Hey reddit,

My name is Rolf Potts, I’m a travel writer who has written for National Geographic, The New Yorker, Outside, the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, and the Travel Channel, among others. My travels have taken me around the world, including a six week stretch (12 countries and 34,000 miles) with no luggage or bags of any kind.

I’m perhaps best known for promoting the ethic of independent travel, and my book on the subject, Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel.

This week I partnered with Tim Ferriss (author of 4 Hour Workweek, 4 Hour Body, 4 Hour Chef) to release Vagabonding as an audiobook on Audible.

You can check out the first few chapters and a bunch of other goodies for free over on BitTorrent.

I’d love to chat about anything you’d like--long term travel, writing, culture, whatever is on your mind.

Proof

AMA!

[Sorry -- seem to have accidentally deleted a few questions. Feel free to re-ask if you don't see your question there!]

Comments: 279 • Responses: 101  • Date: 

lifeofpang80 karma

Your book has traveled with me to over 4 different continents over the past 6 years. (Sort of like my good-luck traveling bible) I had known about your book for sometime before I actually read Tim's book (the 4HWK). When I finally discovered Tim's book - I KNEW you two would HAVE to collaborate sometime! So this is awesome news. Did you and Tim actually know each other before you both wrote your books? It's funny how fluid my life combined the two of your works together after all these years. Though, I must say that your book was symbolic in my breakout on becoming a Digital Nomad - combining business, passion, and traveling all in one.

I have a little story that I want to share with you about your book. I actually can't believe I have the chance to share this story with you (super happy I came across your post on reddit):

After 6+ years of travels with your book I was in the Cayman Islands sun tanning and reminiscing on how awesome life is... when this guy showed up on the beach and started talking to me and noticed your book beside me. We actually had a long conversation about it that day. For some reason I felt like it was time to let go of the book so I actually ended up giving it away to him.

2 months later, the guy tracked me down on the internet and actually flew all the way from Germany (where he was from) to Toronto, Canada to date me. This dude is now the love of my life. We've been together for 2 years now and we're now BOTH building a lifestyle business together that have taken us from Toronto, Munich, Bangkok, Bali, Kathmandu, and Zurich. And I got my book back;-)

So THANK YOU Rolf for being one of the first to ever write such a book as this! Everyone on Reddit, live your dreams, traveling is the best school there is, seize the moment, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!!

rolf_potts17 karma

That's an awesome story -- thanks for sharing!

happycj16 karma

I am a big fan of Vagabonding, Rolf! Thank you SO MUCH for writing it!

I'm an American that moved overseas in the 1990's and had a brilliant time living in Eastern Europe. Your book helped me make the most of my decade overseas, and I know for a fact that several of my friends made Big Trips due to my gifting them your book.

I've always found that a smile gets you further than any knowledge of the local language.

So now to my question: The last decade+ has seen a lot of changes in the political climate, especially the view of Americans. Have you noticed a tangible change in the way Americans are viewed overseas in the last decade? Are we still kinda of funny bumblefucks, or are we now seen as more dangerous?

I'm getting ready to travel more, and this has concerned me a bit. Thank you for your thoughts!

rolf_potts15 karma

Glad you enjoyed my book -- thanks for gifting it to others!

I agree that a smile can get you a long way in a place where you might not speak the language. As does general good will, and a willingness to speak even a half-dozen phrases of the local language. People like it when you try.

As for your main question, people have always thought Americans were funny bumblefucks. I mean, like, before America was even a country Europeans would travel to the US and look down their noses, or poke fun at the Americans visiting their shores. This last decade has seen an unpopular American war(s), but then so did the Vietnam era. Dealing, as an American, with people who don't care for Americans has always been an aspect of travel as an American. It's actually a good chance to be patient and articulate and represent your country well. And don't worry, the people who are most derisive of Americans on the road are Brits and Kiwis and Aussies and Canadians and other Americans. The Cubans and Syrians and Swedes and Koreasn and Malawians and Laotians -- i.e. the people who live in the places you go -- are usually happy to see you.

So now to my question: The last decade+ has seen a lot of changes in the political climate, especially the view of Americans. Have you noticed a tangible change in the way Americans are viewed overseas in the last decade? Are we still kinda of funny bumblefucks, or are we now seen as more dangerous?

happycj2 karma

That's great to hear, Rolf! Thank you so much!

My experiences were pretty much universally positive (Serbian border guards notwithstanding), and it is good to hear that life on the ground continues pretty much as it has.

Politicians and the news media do enjoy scaring their constituencies, don't they? :-)

rolf_potts3 karma

Indeed, fear sells. And it's amazing how travel can become a process of un-learning that fear. It's good to be cautious on the road, of course, but it's amazing how safe travel can be, even in countries that are supposedly dangerous.

Frajer13 karma

Do you think independent traveling is feasible economically for most people and if so how?

rolf_potts16 karma

Independent travel is feasible for most anyone in the developed world. As much as economics it's about mindset -- about living more simply and letting the savings pay off in free time. It also helps to travel in less expensive parts of the world. There are parts of Asia and South America and the Middle East where you can travel full-time for much less than it costs to live day to day live in an American city.

NEVERSEENTHEINTERNET8 karma

[deleted]

rolf_potts7 karma

I've always saved up my money in advance. A "nest egg", as it were, for travel. It's amazing how much money you can save at home by cutting out Starbucks or that weekly round at the pub at home. That lump of money can go a lot further in many parts of the world than if you were saving it to buy something at home.

But people also do "digital nomad" work from the road. I.e. a small income stream that you can maintain on a contract basis while traveling. There are lots of blogs and websites about this.

MyTeaCorsics2 karma

Could you expand on this? How do I find those parts easily? What's the best way to go through them?

Arggghhhhhhh2 karma

What parts? Do you mean cheap parts of the world?

rolf_potts7 karma

You'll get a sense for this in a day of online research (and Tim Leffel has a terrific book called "World's Cheapest Destinations). Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, parts of Latin America will come up again and again as you look for inexpensive destinations.

But it's hard to internalize until you actually do it. If in doubt go to, say, Thailand for a couple weeks/months and wander around. Experiencing it first hand is the best way to appreciate it -- and the lessons you learn there can be applied in many other parts of the world.

silderman11 karma

Hey Rolf!! Huge fan. Thank you so much for doing the AMA.

My question is this-- Is there anything you wrote in Vagabonding that you no longer believe or is no longer relevant?

Anything you wish you included?

