Vagabonding Case Study: Karol Gajda

On August 28th, 2015

Karol Gajda of

Age: 34

Hometown: I was born in Wrocław, Poland, but I grew up in Michigan.

Quote: This changes often so I’ll choose one of my favorites that can be used along the vagabonding theme.
“There is no tomorrow! There is no tomorrow! There is no tomorrow!” – Apollo Creed, Rocky III

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

I heard about it through 4 Hour Work Week about 3 years ago. I immediately picked it up and devoured it. I had never gone on any sort of long term travel before so Vagabonding was exceptionally useful. If for no other reason than inspiration.

How long were you on the road?

I left the US on Sept 1, 2009 and, technically, I’m still on the road. But I’ve been mostly back in Wrocław, Poland since mid-2012.

Where did you go?

Mostly Poland for the past 3 years. Prior to that a few months here and there in each of Australia, New Zealand, India, Thailand, Panama, Costa Rica, and Hungary. I also spent a couple weeks or less in approximately 2 dozen more countries. And I spent probably 1 cumulative year in the US over the past 6 years. Mostly in Austin, TX.

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

I’ve been self-employed in marketing, since the year 2000.

Did you work or volunteer on the road?

Work, yes. I also volunteered a few times, but rarely.

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

My favorite cities in the world used to be Austin, TX, Chiang Mai, Thailand, and Wrocław, Poland. But I wouldn’t necessarily say that anymore. Currently, I have no favorite.

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

Costa Rica has probably been the most overrated and underwhelming place I’ve visited. Is the Arenal volcano still being marketed as active? That was definitely the most disappointing experience in my least favorite country. I spent a month in Costa Rica and I don’t plan on returning. Although I did find gallo pinto tasty so CR wasn’t all bad.

Which travel gear proved most useful? Least useful?
My laptop, by far, has been most useful. I have a 2010 13” Macbook Air that has served me well for nearly 5 years now. I don’t have a least useful piece of gear. I use everything I pack and I pack everything in a 36L backpack with room to spare, as well as a small messenger bag for the laptop.

What are the rewards of the vagabonding lifestyle?

Generally, it’s the people I’ve met. Even though I don’t keep in touch or remember most of them.

What are the challenges and sacrifices of the vagabonding lifestyle?

Relationships. I got married so the romantic relationship worked out! But friendships are much more difficult when you know your time in a place is limited and I feel like most of my older friendships have suffered due to being out of sight and out of mind.

What lessons did you learn on the road?

This will probably surprise a lot of people, but I learned that I actually want to move back to the US for an extended period of time. There is a lot there I still haven’t seen and it will be nice to be nearer to friends and family. To put it more succinctly, I learned that relationships matter and a person like me has trouble with them if they have geographical constraints.

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

I would liken it to absolute freedom. Being able to do almost anything at any time. Although, if I’m being honest, I now prefer a non-vagabonding lifestyle with stints of vagabonding thrown in.

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

You started too late. But better now than never. Go, go, go!

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

It’s not for everyone and don’t do it because you read an article or saw some blogger’s edited view point. Do it because you want to. And if you want to, do it while you’re healthy enough to enjoy it.

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

A road trip around the US, hopefully in 2016.

Read more about Karol on his website, Karol.Gajda.

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Image: Andi Campbell-Jones (flickr)