Now is the time to go vagabonding (regardless of what others say)

Over at Tim Leffel’s blog, the World’s Cheapest Places author has an interesting post called Why Travel Around the World? The post is a response to a message thread at the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree, where a woman who has been planning a round-the-world trip is discouraged by her family and friends’ attitude toward her trip. “Her parents harp on her for ‘wasting all that money to go traveling’,” Leffel writes, “and her friends give her grief for not going out on the town with them like she used to.”

Indeed, as excited as you are about your own future travels, the lack of support and interest from family and friends at the outset can be frustrating. (And, as I say in Vagabonding the same thing will happen when you return from your travels, so you’d best mentally prepare for it). Leffel offers (and expands on) five reasons to ignore the apathy of your family and friends and travel anyway.

  • 1) You’ll learn far more than you ever did at a university.
  • 2) You’ll be a hundred times more knowledgeable about world affairs.
  • 3) You’ll have a stronger appreciation of what you have and how lucky you are to be born in a developed country.
  • 4) You’ll see the world when you’re young enough to enjoy it, not when you’re old and need to be pampered.
  • 5) The economy is in the toilet now anyway.

Of these travel motivations, I was most struck by the logic of #5. With the economy so slow these days, what better time is there for travel? Day-to-day expenses on the budget travel trail are actually cheaper than food and rent at home — and instead of having a gap of unemployment (or semi-employment) on your resume, you can list your travels instead (and reap a wealth of international experience to boot!).

Posted by | Comments (9)  | August 19, 2003
Category: Vagabonding Advice

9 Responses to “Now is the time to go vagabonding (regardless of what others say)”

  1. Sean Says:

    More reasons…

    1) You’ll never regret it – on your deathbed you probably remember it as one of the best things you ever did.

    2) It’s your life, not your family and friends – so go if you wanna go…it’s free country – exercise your freedom to go.

  2. Colin Says:

    1) what better way to test one’s own personal strength is there than to throw oneself to the mercy of the world?

    2) we only have one world to live on, how could someone not want to see all of it. it’s like buying a house and staying in only one room!

    3) why the hell not?

  3. Dan Says:

    Im all over #5. It was one of the primary reasons I left in the first place!

    1) To fullfil that childhood dream. How many of y’all out there as a kid said “I want to go to America” or “I want to go to Italy”. Childhood dreams are the ones we’re never supposed to attain – be an astronaut and the like. I say Bol*cks to that!

    and im with colin, why the hell not 😀

  4. Lucy Says:

    Hello Mr. Potts,

    I surfed over to your vagablog because I used to read your column on Salon. However, I’m stunned by this #4 of yours: “You’ll see the world when you’re young enough to enjoy it, not when you’re old and need to be pampered.”

    “YOUNG enough”? How young is “young enough”? Tsk. Tsk.

    1) Some of the toughest people in the world are old. You must have noticed that while traipsing through the developing world. Maybe you saying that physical hardiness is a pre-requisite for travel, which it isn’t. Of course it helps, especially when traveling on a budget, but it’s not a prerequisite for “vagabonding.”

    2) People of all ages could use a good pampering. In my mind, what’s wrong with the world is there isn’t a fair and adequate distribution of pampering and other basic human goods and services.

    3) If you happen to have some physical infirmity or disability, that doesn’t mean you’re too “incapacitated” to enjoy travel, in “vagabond” form or otherwise.

    I could go on and on. But I won’t. Mr. Potts, given your achievements and reputation, I’m sure don’t truly believe your own #4. Perhaps, it’s just a lapse into lazy writing. I’ll surf away and revisit you another day when I’m feeling more spry.

    Lucy, age 45, and still vagabonding (creak. creak.) Currently staying in Penang, Malaysia.

  5. Rolf Says:

    Thanks everyone for your additions!

    And Lucy, I appreciate and agree with all your points. (In fact, I was wondering when someone would comment on #4.) But, before you accuse me of “lazy writing” please make sure you aren’t being a lazy reader! After all, I make it clear from the outset that this 5-point list comes from Tim Leffel’s blog; in fact, the last sentence before the 5-point list is: “Leffel offers (and expands on) five reasons to ignore the apathy of your family and friends and travel anyway.”

    My Vagabonding book is full of specific encouragement and resources for travelers of all ages (its “Voices” sections quote vagabonders as old as 70), and I don’t mean to contradict that here; I’m merely pointing out Leffel’s take on things (and agreeing with his #5 in particular).

    His point, I think, is that young people shouldn’t postpone travel to some other, seemingly more “appropriate”, time of life (i.e. retirement). But he is indeed clumsy in insinuating that older people can’t hack long-term travel just as well as younger people.

    So thanks, Lucy, for reminding us that you don’t have to be in some narrow “18-35” age bracket to properly enjoy and thrive on the vagabonding trail!

  6. Karen Says:

    Because I can!!! 🙂

  7. Lucy Says:

    Okay, sorry for the lazy reading. Better go over to Leffels’ place and raise a stink over there! 😉

  8. Tim Leffel Says:

    OK, I’m the one that wrote what Rolf is referring to, so let me explain a little. I’ve trekked the Annapurna circuit with 70-year-olds and my mom just took her first trip abroad–to South Africa and Lesotho, staying with a local family in a village for a few days. So age is indeed a mental as much as physical thing. However, most retirees/pensioners wouldn’t be caught dead doing that in their travels. Who knows what the percentage is, but a vast majority go for cruises, “Italy in 7 days” tours, and guided trips with lots of air conditioning. Many senior citizens have said to me, “I wish I’d done the kind of trip you did when I was younger. Now my hip won’t allow it.” (Or knees, back, heart, you name it.) It’s a whole lot easier when you’re young and fit, that’s all. Most Americans think they can wait and see the world when they retire. Then when they get there, they don’t have the energy for it anymore. Go while you’re young–whatever that word means to you.

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