Vagabonding by Rolf Potts - Lessons, Notes, Book Summary

January 29, 2019

Vagabonding by Rolf Potts - Lessons, Notes, Book Summary
AuthorRolf Potts  I   Publisher: Villard Books  I  Paperback: 240 pages  
ISBN-13: 978-0812992182   I  First Published in: 2002  I  If you want to buyAmazon link

Here’s my first book summary of the year -2019, from yet another unusual genre - Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel , written by Rolf Potts (himself is a vagabond who has spent most of his life in travelling more than 60 countries across the world).

How many of us know the meaning of the word “Vagabonding”? (I didn’t 😊 until I read this book). Many of us might like to be a “traveller”, but are we aware of all that requires to be a one?. This book has answers for all the aspiring travellers, thus consistently stays on top of the travel genre from it's time of inception, with over 100,000 copies sold. 

It has inspired many travellers, writers and influencers around the world, including famous personalities like Tim Ferriss (American podcaster, NYT Bestselling author ) and Matt Kepnes (American travel expert and founder of #1 travel site

If long-term travel and backpacking had a bible, this would be it. No book has ever come as close to expressing the philosophy of long-term travel as this one!
-Matt Kepnes (about this book: Vagabonding)

Here’re some of the lessons/notes/summary from the book. 

Lesson-1 : What is Vagabonding ? 

It’s beyond “just” travel; vagabonding is an uncommon outlook on life. It's about gaining the courage to loosen grip on the things we consider as essential and most importantly it's about “time” - our only real commodity and how we choose to use it. 

“We stay rooted to our home and career and use the future as a phony ritual that justifies the present. In this way, we end up spending the best part of one’s life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it.”

It's time to take control of our circumstances instead of passively waiting for them to dictate our lives listen to earn your freedom. 

Lesson 2: You don’t need to be rich to become a “traveller” 

Rolf just breaks the stereotype of “travel is rich people’s luxury”; travel is meant for everyone; you just have to have a different mindset. He points out a list of jobs that can fund months of travel: 
  • Find an opportunity abroad: In today’s world, finding a job abroad is not that difficult. In some cases, You don’t need even to quit your current job; just look for a relocation to your overseas office for a few years (at-least). Your life in that new location will get you an incredible experience!. This will for sure, make you a better person. 
  • Online / Freelance Business: : Blogs, Website creation, or any sort of freelance, consulting jobs…..earning online has never been more probable than today. 
  • A penny saved is a penny earned 😊: Cut your costs in your home country that will save you a big fund available for the travel. Rent out your house thru AirBnB, cancel all your local country subscriptions, insurances, telephone, internet contracts…etc. you’ll be surprised how much difference it can make to your bank account. 
  • Teach a language: you could even teach English; it is in high demand in many Asian countries. Rolf did this for two years in South Korea. That not only fund his travel, but he learned about the Asian social customs as well. 
  • And many, I don’t want to spoil the fun by listing everything here. 

Lesson 3: Be a traveller; not a tourist 

Tourist attractions are defined by their ‘collective popularity’, which tends to devalue the original experience of attractions! 

As a Vagabonder you're not constrained to the rules and routine set by society. Is the queue to see the Eiffel Tower too long? Well, then feel free to head off and take a random bus into the nearby mountains. Vagabonds see their surroundings whereas tourists superficially look at attractions.

In other words: tourists don't know where they've been ; travellers don't know where they're going😊. 

“As for the tourist-circuit, slowing your travels down will automatically lead you off the tourist trail. When you aren’t racing from ‘attraction’ to ‘attraction,’ you’ll quickly discover that the best experiences come from the diversions along the way.”


It’s definitely one of the special books that I have read so far; it lets you think about a personal discovery and growth without all the rituals, routines and possessions that we ‘all give to our lives. 

This makes you realize why travel should always be treated as a personal undertaking. Living the story is more important than telling it! Rolf isn't urging us not to post that Instagram of us climbing a banana tree in the Peruvian jungle; but just don't lose sight of the experience itself!

Do you love travel? Have you had travel dreams for some time? then read the book Vagabonding! This book can take care of that one last push to convert your dreams into action.

Have you read any other good travel book? Let me know in the comments section, I’ll be curious to read another good travel book! 

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  1. Great review. I have very little urge to travel beyond the UK. I have about 6 things on my bucket list that require me to travel. (Biggest one is to sleep in a glass igloo and see the Northern Lights) It's not that I am not interested in other countries and cultures. I just don't like travelling.

  2. An interesting review. I love the idea of travelling and visiting different places in the world. Maybe one day.
    Gemma @

  3. Sounds like a book I’d definitely enjoy. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Most times we are interested in getting great pics while travelling that we lose sight of experiencing the thrill .. I am guilty of this!

  5. I wish I enjoyed travel more, but I live in such a beautiful place, everywhere else pales by comparison

  6. ooo, what a wonderful life it would be to travel all the time! sounds like a good read!

  7. Traveling is good fun and the soul.

  8. lovely review! I dream of traveling one day!

  9. Great review! This concept sounds really interesting!

  10. Great review. I would love to travel the world but as a mum of three - two who would have to come with me I couldn't do it unless I had a lot of money. Great review.