Vagabonding Case Study: The Redpaths
Age: Bob: 45 Brenna: 44 Owen: 12 Eleanor: 9
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Quote: “We wondered if we’d all kill each other. Instead we had a ball.”
How did you find out about Vagabonding, and how did you find it useful before and during the trip? We read the book before we left. We had a concept of a different way of travel, and Vagabonding was a really terrific shot of encouragement and inspiration.
How long were you on the road? 14 months
Where all did you go? Serbia, Poland, Austria, Hungary, Scotland, Italy, France, Germany, Peru, Morocco…
What was your job or source of travel funding for this journey? We sold almost everything we owned before we left. We bit into our IRA’s towards the end.
Did you work or volunteer on the road? Volunteered: We shot and produced WebVideo PromoDocs for non-profits and NGO’s in South America.
Of all the places you visited, which was your favorite? Oh wow. Bob and Eleanor would probably say the little town in Provence, France, where we spent a month: St Quentin la Poterie. For Owen, absolutely Scotland, specifically Perth. Brenna has such a hard time answering this question… but she’d like to spend more time in Spain, and in Italy. Paris was pretty awesome too.
Was there a place that was your least favorite, or most disappointing, or most challenging? The kids say Morocco. We were there for two weeks. Brenna thought 2 months (in and out of) Cusco, Peru was challenging. Cooking was really hard in that altitude, and cooking local recipes with local ingredients is one of the ways Brenna likes to experience a culture. Bob might say Morocco too, although with time and space he’s altering his opinion on that.
Did any of your pre-trip worries or concerns come true? Did you run into any problems or obstacles that you hadn’t anticipated? Of Course! And also – not really. We didn’t know what to expect, and we didn’t have much of a plan. Constantly planning our next destination took a lot of time. A LOT of research. And of course sometimes we just showed up and hoped for the best. I think we wondered if we’d all kill each other. Instead we had a ball.
One of the obstacles that we were constantly dancing with was the Schengen Zone. We got around it — or maybe a better way of saying that is, worked with it — by maxing out our Schengen visa days and then going to the UK (we talked about Turkey for a while but, decided against it) for six months and then, back to continental Europe.
Which travel gear proved most useful? Least useful?
- Our GPS. His name is Roger, and he was the 5th member of our family.
- Vacuum travel bags. They keep out moisture, as well as compacting big winter coats down to nothing.
- Our luggage scale. We had so much electronic gear that bag weight was a constant concern. The scale was instrumental.
- AND our computer — the ONLY way to be able to hit the road and plan/book as you go.
Least: Travel pillows.
What are the rewards of the vagabonding lifestyle? Being together as a family. Having the freedom to be spontaneous. Watching the kids KNOW that different isn’t wrong – It’s just different. Watching our comfort zones expand. Becoming Bold. Pretending to be local. Making connections with amazing people all over the world.
What are the challenges and sacrifices of the vagabonding lifestyle? Friends back home go on with their lives, and even though they love you, it’s still not the same. It gets lonely.
Hitting each new town, new country, and adjusting all over again: find the neighborhood market, find the pan in the kitchen, figure out how the door lock works, and teach everyone. Figure out the pedestrian culture, what side of the street to drive on, when the shops are closed (we spent so many Sundays without supplies in France!)… Learning enough of a language to communicate
What lessons did you learn on the road? We can do anything.
How did your personal definition of “vagabonding” develop over the course of the trip? When we started this trip, I wouldn’t have classified us as vagabonders. We carried a lot of luggage and electronic gear, we traveled as a family (not solo), we lived in rented houses instead of hostels. Now I think Vagaonding is a state of mind about travel: An openness to let serendipity do it’s magical thing – even an expectation that it will. An ability to make big mistakes, and laugh about it right then. A habit of not judging an experience by your expectations going in, but by the experience itself. Before our trip my idea of a ‘Vagabonder’ had to do with what a guy carried with him, and how expensive his bed for the night was. Now it has much more to do with the reason WHY you travel. A vagabonded travels to be changed, not to change the rest of the world.
If there was one thing you could have told yourself before the trip, what would it be?
- Relax. The things you can’t possibly know to plan now are so many it will astound you. It doesn’t matter. It’ll all be OK.
- You are more capable than you could imagine.
- The frame you put around the experience has EVERYTHING to do with the experience itself. Raining in Madrid all day? Do you bitch cause you’re wet, and you didn’t get your list of sights seen? Or do you duck into a little hole-in-the-wall, soaked to your underwear, and spend the entire afternoon sitting at the bar, eating incredible tapas, and drinking with the locals? It’s your choice.
Any advice or tips for someone hoping to embark on a similar adventure? Do it! Worry later.
When and where do you think you’ll take your next long-term journey? Here’s the plan: Get hired shooting PromoDocs for businesses this summer (during Hiatus in the TV industry). Get that work in another country, and spend the summer abroad working. The kids are voting for Scotland. Sounds good to me. I just have to make it happen.
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