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

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  6,516 ratings  ·  411 reviews
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
• deter...more
Paperback, 205 pages
Published December 24th 2002 by Villard (first published January 1st 2002)
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Matthew Trinetti
I finished reading Vagabonding for the second time. The first time I read it was about four years ago, when I first started to experience serious wanderlust. It was inspiring and echoed the way I felt about traveling, but it wasn’t applicable yet. One Day, I mused, I will go on a long-term trip. One day, I will go “vagabonding.” It put the bug in my ear that long-term travel is possible.

But finishing it now, in the midst of an extended journey, is incredibly satisfying and comforting. It’s satis...more
Rolf Potts gives a ton of good resources for how to travel long-term. This is not for the person who wants to take a week vacation in Cabo, but for someone who wants to hang out in a country or two or however many for a long time -- several weeks to several years. It's inspiring and helpful to know that I'm not the only one who wants to travel this way!
Chris Hopf
I hit the road for 8 months--7 countries, 4 continents--because of this book.

College behind me, an ex-fiance, and a wad of cash in the bank (invested since I was a child)--that was when I discovered this book. I boarded the plane 5 months later.

I carried it with me the whole trip (it's very light). When I was feeling homesick or just sick, down, or in a rut I'd read a bit of this book and it would fire me up and give me ideas of what to do next.

Being on the road for an extended period of time...more
Rolf Potts’ Vagabonding was recommended to me by a friend who apparently thinks I:

a) Need to get out of the house (and the city/state/country)
b) Enjoy books that heavily rely on quoting Walt Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road”

It’s not a bad book, certainly not the type I would pick up on my own, but there’s nothing really life-changing here either. Potts is conversational (almost to a fault), and he makes some fine points about living with less and accepting circumstances on the road for what they...more
Ru Viljoen
"...deliberately not carrying a camera and sedulously avoiding the standard sights, the anti-tourist doesn't have much integrity or agenda beyond his self conscious decision to stand apart from other tourists."

That comes half way into a book that at first states that vagabonding is all about your personal lifestyle choices and not about contrasting with or criticizing other people's choices. I have read of at least 5 labels for travelers which RP stereo typically dismisses.

The book is filled to...more
Oct 20, 2009 Clackamas rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who always wished they'd lived with the gypsies
Recommended to Clackamas by: ? Someone on Goodreads
***I keep trying to find a better book for the type of travel I plan, and haven't yet, so I re-read this one... I can't quite upgrade it though, even though part of me wants to. Originally read 1/2008***

This is a pretty simple book, designed for those who have never traveled but always wanted to. By "travel" I'm referring to long-term, low-budget travel. This is definitely not intended for the independently wealthy or those who don't know how to function without all of the conveniences of home....more
This is a short read that I intend to read over and over. Basically, it explains that you don't have to be in college or retired to experience long-distance travel. Hiking the Appalachian Trail or spending a year in Thailand is completely do-able for even 30 or 40-somethings. It's a reminder for me not to get caught up in the rat race and the sequence of school, job, marriage, kids, more job, 1 week vacations at a time, retirement, and then death. Although I take away a bit of inspiration and li...more
Pure sophistry. Included in this work are maybe two or three genuinely handy bits of advice, mainly found in links to external readings and resources. The rest of these 203 pages are filled with bland bits of armchair philosophy and anecdotes from dozens of other people who are not collecting checks for writing this book.

Perhaps it would not have been so very disappointing to me if I hadn't shelled out the ridiculously overpriced $10 expecting to receive some concrete advice on exactly how to tr...more
Melissa Luna
If you have already gone on open-ended adventures into the world, the first two-thirds (or more) of this book are a bore. Not until I got to the end did I start to enjoy and appreciate it. If you haven't had the opportunity to travel freely then this is a well-grounded book full of lots of great advice. Highlights (for anyone) include; good quotes, interesting excerpts from other travel writers, and tons and tons of resources, links, and other channels for research and planning.
Not groundbreaking for anyone who has read/thought about the issues raised by travel vs. our daily lives. Mostly about philosophy and attitude; not many specifics about how to pursue this unusual approach to travel. Nice compilation of quotations from vagabonders of the past and present, and a few thought-provoking principles to carry forward into daily life as well as travel.
Although I do admire Rolf Potts, I think that the advice written in this book is less practical information and more spiritual inspiration. Most of what he writes are things to motivate the reader, to show that a vagabonding lifestyle is desirable and possible.

Unfortunately, Rolf Potts gives very little specific, actionable advice. Some of the things that he writes are very true, but they are also incredibly general, such as 'be gracious', 'simplify your life by getting rid of excess material th...more
Scott Dinsmore
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.


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 possibilities bring us. You know, that one we used to all feel the night before Christmas? Something like that, but for adults. M...more
Ari Melman
This talks about the mindset and philosophy of someone who feels more comfortable on the road than anywhere else. He has explored many places and many options and lists a good number of resources to use as you travel. It helped put me in the right mindset as I set off for my trip, but didn't teach me much I wasn't already aware of. He writes in a straightforward manner, much like you would see in any travel blog.

I was most appreciative of his selective quotes. "Adventurous men enjoy shipwrecks,...more
Vagabonding in one of the best sabbatical books written. First, forget about the strange title, the book is much better. Forget about the word "vagabonding" and what is potentially means. The fact is that Potts deals with all potential issues of long-term travel. He lists tremendous resources, and offers down-to-earth advice through inspiring case studies. He asks the right questions about what you should do with your life. I just love this book, in particular its slightly philosophical touch en...more
Truly a fantastic book/guide, even though I haven't finished reading it yet
(about 80% completed). Let me start off by saying that this book is more so a travel philosophy book than just resource based. It's an excellent read for not only the resources provided, but also the anecdotes that Potts includes in is his reasoning are small adventures in themselves. Every few chapters he includes quotes from other travelers that he has met along the road. It's fascinating to see how many interesting pe...more
Jun 21, 2013 Jewel rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: misc
So I didn't exactly expect this one to actually be a GUIDE. I thought it was going to be a novel of some sort.

Having already done my fair share of journeys across the US of A and a few other places, I didn't really take much from this book. Most of my time reading this book was like this: "Yes, I already know that *turns page* Yes, I already know that, duh *turns page* Oh, nice inspirational quote *turns page* Already know that" and so on. I'm not bashing this book by any means, I'm just saying...more
Christopher Cordry
Jul 22, 2008 Christopher Cordry rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: neophytes, not acolytes, of the cult of travel
Shelves: top-shelf
Everything in this book is old news to anyone who has already undertaken "long-term world travel." However, its basic premise is sound, and it would serve as a good wake-up call for those who have previously limited their travel experiences to the safety, comfort, and ease of--for lack of a better word, tourism, or rather the petty-bourgeois approach to travel.

If I sound like a travel snob, it's because I am. Sorry, no apologies.

Potts's core message is this: get off your duff, forget your lugga...more
"Vagabonding" is one of those currently trendy terms for budget travel that aims to make it sound more deep and meaningful than "budget travel". I expected to find a pretentious defense of "travel" vs. "tourism" here, but I didn't really. The author did talk a bit about living in the moment, but was actually fairly balanced and reasonable.
Part inspiration and part travel guide, Vagabonding doesn't cover much ground that isn't covered in other sources (such as Hasobrouck's "Practical Nomad"), but...more
I came to know Rolf Potts from his hilarious short story, Digging Mr.Benny's uncle and kind of expected a similar earnest, personal journal in Vagabonding. I am rather disappointed with its sometimes not so rocket science advices and the non-committal point of view "it may be this but if not it means that" that are apparent throughout the book. There are also perhaps too many excerpts that make this book less original. Nevertheless, I am left with one third hopeful (that this vagabonding seems l...more
Informative. I honestly couldn't read the whole thing. Towards the end of the book I almost exploded and sold everything so I could go travel and be the free spirit Potts is. Beware: if you catch the travel bug easily, this one is liable to put a hurtin on ya and make you want to sell everything, leave everyone and be a nomad. He makes it sound so good. If that's okay with you and your ready for it, this is one of the most informative how-to books about global travel I've found. I'm personally n...more
Very light material. On one hand Rolf Potts attempts to convince the reader that everyone is able to travel for a long time, there should be no excuses if you really want to. On the other hand the book contains an array of very practical tips and reference materials for getting started and preparing your travels. Also plenty of anecdotes of 'famous' (I didn't know any of them, but that goes on my account) long term travelers and people he met on the road.

