Vagabonding by Rolf Potts is about long-term, unconventional world travel. Conventional would be the notion that long-term travel is possible only by the very wealthy galavanting from exclusive resort to private island in luxury. In reality, long-term travel is very possible for people of more normal means, but to do it in a fulfilling fashion requires a mindset of openness and focus on what’s important. This is also what is essential to a successful life as an expat, and Potts distills it so well that every expat (and expat-to-be) should read this book.
Vagabonding – n. a privately meaningful manner of travel that emphasizes creativity, adventure, simplicity, awareness, discovery, independence, realism, self-reliance, and the growth of the spirit.
This definition, from the book’s opening page, succinctly lists all the qualities that a successful expat needs. Quite a few expats move out of their chosen destination within 2 years. There aren’t any hard numbers, but it is likely in the range of 20-40%. I imagine that a common thread amongst them would be a lack of flexibility and maintaining the same mindset and expectations they had in their home country.
Clocking in at 206 pages, the book is an easy, worthwhile, inspiring read. Interspersed in the chapters are quotes from vagabonders, and each chapter ends with a profile of a path-blazing vagabond. These pioneers include John Muir (founder of the Sierra Club), Thoreau and Walt Whitman. It’s cool to read about them, but of more value are the quotes and comments by the less-reknowned, everyday vagabonds like ourselves.
Also included at the end of each chapter is a list helpful resources (books & websites). A more up-to-date list of resources, vagabonding profiles, forum and Potts’ blog can be found at the companion website, www.vagabonding.net.