Vagabonding Case Study: Michael Hodson

Michael Hodson 7117_708396211287_13609822_41749872_709257_n

Age: 46
Hometown:  Fayetteville, Arkansas
Quote:  Improve or go backwards, there is no standing still.
How did you find out about Vagabonding, and how did you find it useful before and during the trip?
I read Vagabonding before I took off on my RTW trip in late 2008. It was one of those books that was simply very inspirational. Back then, there weren’t too many people out there writing about long-term travel, so it was one of the sources of inspiration and education before I took off on my own journey.
How long were you on the road?
I left the USA in December of 2008 and haven’t gone back. Well, I go back every year to see my family for a few weeks, but I’ve been a permanent traveler and wanderer for over five years now. With no plans to stop in the near future.
Where did you go? 
I set off in December of 2008 in an attempt to circle the globe without ever using an airplane. It took me sixteen months, six continents, and fifty-four countries (plus the southernmost and northernmost cities in the world), but I succeeded. It was the first of my “challenge travel” adventures, which are the things that excite me the most about travel still.


What was your job or source of travel funding for this journey?
I was a lawyer in the States for ten years before I left, so I funded those initial travels solely on the money I’d made doing that. Later on, as I kept traveling, I got a lot more serious about travel blogging to try to make money off that and now I do mostly video production for travel clients to keep going.

Did you work or volunteer on the road?
I didn’t on my initial RTW trip, which made it so much the better. I wish that I could get back to those days of travel purely for the sake of travel, but alas, the evil of the necessity of money keeps popping its ugly head up, if only to have money for good wine and food.
Of all the places you visited, which was your favorite?
Really tough question that I get all the time and I have so many ways to answer it. My favorite country in the world is New Zealand. I’d love to live there eventually, followed closely for that purpose by Italy. But most times when regular tourists or friends are asking, they want to know good countries to go visit for a couple weeks and I give them: Colombia, Namibia, Turkey, and Cambodia.
Was there a place that was your least favorite, or most disappointing, or most challenging?
I really can’t stand Russia or most Russians, frankly. They are horrible tourists and not much better in their home country. Aside from St. Petersburg, which is fabulously lovely (but far more European than the rest of Russia), pretty much the rest of the country is a place I’d not keen to go back to. As to the Russian tourists, I’ve seen signs in at least 5 dive shops from around the world on the wall saying “No Russians Allowed.” I’m in pretty much agreement with that sentiment.
Which travel gear proved most useful?  Least useful?
 Again, I’m a bit different than the normal traveler. I work on the road, so I have to have my laptop, my hard drives (8 of them right now), my cameras (5 of them), my drone, my microphones and the stuff I need to shoot and edit video and make a living. What non-work item is the most useful on my travels? No doubt my iPod. Because I do mostly overland travel, I spend a lot of time in transit and having music is a godsend.
What are the rewards of the vagabonding lifestyle?
 Meeting new people and seeing new places. I’m not into travel for any huge life changing reason, and I find most of the people that preach “go travel and it will change you life” to be some of the most annoying people around. That being said, I’m always up for a new meal, a new sight, and a new friend. That’s pretty much the essence of it for me.
What are the challenges and sacrifices of the vagabonding lifestyle?
 It is almost impossible to have a normal social life and it gets really old saying goodbye to people all the time. The less I think about both the better.
What lessons did you learn on the road?
 Because of the way I generally travel, which is overland, the biggest thing I’ve learned is just how massive the planet is. If you fly from the US to Australia, it will take you 16 or so hours to make it. It took me 27 days on a cargo freighter in two separate journeys. The Pacific… it is big. The bonus to just how massive the planet is is that there are so many places to see. I get asked all the time when I’m going to stop traveling because “I must have seen it all.” Far, far from the case. I’m not even close to seeing 2% of the good stuff yet.
How did your personal definition of “vagabonding” develop over the course of the trip?
 The essence of my RTW trip, aside from no airplanes, was also no reservations. Aside from the cargo freighter crossings which had to be booked weeks in advance, I never made a single reservation, for hotel or transport. And it was awesome. Too many people plan too much. Spontaneous travel is so much more fun.
If there was one thing you could have told yourself before the trip, what would it be?
Learn better ways to save up money and budget a bit better. I blew through a ton of cash on that trip. Wish I had some of it still around, so I could work less now.
Any advice or tips for someone hoping to embark on a similar adventure?
Don’t try to work and travel. It really lessens the experience. Save up as much as you can, then travel as long as you can on that.

When and where do you think you’ll take your next long-term journey?
I’m on it. And not stopping anytime soon. Ya’ll come join me and I’ll buy you a beer.


Read more about Michael on his blog, Go See Write , or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.


Website: Go See Write Twitter: @GoSeeWrite

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Posted by | Comments Off on Vagabonding Case Study: Michael Hodson  | August 31, 2014
Category: General, Vagabonding Case Studies

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