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

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  10,704 Ratings  ·  628 Reviews
With a new foreword by Tim Ferriss •There’s nothing like vagabonding: 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. In this one-of-a-kind handbook, veteran travel writer Rolf Potts explains how anyone armed with an independent spirit can achieve the dream of extended overseas travel. ...more
Paperback, 205 pages
Published December 24th 2002 by Villard (first published January 1st 2002)
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Casey I think I found it:

...It made me realize that, whatever name you give it, the act of vagabonding is not an isolated trend so much as it is (to crib a…more
I think I found it:

...It made me realize that, whatever name you give it, the act of vagabonding is not an isolated trend so much as it is (to crib a Greil Marcus phrase) a "spectral connection between people long separated by place and time, but somehow speaking the same language."(less)
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Matthew Trinetti
Aug 28, 2013 Matthew Trinetti rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 26, 2012 Chris rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 11, 2009 Derek rated it it was ok
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
Feb 25, 2012 Chrissy rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, repeatreads
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!
Nov 23, 2008 Heather rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 08, 2015 Priya rated it it was ok
I found this book Strictly OK and I fail to understand the hype this book has generated so much so that it comes under "Top 10 books travel books".
Given that the author is well-travelled, there could have been a lot of meaningful things to be shared with the readers from his personal experiences. Unfortunately, all that the book contains is a whole bunch of website links and references to read. And an equal number of quotes from all kinds of travellers.

At best, this book can serve as a dictiona
Ru Viljoen
Mar 30, 2014 Ru Viljoen rated it it was ok
"...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
Oct 20, 2009 Clackamas rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 21, 2015 Kate rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
As someone who lives a nomadic life, I found enriching what he has to say about long-term travel and living an alternative lifestyle.

He give some excellent, concrete ideas to those who want to travel but claim they can't afford to. He also helps us see how living a traveling life can be greatly rewarding. And also how "vagabonding" is really about being open to life.

Some of my favorite quotes:

"Vagabonding is about not merely reallotting a portion of your life for travel but rediscovering the en
Feb 12, 2013 Paul rated it did not like it
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
Melissa Luna
Dec 18, 2007 Melissa Luna rated it liked it
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.
Jul 02, 2014 Dovofthegalilee rated it did not like it
Even a bad book has something in it that we can learn from and this isn’t a bad book but it’s misguided. First off one third to half of it is internet sites that you could find yourself if you have a pulse and the other bit is constant quotes from other notable writers that I guess is supposed to set the mindset for the potential vagabond.

I've done a bit of traveling myself, I left my native country for another completely different culture a dozen years ago and I’m a professional guide in Israel
Scott Dinsmore
Jul 09, 2009 Scott Dinsmore rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 21, 2013 Jewel rated it it was ok
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
Nov 25, 2014 Lesley rated it liked it
Have an itch to quit your job pack a bag and wander the planet for a few years? This handy guide will make that itch that much worse. I miss traveling.
Apr 05, 2015 Irwan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished, 2015
I stumbled upon this book from a podcast interview ( in which the host is feverishly enthusiastic introducing this book saying how it had changed his life about traveling.

This book teaches you insights about traveling. Some of the ideas are not totally new to me, like the weariness you feel in the middle of a commoditised tourism, something that irks you whether you are actually seeing the world or simply being drown in the illusion of having seen the world. It is refreshi
Sep 01, 2015 Kimball rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kimball by: Larry Hansen
This book really got me excited to go off and travel (and not be a tourist). I liked the different examples from people around the world giving their suggestions. The taxi fares tidbits were very helpful.

I wonder about people who travel and go off on long adventures. Are they just living in the present and have no thought for the future? My only concern with doing those things is what happens when I'm 65 and can't work but I don't have anything saved up for retirement? Many of these (younger) tr
Mar 09, 2016 Arimo rated it liked it
A good book. It gave me lots of concrete ideas for my traveling – even though many parts of the text can feel familiar for a traveler with some experience who has already read some other travel guides and searched information online.

I'd recommend this book for anyone who's planning long trips abroad, but I only gave it three stars. First of all, the book is very short and if you'd skip all the (somewhat dated) website links and ignore the numerous quotes and biographies and travel experiences fr
Nov 21, 2015 Ren rated it really liked it
I can sum up my review with the following quote:
"Interestingly one of the initial impediments to open mindedness is not ignorance but ideology. This is especially true in America where a particularly in progressive circles we have politicized open mindedness to the point that it isn't so open minded anymore. Indeed regardless of whether your sympathies lean to the left or the right, you're not going to learn anything new if continue to use politics as a lens thru which to view the world....on t
Robin Reed
Sep 21, 2015 Robin Reed rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Travelers on a budget. Adventure enthusiasts. Minimalist.
Recommended to Robin by: Amazon
Vagabonding challenged my comfort level about traveling. Growing up in an adventurous Tom Sawyer family, that same adventure was infused through my adult life. I always secretly admired the people that could just drop it all, reduce their life down to a backpack and take off but I was too addicted to the traditional comforts of more luxury travel, especially as I got older. Vagabonding took me to a whole new level and made question what I REALLY need and as a result, I stopped buying so much stu ...more
Alex Pyatetsky
Feb 07, 2015 Alex Pyatetsky rated it really liked it
I'm surprised by the rather scathing remarks here. They all seem to have in common the expectation this this will either be 1) a checklist or 2) a reinforcement of their personal travel identity (or lack thereof).

So, perhaps, you should pick up this book with the expectation of learning a mindset and exploring the paradigm of someone with extensive experience in a subject, not "Travel for Dummies."

As someone with no longterm residence, I found Rolf's exploration valuable and fulfilling. Perhaps
Sep 22, 2013 Joseph rated it it was ok
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
Jan 16, 2013 Ari rated it really liked it
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,
Jul 08, 2011 Michael rated it it was amazing
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
Christopher Cordry
Jul 22, 2008 Christopher Cordry rated it really liked it
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
Dec 01, 2015 Shoevampire rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this has inspired me even more to go out and seek the world, maybe not as copiously, lengthily or immersed as what this book talks about, but still in a more aware and open matter how near or far my feet takes me. There were so many wonderful and inspiring quotes from this book that really struck me, especially in terms of the kind of attitude we should take when travelling, differentiating a mere, simple tourist versus a real, traveler. One of my ...more
Oct 17, 2010 Patrick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, non-fiction
"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
Mar 29, 2013 Catherine rated it it was ok
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
Mar 13, 2014 Krista rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
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
Mar 16, 2009 Aleta rated it really liked it
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
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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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“The value of your travels does not hinge on how many stamps you have in your passport when you get home -- and the slow nuanced experience of a single country is always better than the hurried, superficial experience of forty countries.” 53 likes
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