In an effort to start reading more, I downloaded the Kindle app on my phone a few months ago with a goal to knock out at least one book a month and continue with my RNR series here on the blog where I review a book each month. If you remember from May, I reviewed by friend Zoey’s book, Beauty in the Breakdown. If you haven’t already, go check it out now. It’s a good one.
One of the most recent books I finished is Vagabonding by Rolf Potts. I originally found out about this book through the Tim Ferriss Podcast, in which Rolf was being interviewed and was discussing the art of long term world travel. At the time I heard the episode, I was getting ready to make the move overseas but hadn’t gotten around to reading the book until now.
If someone were to ask you right now, “What would you do if fear, money, and responsibility weren’t a factor?”, what would your answer look like? 9/10 people would probably mention something about travel. Did you? Travel more. See more. Do more.
In Vagabonding, Potts talks about the choice of long term travel and the uncommon decision of steering away from a traditional lifestyle to take an extended amount of time to travel overseas. Many people have the perception that this is something reserved only for those who are wealthy, students abroad, or counter-cultural dropouts. When in actuality, wealth has nothing to do with spending an extended period of time overseas, but instead your decisions and choices are highly dependent on the freedom that comes with extended world travel.
“Vagabonding is about using the prosperity and possibility of the information age to increase your personal options instead of your personal possessions.”
Potts states that anyone armed with an independent spirit can achieve the dream of extended overseas travel. The number one factor holding people back from travel is money but this can easily be overcome with how you travel. Whether that be picking up jobs that will allow you to work from anywhere you live (teaching English), volunteering in exchange for accommodation (WWOOF), or doing freelance work that enables you to work remotely out of your laptop from wherever you want. During Potts time overseas, he was able to minimize his costs by staying in hostels, keeping his belongings to a bare minimum, and dining out in the least costly way possible. Regardless of how one chooses to spend their long term travel, what they do need to have is an open mind, flexibility, and ability to adapt to new situations.
“On a basic level, there are three general methods to simplifying your life: stopping expansion, reining in your routine, and reducing clutter.”
Vagabonding means living a more simplified life in all aspects. Having gone to Italy for a year, I had to learn how to adjust quickly to living in a home with no AC, not being able to purchase the luxury items I had before, such as clothes and makeup as often, got rid of my car, etc. During this time, I adopted a minimal way of living and having done so made me feel more free than ever before since so many of the physical things that held me glued to a single place were now gone.
And last but not least, leaving you with my favorite quote from the book…
“Those who visit foreign nations, but associate only with their own countrymen, change their climate, but not their customs. They see new meridians, but the same men; and with heads as empty as their pockets, return home with traveled bodies, but untraveled minds.”
In conclusion, I think spending an extended amount of time overseas was an eye-opener for me and one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It helped me put down my guard and let go of the fear of the unknown. The humbling experience of learning another language, making new friends, and getting acquainted to the customs of a new country, let alone a new continent, are both frightening and exhilarating at the same time. Extended overseas travel is not for everyone, but those who do find the joy in it are bound to fall in love with it, as I have.
Have you read Vagabonding or recommend any similar books? If so, let me know in the comments below.
All my love,