LOVE the book. Thank you!

rolf_potts14 karma

Well I just revisited the book in earnest when I was reciting it for the audio edition, and I'm happy to say that it still resonates true for me. I took out a details alluding to bygone travel technologies (post restante, CD-ROMs, etc), but the core advice is as relevant as ever.

Michelerae10 karma

Hi Rolf! I'm a 24-year-old writer, traveler and soon-to-be expat. Totally fascinated by what you do - can you share what your most valuable experience has been in terms of developing and advancing your travel writing career?

rolf_potts8 karma

The most valuable experience was most certainly failure! Seriously. Failure can teach you a lot. For me, it was trying to write a travel book about traveling across the USA in my early 20s. I never could interest agents or publishers in it (and, looking at the writing years later, I can see why), but I learned so much how writing and reportage, how to hone your voice and how to keep the audience interested. The failure of that book depressed me, but I dusted off, moved to Korea, and kept traveling and writing. Eventually that writing found success, and once the success began in small doses, my career grew quickly.

In a way, that early failure was a better education than any graduate school could have provided.

masonvd2 karma

Did you teach English when you moved to Korea? I've been wanting to move there for a while now and can't seem to find any way to do it besides English teaching which I'm neither qualified for or interested in doing.

rolf_potts2 karma

Yes I taught English there. I enjoyed it, ultimately, but it's not the kind of thing to do if you're not interested in it.

willmilner8 karma

Hi Rolf, first, I consistently cite 'Vagabonding' as the book that has the biggest impact on me as a person. My question is, as someone with Type 1 diabetes, a sickness that requires lots of medicine, what has your experience been in medical care in the different parts of the world you have been to? Has it been fairly easy to access medicine and treatment in most of the world? This is definitely my biggest obstacle for me in travelling the world.

rolf_potts4 karma

See my reply to aiming-low above! Not sure about diabetes specifically, but in general I've rarely had problems with access to medical care.

aiming-low8 karma

Do you have medical insurance? Thats recognized worldwide? If you've had a couple situations where you needed medical attention abroad, how did you handle it logistically and money-wise? Thanks.

rolf_potts15 karma

I have medical insurance, and it applies to most international settings, especially catastrophic care and evacuation.

But, interestingly enough, the easiest option for medical care overseas is just to pay locally, since it's usually dirt cheap. Seriously, few places in the world are as insanely expensive when it comes to health care. That's why people fly overseas for medical treatment, since they can get surgery AND a recovery vacation for much less than the price of the surgery in the US.

When I had giardia in India the doctor and medicine cost me $1.35. I got an all-day checkup (treadmill cardio, ultrasound, body fluids -- everything you could possibly check) at a first rate hospital in Bangkok for less than $300. A couple years ago I got sick in Paris and avoided the doctor for a week because I was in this American mindset of avoiding the doctor at all costs. When I finally gave in and visited the French doctor, the consultation and medicine together cost me $60.

So the best answer is to take out catastrophic insurance, but may out of pocket for 95% of your medical expenses, since they're so cheap overseas.

williamtbash8 karma

Reading your book inspired me to take a great 9 month trip around the world. A good portion was in Southeast Asia. When I took the trip I wanted to get traveling out of my system, since I never had before. Now that I'm back, all I want to do is go on another big trip. Thanks for a great read. What are you up to these days? Any upcoming big adventures?

rolf_potts8 karma

I know that feeling exactly. When I was 23 I traveled North America for 8 months, living out of a van and having these great adventures. That's been almost two decades now, and in many ways I haven't fully come home from that trip.

pkroger7 karma

Thanks for doing the IAmA, I'm a big fan! I loved Vagabonding and Marco Polo (I liked the footnotes as much as the main stories).

  1. As an academic who loves to travel, I’m curious to know how you are conciliating your new job at Yale with traveling.

  2. Have you thought about having some TV or YouTube travel show? (I loved the No Baggage Challenge) There are lots of travel shows today, but as you noticed in “Around the World in 80 Hours (of Travel TV)” many of them are not really about travel.

rolf_potts3 karma

Thanks -- the endnotes were my favorite part of writing Marco Polo Didn't Go There (and the most useful, I think, for people wanting to learn more about the art and craft of travel writing). As for your questions:

  1. I can't really mix travel and my gig at Yale. When I'm teaching at Yale, that's where I am. But as someone who never even considered going to an elite university when I was young, I find my gig at Yale to be an adventure in and of itself. It's a pretty amazing school. And, since I only teach there four months of the year, I have the rest of the year to travel.

  2. I've thought about TV, and in fact I've done some hosting and commentary, but as you infer, most travel shows aren't really about travel. And I'd reckon they never will be. Travel shows are more about entertainment than evoking the actual experience of travel. Which isn't to say that there aren't good ones; it's just that TV by nature is counter to the private and spontaneous nature of travel. I wrote about this at some length while doing a stunt that involved watching the Travel Channel for 80 waking hours:

http://www.gadling.com/2011/02/27/around-the-world-in-80-hours-of-travel-tv/

jtkme6 karma

How many total years have you been vagabonding ? Do you meet travelers whom have been gone too long and have lost perspective?

rolf_potts8 karma

I've been vagabonding in various degrees since 1994, first in North America, and later in Asia and points beyond. The longest full-time vagabonding stint went just short of three years. Since then I've done a mix of a few months traveling, a few months at home. Everyone does this a little bit differently. Some people are satisfied after a couple months on the road, other people keep going to 5 years or more. The secret is to keep it personal. I've met plenty of travelers who've gone on too long -- i.e. to the point where it's less fun, and kind of "samey" -- and most of them are still at it because they keep comparing themselves to other travelers. Don't compare yourself to other travelers; find what works for you, push your own comfort zones, and travel on your own terms.

godneedsbooze5 karma

Really wish I had a question but I just wanted to.say that I thoroughly enjoyed vagabonding. I am currently.prepping for a rather large trip of my own and your book showed me that my fevered dream of seeing the world was totally possible. Thank you mr plotts

rolf_potts2 karma

Happy vagabonding!

redditmarmot5 karma

Hi Rolf—huge congrats on hitting the Amazon bestsellers list, the Tim Ferriss marketing machine seems to be firing on all cylinders! I've got four questions for you (sorry to be greedy):

  1. I love that your approach to travel is less about pre-planning activities and more about adopting a certain state of mind, for example you suggested that the simple willingness to improvise whilst travelling is more vital, in the long run, than research. How do you increase the odds of finding something interesting or worth writing about ahead of time? Do you have any tips for maximising these serendipitous experiences whilst on the road?

  2. In your 'Indie Travel Manifesto', one of the most popular topics was 'Options over possessions'—what sparked your own decision to stop focusing on accumulating more stuff and instead accumulate life experiences?

