Vagabonding: How adventurers and stories inspire the modern traveler

On June 3rd, 2015

Vagabonding-wholeToday, there’s a Facebook group for just about everything. Full-time families, digital nomads, long-term travelers, family travelers, solo travelers and everyone in between have a footprint in the digital world. Just how drastically the Internet has changed a traveler’s adventure we will never know, but, whether you are a traveler of the WIFI generation or one from those that came before, the art of adventure hasn’t changed. Location independence may be the catchphrase of today, but explorers and vagabonds have been journeying the earth’s surface for centuries finding their own way in the world, having and sharing those all encompassing life-changing experiences.

Vagabond: a person, usually without a permanent home, who wanders from place to place

Some of us crave travel from the minute we wake to the last time we blink our eyes shut at the end of the day. But what is it that we crave in those moments? Is it truly the get up and go and the process taken to get from place A to destination B, or is it the magic in the middle when travel forces us out of our comfort zone, to reach down deep inside and experience something new or grant us that opportunity to find something new in ourselves? What if there’s a little vagabond in each of us and we’ve only to find a way to set her free? Life is a series of experiences and choosing to travel explodes the possibilities.

Digital Nomad: someone who uses technology, especially a laptop and a wireless network to work remotely from anywhere in the world (Macmillan Dictionary)

Perhaps we are all descendants of nomads and explorers who came before us. Ernest Shackleton journeyed to Antarctica while Sir Edmund Hilary scaled the peaks of Everest. Freya Stark explored the Middle East while Captain James Cook mapped the Pacific region. Marco Polo spent time in China while Ernest Hemmingway found time between his writings to continue his own exotic adventures. Writing about it or living it, or doing both at the same time, wanderers have existed for centuries. Their experiences changed their lives and their writings changed ours. They took the time to travel, to really see what was in front of them and somehow found a way to convey the depth of their experiences to an audience. Their journeys opened their minds and for us and opened doors. Those who came before us wove the paths on which we wander today. Their twists and turns, and bumps and bruises showed us the possibilities.

“Vagabonding is an attitude – a friendly interest in people, places, and things that make a person an explorer in the truest, most vivid sense of the world, Vagabonding is not a lifestyle, nor is it a trend. It’s just an uncommon way of looking at life – a value adjustment from which action naturally follows. And, as much as anything, vagabonding is about time – our only real commodity – and how we choose to use it.”

–Rolf Potts, Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel

Travel has changed over centuries. Having its beginnings in long walks and ship expeditions, those who choose to seek a different way of understanding have always had a place. The uncommon, off the beaten path vagabonds have been circling the globe for decades prior to the ability to post their every discovery on Instagram. They kept logs, journals and diaries of daily thoughts, dreams and interactions, similar in nature to what’s found on today’s web-blogs. Some set a course and stayed on it while others veered off finding things greater than they ever could have expected. They all returned changed. Perhaps they looked a bit weathered or haggard, but life happened in those weeks, months and years of journey and the person who left was very different from the one who returned.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” –Mark Twain

Having seen other cultures, lived amidst other peoples and discussed, eaten and worked among other accents, religions, and histories, the explorer came alive. Dreams changed, minds opened and possibilities seemed endless on and after this journey. The traveler is left wanting more. More to see, more to explore, more to do, more to dream, more to change, more to impact, more to listen to, more to understand, more to learn and more to teach – the traveler is forever changed.

“Having an adventure is sometimes just a matter of going out and allowing things to happen in a strange and amazing new environment – not so much a physical challenge as a psychic one.”

– Rolf Potts, Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel

Exploration is not new. Travel is not new. Vagabonding is not new. Desire to take a journey (whether real or within) is not new. Change can only happen when our comfort zones are broadened, when desire overrides fear and when the heart and mind are ready. It can be new decisions, changes in routine, interactions with new ideas or plunging deep into the unknown of a world very different from your everyday – not all travel is the same, yet it all has merit.

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”

– Ibn Battuta

-Today’s world-schooling families traipse across the globe introducing their children to the world at large. Small only in years, their daily education is filled with people, sounds, aromas, ideas and interactions with many different than themselves.

-Digital nomads work from anywhere with a computer and Internet connection while exploring the new and different everyday.

-Thousands, nearly millions, speak daily about work-life balance and how carpe diem moments are not to be dismissed.

-Staggering numbers of millennials, baby boomers and all in between leave the traditional for that of the unknown and a chance to experience a world where time trumps deadlines and experience is teacher.

“How’s your thirst for adventure?…Unquenchable!”

–Tin Tin

Society has always had its outliers. Kerouac, Twain, Thoreau, Emerson and so many more taught us to grab life by the horns, explore, dream and live. Outsiders may think those digital nomads or vagabonds are on a permanent holiday or running away from the traditional confines of society for some strange reason. We know better. We’ve found a way to quench our souls from the inside. We’ve found a way to honor those explorers who came before us and continue our own quest for adventure in a way that works today. Short term travel, off the grid travel, long term travel, location independence, world-schooling, or whatever it’s being called today-life and travel meld together in a way that works for countless individuals. Channel those authors from your youth who challenged you to choose your own adventure. “Not all who wander are lost” (JRR Tolkien), in fact, it just may be the act of seeking that helps us find that for which we had no idea we were even looking.

Happy travels.

For more of Stacey’s travel musings, check out her blog.

Image: View Apart (Shutterstock)