If you ever dreamt of travelling around the world for fun, you will like Rolf Pott’s book Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel. I first read of Rolf Pott in Tim Ferris’ book The Four Hour Work Week. “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. Tim made a video promoting this book. I found a transcript of the video,it’s pretty cool. You can watch the original video under.
“There’s a story that comes from the tradition of the Desert Fathers, who lived in the wastelands of Egypt about 1700 years ago. In the tale, couple of monks named Theodore and Lucius shared the acute desire to go out and see the world. Since they’d made vows of contemplation, however, this was not something they were allowed to do. So, to satiate their wanderlust, Theodore and Lucius learned to “mock their temptations” by relegating their travels to the future. When the summertime came, they said to each other, “We will leave in the winter.” When the winter came, they said, “We will leave in the summer.” They went on like this for over fifty years, never once leaving the monastery or breaking their vows.
Most of us, of course, have never taken such vows — but we choose to live like monks anyway, rooting ourselves to a home or a career and using the future as a kind of phony ritual that justifies the present. In this way, we end up spending (as Thoreau put it) “the best part of life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it.” We’d love to drop all and explore the world outside, we tell ourselves, but the time never seems right. Thus, given an unlimited amount of choices, we make none. Settling into our lives, we get so obsessed with holding on to our domestic certainties that we forget why we desired them in the first place.
Vagabonding is about gaining the courage to loosen your grip on the so-called certainties of this world. Vagabonding is about refusing to exile travel to some other, seemingly more appropriate time of your life. Vagabonding is about taking control of your circumstances instead of passively waiting for them to decide your fate.
Thus, the question of how and when to start vagabonding is not really a question at all. Vagabonding starts now. Even if the practical reality of travel is still months or years away, vagabonding begins the moment you stop making excuses, start saving money, and begin to look at maps with the narcotic tingle of possibility. From here, the reality of vagabonding comes into sharper focus as you adjust your worldview and begin to embrace the exhilarating uncertainty that true travel promises.
Vagabonding is not a merely a ritual of getting immunizations and packing suitcases. Rather, it’s the ongoing practice of looking and learning, of facing fears and altering habits, of cultivating a new fascination in people and places. This attitude is not something you can pick up at the airport counter with your boarding pass; it’s a process starts at home. It’s a process by which you first test the waters that will pull you to wonderful new places.”