended overseas travel is the exclusive realm of students, counterculture dropouts, and the idle rich.

In reality, long-term travel has nothing to do with demographics - age, ideology, income - and everything to do with personal outlook. Long-term travel isn't about being a college student; it's about being a student of daily life. Long-term travel isn't an act of rebellion against society; it's an act of common sense within society. Long-term travel doesn't require a massive "bundle of cash"; it requires only that we walk through the world in a more deliberate way.

This deliberate way of walking through the world has always been intrinsic to the time-honored, quietly available travel tradition known as "vagabonding."

Vagabonding involves taking an extended time-out from your normal life?six weeks, four months, two years?to travel the world on your own terms.

But beyond travel, vagabonding is an outlook on life. Vagabonding is about using the prosperity and possibility of the information age to increase your personal options instead of your personal possessions. Vagabonding is about looking for adventure in normal life, and normal life within adventure. Vagabonding is an attitude?a friendly interest in people, places, and things that makes a person an explorer in the truest, most vivid sense of the word.

Vagabonding is not a lifestyle, nor is it a trend. It's just an uncommon way of looking at life - a value adjustment from which action naturally follows. And, as much as anything, vagabonding is about time - our only real commodity - and how we choose to use it.

Sierra Club founder John Muir (an ur-vagabonder if there ever was one) used to express amazement at the well-heeled travelers who would visit Yosemite only to rush away after a few hours of sightseeing. Muir called these folks the "time-poor" - people who were so obsessed with tending their material wealth and social standing that they couldn't spare the time to truly experience the splendor of California's Sierra wilderness. One of Muir's Yosemite visitors in the summer of 1871 was Ralph Waldo Emerson, who gushed upon seeing the sequoias, "It's a wonder that we can see these trees and not wonder more." When Emerson scurried off a couple hours later, however, Muir speculated wryly about whether the famous transcendentalist had really seen the trees in the first place.

Nearly a century later, naturalist Edwin Way Teale used Muir's example to lament the frenetic pace of modern society. "Freedom as John Muir knew it," he wrote in his 1956 book Autumn Across America, "with its wealth of time, its unregimented days, its latitude of choice . . . such freedom seems more rare, more difficult to attain, more remote with each new generation."

But Teale's lament for the deterioration of personal freedom was just as hollow a generalization in 1956 as it is now. As John Muir was well aware, vagabonding has never been regulated by the fickle public definition of lifestyle. Rather, it has always been a private choice within a society that is constantly urging us to do otherwise.

This is a book about living that choice.

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Customer Reviews

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( 21 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2003

    Vagabonding: Personal freedom through travel

    Allan de Botten writes in his Art of Travel, "If our lives are dominated by a search for happiness . . . perhaps few activities reveal as much about the dynamics of this quest--in all its ardor and paradoxes--than our travels. . . ." Today's traveler is met with a particular dilemma: How to achieve this quest for happiness through personal involvement with the Other amid today's great forces of commercial Globalism. With its mass culture and its national or commercial interests at heart how does one experience the world through travel without feeling guiltily obediant towards these forces. Mr. Potts offers a way to redefine today's quest for an authentic, individualized travel experience using an obscure term often not associated with the industry of travel and tourism: Vagabonding. I particulary like his redefining of the word: n. 1)The act of leaving behind the orderly world to travel independently for an extended period of time. 2) A privately meaningful manner of travel that emphacizes creativity, adventure, awareness, simplicity, discovery, independence, realism, good humor, and the growth of the spirit. 3) A deliberate way of living that makes the freedom to travel possible. Rolf Potts' "guide" encourages travelers and tourists alike to seek their own experiences at home or abroad in accordance to personal truths, usefulness to the individual, and creative solututions. His book's charge demands declaring independence from a "media culture, which tends to paint our understanding of the world into reductive, uniform colors." Potts' colorful approach to this topic certainly gets the creative juices flowing beyond what the guidebooks and brochures and travel bureaus promote. "Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term Travel" should be on the shelf of anyone who loves to travel, enjoys reading about travel, or simply day-dreams about the possiblities of escaping for a stint of globe-trotting. Who knows, after reading this book, those dreams might become a reality.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 13, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    I can's say enough about this book!

    I consider myself an avid traveler (I had backpacked alone across 18 different countries by the time I was 20) and this book truly captures the fire that drives me to explore. Rather than being an informational travel book like guide books, Potts focuses on the inspirational. Reading this book will always inspire me to explore and learn. I am an English Teaching major in college now and am preparing to graduate. This is my favorite book and I recommend everyone read it. Especially if you are looking to light the fire within yourself. Now go get out there and live it!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent Resource

    Both practical and inspiring, Vagabonding is a valuable resource for anyone who has thought about long term, independent travel. The book is chalk full of practical advise with references to other books and website links with updated information as well as inspiring anecdotes that help put one in the proper frame of mind to gain the most of their travel adventure.

    With a wealth of information and books about long term travel and "escape" this is one book that is a must have in any traveler's library and a great place to start for first time travelers.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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