Friday, April 8, 2011



Travel guru Rolf Potts shares advice for long term backpackers everywhere.


This is a how-to guide on the art of taking extended periods of time to travel, otherwise known as vagabonding. Potts writes about living simply back home so that you can wander around the developing parts of the world, seeing the sights off the beaten path and having serendipitous encounters with locals and travelers the world over. This might be for 6 weeks or 2 years, but the idea is that you are taking the time to truly experience the world, rather than just rushing through it.

The book is full of colorful stories and references to Potts' adventures. It was inspiring and definitely made me feel lots of travel envy. That being said, the particular type of travel that Potts' describes is not for everyone. He thrives on not having a plan, simply going wherever the traveling spirit takes him. I have done my share of weekend trips, carrying only a backpack and staying in youth hostels, but otherwise my own travels have involved settling down in one place for an extended period of time. I would love to be able to do the sort of travel that Potts advocates, but I also like to plan ahead. In Hong Kong I feel like I am a part of the city because I have a job and an apartment and I am not just wandering through. I suppose I learn different sorts of things about the people and the city this way than I would as a serious vagabonder.

One of the great things about this book is that Potts draws from his experiences to remind you of all the things you might not have thought of if you are considering a long term trip, like how to set your affairs in order at home and things not to bring along. The book includes extensive lists of resources (books, websites, etc), although someone who is planning a long term wander has probably been able to find most of those on Google. This is a book that is most useful for its inspiration, and Rolf's assertion that this type of travel really is possible.


Rolf Potts' website, which is chock full of resources for travelers and travel writers


I paid $9.99 for the Kindle edition. It is currently listed at $11.99.


When you travel do you prefer to wander where the spirit leads or to have a plan of action? Why?


  1. +JMJ+

    What I'd love to have is a knowledgeable guide. A plan I make on my own--at a great distance from the place I am to visit--is bound to be touristy. And although I'm a pantser when it comes to many things, I'd rather not risk messing up what could be my most magical holiday! A guide who knows the local scene well would be wonderful.

    (A friend of mine will be visiting me in August. She doesn't have a set itinerary and I don't have much of a plan, but I do want to show her a certain historical island that stole my heart when I saw it for the first time last year. So you can say that the spirit has led me to make that plan of action, as a guide, where my friend is concerned!)

  2. When I travel I like to have a list of places to eat pastries and drink good coffee, and then let the spirit lead from there. :)

    A friend gave me Vagabonding the month before my husband and I left England and it was actually a great reassurance to read as we packed for the unknown. Well, moderately unknown. If anything his encouragement to live simply eased the pain of having to sell/ give away a great majority of our possession!

  3. I definitely agree that it is nice to have someone to show you around a place. It gives you a really personal experience of the place. You may not 'see everything' but that isn't always the goal of traveling.

    Alisha, I'm glad to hear that this was an encouraging book for you. It kinda gets you excited about starting fresh, rather than needing to be nervous about it.


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