  3. Reading ‘Marco Polo Didn’t Go There’, I laughed hard when I read that many of your 'travel stories begin as an attempt to impress pretty women’! For my benefit the benefit of any unattached vagabonders, where in the world have you had the most success charming beautiful women?

  4. You encourage vagabonders to, ‘dare to play games with their day’ and to avoid setting limits on what is and isn’t worthy of their time. eg. indulging in ‘half baked flirtation with alternate futures’—what is the most interesting story that never happened to you?

Thanks!

rolf_potts4 karma

Ah yes, I think I accidentally deleted my reply to this earlier. Short answer: Serendipity comes once you make yourself willing to fail, to make mistakes. Too often in life we insulate ourselves from the possibility of failure and the unfamiliar. Travel is a chance to confront fears and risk foolishness and find amazing things in the process.

As for my decision to live for experiences instead of things, it started when I was younger and didn't have many things. As I got older I realized that experiences were more valuable to me than the short-term rush I got from buying "stuff." Since then I've tried to balance my life in favor of time-wealth -- that is, spending time and money in such as way that it pays out in life experiences.

Thanks for reading -- I can tell you know my work well. And I was stoked to see Vagabonding up on the bestseller list, thanks to Tim!

picturesouth5 karma

[deleted]

rolf_potts15 karma

The first step is to decide you're going to do it. Stop making excuses, start saving money, start looping at maps and making plans. Even if you don't physically leave your home for another couple of years, vagabonding starts the moment you start altering your lifestyle in such a way (simplifying, saving money) that makes the freedom to travel possible. I went through the same process -- I didn't even have a passport till I was 25, so there, plenty of time for you.

sddulaney5 karma

Hello Mr. Rolf,

I am curious as to your thoughts on the seeming race to acquire stamps in passports. I see daily things such as "youngest to go to every country".

It seems a waste of opportunity.

So, therefore, my question is, how do you balance wanting to see a lot, as well as truly see where you are? How do you balance that?

rolf_potts10 karma

I think one never really gets away from that delirious urge to go everywhere and see everything -- but it's important to realize that this urge can lead to an inversion of what you're really after. I.e. people who try and go everywhere and see everything actually end up seeing very little. They travel as consumers instead of wanderers.

The best way to combat this (and I fight these urges myself, all the time!) is to force yourself to slow down. Don't go to Europe for two months to see 10 countries; go to Europe for two months to see one country. Don't travel the world for a year to see all the continents; travel for a year in one continent (or even better, a part of that continent, since even a portion of a country has more than you can experience in a year).

This goes against a lot of the compulsions we have as Americans, of course, but being "efficient" isnt necessarily the best way to experience distant lands. Instead just wander, get lost, slow don't, find a place you love and stay there until you can't stand it any more. Play games with your journey and keep learning. This is way better than collecting passport stamps.

psgrn75 karma

[deleted]

rolf_potts3 karma

Yes, still teaching the course in Paris; more info here:

http://pariswritingworkshop.com/

It's an amazing, intensive month of writing, and worth it if you can afford it.

As for moving overseas, people do it all the time, at age 34 or older. It's just a matter giving it a try, and being willing to improvise and learn as you go. Definitely a risk worth taking, if that's where your dreams lie.

indeeds5 karma

I waved at you last week in the street. Why didn't you wave back?!?!?!

rolf_potts4 karma

What were you doing at the Lutheran church in Assaria, Kansas?

johny-drama5 karma

Hey Rolf! Just read your book and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm taking my first solo trip this summer for three months and your book really helped encourage me to travel before I graduate university. Vagabonding was really concise but the only thing I feel may now be outdated was the topic of using internet cafes to communicate with couchsurfing hosts/communicate home. Are internet cafes still a big thing in the world now that essentially everyone in first world nations carries a smartphone?

rolf_potts3 karma

Glad you liked the book!

You still find internet cafes, especially in the developing world, but you're right that it's often easier in the developed world to use a smartphone or find wireless for your laptop. This is great, so long as you can learn to lay off the connectivity and enjoy the place you're visiting.

AreYouGoingToEatThat5 karma

After reading your book I started saving and in 3 weeks I'm starting a 9 month trip around the world, and I'm taking your book with me. I don't really have a question; just wanted to say thanks.

rolf_potts2 karma

Awesome -- happy vagabonding!

n23khan4 karma

Rolf, I read your book before leaving on a one-way ticket to South America. Thanks for writing it (and the Marco Polo)!

Question: What is your favorite highlight of your travels? and 2: What is it about travelling that inspires you?

rolf_potts7 karma

Glad to enjoyed my books!

The thing about travel that inspires me is that it's a continual source of surprise and wonder and raw experience. Even if the experiences are difficult, I feel like I'm alive and connected to my environment in ways that can be hard to achieve amid the habit-driven rhythms of home.

I don't have a single favorite highlight -- there are too many! One of my favorites, I guess, was the first step of my first vagabonding trip around North America when I was 23. I was so grateful to be doing it, so excited at the possibilities. The journey hasn't let me down!

revzblove4 karma

Thanks for the AMA. I've personally traveled quite a bit around Europe, Africa and Asia and admire your zeal for indie traveling. I always find it easy to assimilate with local cultures with a sense of adventure and some genuine kindness. My question is what city or country that you have visited surprised you the most be it with their food, music or overall culture. I know mainland china really surprised me in a good way with amazing food and truly beautiful people.

rolf_potts4 karma

I agree that mainland China can be amazing. I always enjoy just pointing to random items on an indecipherable Chinese-language menus and seeing what comes out of the kitchen. China is always an adventure this way.

Interestingly, Europe might have provided me with the biggest surprises, at least early on. Unlike most Americans I didn't start my travel to Europe -- I went to Asia instead, and lived/traveled in various corners of Asia for three years before setting foot on European soil. Thus I think I can kind of a snob about Europe; I didn't think it could be as amazing as all those wild corners of Asia. But of course Europe was amazing, and its food and sights and people lived up to the reputation. I mean I'd heard about the food in France my whole life, but it wasn't till I got there that I realized they really have the art of eating and producing food figured out. You can go to almost any market in the country and find food that was growing in the nearby French countryside the week before. Try that at an American supermarket!

icedaged4 karma

no luggage. can you explain this some more?

what are the most typical items people pack that they probably don't need to?

