Vagabonding Case Study: Keith Savage

On November 13th, 2015

Keith Savage of Traveling Savage 429842_10151351816850386_1435402584_n

Age: 35

Hometown: Madison, WI

Quote: “The most important lesson for us was the power of a budget.”

How did you find out about Vagabonding, and how did you find it useful?

I read Rolf’s book a long time ago – I think I found it after browsing through recommended reading on Amazon. The title just jumped out at me and I was pleasantly surprised to read a book about travel that spoke to my situation at the time: a corporate office worker seeking to travel but having limited time to do it.

After I read the book, I naturally investigated the website and I’ve found it to be full of useful tips and inspiring stories. I think it might have planted the seed for my current journey.

How long were you on the road?

I am still in the midst of my travels. For most of the year I live at home in Wisconsin, but I get out to Scotland between one and three times every year for research purposes.

Where did you go?

After visiting Argentina, I adjusted the focus of Traveling Savage to focus solely on Scotland. Since then I have taken 1-3 trips to Scotland each year. 

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

Over the past five years I’ve been traveling off and on to Scotland. I write weekly articles for my site, Traveling Savage, and provide Scotland trip-planning consultation services to prospective travelers. I’ve also been working on a novel for the past three and a half years.

Do you plan to work on the road?

Being on the road is my work. I spend every day researching the cultural, natural, and historic sites of Scotland, collecting ideas to allow me to write for a full year after I return home to Wisconsin.

Which destinations do you hope to visit?

Early on in the Traveling Savage venture I had a list of eight places around the world that I planned to visit. I shifted my vision early on and chose to focus solely on Scotland. It has turned out to be a good decision.

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

Scotland. It’s near to my heart and the focus of my Web site.

My wife continues to work at her corporate job. We still have mortgage payments, bills, and all the miscellaneous expenses of owning a home.

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

Argentina was challenging. I had intended to get close to the culture and share the stories that arose during my travels, but not speaking the language fluently proved to be an insurmountable obstacle. I couldn’t get as close as I wanted, and it was this trying experience that forced me to reconsider the plan I’d had to visit eight very different countries around the world. After all, Spanish was the language I learned in school!

What are you packing for the journey?

For me, packing for a week-long, month-long, or year-long trip would probably be pretty similar. I will not be checking any baggage thanks to a couple of Tom Bihn bags I picked up, the Aeronaut and the Smart Alec. The Aeronaut will hold all of my clothing and toiletries and the Smart Alec will contain my laptop, external hard drives, iPhone, cables, books, and other gadgetry.

I pack light: a couple of pairs of convertible pants, a few shirts, etc.

Which travel gear proved most useful? Least useful?

Nothing too surprising, but my iPhone is crucial for being able to flexibly connect to the internet wherever there’s wifi.

What are the rewards of the vagabonding lifestyle?

I don’t think I’m qualified to answer this question as I never truly vagabonded during my venture. Every 3-5 weeks I returned home to my house, wife, cars, and cats.

Do you have any worries or concerns about the journey?

Five years into my Traveling Savage venture, I’ve pretty well ironed out the hiccups. The main issue is earning a consistent living that can help pay the bills. Last year I introduced my consultation services and that has been wildly successful, for more sought after than I could have possibly imagined.

Any tips or lessons learned from the travel-preparation process?

The most important lesson for us was the power of a budget. By creating savings goals and monitoring our monthly spending, we were able to accumulate the needed resources much more quickly than we thought possible. Prior to this plan, we didn’t hold ourselves to a budget, and sometimes we think back and lament all of the money we could have saved.

The point is that if you’re anything like me, someone working a good office job but looking for something more in line with passions, don’t let money be an excuse. You can put together a plan that will turn a dream into a reality.

What lessons did you learn on the road?

I learned what was important to me, and for that alone it was all worth it. Family, friends, loved ones — I didn’t want to see the wonders of the world without them. I also learned how to rely on myself, coping mechanisms for bad times, and my personal limitations for all things travel.

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

Stop basing your plans on the best-case scenario. I was victim of my own rose-tinted glasses. Part of that was due to the excitement of getting out of a job that felt very constraining at the time, and part of it was sheer hoping it would all work out. It has worked out, just differently.

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

Have a plan B and remember to be flexible on your journey. Whether you’re trying to start a business or just traveling from country to country. Don’t rigidly adhere to the plan you set down ahead of time. You can’t know what it will be like to be out on the road until you’re there. Adapt.

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

I don’t foresee a long-term journey in my future. The 3-4 weeks jaunts each year work well with my personality type and budget!

Read more about Keith  on his website, Traveling Savage.

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Image: Brian Yap (flickr)