I read Vagabonding a few months ago because in the back of Tim Ferris’ The 40 Hour Work Week, he mentioned it was a book he always goes back to for inspiration to travel. When I read it then, it didn’t really mean a whole lot to me. I had always liked the idea of traveling, but never had thought about where exactly I would go or what I would do.
The author, Ralf Potts, suggests picking up everything and going, even if you’re not sure of where you want to go – something I figured I cannot do, seeing as I’m still in the middle of completing my four years at University.
Fast forward a couple months, and here I am – still in University. Except, instead of thinking of world travel as some esoteric activity that I’m too young or too poor to partake in, I am now leaving for Colombia in a few weeks for a minimum of six months.
Now, whether or not reading Vagabonding and really digesting the mantras and the lessons that Rolf Potts has to offer played some sort of sub-conscious role, I can’t say. But I can say that it has, and continues to be, a source of inspiration and justification for picking up everything and leaving the comfort of home for half a year.
Potts does a fine job of assessing all the reasons why most everyday people think they cannot travel. He suggests we spend our income on monthly bills for things we do not need, thus limit our travel to those one-week all-inclusive visits to (insert typical vacation destination).
I’ll be the first to say that there is nothing wrong with spending a week on the beach with unlimited piña coladas in Puerto Vallarta, but that is not what Potts wants us to do. That is not what vagabonding is about. He wants us to realize that these one week vacations can easily be transformed into month long adventures, and essentially gives us the formula to make this happen.
Potts has literally traveled the world, and there is barely an area in the world that he does not make mention of that will some how help you in your decision to travel. Whether it is how to deal with crime when, not if, it occurs, or how to deal with the strange foods that will inevitably end with you becoming ill, he gives the reader a fundamental understanding of how to deal with certain events when they come across your path.
While I bought this book solely because of Tim Ferris’ suggestion in his own book, I still decided to read the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as I usually do. What I expected to be an array of four and five star ratings, turned out to be not so. There were a lot of one and two star ratings that really bashed the book. These negative ratings seem to have a misconception of what the book is about. Vagabonding is not about orthodox traveling. Potts even suggests in the book to avoid tourist destination; museums, major cities, and significant monuments.
As Potts suggests, the idea of vagabonding is not to see what everyone else goes to see, it’s to go where nobody else goes; to immerse yourself in the culture, understand the people, and embrace all that comes with being on the road less traveled.
If you’re looking for a typical book on travel, suggesting what beaches to go to and what sights to see, I don’t recommend this book to you. But if you’re looking for a how-to guide on how to start your vagabonding adventure and how to find deeper meaning while traveling, Potts’ Vagabonding is a fine starting place.