OH! and any suggestions on dining in Buenos AIres? Going next week!

rolf_potts9 karma

My trip around the world with no luggage was a stunt and an experiment -- was it was also a vivid lesson in how little you need to pack when you travel to the far side of the earth. I basically had some small toiletries and light change of clothes in my pockets, and I rarely found myself wanting more. I laptop would have been nice, I guess, but that's mainly because I was blogging the trip in real time on my iPod.

So to your question, most people pack too many changes of clothes, too many gadgets and travel trinkets that they rarely use. I say pack enough to keep yourself clothed for a few days, plus some toiletries and maybe a smart phone with some books on it. Everything else you don't need, or you can find en route. Try it sometime. People don't believe me when I say it's this simple, but -- unless you're a really high-maintenance person -- it is.

Good luck in BA!

rolf_potts4 karma

I have to sign off now --thanks for your questions, everyone. And happy vagabonding to you all!

justinglow3 karma

Do you prefer to drink African elephant shit tea, or Asian elephant shit tea?

rolf_potts6 karma

Good eye -- you know my oeuvre well!

I've only had African elephant shit tea. And, for the most part, it tasted like shit. So I confess I'm not actively seeking to try the Asian variety!

jimvermin3 karma

Hola Rolf. Old acquaintance in LA here. What are you working on now?

rolf_potts1 karma

Teaching a class at Yale, working on some new book ideas, dreaming of more journeys!

wander7003 karma

I was fortunate enough to read Vagabonding years ago, before a monthlong trip to Germany. And I'm glad I did--it convinced me that it was possible to whittle down my multiple suitcases to a single backpack, which I did, and was perfectly fine. For someone raised by a mother who overpacks to an embarrassing degree, this was just the kind of eye-opener I needed.

The best part is that, having taken that trip, I came to realize maybe I didn't need as much stuff at home either.

So...thanks.

rolf_potts3 karma

Sounds like your experience perfectly illustrates a lot of what I suggest in Vagabonding. Awesome!

sea-dweller3 karma

Rolf-

I really enjoy your books. Do you spend much time back in Kansas these days? I am also from rural Kansas, but have managed to visit 60 some countries. I would think it would be hard to come back to the farm for very long after living on the road.

rolf_potts4 karma

Awesome! You don't always meet many Kansans on the road. I didn't grow up in rural Kansas -- I grew up in Wichita -- but interestingly enough I now have a house in rural Saline County. I going back there (and in fact I am there right now). An advantage of Kansas -- or a similar part of the country -- is that it's cheap and quiet to live here, a good place to save money and get writing done between journeys.

nyyou3 karma

[deleted]

rolf_potts8 karma

Tim Ferriss read my book Vagabonding many years ago, and he contacted me when he was writing The Four Hour Work Week. I actually introduced him to my agent, who turned the 4HWW down! (She's no longer my agent.) Since then Tim and I have stayed in touch. The audiobook partnership was his idea. Vagabonding inspired the travels that led to his books, so he wanted to help it find a wider audience. I thank him for that!

Magnus_ORily3 karma

like many I have always wanted to travel, for the first time in my life I am in a position to afford it. Is there a way to secure a job on return? I understand an adventure is risky at the best of times but I have spent so long to scramble together a decent existence. My plan has always been to acrew enough money that if I lost my job I could just disappear into the sunset armed with only a wallet and a smile only to return years later with new languages and badass harmonica skills. I need more assurances.

rolf_potts3 karma

If there's one thing the recent recession has taught us it's that even a job you think is permanent may not be. And of course life isn't permanent either, which is why if you have travel dreams you should work to make them come true.

Some people come home from a couple years on the road and get a new job immediately, others have a harder time. But I have yet to meet a vagabonder who's starved to death, or wished they'd spent those two years (or whatever) at home, even if it's hard to find work again on the return end. Some people even discover a truer calling while on the road, or find ways to become a "digital nomad", doing location-independent contract as they travel.

In the end, travel is worth the professional risk (and the professional risks are rarely as grim as you'd imagine).

hectex3 karma

Mr. Rolf Potts, your Vagabonding book inspired me to head over to Spain for nearly 2 weeks this summer. I want to hike the pilgrimage trail, "The Way of St.James." Heading there by the beginning of the last week of June so once I finish the trail (which is like an estimated 7 days), I can head over to Pamplona for the festivities; Running of the bulls and la Tomatina. Where would you recommend me staying? Areas to eat? I want to be that vagabonder I imagined while reading your book. Thanks for this awesome AMA!!

rolf_potts2 karma

That's a classic pilgrimage -- good luck! I don't know that I have many recommendations; better to follow your instincts and ask your fellow pilgrims!

rolf_potts3 karma

PS: Will return this evening to answer some more queries when I have a moment!

slunktoday3 karma

What's a unique place to go to that most people wouldn't think of? I don't care if it's nice. Just safe. And friendly to drinkers.

rolf_potts3 karma

The Great Plains and Upper Midwest of the USA! Seriously, people never think to get off the beaten path in America. But these areas are safe and friendly and by god people aren't afraid to drink with you there.

frederichenry3 karma

Heyo I did the No Baggage Challenge across India in a Rickshaw. Just saying hi! Can confirm it's absolutely the way to go. Though when you fly everyone thinks you're a little shady. "30 Days, no checked bags, no hand baggage? I see. Well you've been randomly selected for a secondary screening."

rolf_potts3 karma

Awesome! Most everyone I've met who's tried the no-luggage thing has enjoyed it.

mcflonomcfloonyloo2 karma

hi Rolf, what is the number 1 thing to be aware of when independently traveling?

rolf_potts5 karma

Slow down. Too many people try to do too much at once. If you can learn to slow down at the outset, your entire journey will improve exponentially.

The corollary to this is not to micromanage your itinerary, and be willing to go in new directions as serendipity presents itself.

hazlotu2 karma

Hey Rolf, if you had to make a quick estimate, what would you ballpark the cost of a vagabonding lifestyle (per week or month) in USD in different parts of the world? Latin America? South Asia? Middle East? Very curious, as I have about a year with which to do whatever I want.

rolf_potts5 karma

Ballparking is really tough because everyone has a different travel sensibility. In terms of cheapness, South Asia will be the cheapest, followed by the Middle East and Latin America. They're all a lot cheaper than North America or Europe. Given a choice I'd probably do Asia -- you can really stretch a dollar there -- though the Middle East is amazing and cheap as well.

themaachfag2 karma

I started reading your book a couple of days ago, and up until now it's been amazing! I have recently discovered what my way of life is, and I think your book will help me a lot with getting my head straight about my future plans. My question would be: what is the most awesome moment of your travels?

rolf_potts2 karma

Travel is full of too many awesome moments to narrow down! Seriously. You'll find out how once those future travels kick in. Good luck!

