Friday, January 05, 2007

Pg. 69: "Vagabonding"

Rolf Potts, author of Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel, has reported from all over the world for the likes of National Geographic Traveler, Conde Nast Traveler,, Outside, Surfer, Outpost, the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, the Guardian (U.K.), and National Public Radio. He is currently a travel columnist for Yahoo! News.

I invited Rolf to put Vagabonding to the "page 69 test." Here is his reply:
Vagabonding is a book about how to take time off from your workaday life to travel for an extended period of time. For some people, this might mean embarking on a one-year dream-trip around the world. For others, it might mean taking off three months to study cooking (or meditation, or kick-boxing) in Thailand. Other folks might be considering an early “retirement” to live part-time and telecommute from Argentina.

Whatever the specific case, my book encourages people to actualize their travel dreams and combat the myths (“it’s too expensive”; “it’s too dangerous”; “I can’t make time for it”; etc.) that might keep them from making those dreams a reality. Vagabonding is as much a philosophical primer as a practical one, and the philosophy at its core is the idea that time – not “things” – is all we own in life, and how you spent that time is ultimately what is most important in life.

Ironically, then, page 69 of Vagabonding is more practical than philosophical: It is a discussion of managing money before and during travel. In dealing with budgeting, I don’t give a lot of discrete advice, because I know that people come from different economic backgrounds and have different spending habits. Instead, I encourage readers to plan conservatively, and realize that travel experience itself will help them to become more informed and economical travelers:

As for predicting your vagabonding expenses, don't get too hung up on the minute details of budgeting, since you'll have a better feel for things once you're actually traveling. To be safe, keep your cost projections on the conservative side – and don’t forget to estimate for visa fees, airport taxes, souvenirs, and occasional “luxury” indulgences (nice hotels, fancy dinners, scuba diving lessons, etc.). If you think you have just enough money to travel for six months, for example, plan on traveling for four months. Then, if you have money remaining after those four months, consider the two (or possibly more) extra months a bonus. As a rule, it’s best not to travel your way down to your last dime – even if you plan on getting road jobs from time to time. Set aside a few hundred dollars as an emergency fund – and resist the urge to find “emergencies” at carpet bazaars and full-moon parties.”
Many thanks to Rolf for the input.

Click here to read an excerpt from Vagabonding.

Among the praise for the book:
"Potts encourages us to think about travel in a way that has been almost lost. He wants us to wander, to explore, to embrace the unknown and, finally, to take our own damn time about it. I think this is the most sensible book of travel related advice ever written."
— Tim Cahill, founding editor of Outside

"Vagabonding is a crucial reference for any budget wanderer."
TIME Magazine

"Tired of clinging to that guidebook like it's a security blanket? Try reading something that tells you how to appreciate the art of travel rather than how to spend money. [Vagabonding] will inspire rather than dictate."
— Robert Young Pelton, in National Geographic Adventure

"For all those that have the travel itch, this is the perfect book with which to scratch."
Outpost Magazine

"The book is a meditation on the joys of hitting the road for months or years at a time. It's also a primer for those with a case of pent-up wanderlust seeking to live the dream."
USA Today
Read Rolf's online travel stories and check out his audio and print interviews and commentaries.

Visit Rolf's blog and official website.

Previous "page 69 tests:"
Matt Haig, The Dead Fathers Club
Lawrence Light, Fear & Greed
Simon Read, In The Dark
Sandra Ruttan, Suspicious Circumstances
Henry Ansgar Kelly, Satan: A Biography
Alison Gaylin, You Kill Me
Gayle Lynds, The Last Spymaster
Jim Lehrer, The Phony Marine
Julie Phillips, James Tiptree, Jr.
Debra Ginsberg, Blind Submission
Sarah Katherine Lewis, Indecent
Peter Orner, The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo
William Easterly, The White Man's Burden
Danielle Trussoni, Falling Through the Earth
Andrew Blechman, Pigeons
Anne Perry, A Christmas Secret
Elaine Showalter, Faculty Towers
Kat Richardson, Greywalker
Michael Bess, Choices Under Fire
Masha Hamilton, The Camel Bookmobile
Alex Beam, Gracefully Insane
Nicholas Lemann, Redemption
Jason Sokol, There Goes My Everything
Wendy Steiner, Venus in Exile
Josh Chafetz, Democracy’s Privileged Few
Anne Frasier, Pale Immortal
Michael Lewis, The Blind Side
David A. Bell, The First Total War
Brett Ellen Block, The Lightning Rule
Rosanna Hertz, Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice
Jason Starr, Lights Out
Robert Vitalis, America's Kingdom
Stephen Elliott, My Girlfriend Comes To The City And Beats Me Up
Colin McGinn, The Power of Movies
Sean Chercover, Big City, Bad Blood
Sigrid Nunez, The Last of Her Kind
Stanley Fish, How Milton Works
James Longenbach, The Resistance to Poetry
Margaret Lowrie Robertson, Season of Betrayal
Sy Montgomery, The Good Good Pig
Allison Burnett, The House Beautiful
Stephanie Coontz, Marriage, A History
Ed Lynskey, The Dirt-Brown Derby
Cindy Dyson, And She Was
Simon Blackburn, Truth
Brian Freeman, Stripped
Alyson M. Cole, The Cult of True Victimhood
Jeff Biggers, In the Sierra Madre
Jeff Broadwater, George Mason, Forgotten Founder
Alicia Steimberg, Andrea Labinger (trans.), The Rainforest
Michael Grunwald, The Swamp
Darrin McMahon, Happiness: A History
Leo Braudy, From Chivalry to Terrorism
David Nasaw, Andrew Carnegie
Leah Hager Cohen, Train Go Sorry
Chris Grabenstein, Slay Ride
David Helvarg, Blue Frontier
Marina Warner, Phantasmagoria
Bill Crider, A Mammoth Murder
Robert W. Bennett, Taming the Electoral College
Nicholas Stern et al, Stern Review Report
Kerry Emanuel, Divine Wind
Adam Langer, The Washington Story
Michael Scott Moore, Too Much of Nothing
Frank Schaeffer, Baby Jack
Wyn Cooper, Postcards from the Interior
Ivan Goncharov, Oblomov
Maureen Ogle, Ambitious Brew
Cass Sunstein, Infotopia
Paul W. Kahn, Out of Eden
Paul Lewis, Cracking Up
Pagan Kennedy, Confessions of a Memory Eater
David Greenberg, Nixon's Shadow
Duane Swierczynski, The Wheelman
George Levine, Darwin Loves You
John Barlow, Intoxicated
Alicia Steimberg, The Rainforest
Alan Wolfe, Does American Democracy Still Work?
John Dickerson, On Her Trail
Marcus Sakey, The Blade Itself
Randy Boyagoda, Governor of the Northern Province
John Gittings, The Changing Face of China
Rachel Kadish, Tolstoy Lied
Eric Rauchway, Blessed Among Nations
Tim Brookes, Guitar and other books
Ruth Padel, Tigers in Red Weather
William Haywood Henderson, Augusta Locke
Jed Horne, Breach of Faith
Robert Greer, The Fourth Perspective
David Plotz, The Genius Factory
Michael Allen Dymmoch, White Tiger
Patrick Thaddeus Jackson, Civilizing the Enemy
Tom Lutz, Doing Nothing
Libby Fischer Hellmann, A Shot To Die For
Nelson Algren, The Man With the Golden Arm
Bob Harris, Prisoner of Trebekistan
Elaine Flinn, Deadly Collection
Louise Welsh, The Bullet Trick
Gregg Hurwitz, Last Shot
Martha Powers, Death Angel
N.M. Kelby, Whale Season
Mario Acevedo, The Nymphos of Rocky Flats
Dominic Smith, The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre
Simon Blackburn, Lust
Linda L. Richards, Calculated Loss
Kevin Guilfoile, Cast of Shadows
Ronlyn Domingue, The Mercy of Thin Air
Shari Caudron, Who Are You People?
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics
John Sutherland, How to Read a Novel
Steven Miles, Oath Betrayed
Alan Brown, Audrey Hepburn's Neck
Richard Dawkins, The Ancestor's Tale

--Marshal Zeringue