Rolf Potts is one of my favorite writers, and his book Vagabonding was one of only four books I recommended as “fundamental” in The 4-Hour Workweek. It was also one of two books, the other being Walden; Or, Life in the Woods, that I took with me during my 15+-month mini-retirement that began in 2004.
The following is a guest post from Rolf on the art and lessons of travel, all of which you can apply at home.
Last fall I spoke at the excellent DO Lectures, which brings innovative thinkers from around the world for a series of talks in rural Wales (Tim was a speaker in 2008). My talk, which is available in full via the video link above encourages people to make themselves rich in time and to become active in making their travel dreams happen.
The talk itself contains essential advice and inspiration regarding travel — but what struck me on re-watching it was an improvised moment at the beginning of the talk, when I pointed out how “these aren’t really travel-specific challenges — these are things that can apply to life in general. Think of travel as a metaphor for how you live your life at home.”
Indeed, travel has a way of slowing you down, of waking you up, of pulling you up out of your daily routines and seeing life in a new way. This new way of looking at the world need not end when you resume your life at home.
Here are 5 key ways in which the lessons you learn on the road can be used to enrich the life you lead when you return home…
1) Time = Wealth
By far the most important lesson travel teaches you is that your time is all you really own in life. And the more you travel, the more you realize that your most extravagant possessions can’t match the satisfaction you get from finding new experiences, meeting new people, and learning new things about yourself. “Value” is a word we often hear in day-to-day life, but travel has a way of teaching us that value is not pegged to a cash amount, that the best experiences in life can be had for the price of showing up (be it to a festival in Rajasthan, a village in the Italian countryside, or a sunrise ten minutes from your home).
Scientific studies have shown that new experiences (and the memories they produce) are more likely to produce long-term happiness than new things. Since new experiences aren’t exclusive to travel, consider ways to become time-rich at home. Spend less time working on things you don’t enjoy and buying things you don’t need; spend more time embracing the kinds of activities (learning new skills, meeting new people, spending time with friends and family) that make you feel alive and part of the world.
2) Be Where You Are
A great thing about travel is that it forces you into the moment. When you’re celebrating carnival in Rio, riding a horse on the Mongolian steppe, or exploring a souk in Damascus, there’s a giddy thrill in being exactly where you are and allowing things to happen. In an age when electronic communications enable us to be permanently connected to (and distracted by) the virtual world, there’s a narcotic thrill in throwing yourself into a single place, a single moment. Would you want to check your bank-account statement while exploring Machu Picchu in Peru? Are you going to interrupt an experience of the Russian White Nights in St. Petersburg to check your Facebook feed? Of course not — when you travel, you get to embrace the privilege of witnessing life as it happens before your eyes. This attitude need not be confined to travel.
At home, how often do you really need to check your email or your Twitter feed? When you get online, are you there for a reason, or are you simply killing time? For all the pleasures and entertainments of the virtual-electronic world, there is no substitute for real-life conversation and connection, for getting ideas and entertainment from the people and places around you. Even at home, there are sublime rewards to be had for unplugging from online distractions and embracing the world before your eyes.
3) Slow Down
One of the advantages of long-term travel (as opposed to a short vacation) is that it allows you to slow down and let things happen. Freed from tight itineraries, you begin to see the kinds of things (and meet the kinds of people) that most tourists overlook in their haste to tick attractions off a list. A host of multi-million-dollar enterprises have been created to cater to our concept of “leisure,” both at home and on the road — but all too often this definition of leisure is as rushed and rigidly confined as our work life. Which is more emblematic of leisure — a three-hour spa session in an Ubud hotel, or the freedom to wander Bali at will for a month?
All too often, life at home is predicated on an irrational compulsion for speed — we rush to work, we rush through meals, we “multi-task” when we’re hanging out with friends. This might make our lives feel more streamlined in a certain abstracted sense, but it doesn’t make our lives happier or more fulfilling. Unless you learn to pace and savor your daily experiences (even your work-commutes and your noontime meals) you’ll cheating your days out of small moments of leisure, discovery and joy.
4) Keep it Simple
Travel naturally lends itself to simplicity, since it forces you to reduce your day-to-day possessions to a few select items that fit in your suitcase or backpack. Moreover, since it’s difficult to accumulate new things as you travel, you to tend to accumulate new experiences and friendships instead — and these affect your life in ways mere “things” cannot.
At home, abiding by the principles of simplicity can help you live in a more deliberate and time-rich way. How much of what you own really improves the quality of your life? Are you buying new things out of necessity or compulsion? Do the things you own enable you to live more vividly, or do they merely clutter up your life? Again, researchers have determined that new experiences satisfy our higher-order needs in a way that new possessions cannot — that taking a friend to dinner, for example, brings more lasting happiness than spending that money on a new shirt. In this way, investing less in new objects and more in new activities can make your home-life happier. This less materialistic state of mind will also help you save money for your next journey.
5) Don’t Set Limits
Travel has a way revealing that much of what you’ve heard about the world is wrong. Your family or friends will tell you that traveling to Colombia or Lebanon is a death-wish — and then you’ll go to those places and have your mind blown by friendliness, beauty and new ways of looking at human interaction. Even on a day-to-day level, travel enables you to avoid setting limits on what you can and can’t do. On the road, you naturally “play games” with your day: watching, waiting, listening; allowing things to happen. There’s no better opportunity to break old habits, face latent fears, and test out repressed facets of your personality.
That said, there’s no reason why you should confine that sort of freedom to life on the road. The same Fear-Industrial Complex that spooks people out of traveling can discourage you from trying new things or meeting new people in own your hometown. Overcoming your fears and escaping your dull routines can deepen your home-life — and the open-to-anything confidence that accompanies travel can be utilized to test new concepts in a business setting, rejuvenate relationships with friends and family, or simply ask that woman with the nice smile if she wants to go out for coffee. In refusing to set limits for what is possible on a given day, you open yourself up to an entire new world of possibility.
Naturally, this list is just a sampling of how travel can transform your non-travel life. What have I missed? What has travel taught you about how to live life at home?
If you’ve ever fantasized about taking time off to globe-trot, I would highly recommend Rolf Pott’s Vagabonding. It is one of only two books I took with me when I traveled the world for 18 months. Outside Magazine founding editor Tim Cahill calls Vagabonding “the most sensible book of travel related advice ever written.”
I recently partnered with Rolf to release the exclusive audiobook for Vagabonding. For more on this incredible book, click here.
Footnote from Tim: Are you planning, in the middle of, or returning from a long journey? If so — and if you’d like your travel blog or lifestyle-design website to be featured as one of Rolf’s Vagabonding Case Studies — drop him a line at casestudies [at] vagabonding.net and tell him a little about yourself.
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.
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214 Replies to “5 Travel Lessons You Can Use at Home”
These are absolutely phenomenal! Number 3 (Slow Down) especially, considering it’s so easy to get caught back up in the mix almost immediately after returning from a mini vacation (at least for me it is)
For me I must constantly focus, breathe, and take it easy.
Thanks for the new post, glad to see you back, can’t wait for the new book!
My family (wife and two kids – 7 and 10) traveled to India for 2 weeks over their Christmas break, and now we’re planning to go back for 4 weeks. We started a children’s home there last year, and we’re feeling more and more drawn to traveling as a lifestyle rather than a “vacation.”
Great thoughts – thanks for the inspiration!
That’s fantastic! What part of India? Is it an orphanage type home?
This article was awesome, loved it!
I find it hard sometimes to hold back on buying “things”, because I get caught up in the excitement of owning that item. But when I get that item, I realize that is not what I really wanted, or at least that it was not as good as I was hoping for.
That is not the case with experiences that you can’t put a price tag on.
All these elements relate to the 4HWW, which is why I love that book. The biggest roadblock to achieving our dreams is our ourselves.
I watched that video when it was posted on vagablogging.net and I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed it. I read your book after Tim recommended in the first edition of 4HWW, and beyond just the notion of travel is really changed the way I viewed the world. I often sit down about every 2-3 months to read a particular chapter (the “Keep It Simple” chapter is my favorite) but often end up breezing through the entire book and discovering another little nugget that I previously overlooked.
So yeah, thanks for being awesome. 🙂
Also, I’m yet to head off on a trip anywhere yet (mostly because I only finished school just over a year ago) and while I’m pretty keen on volunteering at the end of the year, whenever I tell my mum/sister about heading over to somewhere like Thailand they bring up the ethical implications of supporting economies that involve considerable exploitation. Do you have any advice? Because I do feel guilty myself that I want to find enjoyment in places where people suffer, even though I’m not the type of person whose going to go into a country, buy cheap alcohol, step all over their customs and then bugger off.
Thailand people are not such an unhappy people. Sure they live much simple life and get a little money for their labor. But I think they happy with what they have. And it’s not exactly correct to judge about that from the distance. You have to come and look for yourself. And please do! Thailand is a wonderful country 🙂
Excellent post Rolf and Tim! The part that hit me the hardest was from point 1:
“By far the most important lesson travel teaches you is that your time is all you really own in life. And the more you travel, the more you realize that your most extravagant possessions can’t match the satisfaction you get from finding new experiences, meeting new people, and learning new things about yourself.”
Great perspective. I find that I feel this exact way whenever I travel – it keeps me hungry for more travel opportunities.
Tim: I’m using Google’s Chromium browser (the developer build of Chrome) and for whatever reason the stylesheet doesn’t seem to be loading. Perhaps it’s just because this version is unstable, but I thought I’d let you know because all other websites seem to be fine.
Here’s a screenshot: http://img31.imageshack.us/img31/9630/screenshot20100226at427.png
Thanks, David. This has been an ongoing issue and I’ll pass this on to my designer. The Interwebs… Bah! 🙂
I’ve been waiting for a post like this Tim, and it seems like perfect timing as I’m now reading Vagabonding, finally. The whole book is full of great thoughts and ideas.
I love the chapter of Don’t Set Limits. Especially when Potts wrote; Vagabonding is about not merely reallotting a portion of your life for travel but rediscovering the entire concept of time.” Also, “Traveler, there is no path. Paths are made by walking.” – Antonio Machado.
I can tell that this book had great influence on 4HWW and how you seem to approach day to day agendas. I would love to hear some of your personal experiences you have from vagabonding – or perhaps specific situations/experiences that have influenced you the most (kinda like the Chinese scam lessons you touched on with Kevin in an episode of Random”).
Thanks for the grea post.
I just returned from a brief stay in Varadero, Cuba. Friends always accuse me of throwing money away for traveling and going to random places at random times. I see this in a very different light. Before I ramble on, here’s the main thing that I’ve learned from all of my trips (never been on a long journey yet):
You never know what someone is truly like until you see them out of their elements. We may think we know our friends really well but we don’t. A true test of character and personality is when you see how a friend reacts outside of their comfort zone.
This is just my opinion and I was wondering if you guys have ever noticed this?
Wow, what great timing. Just got Vegabonding in the mail from amazon and had my travel bug fed by the stories a dude at the bar about how him and his family traveled to Vietnam for a month.
I certainly understand number 3 and how it really helps you appreciate what’s around you. I’ve been in Boston since October and it’s so much fun finding places you can never find in a week of visiting. Thanks for the guidance Tim!
And by the way, welcome back. It’s been a while…
I’m going to need to pick up Vagabonding asap.
Keep it simple is something that I have been struggling with lately and I’ve got to keep reminding myself to be where I am.
Time = wealth means that we’ve all got the same opportunities 🙂
I’ve gotta start doing something more extraordinary! Thanks Tim.
