Rolf Potts Vagabonding (book cover)

Rolf Potts’ Quintessential ‘Vagabonding’ Celebrates 10th Anniversary with Audiobook

Few books were as critical or inspirational to my embracing the idea of long term travel as Rolf Potts’ Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel. Eschewing the model of the typical travel reference guide, the book instead focused on:

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… 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.

Rolf Potts Vagabonding (book cover)
View to my coffee table from 2007 © Mike Richard

Without it, I can safely say that I never would have quit my “normal” 9-to-5 desk job years ago to follow my dreams of traveling the world. No book provided the raw, quintessential spark of inspiration for me to get out and see the world. Potts is so deft and succinct in his appreciation for travel in a way that’s unlike any other. He describes a world that entices eager travelers with “the hum of possibility“:

The “hum of possibility” is the feeling that anything can happen at any moment ”” a heady openness to the new and unexpected. It’s hard to experience this feeling at home, since home life is made more efficient and manageable by certain self-insulating patterns and routines. That’s why at home we fall into these little rituals of low-stakes possibility, like going to bars to meet people, or dabbling in new fads or hobbies. That’s all great; I’m not knocking the patterns of home-life. But on the road the potential for new experience is so much more powerful and real. You can challenge yourself: reeducate yourself, reconsider yourself, reinvent yourself if you want to. Embracing this sense of challenge and newness ”” which may be nothing more complicated than wandering off the obvious tourist trail ”” can send your worldview and even your outlook on life into new directions. It’s a somewhat intimidating, yet invariably intoxicating feeling that follows you as you travel.

If you’ve read the book already, might I recommend a reread (as I intend to do)? If you haven’t yet read it, now’s the time! For its 10th anniversary celebration, Potts has released an audio version of Vagabonding. It’s guaranteed to inspire a new generation of hopeful armchair nomads and reignite the spark of wanderlust for seasoned travelers.

Here’s a taste:

Have you read Vagabonding? How did it inspire you to travel or change your views on the world?

Founding Editor
  1. I’ve read it. And the fact that it has survived multiple book purges as I’ve downsized and downsized to lower my overhead to do exactly what Rolf talks about is definitely a testament to the book’s power.

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