KanyeWest_AMA2 karma

How much money does your average trip cost?

rolf_potts3 karma

Depends on how and where you travel? Parts of Asia can be experienced for $1000 a month; parts of Europe for as much as 4 or 5 times that.

Raviente2 karma

[deleted]

rolf_potts3 karma

Anthony Bourdain does a nice job of evoking a sense of authenticity on this travel shows, but even then he does at a "meta" level, constantly remarking on the artifice of television. I haven't seen the Pilkington show, but I know about it. Travel TV is OK, but the actual act of travel is exponentially better, which is why I try and encourage people to make their travel dreams happen sooner rather than later.

MyTeaCorsics2 karma

Hi Rolf, I'm planning a trip this spring and I want to range pretty far from the USA. Where should I go that is difficult to get to without an extended amount of time? (I suspect this is going to be my last long-term trip for a long time). I expect to spend approximately 4 months abroad.

rolf_potts3 karma

Well I'm a big fan of Southeast Asia. Other people might recommend South America or Africa (which are great) but in my mind its hard to beat wandering through Thailand and Burma and Laos and Cambodia or Indonesia. India is terrific too. All those places have their challenges, but they are inexpensive, welcoming, amazing destinations.

vagabondhermit2 karma

Oh hey, I like that book. Where you traveling now?

rolf_potts3 karma

I'm at home at the moment, at my beloved cabin in Kansas. Was in Europe not to long ago; headed to Mexico and points beyond later this month.

perche2 karma

How do you wash and dry your clothes?

rolf_potts2 karma

In the sink and in the window! And if they aren't fully dry after the window, I just wear the clothes damp until they dry up. It's rarely a problem.

I also use washing services in cheaper countries. Just drop off the clothes in the morning and pick them up at the end of the day.

keyb2 karma

[deleted]

rolf_potts2 karma

This is a hard question, in part because so many cities are amazing (New York, Paris, Bangkok, Cairo, Jerusalem, I could go on) -- but also because I'm not fully a city person. I don't know if I could live full time in the city because I love country life as well.

BlackCab2 karma

No question, I just wanted to say thanks. I traveled through Europe this summer with your book in my (very small) bag. The experience changed my life.

rolf_potts2 karma

Glad to hear it!

TheSerpent2 karma

what do you think about the idea of just going for a year and never going back in the direction you came from, ever?

for a year.

rolf_potts2 karma

Sounds great. I'd reckon after that year you will have traveled back home the long way!

ajadams2 karma

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rolf_potts5 karma

I love David Foster Wallace's "Shipping Out", which is a hilarious recounting of his experience on a cruise ship. It has nothing to do with vagabonding, but it's a brilliant example of a writer evoking a certain sense of place/experience at an obsessive level.

As for writers, I've always been a fan of Tim Cahill, Paul Theroux, Pico Iyer. Pico's "Video Night in Kathmandu" is one of my early favorites. Patrick Leigh Fermor's "Time of Gifts" is amazing. There are a lot of good women travel writers out there too, from Sara Wheeler and Susan Orlean back to Freya Stark and Rebecca West.

I could go on at length about this. Happy to make more recommendations if need be!

Flambot2 karma

[deleted]

rolf_potts2 karma

Too tough to answer! And in the age of ebooks it's no longer an issue. I always like to go back to the classics, though, from The Bible to Shakespeare.

ionlyeatyellowbanana2 karma

So.. how do you go on and about to travel without luggage?

rolf_potts2 karma

A wealth of stories and resources online here:

http://rtwblog.com

bumptious962 karma

Rolf, with all of your experience traveling all over the world, what are your three favorite destinations?

rolf_potts2 karma

That's a common question, but it's too difficult to answer! I love a lot of places, including Kansas (my home state, which is far from a tourist destination).

So I try to make it so that my favorite destination is wherever I am at a given moment. This doesn't always work -- sometimes I'll be in New York in the winter and wish I was in Thailand -- but it's a good attitude to keep!

canucksfan19442 karma

Hey! Great book...when going to a new country or city what do you plan to get out of it? Or do you just chill, relax, and take it as it comes?

rolf_potts6 karma

I take it as it comes. I'm actually a proponent of pre-trip research and planning -- but I'm an even bigger proponent of throwing out all that planning once you discover something unexpected and amazing. Research your possibilities on the road, not your destiny; don't just take a trip, let it take you.

mead802 karma

Did you have the idea of writing a book before you started traveling, or after? Or were you approached by a publisher with the idea?

Did you write it while traveling, or after?

How long did it take to write?

rolf_potts5 karma

The idea for Vagabonding actually came from a page on my website, with a Random House editor found in the summer of 2001 and suggested I expand into a book. I may have been one of the earliest people to land a travel book contract from my own website.

Here's the back-story: At the time I was traveling full-time in Asia and Europe and the Middle East, writing a biweekly column of my tales for Salon.com. A lot of people would writing in asking how I was able to travel for so long, and eventually I posted the advice at RolfPotts.com. My advice tended to have a philosophical-existential bent, and I think that's what captured the attention of Random House. The book ended up having a lot of concrete and practical travel advice, but it remained a philosophical book at its core. It took 8 months to write, amid other, shorter writing assignments. I was living in Thailand at the time.

FringeVaginaSciences2 karma

[deleted]

rolf_potts2 karma

It's amazing how much of what feels "needed" isn't really needed. Seriously. Keep track of what you use regularly and throw everything else out. Too many times we pack "just in case" items, but those just in case moments never happen. And when they do, you can just buy what you need.

If you wan't to go full-on, try traveling with no bag at all and see what you really end up missing. Odds are it won't be much.

Im_manipulating_you2 karma

I am on SSI, which gives me a budget of $700 per month. Is it possible to travel around in so little?

rolf_potts2 karma

It's really a matter of where you go, and how disciplined you are with lifestyle simplicity. $700 per month isn't much, but you could probably live on this in parts of Asia, like India and Indonesia. Especially if you stay in one place and cook at home. I know a lot of people who've retired to warm, inexpensive parts of the world and live quite comfortably there.

nouvelfiasco2 karma

Have you ever met any women, particularly women of color, who do this as well? Has their experience differed from yours?

rolf_potts2 karma

If I'm not mistaken, Pang, who has a great post at the top of this page, is a WOC. She shared her travel blog above: http://lifeofpang.tumblr.com/

I dedicate several pages of Vagabonding to female travel issues, but to be honest I've met women as nearly as often as men on the vagabonding road. Women from places like Germany and Israel and New Zealand don't seem to be as intimidated by the prospect as many American women I've talked with (America seems to have more cultural anxieties about women in that way). Yet there are tons of American women out on the road too. My friend Lavinia Spalding edits a yearly anthology called "Best Women's Travel Writing," which is a great place to read about some of their tales.