Bah, I’m not sure if one of my comments went through, the one directed at Rolf. If it did, and I’m just impatient then feel free to delete this comment.
Anyways, Rolf: just thought I’d let you know your book Vagabonding changed the way I thought about life quite substantially, and I saw the video embedded above when it was originally posted on your blog and thought it was a brilliant summary of your ideas (still need to show it to my family who are too lazy to read the book and “get” where I’m coming from).
Also, one of the reasons I’m still yet to travel after being out of high school for a year is because my family guilts me into not traveling to places I can afford like Southeast Asia. I’m not the type of person to exploit poorer countries and I’d probably leave a lighter footprint than most other people, but there’s still that feeling that I may be contributing to the exploitation of workers by participating in tourism.
What is your opinion on that? Obviously you’re fine with travel, and it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but there’s still that sense of guilt that keeps being brought up to keep me at home.
you weren’t messing around with the comeback. This is a long one.
Thanks Tim and Rolf! That video was great. I decided this year to set my life up for traveling, and after I finish working on a few low maintenance revenue streams I’ll be taking a month long trip to Egypt which has been a dream of mine for years. Reading Vagabonding and watching this really keeps me motivated.
Beautiful and thoughtful post Tim. I find myself nodding my head and muttering uhuh…uhuh in agreement at these truths that I have been experiencing myself so often lately in my travels.
Thank you for saying it so well.
Ok everyone, head for Colombia and Lebanon!
Tim / Rolf,
I am currently in the middle of reading Vagabonding and can hardly put it down. For me, the biggest challenge is finding financial freedom to travel. My wife and I have 2 kids (4 and 2 year old) and live in place that is great for us, but in all honesty is keeping us tied down. I have a job, which is in a cubical, but for our family is currently a necessary evil.
Between reading Tim’s new version of the 4HWW and now your book Rolf. Sorry Tim, I should have read Vagabonding the first time I read 4HWW. I am now at a point where my desire to have more time consumes me and has resulted in forcing action. I can say my gears are turning to automate towards financial freedom using 4HWW principles. Recently I’ve been able to make some changes that allow me more time with those that are most important at home. We can’t wait for our first mini-retirement, I will definitely write about it and hopefully inspire someone else to take one.
It is good to hear from you, shoot me an email if you are ever in Los Angeles.
Welcome Back Tim! Glad to see you’re writing again.
people almost always think time=money but it does NOT.
you can always get your money back – you’ll never get back your time… nice quote here. “By far the most important lesson travel teaches you is that your time is all you really own in life. And the more you travel, the more you realize that your most extravagant possessions can’t match the satisfaction you get from finding new experiences, meeting new people, and learning new things about yourself”
and, if i may -more on time here: http://bit.ly/cKbQ0b
thanks for getting back on it – recognize you’ve been a little pre-occupied!
I read the article before watching the embedded video. I think the article is more coherent, and it’s great. It will be a struggle to learn to savour my daily 45-minute car ride to work though.
I picked up VAGABONDING several years back right before I was about to leave Asia to come back to the States (back home to Texas). After reading it I immediately changed my travel plans to “wander” back through Europe, the UK and New York on the way. The six week “return” was almost as memorable as the 14 months before, living and working in Hong Kong. Since then, I’ve been recommending the book to friends as a must-read before travels…
…or rather – thank you Rolf for saying it so well!
I completely, 100% agree. I’ve traveled up and down the East Coast of America, and I’ve been to Canada, but I flew to Ireland with my parents, and I was the one who was always saying “Stop”. The pictures I took while there were always “off the beaten path”, and I experienced the country and country-side that way. My image of Ireland, which has many meanings to me, and as far as my own family history is concerned, is very deep and detailed, but when I saw the country, it was very different.
Ultimately, it was beautiful and the images I have in my head can not compare to those photos, even as incredible as they were. Not to mention the cities we visited in the 2 weeks we were there, Ireland is somewhere I can say that I’ve experienced. I have no need to go back, but I hope that everywhere else I go, I will see with the same open, perspective.
This guy has great advice for traveling.
I like the idea of not limiting the playfulness and freedom of traveling to just times in which you are actually traveling. We can still take that mentality and apply it to our daily lives.
Thanks Rolf for that thoughtful post. I have been checking out your website and will order your book soon. Perhaps I will end up buying as many for friends and family as I did the 4HWWK
Well said. I found #5 recently so true. My wife and I went off on to a trip to Jordan, Lebanon and Syria last October. As we are American citizens, I am sure you can imagine most of the advice we received before the trip. Hard to describe what a wonderful time we had and what a life changing experience it was to talk to people as we moved from town to town. Looking at Afghanistan for 2011! Tim, thanks for the recommendation re: the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.
wow, thanks for the advice. Especially about slowing down. I find that when i am in a relaxed state, that i end up doing much better overall. Also the idea that time equals money also makes scene to me. Thanks again for the advice, looking forward to your next post.
I myself just got back from a 3 week trip in Buenos Aires…. If I could I would explain how much I got out of the trip. I will send a video clip……
Tim, thanks for keeping it real & the best to you, bro!
Two years ago, I did what people thought as a crazy idea. I packed up my bags and began a travel journey. It was a journey to discover about myself and about life. I began my travels in New Zealand, then to Fiji, then to Australia and now I am in Southeast Asia doing another leg of discoveries. The funny things is that I only had enough to sustain me for a few months but because of that decisive step, I was never lacking. I found ways to sustain myself usually from working on farms, to doing odd jobs, etc. I may not be wealthy to enjoy beautiful hotels or fancy restaurants but I do feel so rich because nothing beats seeing the sunset rise on top of a mountain or swim the crystal clears beaches or drinking beer with new friends you made along the way.
After reading the 4 Hour Work Week, I felt relieved that I was doing something most people would dream of doing. Thank you very much and keep us inspired!
I like the idea of the playfulness too, there is so much we miss out on, which the 4 hour work week helps solve. Great book. fantastic writing.
