What keeps you inspired to travel?

Over at the Vagabonding.net Q&A, a New Jersey high school teacher named Doug wrote to tell me that he’d read Vagabonding and was inspired to return to the road for a long-term journey. The only problem, he told me, has been keeping inspired as he works to pay off his debts.

“As I sit in the faculty room listening to trivial complaints about life and money,” he writes, “I worry that my excitement will not last the year. I know you mentioned that viewing the world in a different way can make you an outsider, but can you offer advice on keeping up my drive? Can you recommend any inspiring sources? Books? Poems? Movies? People?”

Naturally, I am going to tell Doug to read Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, if nothing else for the wonderfully inspirational poem Song of the Open Road. I have some other ideas as well, but first I’d like some input from you readers in the travel and blogging world. What should Doug read? What should he watch? Who should be talk to?

The Bootsnall Vagabonding forum already has some great recommendation threads regarding books and movies, but I am curious if anyone else has ideas.

So: What keeps you inspired to travel? Post your input below…

Posted by | Comments (6)  | October 22, 2004
Category: Vagabonding Advice

6 Responses to “What keeps you inspired to travel?”

  1. Annette Says:

    There is an entire world of inspiring travel narratives: current, old school, abstract, journalistic, unintentional, etc…

    Where do you want to go, Doug? I’ll make it my goal to find something especially inspirational for you, your destination, your traveling style.

  2. Rachel Morris Says:

    Resources to keep the dream alive? Hmmm. You mean aside from this really inspiring book I came across called ‘Vagabonding’ by, um, Ralph Putz or something?

    Before giving up an incredible job in the UK and selling my home to blow all the profits bussing around the US looking at some of the World’s Largest Things last year, two things kept me from regaining my sanity (thankfully) and on the road to the road:

    A feeling in my gut that I couldn’t truly and seriously contemplate doing anything else and that if I didn’t do it fairly soon I never would.
    And good friends who know me well enough to trust my instincts as well as they do their own and who kept the faith for me on the days I couldn’t.

    All other resources were icing, but useful and tasty icing. They included the movie ‘Baghdad Cafe’; a Lomo camera desperate for shots not-of-Welsh-trees; John Steinbeck’s ‘Travels With Charley’; good red wine; and Talvin Singh’s album ‘OK’.

    On the theory that you must create a vacuum before something can fill it (and another one about never carrying more than you can run with), I got rid of one thing every day for about a year before I set off. A kitchen doohickey I’d never use, a redundant piece of paper; anything that, on reflection, I didn’t want to take or store. It helped keep my momentum up, helped me not to buy lots of new crap – thereby saving more money – and it saved a lot of time when I finally got down to packing.

    Hope this helps: happy hunting.


  3. Dan Says:

    Doug, before leaving my home in Seattle to go on an open-ended working trip through Europe a couple years ago, I decided to get two jobs, neither of which I actually cared about: an almost-FT shift at a coffee shop, and a part-time concierge job that I got through a temp agency that took place on Saturdays and Sundays. The result was that I was way too busy working to spend any money, and after a few short months I was ready to go. Naturally I’m not familiar with your financial or debt situation, but you may be able to cut your projected year in half by getting an evening and/or weekend job at a bar, a restaurant… or even something like copy editing at a law firm, which can be done late at night. I also found that I was *really* inspired to save money and get going once I was doing nothing but working. Good luck!

  4. Allie Says:

    I adore traveling, and have for a long time. I spent four months driving around the United States, and it was a life-changing experiment. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to travel as much as I would like – as I am in my last year of college. I plan to travel extensively after I graduate, hopefully supporting myself by writing, photography or pick-up web design work. (Crazy, I know.)

    As I sit here in an SEO meeting (I am a Webmaster for a publishing group, in addition to college), I easily transport myself to Moosehead Lake in Maine, or Zugspitze in Germany, by listening to Yo-Yo Ma, Nick Drake or Ben Harper.

    However, there are several books that encourage me:
    “Travels with Charley” by Steinbeck, which was previously mentioned. This is such a phenomenal book, and I guarantee it is relevant to today.
    “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac. What can I say?
    “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” – I just picked this up, and I have really enjoyed it.
    “First Time Around the World” by Doug Lansky – Hey, if you want to travel around the world (in one shot) this book is a great resource.
    “Road Trip USA” by James Jensen – This is what I used when I drove around the USA and it was fabulous. Great tips and places to see.
    “Songs for the Open Road” is a compilation of travel poetry, with pieces from Yeats, Tennyson, Shelley and Whitman. It is a wonderful collection.

    I also find other websites (bootsnall.com, globalfreeloader.com), and other travel blogs exciting. I sit on the edge of my seat every day, just waiting to get out there and see the world.

    Take weekend trips, take the long way home, drive the coast, go see an independent foreign film (side note: Motorcycle Diaries was an incredible movie), go sit in a popular cafe in the middle of the closest city and watch, do something you’ve never done or do something you’ve alway done in a different way.

    Just get out there – to quote Thoreau, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”

  5. gary Says:


    “Being able to dispense with something is tantamount to possessing it.”

    So you lose your inspiration to travel, you don’t travel. Problem solved.

    I love to travel, but it gets me in trouble. Money, relationships, career . . .

    I got home from a hell trip in China last summer and I said, I’m never leaving America again! NEVER!

    But with winter break coming, the impulse to take flight is on me again.
    South America looks awfully tempting.

    My problem is the opposite, I wish I would lose my impulse to travel.

    I need to read stories that would discourage me from traveling!!!

    I wish I could settle down. Wanderlust does not come without a price.

    Like that eagles’ song, “Learn to be still.”

    I never will.

  6. mike pugh Says:

    Pico Iyer’s Why we travel essay.

    1 Giant Leap album and DVD.

    Baraka DVD.

    Tanya Shaffer’s Somebody’s Heart is Burning is an accurate depiction of African travel, as is Paul Theroux’s Dark Star Safari.

    Real-time travel blogs like Megan’s inspired me most as I prepared for my own travel odyssey. Fantasies involving European women in tropical paradises buoyed my spirits too.