Around the world in 80 hours of TV

Photo Credit: alvaro tapia hidalgo via Compfight cc PRELUDE Day 5, Hour 77: 9:53 pm. Twenty-three hotel floors above the gritty neon splendor of downtown Las Vegas, I am nearing the end of a bewildering travel experiment: For the past five days, I have been watching the Travel Channel for the entirety of my waking hours, without ever changing the station or (save a few key occasions) leaving my hotel room. My goal has been to create an intensive, vicarious televisual adventure — to glean five days’ worth of travel experiences from the glowing parameters of a single TV set and… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (3)  | August 2, 2014
Category: Rolf Potts, Travel Video

Skepticism and salvation in Cyprus

Photo Credit: TeryKats via Compfight cc Perhaps I never would have met the Iranian had it not been for the influenza epidemic raging across Europe at the time. Because of the flu, Larnaca — a holiday beach town on the southern coast of Cyprus — was nearly empty of tourists. I was walking along the deserted beachfront promenade when a lone man in coveralls approached me. “I am from Iran,” he said. “I think you are not from Cyprus.” I smiled at both the man’s abrupt introduction and his unusual appearance. He looked like he’d just come in from bow-hunting… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (0)  | July 19, 2014
Category: Rolf Potts, Travel Writing

The death of the Mile High Club

I want to take this opportunity to declare that the Mile-High Club is, for all practical purposes, defunct. Much like the practice of phrenology or the fad for goldfish swallowing, the notion of having sex on commercial airplanes is no longer worthy of serious consideration. Before I get inundated with angry e-mails accusing me of being a prude, let me be clear about one thing: This is not about sex. For die-hard Mile-High Club practitioners, I’m sure there’s still nothing more arousing than the heady scent of disinfectant and sewage as you wedge yourself against a paper towel dispenser to consummate your passion… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (1)  | July 5, 2014
Category: Air Travel, Rolf Potts, Sex and Travel

The tourist is always the other guy

  Image credit A few years ago, when the tide of war was shifting in Afghanistan, Northern Alliance troops began using a contemptuous moniker for the Pakistani, Uzbek, and Chechen militants who were fighting alongside the Taliban. "The [Afghan] people," Alliance commander Ustad Mohammed Atta told TIME magazine, "want to kill these tourists." Not "terrorists", mind you, "tourists". Obviously, the pejorative sense of that word had come a long way since European elites first sneered at the English commoners who took Thomas Cook's inaugural group tours in the 19th century. Moreover, it seems we have come to the point where… Read More...

Posted by | Comments Off on The tourist is always the other guy  | May 24, 2014
Category: Rolf Potts

We don’t (really) know Jack

Image credit Of all the throwaway lines I’ve fed into my travel-writing biography over the years, one creates the most fascination with readers. I am, according to a major American newspaper, “Jack Kerouac for the Internet Age.” This little quip, which appeared in USA Today when my book “Vagabonding” was first published in 2003 (and has since been referenced in a number of other venues), has long been a source of both flattery and bewilderment for me. I’m flattered, of course, because Kerouac was an innovative literary superstar, and “On the Road” was an iconic 20th century road book; I’m… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (0)  | May 10, 2014
Category: Rolf Potts, Travel Writing

5 Travel lessons you can use at home

Image credit Travel has a way of slowing you down, of waking you up, of pulling you up out of your daily routines and seeing life in a new way. This new way of looking at the world need not end when you resume your life at home. Here are 5 key ways in which the lessons you learn on the road can be used to enrich the life you lead when you return home… 1) Time = Wealth By far the most important lesson travel teaches you is that your time is all you really own in life. And… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (0)  | May 3, 2014
Category: Lifestyle Design, Rolf Potts

Up Cambodia without a phrase book

Image credit I am 15 minutes into my hike down the muddy little stream when a tree carving captures my attention. Sticky with sap and arcing brown across the bark, it seems to have been made recently. I drop to my haunches and run my fingers over the design. After three days of living on the Indochinese outback without electricity or running water, I feel like my senses have been sharpened to the details of the landscape. I take a step back for perspective, and my mind suddenly goes blank. The carving is a crude depiction of a skull and… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (0)  | April 19, 2014
Category: Adventure Travel, Asia, Destinations, Rolf Potts

Rolf Potts on Budget Travel

Whenever anyone asks me why I still travel on a shoestring at the ripe old age of 38, I usually tell them about the time I learned how to play the bagpipes in Havana. Granted, I could probably relate a more typical story about the joys of budget travel - some tidy parable of money saved and experiences gained - but when I mention learning the bagpipes in Cuba it sounds like I'm going to tell a joke, and people like jokes. The thing is, there's no punch line. My encounter with Cuban bagpipers wasn't memorable for its mere quirkiness - it was memorable… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (2)  | April 5, 2014
Category: Backpacking, Rolf Potts, Vagabonding Advice

Must I get “Off The Beaten Path” when I travel?

I’m a big advocate of getting off the beaten path, but I would agree that there’s nothing wrong with the attractions of the “tourist trail.” These standard attractions—from Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat right on down to small-town museums and curiosities—are part of what inspires people to travel in the first place. So why do salty travelers tend to prefer roads less traveled to the tourist trail? I think there are two main reasons. First, big tourist attractions (naturally) attract lots of tourists, which can make these places feel overcrowded, inauthentic and only tenuously connected to the host culture. Second,… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (0)  | March 22, 2014
Category: Rolf Potts

Vagablogging Field Reporters

Rachel Denning never owned a passport until she had four children under the age of four. Since then, she and her husband have traveled with them to 12 countries on two continents (and added one more to the pack, making it five kids.) A passion for living life deliberately has resulted in a quest to make long-term family travel a reality because of the new experiences it brings and the educational opportunities it provides. Rachel is heartfelt about helping other families discover how to fund travel and encouraging them to live their dream. She also blogs about their family travel… Read More...

Posted by | Comments Off on Vagablogging Field Reporters  | April 9, 2013
Category: Vagablogging Contributors