I spent 2 years simply wondering around Asia (China, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Lao) and it was the most exciting and also the most calming experience.
With a place that is new and time to graze you really are their in the moment. On my return back to London i had that and noticed the architecture, the people, the accents and all the wonderful things that make London great.
After a year that has subsided but i think i’m going to buy the Lonely Planet guide to London and be a tourist for a bit.
Great blog post.
A former professor of mine is bicycling through south east Asia right now. I almost went with him. He’s got a pretty good blog. http://www.dwightworker.com.
I think his biggest challenge for him was was simply his farm, spending too much time doing maintence, or really improvements rather than enjoying his time. It came down to bighting the bullet, and getting rid of a lot of stuff he didn’t need, and realizing that as cool as the farm is, it’s more time efficient to do one hours work to buy a years worth of chicken, than it is to spend a year raising chicken. Even if you enjoy what you do, sometimes freedom results in a bigger payoff.
This is a STUNNINGly good post! A little counter-intuitvely it seems there’s some zen-ish lessons embedded in there which might not have initially been anticipated.
I love travelling…
Your time is all you own, be in the moment and slow down… Travel gives you a kind of disattachment to the straw-man lives most people pursue – big houses, big cars, tons of possessions…
Travel gives you that over-sight to see that these things are not only not necessary, but much of the time they create attachments you can do better without.
Point 5 seems to offer both a perspective of open-mindedness, but also a lesson of courage.
You travel to the other shore and realise that it’s nothing like you could have imagined, or like the conventionals back home think. On top of that, you’ve learn to get out there, to take the risk, and to plunge in.
Damn this is good stuff! 🙂
2009 was a year that did not allow for easy success in my business. I was at the point that all of my energy was being used to push back the negativity to maintain a positive attitude.
I checked out went to Cambodia and Thailand to visit orphans that we sponsor though Asia’s Hope. Made the trip with some good friends. 10 days checked out from the business in SE Asia transformed my spirit. I came back with a renewed fresh perspective.
The economy did not change, my business did not change, but the change in my spirit unlocked new energy. In the 6 weeks following the trip the business went from the negative to the positive side of the P&L in 2009.
The positive trend is continuing in 2010
The combination of spiritual seeking and service encapsulated in travel is an elixier that I’ll turn to again. Checking out was the best way to push forward.
Thanks Rolf and Tim. I enjoyed vagabonding immensly. I’ve just started blogging and have begun to seek freelance consulting gigs as a dietitian with the home that eventually I can be completely mobile.
You’ve both been an inspiration to me.
What an amazing post. “Being where you are now”, is such a profound statement and something that we can all learn from. I think we shoudl all take time to experience life in the here and now.
Must get a hold of the vagabonding book as well.
Also checked out the http://www.dolectures.com/ website where the video is from – some other amazing videos as well.
Keep it simple. When you travel it’s so humbling to realise how very wrong we in the “developed” world have got it wrong in terms of prioritising material wealth over family.
Thanks Rolf for writing and sharing this with us and to Tim for hosting it too.
What do I miss out on having thrown out my TV and by leaving the iPod at home on trips? Nothing.
Perfect timing! 😀
Awesome post. I’ve read both 4HWW and Vagabonding numerous times, they are both easily two of my favorite books.
I’m currently on my first mini-retirement in Italy for three months and planning my second for an entire year in Spain. These two books have changed my thoughts on life and travel and I’ll never sit behind a desk again.
Thanks Tim and Rolf for the valuable advice, your stories and successes are an inspiration to all.
Good stuff… I appreciate the part on being where you are
In addition to all the benefits that Rolf mentioned, travel always sparks my creativity. The new routine, environment, things to learn, etc. can be very stimulating. I’ve learned to thoroughly research a destination (its history, culture, interesting stories, etc.) to get the most from my visit. I also carry a small notebook or sketchpad with me to jot down new ideas. Lastly, I take a lot of photos to capture the visual images of the adventure. Many of the people we profile on our blog, who are reinventing their lives in interesting ways, have travel as a cornerstone of their lifestyle.
Thanks everyone for the great feedback!
Thanks also to all of you who have inquired about the Vagabonding Case Studies. I’m looking forward to making that feature a key part of my blog. My hope is that vagabonders will use it to share their experiences, inspire others, and create a community that mixes travelers (and would-be travelers) of all experience levels, sharing ideas and inspiration.
Glad to see so many people here with such clear-headed travel ambitions (and awesome travel experiences) who are really giving thought to the idea that travel can be an ongoing way of life instead of an “escape” from life. Travel is a great way to realize that the “experiential” is so much more important than the “material” in day to day life. We’re all born equally rich in time; it’s just a matter of how we choose to actualize that wealth.
I love Boyd’s example of how travel unlocked the kind of energy that made his work life more fruitful when he got home. I’m reminded of that T.S. Eliot line (which I quote in Vagabonding): “We shall not cease from exploration / And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time.” Travel allows us to see (and live at) home in a rejuvenated way.
@MD: I hear what you’re saying about travel being a litmus test for interacting with family and friends outside of a certain comfort zone. I’ve known many couples whose key test of compatibility was a multi-month journey around the world (and some of those people went on to get married).
@David: I appreciate your question (and your occasional comments over at my blog) — it’s good to consider ethics and economics as you travel. That said, the people who live in SE Asia would probably be bemused at the idea of your “guilt” at exploitation. The people of a given country are always far more savvy than we give them credit for, and often the “guilt” issue is often a dialogue among well-meaning (but slightly paternalistic) Westerners. It’s essential to travel mindfully and ethically (see ethicaltraveler.org for tips in this regard), but this is pretty easy to achieve when you’re traveling slowly, taking the time to listen, and patronizing the local “mom-n-pop” economy (where your money will go to local families instead of far-off corporations). So your parents need not worry — and if they do, point them to ethicaltraveler.org (or Vagabonding) for more perspectives on mindful and ethical travel.
