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

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  23,619 ratings  ·  1,369 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 with an independent spirit can achieve the dream of extended overseas travel.

Visit the vagabonding community's hub at www dot vagabonding dot net.
Paperback, 205 pages
Published December 24th 2002 by Ballantine Books (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)
Lee Palmer I think I will answer this question in a week or two, as I just downloaded this great book after reading tons of positive reviews. Here's a full list …moreI think I will answer this question in a week or two, as I just downloaded this great book after reading tons of positive reviews. Here's a full list of my must-read books about travelling (from very reliable source). (less)

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Matthew Trinetti
Nov 10, 2012 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 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
Jun 26, 2007 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! ...more
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it

How happy is the little stone
That rambles in the road alone,
And does n’t care about careers,
And exigencies never fears;
Whose coat of elemental brown
A passing universe put on;
And independent as the sun,
Associates or glows alone,
Fulfilling absolute decree
In casual simplicity.

-Emily Dickinson (1830–86).
Dec 12, 2015 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
Nov 23, 2008 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
Melania 🍒
Dec 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction

I didn’t always agree with the author, but the advice is great and his experiences were, really, goals 🤯
Feb 12, 2013 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
Dorai Thodla
Nov 29, 2014 added it
Shelves: travel
Not a fast moving one but an amazing book. I think I will go back and read parts of it again. There are lots of things to like about the book.

First of all it provides a different view of life. I wish I had something like this in my twenties. I have a friend who spends about 6 months in a year traveling. I did not understand him. After reading this book, I can imagine why he does that.

A few snippets from the book:

Vagabonding involves taking an extended time-out from your normal life— six weeks
Ru Viljoen
Dec 27, 2011 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
Mlle V
Jan 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, travel
It certainly lives up to it's title as an "uncommon guide". The book is much more about the idea and the motivations behind our desire to travel and what keeps people on the road. It's a great source of inspiration, especially for anyone who hasn't done much research into lifestyle traveling. The author provides many outside resources for the more travel-specific information, though by now, these resources would need to be updated. ...more
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: good-nonfiction
Simplistic reading. Contains a lot of material I've seen reiterated before in other guidebooks; holds a lot of stuff which is well-covered elsewhere; yields a lot of info which should already be common-sense to the experienced (or even mildly-experienced), I confess I'm merely going to skim this thing.

Listen--in my experience--if you have an opportunity to travel; just do it and don't worry all that much about pre-planning or logistics.

Seriously. Don't ever worry yourself too much
Thomas Frank
May 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Great inspirational work on travelling long-term.

The book is filled with links to lots of online resources that are probably out-of-date at this point, so it might not be a great idea to consider this book the Holy Grail of long term travel.

However, it will inspire you to get started in the first place.
Jan 16, 2008 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.
Nov 04, 2012 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
May 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: travel
Relentlessly and mind-numbingly commonsensical, almost as bad as reminding you not to leave without your passport. I don't think anyone needs to be told "If you're taking a long journey, never take a dump on a bus…especially if it doesn’t have a restroom!" OK, I just made that up, but it's better advice than most of what you'll find in this book. The whole pamphlet is like one of those corny leadership posters with a photo of a guy climbing a mountain, or a kitten hanging from a tree branch and ...more
Alex Pyatetsky
Nov 10, 2014 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
Javier Lorenzana
Jan 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: to-be
"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page" - Augustine

Great lessons on wealth, time, simplicity, learning, spirituality, and adventure. It's about so much more than travel.

Vagabonding is about being a student of daily life. Much philosophy, very meta. Great kickoff for 2021.


Some Quotes

Wealth is found not in what you own, but in how you spend your time. A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.

The biggest challenge in emb
Nov 19, 2014 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.
Mar 27, 2012 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
Sarah K
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was phennomal, it is one of the best books Ive read in a while! It inspired me to travel the world more and not be so worried about life and money. It made me realize that if one of your passions is traveling, than just start taveling. All you need is a backpack to travel! It gave some really great tips on travleing! One of my hobbies is traveling so I really enjoyed this book! This book was really well written and included some great inforamtion! I recommand this book to who ever like ...more
Mel Luna
Dec 18, 2007 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. ...more
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2019
I know it sounds cheesy to talk about the ways in which travel can influence and change you, but it really can and does, especially if you do so with a certain mindset. I believe that this book highlights the type of mindset that is beneficial to have when travelling, particularly for long periods of time, and is a quick read for anyone interested in doing so.

“The wonder is that we can see these trees and not wonder more.”
Scott Dinsmore
Jul 09, 2009 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
Sean Tordecillas
Jun 21, 2022 rated it it was amazing
even though the book is written in an almost idealistic manner and has its slight repetitiveness, this is still one of the most eye-opening books i’ve read this year!! i read this per the recommended “restricted reading list” from tim ferriss and i can see why he has found it profound and impactful to his life. i can’t wait to apply potts’ travel advice in the real world and can update my review after that experience. what i liked the most about this book is how it gives you advice and links on ...more
Aniket Samant
May 22, 2021 rated it liked it
A nice book filled with plenty of good advice and suggestions for travelling without a definite agenda in mind. In particular it's refreshing to read excerpts from various writers old and new on this topic and also some specific descriptions of peculiar places the author has visited. Having had a really short vagabonding stint in Vietnam I could highly relate to most of the points raised in the book!

However, the book is primarily from an American perspective and may not be completely relatable t
Aug 16, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Stated simply, this book is life changing. Common sense abounds in this short, concise, and comprehensive look at the life of an extended traveler. Not only does it include information on finding places to stay and eat, but also the deeper impact of long term, low maintenance, traveling. From now on this book will always be on my shelf and one of my go to buys for others. It fully addresses the mindset, logistics, finances and emotional needs of the vagabonder hopeful. I’m so thankful to Goodrea ...more
Renato Henriques
May 09, 2022 rated it really liked it
This book resonated with me in ways hard to describe. The author was able to put in words some emotions and thoughts that are so personal to me that I kinda felt that in some ways he was able to get into my mind :)

I would say this book is about two topics: the philosophy behind traveling and practical tips on how to long term travel in a fulfilling way.

While some of the practical tips still hold true to this day (specially, the big three: be respectful, be aware, be open minded), the vast majori
Jan 31, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good, informative, and inspiring, but felt a bit repetitive at times. Plus, majority of the online resources shared in the book are outdated now. Still, fairly enjoyed it and have definitely gained a deeper insight into the ins and outs of the nomadic lifestyle because of this book.

Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
part philosophical view on how a journey, exploration or life should be prepared for, live, enjoyed and reflected upon,
part how-to guide for would-be vagabonders

perfect blend of idealism and practicality and none of the rarified mysticism I feared and had associated with the idea of 'dropping out to travel the world and find yourself'

touches on stoicism ,asceticism, mindfulness, cultural awareness, readiness, willingness to to take chances...

each section includes extensive notes on online resou
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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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