As for women of color, you see them as much as any middle-class American demographic on the road, though interestingly you tend to see African-American women more in the Caribbean and African, Asian-American women in Asia, and so on. This makes sense, I guess, since there's a degree of comfort in traveling where people look like you, but going counterintuitive can be fun too. A Black American woman can get a lot of friendly curiosity in a place like Asia, and an Asian-American woman might find Latin America more comfortable than parts of Asia (where people will assume she can speak local languages and know local norms and get confused when she doesn't).

As for how female travel experiences differ, naturally a woman has to take more precautions on the road (I talk about this in Vagabonding), since even a friendly American "hello" can give men in some cultures the wrong idea. But women also have more opportunities. In the Middle East I never got to see much of the private life of Arab women, but my female fellow travelers had access to both male and female environments in that part of the world.

Ncurran19871 karma

Hi Rolf. I was wondering if you've ever been to Antartica before (mostly because I've always had a strange want to go there) and if not where is the most remote place you've visited that you'd recommend. Thank you

P.S. That audiobook trailer was amazing. Really well done. Good luck with it too

rolf_potts1 karma

I've always had the same strange desire to go there. I haven't been yet, but I did go to the Falkland Islands for National Geographic Traveler in '08, and was thus able to enjoy the wildlife and landscape.

Glad you liked the audiobook trailer!

TwinklingTulleTutu1 karma

[deleted]

rolf_potts1 karma

I did something very similar in 1994. That's how I got my start! Good luck to you and your uncle.

poonbanger1 karma

When are you gonna settle down, get married and have kids?

rolf_potts3 karma

Someday, perhaps! I already have a house in Kansas, which I love returning to.

Jaunee1 karma

Hey Rolf ! I'm an 18 years old girl who travelled alone for a month in europe and I'd like to do the same next year in India and then Europe again, travelling is my big passion. How do you think I can manage to earn money from that? How did you start?

rolf_potts2 karma

Almost any job can earn you travel funds, so long as you live simply and save your money. I once worked as a landscaper for 8 months to fund 8 months of travel. I also taught English overseas before I became a writer. The secret in every instance was just to save as much money as possible. This was easy and fun, as I just focused my spirit on all the amazing travel experiences to come.

Good luck on the road!

ghostinseashell1 karma

Rolf... thanks for doing this AMA. Just ordered your book.

rolf_potts2 karma

Thanks -- I hope you enjoy it!

BlizzBitesTheBigOne1 karma

not even a foldable toothbrush like Reacher?

rolf_potts2 karma

Oh I had a foldable toothbrush. I'm sure you can see it in this video:

http://www.rtwblog.com/2010/08/how-to-pack-for-a-journey-with-no-luggage/

trustmeimadoc1 karma

You didn't have a towel?

rolf_potts3 karma

Not on the no-baggage trip. Hotels and hostels and guesthouses tend to have towels. Even when vagabonding I don't take a towel. If I crash at a place that doesn't provide one, I use a t-shirt, or drip-dry.

trustmeimadoc3 karma

So you would argue with Douglas Adams's theory that:

"A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have (...) More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with

rolf_potts3 karma

Love Douglas Adams, but yes, I don't really require a towel.

Perhaps he meant it as a metaphor?

JohnThorDierks1 karma

Hey Rolf, read your book just a while ago. I've started planning. Wanted to say thanks for the tips, resources, and insight.

rolf_potts3 karma

Happy vagabonding!

Not_Growing_Weed1 karma

If I could only travel to one place before I died, what should that one place be and why?

rolf_potts3 karma

That's a question only you can answer! Every place is amazing in its own way. If in doubt, follow your heart, and improvise once you get there.

dfobrien181 karma

Howdy. I have done some basic Hitch-hiking (the country of Croatia), and a bit of writing as well (nothing good)...I turned in my travel bug for an office cubical and a job. I spend 99% of my day thinking about just packing up and leaving again. I am in great shape to do any sort of traveling, I just would like to do it in a similar way to you. Do you have any suggestions for me?

rolf_potts3 karma

Well of course Vagabonding is a book-length collection of suggestions for this kind of thing.

But you might try working overseas, or going the digital nomad route. It takes a little risk at the outset, but the payoff of working and living overseas is great. I think everyone needs an "expat" phase of life at some point.

dfobrien181 karma

Is there anyway that I could interview with you? Maybe you could find a project of some sort that could use a pair of shoes like mine.

rolf_potts1 karma

I often do interviews via the contact address on my website. But again I think my book will go a long way toward answering your questions!

poonbanger1 karma

Will you ever grow your hair long again?

rolf_potts3 karma

Doubtful! I did grow out my beard though earlier this fall.

dm_hell_yes1 karma

I'm sure this is a tough one to answer, but do you have a favorite city or place that you stayed? Any good stories from that part of your trip?

rolf_potts2 karma

Tough question! I answered a part of this above. And of course my best stories (and the stories behind those stories) can be found in my second book, Marco Polo Didn't Go There. A lot of other good stories are linked from my website, RolfPotts.com.

bronghits1 karma

Hi Rolf! I've been a huge follower of your works and am planning out a trip from Scotland to India as soon as I'm done with college. One of the things I want to do along the way is record the local music from all the places I go to and put the music for free online. So my question is how do you know how to approach people from different parts of the world (Obviously things I do as an American may not be proper for others across the world). I was also wondering if you have had experience with musicians on your travels. Cheers!

rolf_potts3 karma

The slower you go, the easier it will be to approach people. So don't rush your travels. Find a place, get to know its music scene, make musician and non-musician friends alike. Odds are those people would be thrilled to have you record them. Sounds like a project that could take a whole amazing lifetime, if you keep at it!

POTATO_IN_MY_DINNER1 karma

While vagabonding did you have anything in your pockets?

Would you ever do some motorcycling or bicycle touring? Why/why not?

rolf_potts2 karma

I've done a lot of travel by motorcycle and bicycle -- you can rent them in most any part of the world (or buy/resell them if you want them for a longer period). Both work great for travel, and provide a pace that's different from buses and trains and cars. Walking is another great way to see a place through a different pace.

thatfilthyfive1 karma

Ok, I confess I've never heard of you, but I'm almost at the end of a 2 month solo backpacking trip around Europe. I'm thoroughly exhausted, but looming large in my thoughts is the fact that there's not much for me back in the States. (I'm, shall we say, between jobs and places to live at the moment.) Granted that our circumstances are probably very different, how do you readjust to day-to-day life after a trip like this?

