Vagabonding I

vagabonding

Fascinating book. Tips and tricks included. Just what I needed 🙂

If you wanna become wanderlust, this book is what you should read first.

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Ultimately, this shotgun wedding of time and money has a way of keeping us in a holding pattern. 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. With this kind of mind-set, it’s no wonder so many Americans think extended overseas travel is the exclusive realm of students, counterculture dropouts, and the idle rich.

In reality, long-term travel has nothing to do with demographics — age, ideology, income — and everything to do with personal outlook. Long-term travel isn’t about being a college student; it’s about being a student of daily life. Long-term travel isn’t an act of rebellion against society; it’s an act of common sense within society. Long-term travel doesn’t require a massive “bundle of cash”; it requires only that we walk through the world in a more deliberate way.

This deliberate way of walking through the world has always been intrinsic to the time-honored, quietly available travel tradition known as “vagabonding.”

Vagabonding involves taking an extended time-out from your normal life — six weeks, four months, two years — to travel the world on your own terms.

But beyond travel, vagabonding is an outlook on life. Vagabonding is about using the prosperity and possibility of the information age to increase your personal options instead of your personal possessions. Vagabonding is about looking for adventure in normal life, and normal life within adventure. Vagabonding is an attitude — a friendly interest in people, places, and things that makes 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.

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At a certain level, the idea that freedom is tied to labor might seem a bit depressing. It shouldn’t be. For all the amazing experiences that await you in distant lands, the “meaningful” part of travel always starts at home, with a personal investment in the wonders to come.

“I don’t like work,” says Marlow in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, “but I like what is in the work — the chance to find yourself.” Marlow wasn’t referring to vagabonding, but the notion still applies. Work is not just an activity that generates funds and creates desire; it’s the vagabonding gestation period, wherein you earn your integrity, start making plans, and get your proverbial act together. Work is a time to dream about travel and write notes to yourself, but it’s also the time to tie up your loose ends. Work is when you confront the problems you might otherwise be tempted to run away from. 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.

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Ultimately, then, the first step of vagabonding is simply a matter of making work serve your interests, instead of the other way around. Believe it or not, this is a radical departure from how most people view work and leisure.

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Don’t wait around. Don’t get old and make excuses. Save a couple thousand dollars. Sell your car. Get a world atlas. Start looking at every page and tell yourself that you can go there. You can live there. Are there sacrifices to be made? Of course. Is it worth it? Absolutely. The only way you’ll find out is to get on the plane and go. And let me tell you something. That first morning, when you are in your country of choice, away from all of the conventions of a typical, everyday lifestyle, looking around at your totally new surroundings, hearing strange languages, smelling strange, new smells, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. You’ll feel like the luckiest person in the world.

— JASON GASPERO, 31, NEWSLETTER EDITOR, HAWAII

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This notion — that material investment is somehow more important to life than personal investment — is exactly what leads so many of us to believe we could never afford to go vagabonding. The more our life options get paraded around as consumer options, the more we forget that there’s a difference between the two. Thus, having convinced ourselves that buying things is the only way to play an active role in the world, we fatalistically conclude that we’ll never be rich enough to purchase a long-term travel experience.

Fortunately, the world need not be a consumer product. As with environmental integrity, long-term travel isn’t something you buy into; it’s something you give to yourself.

Indeed, the freedom to go vagabonding has never been determined by income level; it’s found through simplicity — the conscious decision of how to use what income you have.

And, contrary to popular stereotypes, seeking simplicity doesn’t require that you become a monk, a subsistence forager, or a wild-eyed revolutionary. Nor does it mean that you must unconditionally avoid the role of consumer. Rather, simplicity merely requires a bit of personal sacrifice: an adjustment of your habits and routines within consumer society itself.

At times, the biggest challenge in embracing simplicity will be the vague feeling of isolation that comes with it, since private sacrifice doesn’t garner much attention in the frenetic world of mass culture.

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In The Dharma Bums, he wrote about the joy of living with people who blissfully ignore “the general demand that they consume production and therefore have to work for the privilege of consuming, all that crap they didn’t really want . . . general junk you always see a week later in the garbage anyway, all of [it] impersonal in a system of work, produce, consume.”

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Vagabonding sage Ed Buryn knew as much: “By switching to a new game, which in this case involves vagabonding, time becomes the only possession

and everyone is equally rich in it by biological inheritance. Money, of course, is still needed to survive, but time is what you need to live. So, save what little money you possess to meet basic survival requirements, but spend your time lavishly in order to create the life values that make the fire worth the candle. Dig?”

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Source: Rolf Potts – Vagabonding; An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel

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