@Michael: Great to hear that you’re using 4HWW and Vagabonding principles to make things happen for you and your family. I hear from a lot of readers who’ve put their travel and time-wealth dreams into action with the family in tow. Do any of you family-vagbonders reading this post have tips or encouragement for Michael?
@Mark: Just hearing you mention Jordan, Lebanon and Syria made me jealous to go back to those places. One of my favorite chapters in my newest book, “Marco Polo Didn’t Go There,” is about the insane, gregarious hospitality that you find in Beirut. Amazing part of the world.
@Gian: Great to hear you’re doing big things on a small budget on the far side of the world. Sounds like you’re making yourself rich in experiences, budget notwithstanding. Any tips for readers on finding work (and saving money) as you go?
First of all, sorry for responding so late – 2 years to be exact. LOL. I did not realize people like yourself would take time to read comments of people. I really appreciate it.
Yes, I have always been passionate about challenging the norm especially when it comes to traveling. Every one dreams of doing but only a handful actually do it.
I always tell people that traveling need not be expensive. In fact, the best experiences you can have is traveling on a budget because you will go outside of your comfort zone and experience the culture of the places you visit.
Finding work is never easy but I always found going to online writing jobs work for me. In addition, I help create websites for small businesses. So, wherever I am, I can take my work with me. Paypal that is linked to my bank account with an ATM card works well for me. As I can transact on any bank of the countries I visit.
I guess my advise to people is to plan your itinerary. Research online. Talk to other travelers for best spots (this helped me and my friends discover an off the beaten path island of whale sharks not found in your common travel guide books. Sweet!). Travel alone as this will help you make friends and be more daring.
Well, I guess your book says a lot already and I really stoked that you actually read my comment. But, most of all, thank you for inspiring people like us to pursue our dreams and passion. Thumbs up to you! Keep safe always. Hope to hear from you soon!
Oh how I miss travelling!
This was a great post and hopefully I can provide a personal experience which can express how important this idea is.
Growing up in Long Island, NY, both my parents were Principals in inner city schools (NYC). There is something to be said about the teaching profession. Aside from providing a stable income years past retirement, teaching (or administration in my parents case) provides vacation times that obviously coincide nicely with a child’s days off from school.
In the case of my parents though, the administration profession usually requires principals and assistant principals to work through the summer programs. Due to this, my parents were rarely around during my “Boys of Summer” years. Work truly consumed their lives. They would wake up at 5:00AM, leave for work at 6:00AM, arrive home at 6:30-7:00PM. As my father and mother began to notice, their relationship with me began to suffer, especially when I was 13 or 14.
My parents maturely choose to take the next summer off completely. Those three months of “freedom” were going to be used as a tool to bring the family back together. My parents brought my two sisters and myself in a room and asked where WE would like to go. This was a family decision. In the end the choice was made for Europe.
To make a long story short. For three months I experienced countless new cultures, meet so many unique individuals and saw sites that most people DREAM of. But, in the end I was there with my family every step of the way. The bonds of fellowship we had through those three months are ones that still to this day tie us together. All it took was removing us all from our day to day grind, place us together somewhere new and unique and let nature take it’s course.
I am now 24 and have started to yearn again for this feeling. I’ve started to take the first steps to truly make myself part of the NR; both in the mental and physical realm. We all want something more then what we currently have but I challenge you, try wanting for what you already possess. Look around you and take stock in the relationships that you’ve let slip. Rekindle the fire of friendship in the lives of those closest to you. In the end we are our experiences, not our “things.”
Outstanding points and story, Joseph. Thank you all for contributing!
Good stuff guys. I recommend both your books to anyone who will listen. 🙂
I’m following the advice and leaving to vagabond around the world for a year this fall.
My question to either of you is: What is the one thing you wish you had done differently when you first started traveling?
I don’t have a desire for travel, so I can’t compare the feelings of being to these far-away places.
But I can confirm that I use these philosophies in my daily life here at home and they are excellent suggestions for enjoying life.
Excellent reminders that life is to be enjoyed now & the new experiences are what make it a pleasure … thank you!
It all sounds really reasonable – but I suspect there is a huge leaning towards single young people – with no children – in this story? I’d say the advice was useful when I was a university student, but is somewhat impractical now.
I’m certainly not going to consider trading-in time with my kids to spend years travelling. I’d like my kids to go to school and to set themselves up for their adulthood as well through the interactions that brings (home-schooling would dampen the spirit of the vacation, in my view – so it’s not an option).
Search this blog for “Cold Remedy Case Studies” and you’ll see a bunch of families who travel and also handle schooling overseas with no problem.
Hope you like them,
What I really liked about this post is that it doesn’t tell people they have to travel; rather, it shares key benefits of traveling that can be applied at home. Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of entrepreneurs and life coach-types telling people they have to travel to fulfill their lives. (I’m not talking about travel blogs or travel entries; I’m talking about self-improvement or entrepreneurial blogs and/or entries.) While I certainly like to travel, as do many people, this is really opinion. There are many people who have no desire to travel. Unlike many other messages about traveling, those people can benefit more easliy from the message here because the applications at home are clear. Nicely done!
awesome man we missed you…anyway I gotta say that point five really connected. Especially because I am from colombia, well not really but my mom and dad are. And yes so many people always say that it is what you said, but it’s funny because there are so many foreigners that go there man just to like get married and stuff. I lived there half my life and here I am alive and kicking and I can’t say I had a bad or dangerous experience and we didn’t live and the best neighborhood.
So for anyone that is thinking about visiting another country that you believe to be dangerous, I say find someone from there and ask them about it instead of just assuming things.
Also this is awesome timing for this blog post Tim I am already planning my trip around august with my girl, hoping to be in san jose, costa rica visiting my dad that I haven’t seen in a long time and begin my 4 hour work week. Currently working on my muse I find it a little hard but hey…no body said it would be easy right?
Good stuff man I appreciate the post
This whole post seems to be in perfect keeping with the lifestyle design approach of this international wealth management advisor:
He seems to be a cross between Tim and “Simon Black”.
I had a chance to grab a few drinks with Rolf about a year an a half ago when he was in Chicago for a book reading. Awesome and genuine guy. Both of his books helped inspire my 6 month mini retirement around the world in 2009.
Thanks for the article. Its funny, I literally had Vagabonding come through letter box yesterday and I’m half way through already.
Rolf Potts is a truly inspirational guy, I can certainly see why you brought it with you on your monstrous trip!
Alright then, looks like I’ve got another book to add to the list.
I really connected with what Rolf has to say and offer this perspective:
The people that understand and embrace the kind of travel that you speak probably do so because they embrace that kind of lifestyle at home. It’s a natural extension of their current life.
The people with big homes full of things they forgot they owned and constantly connected to their blackberry/iphone/whatever are more likely the ones you see at the airport with 6 bags and a cellphone to their ear as they haul themselves off to some exotic place for a week where they’ll sleep off their jet lag for most of it before coming home and starting all over again.
How do we relay the message to that audience? Must we plug ourselves into their world and try to foster change from the inside?
Maybe we don’t bother at all, looking to connect only with those that already agree, hoping that the influence will eventually permeate.
As always, your posts hit the nail on the head! I am actually doing real work on the computer this afternoon, making sure that the posts for my garage sale mapping web site actually got posted to both my twitter and my facebook pages. Really, Tim, you should install the Su.Pr plugin on this blog. That way not only do your blog posts automatically post — with your own URL as the shortener, you would get the nifty stumbled upon bar at the top for people to give you a thumbs up without having to log into stumbled upon. That and all the tweeting, and re-tweeting, etc., it all gets a bit much.
Anyway, as far as being were I am… I wouldn’t want to live any other way. Yes, I occasionally have to take my computer with me on vacation (not to exotic places, but say, when I’m visiting family for a week). I haven’t yet built a business, I own a job at the moment. Need to rectify that and am making progress.
A compelling read, thanks for sharing. I’m reminded of Mark Twain, arguably one of the most well-traveled Americans in the 19th century, who summed it up well:
“Travel is fatal to prejudice.”
I share the ideas and values expressed in the talk, but – to be honest – I was very surprised so many people found the content of it so “phenomenal”, “amazing”, “great”, “life-changing”, etc…
In a way – paraphrasing the words of your declaration of independence “I hold these Truths to be self-evident”. But maybe this is just because I am European? Within the EU the importance of “slow travelling” is so common understanding that governments pour millions into programmes to have EU citizens spending time abroad (study abroad, volunteering abroad, learning languages abroad…).
I am in no way trying to diminish the feeling of surprise and enlightenment people expressed in this conversation, nor I am trying to diminish the importance of what the speaker shared with the audience. To the contrary: I totally support and share the same values and ideas.
What I wanted to share is my own sense of surprise for discovering that there are parts of the western world where travelling (in the true sense of the word) is somehow still a mysterious art…
Happy travelling to everybody then! 🙂
Excellent posting!!!! I just found the 4HWW a few months ago and I am slowing turning my business (I own it) into a self sufficient model. Thank goodness I have great employees. The changes have allowed me to live in a different state from my employees. Technology rocks!
Now I need to buy Rolf’s book …
Great post Rolf,
Using a combination of Vagabonding and 4HWW I’m currently living in Mexico and heading for Chile and Argentina in a few months:)
Could you put this question to Rolf please Tim (or answer it yourself)?:
How can some people travel round the world and come back transformed while others are the same person they were when they left?
Fantastic Post! This really applies to me, as I am a guy who loves to travel (as you know), but I don’t have enough time for extended travel right now (working on that). One of my favorite aspects of travel is returning back home with a mind opened to meeting new people, experiencing new things, and overall a lot more laid back.
Overall, the biggest lesson that travel has taught me is: don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s amazing how we let the little aspects of everyday life annoy us and worry us. When I return from travel, I have a new perspective on things, especially these things I used to worry about. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of effort to maintain this perspective in the face of hectic everyday life, but I think I’m getting better at it.
In closing, I particularly love point #2 – Be Where You Are. This tip alone can change a person’s life. Not much worse than being with a good friend who can’t stop checking his Crackberry or iPhone.
Thanks again for the tips
just finished Vagabonding, very inspiring book! I’m glad to read rolf’s tips again 🙂
#1 and #2 are my favorites.
Life is definitely not about becoming rich,
it’s all about what you do with your time. Experience life.
It took me a while to figure it out.
Thanx for an inspiring post!
Speaking as someone that likes to check his email 30-40 times a day for my on-line business, It’s getting to the point where I need a real kick in the drawers to wake myself up and realise that there is so much out there to see and do. That’s what turned me on to the 4HWW in the first place.
I wholeheartedly agree that all of this, everything that we do in order to make more money or anything else, is all about buying more time.
So I think that your point about time=wealth is the critical takeaway. The entire reason I’ve developed an info-empire is so that I can get more time back. Now if I can just convince myself that those emails will still be there at the end of the day, or even next week…
We are so wrapped-up in the virtual “us” that we are quickly becomming just like the movie “Surrogates” (which everyone should see if they want a wake-up call to the information age. It’s time to go outside and do ANYTHING.
Just got back from 18 days in Australia last night. Got to see ACDC in concert in their home city of Melbourne (I’m a die hard man, I mean come on how awesome was that), caught up with old friends in 3 different cities and scuba dived the Great Barrier Reef for 3 days off a boat. This article resonates with me as the greatest memories I’m going to take from that trip were the new friends I made from all over the world, many of them scuba divers from the trip that we hung out with for days afterward (culminating in a random karaoke bar in Cairns where I belted out Hey Jude to my throng of new friends, including some wonderful Swiss girls we met that night, god bless ’em). This is going to lead to more trips to more countries, and that’s how I find my travel cycle goes.
And FYI, by hammering your principles into place I only worked about 2 hours while I was gone and yet still made great income through my largely automated system, and week to week while in town I work approximately 16 hours a week, soon to be 8 hours a week once another agent is brought online, and dropping (teaching my VA to do my emails right now which should get me down to the vaunted 4 hour work week) — this from 70+ hours a week and a lot of burnout for the same pay just two and a half years ago — sound familiar?
With the new time I’ve taken up acting and screenwriting which has gone extremely well and extremely quickly; I owe the speed of it to now being able to deconstruct the most important parts of each occupation 4hww style, and smashing ahead with that only; I love it. I’m actually a main character in a movie upcoming for a nationally distributed director, and I’ll know by next week if it’s me or another guy hosting a show for the Discovery Channel. No way any of this happens without your indirect guidance.
You may want to email me back in regard to a couple of life skills I have deconstructed using your methods; I see your struggles with sleep, and I believe I have a much, much better solution than what your blog post proposes. As well, remind me to share an easy “delivery guy” trick with you as well which has rid me of daily errands, Christmas shopping etc. — sort of related to the “finding someone to cook for you” bit in your new edition.
Thanks for everything pal, I owe you a beer or three. I understand you’re American so we’ll keep it to the light stuff.
Cheers from Canada near Detroit,
Yet another great post and a perfectly-timed one for where I’m at in life.
I’m very happy to tell you that after your post on the “Cold Remedy” and watching all the videos that I decided to apply your principles and ACT on what you book says (not just read it and then shelf it). It’s been one month now since I’ve left my job and freed up my time to be home with my 2 young daughters and wife.
Lifestyle design is NOT hard, and after actually writing down the worst-case scenarios of doing what you suggest, I (like many others) realized that there’s nothing to be afraid of!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
Congratulations, Josh! 🙂
Love love love the post. Great video! I am in love with travel. About three years ago I took off with my friend for six and a half months to Thailand, Australia, NZ, Fiji, Singapore and Beijing. It was the most amazing experience and changed the way I look at the world. My friend actually ended up going home after about four months so I got to experience travelling alone, which as you said, is a completly different way to travel. I had so much more opportunity to mingle with locals and really see the places I was visiting. It took me a while once I was back to get my money sorted out but four months ago we took off again, this time to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Three weeks in, my friend caught dengue fever and was hospitalized until she was well enough to get on a plane back home. Yet again I would be embarking on my adventure alone. It was the most amazing thing that I have ever experienced. I have decided to change my lifestyl in such a way that enables me to travel the globe full time. I started a blogsite about places I’ve been or would like to go to, for now I’m sticking to SE Asia. Hopefully I will be fortunate enough to gain the level of success that you have, and perhaps someday we may cross paths in some obscure shanty town, I could always use an english lesson or two.
Happy travels, and I’m glad to have come accross your site:)
I was just sitting here in my remote office thinking that I am long overdue a technology break and a mini retirement. I loved the article; it was a good reminder to get things rolling.
My first book is out and has been available on Amazon.com for a bit, and I am working hard on book 2 already. I am now well aware that my forced breaks and mini retirements greatly contribute to my writing process and creativity, thereby helping the process as a whole.
Thanks for the continued inspiration.
…loved this video. I picked up Rolf’s book a few months ago from the library after reading Tim’s praise of it and enjoyed in completely. I actually wanted to keep it longer because of all the tips in the back of each chapter but someone recalled it from the library. Dang them!
Hey Rolf, two questions: Is there video of the Q&A? Those are often the best parts of a lecture. And, two, how did you manage to get to Cuba? Via a non-US airport? Is it okay for us to do this (hopefully not a silly question?)
Great post as usual. Thanks to your advice and Rolfs, I’m vagabonding right now and funding it with a 4hww inspired muse. Just got back from costa rica (met Nick in Tamarindo, he said ya’ll went to St. Pauls together) and headed to the bahamas next. Hope you enjoyed south africa and can’t wait for the new books.
Bien venidos Tim! I bet SA was amazing. Can’t wait for the stories.
What a post by Rolf. I was thinking of him this morning as I plan my next mini retirement. I’m getting married in August and something tells me we may be looking at a non traditional honey moon…perhaps a little flat in Italy while we dance around the country for 6-12 months. So stoked!
The message in those 5 points and the ones you hammer home in 4HWW are so right on. Reminds me of Slow Dance a bit–which my fiancee printed and had framed for me due to the effect it’s had on me. Hats of to Rolf for the new reality he has created for travel (and you as well).
btw, we just moved our NR muse office into downtown SF on Market Street at The Hobart Building. If you’re ever down town and have a few spare minutes, Guinness is on us. You put us here Tim!
i’m in “hurry up and slow down” mode, seems i’ve been in this state of mind for quite some time.
time = money/welth
any thoughts on the amount of time upfront that is required to setup muses.
btw i just set up this webiste and have made $5 from adwords, not much but it will do as a start.
It’s great to be aware of particular exploitation potential in certain countries, but do so rationally. Go ahead and go where you wish, as long as you know you aren’t leaving any substantial negative footprint. Perhaps you can even make your trip there a positive thing by leaving a positive imprint on your journeys by making a few people happy, meeting them, perhaps sharing stuff with them from the united states or just making them smile. This way, you’ve created a kind of balance, and have no reason to have any guilt. All pride my friend!
Thank you for the post and video guys. I arrived at Incheon airport in South Korea on Feb. 14 and will begin teaching English in public schools in Seoul come March 6.
In 2009 I built an ebook business that made me an extra $6000 as I combined my fav. computer game and business skills I learned from Tim’s book.