I'll be sure to check out your book when I see books in English again.

rolf_potts3 karma

The last chapter of Vagabonding is all about this. Good luck with "re-entry"!

RrRodo1 karma

I've got a nice corporate job, and a pretty darn good life with house etc. How do I convince my wife that we need to GO, our even better how do I convince my job to give me a sabbatical for a few months?

rolf_potts2 karma

Both approaches will take time. You might give your wife a copy of Vagabonding, which has successfully presented to many a skeptical spouse (or, more commonly, parent). And I'm not just saying that because I wrote the book -- it really is meant to convince one of the rationality of long-term travel. The boss is a tougher nut to crack, but you'd be surprised how many bosses and supervisors are open to an unpaid sabbatical. It depends on your job, of course, but reason and patience go a long way.

Good luck!

PenguinSlug1 karma

Hi Rolf! My boyfriend loves Vagabonding and was very influenced by it. I'm more of the type of person who likes stability. What would you advise for someone like me that loves to travel but isn't sure if they want to make it a lifestyle?

rolf_potts3 karma

I'd recommend going shorter-term. Vagabonding can be a year, but it can also be two months. Just sublet your place for awhile and go someplace awesome! If your boyfriend is more into travel than you, he can go early or stay longer and the two of you can mix it up. There's no one single way to make vagabonding happen, and it's good to follow your instincts and inclinations if you're not up for a longer haul.

Limabean61 karma

Hi Rolf, thank you so much for this AMA! How do you make that dream of travel writing a reality? What were your biggest obstacles to overcome and at what point did you start calling yourself a professional travel writer?

rolf_potts2 karma

A bunch of answers to that -- and more travel writing secrets -- online here:

http://www.rolfpotts.com/writers/

HellsSniper1 karma

As someone who wants to both write and travel in the future, do you have any advice?

I've been writing for a few years but its still only a small hobby. And traveling the country, USA, and eventually most of the world has been a huge passion of mine. I'm only 18 years old, currently in college, and feeling like this place just isn't for me.

Any advice on writing, travel, or just life in general you could give?

rolf_potts3 karma

I keep a lot of salient writing advice online here:

http://www.rolfpotts.com/writers/

I also teach a writing class each summer in Paris, if you're interested:

http://pariswritingworkshop.com/

As for travel advice, start with my book Vagabonding. It's perfect for someone in your situation.

rolf_potts2 karma

I forgot to mention that my second book, Marco Polo Didn't Go There, addresses a lot of questions about the craft and profession of travel writing:

http://www.rolfpotts.com/marco/

immortal_banana1 karma

Never heard of you before but I like your style! I've don a fair bit of traveling with very little luggage myself across SE Asia and all over the U.S. west of the mississippi. I will take some time to check out some of your writing. Good luck on your future travels!

rolf_potts2 karma

Good luck in your travels as well!

drubert1 karma

If you could recommend me one place to go to tomorrow. Where would it be? I'd like to experience a minimalistic culture and escape the rampant consumerism for a little bit.

(Note: I've only traveled within the states, Mexico, Canada, Caribbean)

rolf_potts2 karma

You'll find a degree of consumerism everywhere, but my instinctive advice when I get this question is Thailand. I don't know why. I just really like Thailand. It's a cheap, friendly, easy place to start, and you can go to more far-flung parts of Asia from there.

thisisamouse1 karma

Hi Rolf! Really looking forward to reading your book. The question I have (and I don't think has been asked yet) is how do you deal with traveler fatigue/burning out?

As a follow up, I have traveled fairly extensively in recent years and find that the more time I travel and enjoy, the less connected I am to my friends, family, and particular places that hold meaning. Have you experienced anything similar? How do you stay connected to people you care about?

rolf_potts2 karma

Traveler fatigue is real, and the best option is just to settle down and live in one place for awhile. For some people this means going home and getting back into a familiar routine and seeing friends and family. For other folks this means making a temporary home in an exotic new place. I've done both. These days it's easy to stay in touch with family and friends through Skype and social media -- and if you miss them a lot, you can always invite them to join you for a week (or go home to visit them).

In the end, travel is not an endurance contest, so it's good to know when to slow down or stop, and save your travel energy for a time when you get the urge again.

oldmanwicker1 karma

Hi Rolf! Happy to see you on reddit.

The quote in Vagabonding about spending time, our most important resource, lavishly (as opposed to spending it gathering money to spend lavishly) has stuck with me and become the backbone of my life. I can't thank you enough for it.

Now my question: When you traveled across North America in your 20s, what (roughly) was your route? Did you adhere to a plan, make some sort of loop, or zigzag wherever you felt would be the most fun at the time?

rolf_potts2 karma

Glad to hear it!

My route in North America started in Oregon, went south into California and then across the southwest and Texas, eventually landing in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Then I spent a couple weeks in the deep south before spending a month in Florida. Went north with the spring through the Carolinas and into Virginia and the DC area. then on to NYC and the eastern seaboard and New England. By early summer I was headed west again across upstate NY and Ontario and into the upper midwest and the Great Plains. Spent the last couple months in the beautiful West, largely in the wilderness of the Rockies. Ended in Seattle after eight months.

It was a life-changing journey! A pretty much stuck to a plan but if I did it again I'd go more free-form. I'd love to do it again someday.

kroon1 karma

I have been meaning to pick up your book after watching Wan meet you when he was traveling around the US on a 50cc Ruckus. He spoke very highly of you and your book.

Vagabonding is on its way from amazon as of just now.

rolf_potts2 karma

Great! Wan is a rock star. I still hear from him every once in a while. He's a tattoo artist now.

Big_Adam1 karma

Give this a shot.

Just started the book Vagabonding, only page 50 or so, so far so this might come up.

I have not travelled much, but how do you deal with different world currency when travelling about. I'd like to do a great grand wander about, which in America is fine. I've also wanted to do Japan, China, few other places so how do I do money there?

I know its probably a super simple thing, but should I take cash? Get it changed there? Where the hell do you get money changed (only place I used is the local post office)?

Final; How trustworth do you find people? I have a great fear of hostel, just because I blatantly expect to be robbed.

rolf_potts2 karma

Don't worry about money-changers -- just get an ATM card that works internationally. You get a good rate of exchange, and it's convenient. Some towns in more isolated places won't have ATMs, of course, so be strategic about where and when and how much you withdraw.

As for the trustworthiness of people, most people are extremely trustworthy. Practice caution, of course, but for the most part people are great.

