Rolf Potts’ adventures have taken him across six continents, and include piloting a fishing boat 900 miles down the Laotian Mekong, hitchhiking across Eastern Europe, traversing Israel on foot, bicycling across Burma, driving a Land Rover across South America, and traveling around the world for six weeks with no luggage or bags of any kind. Rolf is perhaps best known for promoting the ethic of independent travel, and his book on the subject, Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel, which has been through thirty-two printings and translated into several foreign languages.
Inside the Episode:
(5:14): Elliot introduces Rolf and we jump right into his book, Vagabonding.
(8:41): Rolf describes his book, Vagabonding and how its popularity took hold as tech advancements allowed for better online working experiences. As a result, the term “Digital Nomad” became a philosophical ideology and a benchmark for success for travel enthusiasts around the world. Thanks Rolf.
Who here is guilty of the “checklist mentality” while traveling? It is SO easy to want to run from one landmark to the next the second you step down in a brand new city. But as Rolf explains, sometimes, the things that you may feel are holding you up, or slowing you down can actually be more authentic to your experience than any landmark. The lesson here is: Be Present. Enjoy each moment. Take in the city through a cab window if you’re stuck in traffic. Enjoy the conversation if your waiter is taking longer than expected to bring the check. Or just throw out your plans and travel spontaneously all together - we won't judge.
(30:10): Are you a “Checklist Traveler”, a “Vagabond”, or somewhere in between? On the podcast with Rolf we discussed the variation in travel styles. From itinerary driven vacationers to spontaneous budget backpackers - there seems to be just as many travel preferences as there are people packed into the Vatican in July. So which travel preference reigns supreme?! Listen to find out :)
(30:34): Rolf has spoken! We (Americans) can still be partial-Vagabonds with our depressingly few vacation days. It’s all about perspective and how you manage your experience. You may not be backpacking for 6 months through Europe, but you can still see the world through the eyes of a true Vagabond if you so choose.
Vagabonding does not give you a moral high ground, so don’t be a hater. That person infatuated with the Great Wall of China, or the over touristy Champ De Mars could have spent years planning and saving for that experience. To them, it’s profound. Just as profound as your backroad Tanzanian trip, your multi-day trek through Peru, or the time you woke up in bed with a random Indian man in Thailand (no, just us?). Point is: “Don’t be a dick.”
(34:55): “It just doesn’t cost that much to travel and have amazing experiences” - Rolf Potts, on The Travelers Blueprint Podcast. When he broke it down, it made so much sense. Say you buy 1 cup of coffee per day for a year from Dunkin for $2 a cup. The $730 you spent could get you about 2,284 meals in Thailand. Your money can go SOOO far in other countries. The experiences will be priceless. Moral of the story: Save your money and travel the world.
(47:42): Rolf makes a great point that it’s ok to miss things. If you're traveling slow, you can always come back and experience what you didn’t the first time. “You’ve given yourself a gift for the future”
(55:19): Material possessions just don’t provide us with the same satisfaction that experiences do. Don’t believe me? Think about what makes you happiest. What are your happiest memories? Chances are, your happiest moments involve a loved one. They involve a place in time with that loved one. They rarely involve the unboxing of a new flat screen TV or shaking hands with a car salesman.