Welcome to Vagablogging!

Welcome all to my foray into the world of blogging! My primary motivation for setting up this blog was to use it as an ongoing journal for my 2003 book tour — but I also plan to use it as a place to dispense travel advice, share memorable travel quotes from my reading, recommend good online articles and websites, and reflect on the art of travel in general. The real debut of this site will come when I embark on my USA book tour in late January, but in the meantime I plan to dispense some travel advice and information.

In recent days, I’ve been attending to some questions in Bootsnall’s Vagabonding Forum. One reader who is headed on a round-the-world vagabonding stint listed over a dozen places in his itinerary where he might take international flights from point to point. He wanted to know if he should buy those tickets in advance. Here’s a paraphrase of what I told him:

“Leave room in your travels for serendipity! What if you fall in love with the girl of your dreams in Belize and you…

…have that Costa Rica ticket cramping your style? What if you find Egypt to be way more amazing than you expected (as I did in 2000), but your Kenya ticket drags you away? What if your new friends in Norway invite you to stay for an amazing solstice festival, but you’re due to fly off to Russia?

“My point here is that you’ll have a much better idea for your destinations and itinerary once you’re on the road. It may sound radical sitting at home, but it will make sense once you’re traveling. Let your travels breathe. Allow for spontaneity. Let the locals and other travelers you meet on the road point you toward unknown destinations you’d never dreamed about. Don’t confine your itinerary to a bunch of one-week country-tours and airport taxis. It’s not the number of countries you visit, but the quality of your experience in them. Take things slow (even if this means visiting less countries than you’d wanted), and let things happen. Happily, air tickets are generally much, much cheaper in local bucket shops than anything you’ll find from your travel agent at home, and you can save money while allowing for spontaneity.

“Back when I started a big Asia trip in ’99, I had two weeks planned for Thailand, two weeks for Cambodia, two weeks for Laos, two weeks for Vietnam, two weeks for Burma, two weeks for Malaysia, and four weeks for Indonesia. And you know what? I ended up spending six months in Thailand/Laos/Cambodia/Vietnam alone. It was an amazing time (see http://rolfpotts.com/stories/index.html ). I never made it to Burma that year, but I did two years later (it was amazing). I still haven’t been to much of Malaysia or Indonesia, but I know I will someday, and I’m glad I’ve waited to do those countries deliberately. So this might not be the specific answer you were looking for, but in a very general sense, I think that slowing down and making most of your transportation arrangements en route will allow you to have a much more satisfying vagabonding experience.”

To add on to this, another poster asked where the best place was to buy air tickets en route. I told him this:

“When on the road, any major city traveler’s ghetto will have travel agents and bucket shops to take care of you. That is, wherever you find cheap places to stay and eat, you should also find cheap air travel shops. The rock-bottom prices are usually pretty standard (and are usually served by local airlines you never hear about Stateside), so do some comparison shopping. A good place to start is in the local English-language newspaper ads, or local expat magazines and websites. You can also ask other travelers or expats. Make sure the prices quoted include all fares and taxes. Compare both round-trip and one-way prices as well (since one-way isn’t always the best bargain). After a couple hours of research and shopping, you’ll usually have an idea for the best bargains. And sometimes you’ll find air bargains to places you never considered visiting before! Lots of people go to, say, Bangkok thinking of flying on to Beijing or Singapore, but they end up in Katmandu, Perth, or Paris because these destinations are just a few hundred dollars away!”

Posted by | Comments Off on Welcome to Vagablogging!  | December 24, 2002
Category: Vagabonding Advice

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