is the best travel book
I just finished Rolf Potts’ book,Vagabonding, An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-term World Travel, and I’ve never been more excited to travel in my life. Want to know why? Mr. Potts speaks realistically, yet optimistically, about traveling slow and truly experiencing all the world has to offer. This book is infinitely quotable, but I have a few main take-aways I want to share with you. I’ve paired each thought with a quote from the book. Enjoy!
It’s authentically endorsed
One incredible trip, especially a long-term one, can change the rest of your life. This book changed my life…changed my life completely and I wish the same for you.
It shows the lifestyle is deceptively attainable
If there’s one thing that Potts wants to hammer home in Vagabonding, it’s that most people, Americans specifically, view travel in the wrong way. Travel, specifically long-term travel, has more to do with your outlook than your wallet. Disregard how social media icons that you see on Instagram appear, it’s not about posing on a white, sandy beach or staring thoughtfully at a waterfall (guilty). It’s about taking your time to truly observe and be present in your surroundings. To make friends with locals and fellow backpackers alike. Creating these connections and forging these memories takes presence of mind, not an abundance of cash. As Potts eloquently puts it,
The more we associate experience with cash value, the more we think that money is what we need to live. And the more we associate money with life, the more we convince ourselves that we’re too poor to buy our freedom.
I’m currently struggling with that thought now. I’ve saved up a significant chunk of money in order to take this trip around the world. Even knowing what I have can potentially last me for an entire year, I have the fear that it’s not enough. In a sense, it’s a fear of failure. I fear that I won’t be able to make the trip last long enough due to reckless spending, naive mistakes, or having an accident. Reading Vagabonding not only got me incredibly excited for this trip, it also helped put those fears to rest.
It helps adjust your attitude
That’s where Vagabonding shines. Potts tells of the magical feeling of connecting with a complete stranger and making a lifelong friend. He effusively writes of the joys of being in full control of your day; one where you can simply sit in a park and observe people going about their day-to-day lives. Travel and adventure aren’t always doing as much as you can at all times. On the contrary, it’s about slowly realizing that you’ve had the most valuable currency all along: time. That’s vagabonding’s true gift.
Vagabonding is an attitude—a friendly interest in people, places, and things that make a person an explorer in the truest, most vivid sense of the word. Vagabonding is not a lifestyle, nor is it a trend. It’s just an uncommon way of looking at life—a value adjustment from which action naturally follows. And, as much as anything, vagabonding is about time—our only real commodity—and how we choose to use it.
It changes your approach to work
Once we realize that time is the one thing we all have but can’t make more of, your priorities begin to shift. Buying another expensive coffee, going out for drinks, and collecting more superfluous items becomes less attractive. Once your priorities shift, your attitude towards your job shifts as well. It stops becoming a grind that you (might) dislike and starts becoming a means to an end. You’re working to accumulate money in order to be free and live your true life. Makes sitting at your desk sound more bearable, right?
Work is how you settle your financial and emotional debts—so that your travels are not an escape from your real life but a discovery of your real life.
Finally, it emphasizes not waiting
Most people are afraid to give up their lives and leave. For good reason, it’s a terrifying prospect. For me, I’ve lived in South Florida my entire life. Hell, I haven’t lived further than 15 minutes away from my family. My entire life existed within a 30-mile radius, which is the primary reason why it’s taken me almost 5 years to get up the nerve to take this trip around the world. If there’s one thing that I can impress upon you with this article, it’s this: don’t wait. There will always be an excuse and, if you’re not proactive, it’ll be easy to keep putting it off. I’ll end with a quote that’s stuck with me from the first time I read Vagabonding: