Voices needed for Vagabonding audiobook

vgbTen years after its initial debut in paper form, Vagabonding is set to go into an audiobook edition this fall. I’ve recorded the main text, but now I need to add some new “Vagabonding Voices”.

If you’re interested in possibly appearing as a Vagabonding Voice in the audiobook, start by sending me, as text in the body of an email (rolf@rolfpotts.com), no more than 150 words (less is better, actually) of insight, per topic, on one or more of the following topics:

2: Making the decision to go, and earning your freedom
3: Simplicity, and saving for the trip
4: Planning and preparing for the journey
5: Getting started, slowing down, going your own way
6: The importance of interacting with people on the road
7: Seeking a more nuanced definition of “adventure”
8: Keeping it real, avoiding pretentiousness and false expectations
9: Working, volunteering, and mixing things up on the road
10: The spiritual-existential aspects of travel

Note that each topic is pegged to a specific chapter in Vagabonding; thus it’s a good idea to re-read the book to get a sense for what I’m looking for.

Deadline is July 26th. Feel free to submit insights for more than one chapter, but keep the word-count under 150 for each. Be sure to include your name, age, hometown, and profession in your submission (see Vagabonding Voices examples in the print version of Vagabonding).

Once the deadline has passed, I will choose 10-12 finalists for each chapter and solicit audio recordings (along with instructions for how to record and upload your audio). From these finalists, 3-4 audio outtakes for each chapter will make it into the audiobook.

I can’t offer payment to those who make the final cut, but I will give you and/or your blogs a shout-out online (and, of course, you’ll have an audio-contributor appearance in the book). If you don’t hear back from me by the beginning of August, this likely means my editors and I haven’t chosen your insights for the book.

Again: Send text first, by email, 150 words or less per chapter-insight, deadline July 26th.

Posted by | Comments (6)  | July 13, 2013
Category: Book Release and Tour Diary, Vagabonding Case Studies

Getting Vagabonding or Marco Polo as stocking-stuffers


It’s once again winter holiday season, which means it’s time to tout my books as stocking stuffers for the travel lovers on your Christmas list.

Vagabonding makes a great holiday gift for:

  • College or high school students nearing graduation.
  • Twenty- and thirtysomethings who don’t like their jobs, are currently between jobs, or are considering a sabbatical from work.
  • Friends and family members who don’t quite “get” the gift-giver’s urge to travel.
  • Anyone who dreams of (or has talked about) long-term travel, but thinks they’re too poor, busy, disorganized, afraid, uninformed, or old/young to actually do it.


And of course my newest book, Marco Polo Didn’t Go There, is not just an entertaining and engrossing read for the armchair traveler; its “commentary track” makes it an offbeat travel-writing textbook for students and fans of the genre.

Both books should be available through your local bookstore — and for online ordering you can the follow the links I’ve set up here:



I do have a limited number of signed copies available, but since I’ll be away from home for the next couple weeks this will be a last-minute undertaking.

So if you don’t mind waiting for the signed copies until, like, the week after Christmas, send an email to books [at] rolfpotts [dot] com to get ordering details.

Posted by | Comments (1)  | November 25, 2012
Category: Book Release and Tour Diary

Rolf’s “virtual book tour” is underway!

Just a quick note here to let you know that the “virtual book tour” for my book Marco Polo Didn’t Go There is underway. It started with a Q&A at Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Work Week and Lifestyle Design Blog, and will continue with a series of Q&As and short essays on a number of great travel blogs over the course of two weeks. I’ve listed rundown of these “virtual book tour” blog stops by date below.

You’ll also want to check out the page I’ve set up for my nationwide book tour — which starts in Kansas and will hit nearly 20 U.S. cities before it ends in southern California just before Thanksgiving. Come on out and see me in places like Chicago, New Orleans, Minneapolis, New York, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, or Los Angeles! If you can’t make it in person, I’ll be keeping a book tour blog at Gadling starting September 29th.

In other book-release news, Pauline Frommer interviewed me about Marco Polo Didn’t Go There for her “Travel Show” on WOR Radio yesterday (to listen, click “Hour 2″ of the September 14th show).

Here’s the rundown on the virtual book tour:

Mon Sept 15
Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Work Week Blog

Tues Sept 16
Budget Travel‘s This Just In Blog

Wed Sept 17
BootsnAll.com blogs and boards

Thurs Sept 18

Fri Sept 19
The Lost Girls’ blog

Mon Sept 22
Matador Pulse

Tues Sept 23
Brave New Traveler

Wed Sept 24

Thurs Sept 25
National Geographic‘s Intelligent Travel Blog

Fri Sept 26

Posted by | Comments (8)  | September 15, 2008
Category: Book Release and Tour Diary, Rolf's News and Updates

The 2008 Rolf Potts Marco Polo Didn’t Go There book tour

Last week, when I announced that my new book is available for sale at Amazon.com, a number of readers wrote in to tell me that they’d also found copies of it in the travel sections of their local bookstores. The book was initially scheduled to launch on September 15th, but — hey — since it’s already for sale everywhere, why not just say it’s launching today?

So there you have it: Marco Polo Didn’t Go There is officially released!

The subtitle to the book is “Stories and Revelations From One Decade as a Postmodern Travel Writer,” and the story collection is just that — a look back at my boldest, funniest, and most revealing travel-writing adventures from the past 10 years. Unlike, say, essay collections from David Sedaris, Anne Lamott or Chuck Klosterman (or even Tim Cahill), however, each of my stories also contains a “commentary track” — endnotes that reveal the ragged edges behind the experience and creation of each tale. The result, I believe, is more than just an entertaining literary journey into fascinating corners of the world — it’s also an offbeat travel-writing textbook, as each story is offset by an annotated peak into its own creation. The intro chapter (which explains, for example, why I use a word like “postmodern” in the subtitle) can be accessed online from the Travelers’ Tales promo page for the book.

By next week I hope to add a unique Marco Polo Didn’t Go There page at RolfPotts.com, complete with reviews, sample chapters, and a finalized book-tour event listing. For now, I’m posting my tentative book tour schedule below, covering the metro areas of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, New York, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Chicago, Kansas City, Topeka, Wichita, and Salina. [Montreal, San Diego, Baltimore, and DC might be added later, depending on scheduling issues.] As was the case for Vagabonding in 2003, Bootnsall Travel Network will be co-sponsoring many of the events on this book tour.

I also hope to visit some book clubs during my tour, though I don’t have a specific plan on just how I’m going to do this. So if you have a book club (or if you want to create one to coincide with my tour) and it looks like I’ll be in your general area, send me an email and let’s see if we can’t set something up.

My online “virtual book tour” will start next Monday, September 15th, and will feature book-related reviews, Q&As, and short essays on select travel blogs. After the virtual tour finishes, I’ll be writing regular road-dispatches for Gadling as my real-world book tour makes its way around North America.

For now, my tentative 2008 Marco Polo Didn’t Go There book tour information is as follows:





  • Saturday, October 11th, Minneapolis, 10:00am -5:00pm, Online info
    Twin Cities Book Festival, with Valerie Martin, Robert Bly, and others
    Minneapolis Community & Technical College, 1501 Hennepin Avenue S
  • Monday, October 13th, St. Paul, 7:30pm, Online info
    Common Good Books, 165 Western Ave N #14, St. Paul, (651) 225-8989


  • Monday, October 20th, Manhattan, 7:00pm, Online info
    The Half King, 505 W 23rd St, just west of 10th Ave, (212) 462-4300
    The closest subway stop is the “C” and “E” line at 23rd and 8th Ave.
  • Tuesday, October 21st, Manhattan, 7:00pm, Online info
    Book Culture, 536 West 112th St, (212) 865-1588
  • Wednesday, October 22nd, Camden, NJ (near Philadelphia, PA), 7:00pm, Online info
    Rutgers-Camden, Stedman Gallery, Fine Arts Building, with poet Patrick Rosal
  • Thursday, October 23rd, Manhattan, 7:00pm, Online info
    Book Culture, 536 West 112th St, (212) 865-1588
    Travel seminar with Pauline Frommer and Matt Gross




  • Thursday, November 20th, Redlands, time TBA
    University of Redlands, Johnston Center for Integrative Studies, location TBA
  • Monday, November 24th, Pasadena, time TBA, Online info
    Distant Lands, 56 S. Raymond Ave, Pasadena, (800) 310-3220

For early press on Marco Polo Didn’t Go There, check out recent articles in the Salina Journal, Canada’s National Post, or (if you can read Italian) Italy’s La Repubblica.

Posted by | Comments (7)  | September 7, 2008
Category: Book Release and Tour Diary, Rolf's News and Updates

Rolf’s new book now in stock at Amazon.com (and other Rolf news)

Having been on the road in Africa, Europe and North America since late May, it’s been hard to keep up with various non-travel events in my life (including many of my inbox messages — sorry if I’ve been slow in replying to email lately). Hence, I almost missed it when my new book, Marco Polo Didn’t Go There, suddenly appeared in stock at Amazon.com a few days ago. Since the book doesn’t officially release in most bookstores until mid-September, this caught me off-guard.

Nonetheless, I’m happy to see my new book on sale (better early than late, to be sure) and if you’re an Amazon.com shopper, I encourage you to check it out! I’ll have a more formal announcement of the Marco Polo Didn’t Go There book release (including book tour info for places like Chicago, New Orleans, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Wichita, Salina, New York, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles) in coming days. For now, its Amazon page has some decent introductory information. And, interestingly enough, my first piece of tie-in press about the book appeared in Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper (of all places) a few days ago.

Here is some more Rolf news from recent weeks and months:

  • The 2008 edition of The Best Creative Nonfiction includes my travel-writing meta-satire “The Art of Writing a Story About Walking Across Andorra,” which originally appeared in World Hum. The annual Best Creative Nonfiction anthology is overseen by Creative Nonfiction magazine — which is interesting, since that very publication turned down the same Andorra story with a generic rejection note in 2005. I guess that goes to show that the anthology editors sometimes love what the slush-pile interns reject. Other authors of note in the anthology include Heidi Julavits, Stefan Fatsis, Pagan Kennedy, Donovan Hohn, and William deBuys.
  • A couple of stories from my winter journey to South America have recently appeared on newsstands. “My Own Private Falklands” appeared in the July/August issue of National Geographic Traveler, and “Pure Brazil” (about the islands of Fernando de Noronha) appears in the September issue of Islands. Both stories were edited down from their original word-count (and thus tend to suffer a bit in the stylistic sense) but nonetheless offer an interesting window into two very different Atlantic archipelagos. Later this fall, when I have more time, I’ll post a penguin-centric gallery of my Falklands wildlife photos.
  • Elsewhere in the magazine world, the August “Big Issue” of Surfer featured my essay “Vagabonding: The Lost Art of Total Immersion Travel” — which argues for slow, meaningful travel in an era of increasingly quick, micromanaged surf trips. Additionally, the September print issue of The Believer features my article “The Henry Ford of Literature” — an in-depth look at the fascinating life of a Kansas socialist publisher who sold more than 300 million copies of his books and revolutionized working-class reading habits in the early part of the 20th century.
  • My summer travels included a stint in Paris for my annual creative writing workshop at the American Academy (photos and report to come later), as well as a journey across Uganda, South Sudan, Kenya, and Ethiopia’s Omo Valley. I’ll announce more about that Africa journey when my New York Times Magazine article about the experience debuts later this fall.
  • Also set to debut later this fall is my first Travel Channel hosting gig — a show about American cultural history that should air sometime on Thanksgiving weekend. I’ll share more details about that show closer to its debut date.

Posted by | Comments (5)  | August 31, 2008
Category: Book Release and Tour Diary, Rolf's News and Updates

Got a venue for Rolf’s book tour this fall?

As I mentioned a couple weeks back, I have a new travel book coming out this fall. Entitled Marco Polo Didn’t Go There, this book will likely debut in September, and I will go on the road to promote it in October and November. Right now I plan on hitting various bookstores, writing conferences, and universities in Washington, Oregon, California, Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey.

Might you have some suggested stops and venues for me in these places? Are there other parts of the U.S. or Canada that might make a good stop on my book tour? If so, let me know by emailing me directly! (My address is under “contact” in the index bar at left.)

In addition to standard readings from my new book (as well as Vagabonding), I’m also game to do short talks or seminars on travel writing and/or long-term travel — especially at universities and book festivals. I welcome your suggestions!

Posted by | Comments (3)  | May 5, 2008
Category: Book Release and Tour Diary, Rolf's News and Updates

Free VGB Vagabonding stickers!


Four years ago, while on tour to promote Vagabonding, I printed up a bunch of “VGB” stickers (pictured above) to give away at book signings. Originally, these stickers were to read “VAG,” though this idea was shot down when my publicist told me that, ahem, I shouldn’t encroach on the territory of another Random House book, The Vagina Monologues. So VGB it was.

Recently, while going through my belongings, I realized that I have several dozen of these stickers left over after all these years. If you’re interested in getting one (to put on your car or laptop as a self-motivating reminder of an upcoming vagabonding journey, or merely to have for your incipient travel-themed sticker collection) just send a self-addressed stamped envelope (with enough postage to get to wherever in the world you are) to:

Rolf Potts (VGB)
c/o Mike & Kristin Marlett
1222 Pearce
Wichita, KS 67203

We’ll toss a sticker or two in for you and send it back your way. Feel free to send us a note, or a sticker of your own!

Posted by | Comments (7)  | September 19, 2007
Category: Book Release and Tour Diary

Vagabonding: The “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” endorsement


[Above: Contestant Justin Pitts gives props to Vagabonding.]

Last month, while I was traveling in Cuba, several readers sent me emails saying that a contestant on the syndicated game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” had told host Meredith Viera that — if he won money on the show — he wanted to travel the world as much as possible, adding “I’m reading a really great book called Vagabonding.

As far as I know, this is this first time my book has been endorsed on a game show, so I did a little followup, and it turns out the contestant was Justin Pitts of New York City, and he ended up winning $25,000 on the show. Vagablogging has been in touch with Pitts, and we hope to interview him about his upcoming travel plans soon!

Posted by | Comments (1)  | May 10, 2007
Category: Book Release and Tour Diary, Feedback, Rolf's News and Updates

Vagabonding’s Japanese debut (and other Rolf writing news)


The Japanese cover of Vagabonding

I have a few new writing items to share this week: First, I’m happy to announce that Sony Books has finally released the Japanese translation of Vagabonding. Entitled 旅に出ろ! (which Babelfish tells me means Appear in the Traveling!), it was translated by Robert Harris, a Japan-based writer and radio personality specializing in travel. I have yet to receive a copy of this Japanese edition (and I’ll have trouble reading it once I do), so I’d be interested to know what readers think of the translation.

Elsewhere, I have a brief story in the current issue of National Geographic Traveler. Part of the “Sudden Journeys” cover story (which also includes contributions from the likes of Pico Iyer and Rory Stewart), my tale recounts an adventure in Burma, when I ditched my pre-planned itinerary and bought a $40 Chinese-made bicycle:

The three weeks that followed were filled with the joys of the unexpected. My new bicycle, I found, had a max speed of about five miles an hour—a perfect tempo at which to discover the Burmese countryside. Mangoes were in season, so I bought armfuls of the sweet fruit for pennies apiece. When unmapped ruins or stupas graced the roadside, I stopped to investigate and linger. I slept in villages along the way, where townspeople offered to put me up in Buddhist monasteries. In a town called Pakokku, an English teacher invited me to speak to his students, and after class they all took me to a pwe festival at the town pagoda (where, believe it or not, a crowd consisting of families and monks watched a Burmese transvestite cabaret troupe lip-synch to Boney M’s “Bahama Mama”).

My full Burma bicycling anecdote from National Geographic Traveler is online here.

Finally, Elisabeth Eaves quotes me in “Dropping Out,” her recent Forbes story about off-the-grid travel. Specifically, I confess to having once drunk-dialed an American ex-girlfriend with a satellite phone while on a Land Rover expedition in the Chilean wilderness. “As isolated as I was physically,” I point out, “satellite technology still allowed me to make a perfectly pointless telephone call to someone in another hemisphere.”

The full Forbes story, which includes my off-the-grid destintation recommendation (Mongolia) is online here.

Posted by | Comments (2)  | May 8, 2007
Category: Book Release and Tour Diary, Rolf's News and Updates

Vagabonding and the Campaign for the American Reader “page 69″ test

Last week, the Campaign for the American Reader featured Vagabonding in its “page 69 test.” This blog project, which is an independent initiative encouraging people to read more books, tests Marshall McLuhan’s old assertion that you should choose your reading by turning to page 69 of a given book and — if you like it — read it. Other authors whose books have been subject to this blog experiment include Jim Lehrer, Elaine Showalter, Debra Ginsberg, Michael Lewis, Stanley Fish, Alan Wolfe, Pagan Kennedy, and Jeff Biggers.

This was my take on just how representative page 69 of Vagabonding is in relation to the rest of the book:

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.

For the full rundown on page 69 of Vagabonding — including an excerpt — click here.

Posted by | Comments (1)  | January 10, 2007
Category: Book Release and Tour Diary, Rolf's News and Updates, Travel Writing