Jobotic1 karma

I've traveled across the US before but I am about to begin expanding to the rest of the world in order to write of my own experiences and inspirations to do so. So far you're book has been an significant motivation to pursue this goal, thank you.

rolf_potts1 karma

Happy vagabonding!

acidus11 karma

Hi, I'm planning a trip to Europe (from the Uk) next summer, via motorbike and taking a tent to camp out wild for quite a bit, and finding hostels and work or a bed type of schemes, not sure how long or where I will go just yet.

What would you're must do/see/experience be? What would you're must have item be? Do you have any advice for travel writing?

rolf_potts2 karma

For inspiration read Patrick Leigh Fermor's "A Time of Gifts". He made that journey in the 1930s, but it's still inspiring -- and it's a lot like what you're aiming for. And so long as you travel slow, the destinations and experiences will reveal themselves as you go. Good luck!

mrcharlespoopball1 karma

What are your favorite travel writers? Any reading recommendations? Aside from you of course, love your stuff!

rolf_potts2 karma

Thanks!

Please see my recommendations for ajadams above.

AGCRACK1 karma

I went off in my first extended adventure using couchsurfing last summer and made it 15,000 miles over 5 months. My question for you is do you ever hit a point in your travels where you reach a conclusion point? where you can't take in any more novelty and need to fall back on people or places that are familiar. I guess a feeling of homesickness missing old friends and family?

rolf_potts2 karma

Absolutely. Most travelers hit a point where they feel like slowing down or going home. This is quite normal!

More details on this in my reply to thisisamouse below.

minerman1 karma

Rolf, thanks for partnering with Tim and getting the audio book out there. I listened to it today at work and it was great.

I want your thoughts on my theory. I have developed the strong belief that planning but allowing the chance for spontaneity is the best way to take a trip. I know this isn't popular with a lot of hard core travelers, but it seems to work great for me. What I do is plan details in advance but book nothing. I write down how I want to spend my time at destinations, what hotels look best, restaurants... I spend weeks of planning but I only book things as I go. My trips change on the fly all the time, and that's just great. But I hate showing up somewhere, asking myself, why am I here? I should be there, and regretting the experience later. Also hate spending my valuable time abroad looking for the best hotel, etc. I think you need a healthy balance of planning but not locking yourself down to anything. Thanks again!

rolf_potts2 karma

I agree completely. It's good to be prepared, but your destination tends to have more wisdom and possibility for spontaneity than you could have ever imagined in your plans. I think the "plan details but book nothing" approach is right on.

WhittleDick1 karma

Hi Rolf! I'm about halfway through your book and my wanderlust increases at every page!

I'm making a list of places to explore so, what would your top 5 favorite places visited be so far?

rolf_potts2 karma

Glad you're enjoying the book! As I've said in other posts here I don't really have a list of favorites, since I love so many places. I'd say you can't go wrong in Southeast Asia, or the Andes, or the Middle East.

I know those are broad suggestions, but I think once you show up and start wandering your favorite parts of these places will reveal themselves.

Pickman1 karma

I used to read your articles in Salon pretty often. Absolutely loved them. Are you considering going back to a serial column any time in the future?

rolf_potts2 karma

Thanks! My stint at Salon was one of the highlights of my early writing career. I'd love to do a serial column again someday. Not sure if it will be for Salon, but I sure did love the format they offered, and would enjoy trying it again in another context.

moge1 karma

Awesome timing! Downloading the audiobook now.

On Tuesday I start my travel journey! I've spent the last few weeks selling all my 'stuff' and I am down to just 4 bags and my snowboard (priorities). I'll be listening to your book as I drive from DC->Seattle next week.

Keep on keeping on!

rolf_potts2 karma

Perfect -- happy vagabonding!

boxergirl021 karma

Please, please answer this question! I hope it's not to late! So, my husband and I have become incredibly agitated with America and would like to travel, problem is....we have a child, he's 7 now and would be about 8 or 9 by the time we plan on taking off on our adventure. Is this feasible to vagabond around with a child?

Let me lay some roots for you before people start freaking out, I am a decent of the Roma people (known to most as gypsies), I don't plan on buying a RV and traveling the way most people see and think of UK gypsies. I'm simply feeding my restless soul, we plan on homeschooling while we are traveling, mostly in math because we feel our son will learn so much about the world and himself on our journeys. Trust me, we will make sure he is prepared for college if he chooses to go that route.

So OP, is this insane of us or doable? We would probably settle for bits of time but never with the intention of staying more than 9 months to a year before moving on again. We will be on a budget and going with the cheapest options available so yeah, our kid might have to tough it out at some places before he gets used to it. He's pretty damn laid back and I actually think he would suit the lifestyle well until he gets older and maybe needs more regular social situations and friends, at that point we would settle for him if he wanted. We are all about family but damn if I want my kid to grow up like every other American sheep and I include myself in that catagory, I feel like we have this amazing opportunity to teach him so much more by traveling.

TL;DR Husband and I want to travel cheap with an 8 year old...is this doable?

rolf_potts2 karma

It is absolutely feasible to travel long-term with a child -- and you're right that this "road-school" education can be an amazing experience for him. Family vagabonding is actually quite popular, and here are some blogs by families who've been traveling together for months or years on the road:

http://familyvagabonding.com/ http://edventureproject.com/ http://almostfearless.com/ http://thenomadicfamily.com/ http://thefamilywithoutborders.com/ http://www.soultravelers3.com/

hockeyrugby1 karma

I want to be a travel writer but do not want to be a blogger. How would you suggest people enter the field now?

rolf_potts1 karma

My best advice would be to approach your travels like a long-form journalist. Focus your energies on reportage and honing your prose. And, of course, be forewarned that there's not a lot of money in it! A lot of satisfaction though, if you let it. More advice (including interviews with more than 100 professional travel writers) online here:

http://www.rolfpotts.com/writers/

keai111 karma

Hi Rolf, huge fan! I'm basically obsessed with the idea of long term travel and plan to start as soon as I'm old enough. I'm currently a high schooler living in Italy for a year and find myself passing long hours of classes planning the trips I intend to take. I'm extremely interested in the idea of travel writing and I'm curious about how you got your start? Thanks so much for helping the prospect of long term travel seem more accessible to kids like me.

rolf_potts1 karma

Thanks! I keep lots of information about travel writing, including my own experiences in getting started, online here:

http://www.rolfpotts.com/writers/

clowns_will_eat_me-4 karma

I read that as Rofl Potts. I need to get off the internet.

rolf_potts2 karma

Happens all the time.