Vagabonding Case Study: Jorge Mendoza

Jorge Mendoza

Age: 23

Hometown: Valley Center, San Diego

Quote: “Personal freedom begins with a leap of faith… you only regret the things you don’t do.

How did you find out about Vagabonding, and how did you find it useful before and during the trip?

My friend Dayne told me about it, after the movie “A Map For Saturday” put the idea in my head, this book made me pull the trigger.

How long were you on the road?

5 months this trip, I had planed on a year but I had to make sure I was back in California in July for my Friend Billy’s wedding, theres no way I would miss it.. I’m a groomsman and its a huge honor. I plan on working for a couple months and heading out again soon.

Where all did you go?

Australia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos

What was your job or source of travel funding for this journey?

I have been a firefighter for the last 4 years, i went into my fire academy right before I turned 18 and have steadily been climbing the ladder since. The last 3 years I have been working for Cal Fire as a seasonal Firefighter. It’s been awesome and an amazing opportunity but looking at my life now is the ideal time for this kind of thing.. I basically just saved up all last year..

Did you work or volunteer on the road?

I stayed at Billy’s aunts house in OZ, I helped her clean some damage from Yasi in bramson beach, I loaded produce into trucks in Cairns, and helped an old man sail his yacht from gumloo, though the whitsundays and to Mackay Harbor.. basically just odd jobs

Of all the places you visited, which was your favorite?

Thats probably the hardest question everyone has asked me, out of everything I think I enjoyed Vietnam the most, I made really good friends there and had some unbelieveable experiences.. plus now I get to start stories with ” back when I was in ‘Nam..”

Was there a place that was your least favorite, or most disappointing, or most challenging?

Theres no place I disliked really, just experiences I could have done without, if you open the Cambodian lonely planet you can read all about the “scam bus” I rode from Trat to Siem Reip… The Angkor Temples were still pretty cool tho.

Did any of your pre-trip worries or concerns come true? ┬áDid you run into any problems or obstacles that you hadn’t anticipated?

Not really, cause I didnt know what to expect, everywhere I visited was different to what I expected.. I didnt get robbed or in any serious trouble.. a few of my friends got mugged or sick but I was generally pretty lucky.. people are usually more resilient than they expect.

Which travel gear proved most useful?  Least useful?

My first aid kit was pretty usefull, I bandaged alot of feet while I was out, feet get pretty beat up.. i never once wore my jeans in Asia, they were heavy and took up alot of space..

What are the rewards of the vagabonding lifestyle?

You find out how little you really need to survive, some clothes and food, usually did the trick, you read alot more (for pleasure, not just textbooks), you learn that your responsible for your own happiness, you can have as good or a crappy a time as you chose.

What are the challenges and sacrifices of the vagabonding lifestyle?

I’m really close to my family and friends, I missed birthdays and special events.. If there was a way to come back just to hug my mom on mother’s day I would have.

What lessons did you learn on the road?

To get out of your comfort zone (“There is a direct correlation between and increase sphere of comfort and getting what you want” -TF)

How did your personal definition of “vagabonding” develop over the course of the trip?

I had a rough year before my trip, one of the main reasons was to just get away and clear my head, the last 8 years of my life have been spent taking orders and doing what others wanted. It was nice not to have to double check with someone if I was making the right choice and to let life itself make its decisions for me.

If there was one thing you could have told yourself before the trip, what would it be?

You’re mind will be blown more times than you can possibly imagine.. your doing the right thing.

Any advice or tips for someone hoping to embark on a similar adventure?

Personal freedom begins with a leap of faith… you only regret the things you don’t do…

When and where do you think you’ll take your next long-term journey?

I think it will be november, my friend Yoshimi is visiting from Japan and staying at my house for two weeks, so she offered her house.. it would just be rude not to take her up on that offer… although I don’t know if I will be able to stay put for 4 months… I guess we’ll find out..

Twitter: jmcb51 Website:

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Posted by | Comments (1)  | September 14, 2011
Category: Vagabonding Case Studies

One Response to “Vagabonding Case Study: Jorge Mendoza”

  1. Dan Says:

    Love it man. Way to make it happen.

    I grew up in Escondido and went to Orange Glen-good to see a local boy spotlighted on here! And way to quote a little Tim Ferriss. All the best to you, and thanks for your inspiration.