As I've traveled a bit myself lots of thi...more
One of my favourite wanderlust books. Potts eschews the usual guide format to give the reader more of a coolness when they decide to travel. He gives advice on how to deal with people that cannot conceive of why you would ever want to travel long-term and how to get off your bum and actually do it. What I specifically love about this book is that it gives a bit of background to the writers and travelers that inspire the term vagabonding and he also has a lot of quotations that make you feel a lo...more
It's not that I didn't find Rolf Potts' tips and advice useful, it's just that I kind of hated him when I read it. I understand that he's advocating for a type of travel experience that's different than the sprint vacationing most people choose to do, and I agree with him. My problem is he's so judgmental about people making a different choice. Gems like this: "Which is the real adventure: spending three grand on a mach-one MiG jet ride over Kamchatka, or spending the same sum exploring the citi...more
Feb 07, 2012 Jules rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who are thinking of a career break
Recommended to Jules by: Bronwen
Inspiring! Liked the snippets of real life experiences and quotes from various sources. Expected it to be slightly more practical - it's mostly made up of the "way to be" a vagabonder rather than the "how to be" a vagabonder. Still, Rolf does give plenty of tips, links and suggested further readings that I need to go through and bookmark appropriately. I shall need to reread this when I take the plunge and go on my long term travels. This book has definitely pushed me some part of the way there.
Oliver Koenig
Quite an inspirational book, describing what I experience myself. Most thoughts were not new to me - but what good of a feeling to see it phrased. The best part for me personally lies in Potts' final chapter in which he contemplates how travel enriches us for our everyday lives at home as well, to look at everything from a curious perspective. We do not always need to go far away to discover beauty - travelling and vagabonding simply helps us to see it, whether we are at home or on the road.
I nearly didn't buy this book due to all the negative reviews on (in retrospect I doubt if some of them had actually read the book), and the fact that it was very expensive considering it is fairly short - but I downloaded a sample and liked it so much I decided the book was worth the price. Very inspiring, and all the quotes and 'vagabond voices' have added considerably to my reading list!
Some good advice, but most memorable is the beginning where he complains about a film character hoping he'll make it big on Wall Street so he can drive a motorbike across China -- the author points out that anyone working as a toilet cleaner for a few months could save up enough to ride a motorbike across China. In other words, don't just sit there and daydream; go travel!
I flew through this book. First, it's a reference book, but it's also a simple and encouraging read. Potts doesn't have a lot of novel information of his own, rather he condenses great accounts and perspective of noted travellers through time. I didn't get a lot of new info from this book, but I still enjoyed flipping through and thinking about my next journey.
This short book -- really, more like a series of magazine essays -- was rather worthless. I skimmed through it in about an hour, and the frustrating thing about it is that it doesn't actually provide any helpful information of its own. It lists many links to travel websites where you can get the information you're actually looking for, and lots of quotes, and one-page bios of folks like John Muir, Thoreau, and Walt Whitman...but no real in-depth advice on anything. I can sum up the book's messag...more
So---this book made me realize how focused on career Americans really are. For Pete's sake, travel my friends! This book made me think about how much I missed out on by going straight to college rather than taking a year off and traveling. Long live the Passport!
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Rolf Potts has reported from more than sixty countries for the likes of National Geographic Traveler, the New York Times Magazine,, Conde Nast Traveler, Outside, The Believer, The Guardian (U.K.), National Public Radio, and the Travel Channel. A veteran travel columnist for the likes of and World Hum, his adventures have taken him across six continents, and include piloting a f...more
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