I’m currently working on bringing my teaching in Korea experience and my ebook business together as I spend a year abroad, possibly longer. Touring Asia has occurred to me a few times, and hearing from you, Rolf is very encouraging.
I’m seeing some parallels between Tim, Rolf and myself that make me smile (and cry) out of pure happiness for the life I’ve had in the last 2 years, ever since I first read the 4HWW and Vagabonding and embraced their principles.
There are a few other books that I feel are worth mentioning, that have impacted me more than I thought they would:
“Inc. & Grow Rich” – Trusts, Personal corps, etc.
“Zero Million” – Ryan Allis’ story and company building process
Everything by Dan Kennedy
Great stuff again and a timely reminder for me. I’m having a ‘mini-retirement’ at my newish home, Taipei and one of my ‘comfort challenges’ is to go up to strangers near my home and start a conversation in Chinese but I’ve already but it off by one week.
People really make places come alive. When I think back to the places I’ve been, the most memorable memories have been with people I’ve met there not ‘sights’.
Thanks for the post
Thanks for this post Tim! It has perfect timing as my husband is just starting to recover from a life threatening condition. We won’t be able to travel as we had hoped for a while so these tips will help us immediately.
I can also attest to #3. My job recently moved locations, extending my hour drive commute to a 1.5 hour train commute. By not allowing work to interfere in that 1.5 hour commute, I am living in that moment by finally getting to read some fiction and to just generally relax. People often think I’m crazy when I tell them I prefer my new longer commute, but I’ve found 3 hours a day that is now my time!
Erin, I feel exactly the same when living in a foreign country and having to commute on public transport! I always learn most of my language in these “forced” study sessions with no food, coffee, bathrooms, etc. as procrastination options.
Hi Tim and Rolf,
I was nodding my head the whole way through the video! I wish I could so eloquently deliver the value of my travels.
I’m from the UK but after 4 months at a summer camp in the USA, 3 years teaching English in Japan, 1 year travelling Asia (India is a favourite) and 4 months exploring Europe and living in Spain on a European Union funded entrepreneurial exchange, it’s credit crunch time!
My funds will not last forever, and my personal business is not happening over night (although it is happening). So the reality is, I’m 28 and for the last 2 months, I’ve been living at my mum’s house with no income.
My skill set means I’m perfectly qualified for what I’d love to do next – coordinate NGO English school and volunteer programs in South America – but not much else. I have only been accepted for unpaid internships, but unfortunately, I only really have the money for the flight and I do actually need to earn at least a subsistence level wage (and I think I’m worth it!).
How do I reconcile career development with personal (travel) development?
I’m moving to London next Thursday to look for meaningful, interesting work, but really, I think I’ll find it in a different, developing country.
All the best and thanks for any advice.
From a guy on the edge of falling into the “real world”..
Mr Potts truly is a great man, so I’m happy to see him on this blog. I once contacted him for a little bit of advice. This is what he told me (it basically summarizes the lecture):
Thanks for your message, and best of luck to you in life! If I were to
give a stranger advice, it would be to view time as one’s truest form of
wealth. Not “things” or “money” but “time” is what really counts in life,
and how you spend it is how you become rich in life experience. Also: be
patient, slow down and stay open to learning — both in your travels and
at home — and you will better be able to actualize the time you have.
I’m surely going to implement this advice into my life.
Thanks again for the comments, everyone! You’ve given some great examples of vagabonding in action.
@Annabel: I know what you mean about how the developing world can teach us lessons about prioritizing family. When I’m not traveling I’m based in Kansas near my sister’s family and my parents. One of the reasons I got a farmhouse here 5 years ago (instead of a place in a sexier part of the U.S.) is that years of travel taught me that people all over the world consider family ties essential to a happy life. (Another reason I’m based in Kansas when I’m not traveling is that I can live here for a fraction of the cost of New York or San Francisco — and that savings invariably pays off in free time.) As I type this, I can see my nephews and my rat terriers running around in the field south of my house.
@Matt: What do I wish I did differently when I first started traveling? In a way, nothing. I think some of the best travel lessons come when you learn them the hard way. But if I were to pinpoint one thing, it’s that I wish I’d slowed down more on the road. Simply slowing your pace can make a journey pay off in all kinds of unexpected ways (from meeting more people to saving more money on a day to day basis).
@Tyler: I agree that vagabonding is at heart an attitude that extends in equal part to travel and home life, but I don’t think there’s a clear line between vagabonders and would-be vagabonders. The overworked Blackberry addict with too much luggage might already be mentally questioning the stresses in his life, and in two years he could be working the same job from a “remote office” on the beach in Rio. It’s a slow process for some people, and it often begins when people start to assess their time-wealth relative to their material wealth. I often tell people that the 4HWW “Trojan-horsed” Vagabonding’s time-wealth notions to a business audience that might never have otherwise plucked Vagabonding off the travel-section shelf in the bookstore. So there are many ways to promote the time-wealth philosophy to those obsessed with material wealth — and one of the best ways is to live by example.
@Joseph: I loved your story of traveling with your family. I think there are few better ways to become rich in shared experience with your family than to travel with them. I traveled the world before my parents did, and I began meeting them in various parts of the world about 10 years ago, when they were in their 50s. To date we’ve visited Korea, China, Mongolia, France, and the Czech Republic together — and this spring I’ll be meeting them in New York (my mom has never been there, and my dad hasn’t been there since 1957).
@Idai: I understand why you’d think traveling with children is impractical, but (even in this comment thread) there are many examples of people who’ve done it. Keep an eye on my Vagabonding Case Studies in coming months for some stellar examples of family vagabonding.
@Ian: I love your observation that the travel mindset doesn’t necessarily need to involve travel. I actually point out in the pages of Vagabonding that long-term travel isn’t for everyone, and that’s fine. Seeking time-wealth, practicing simplicity, and refusing to set limits can make one a kind of traveler-seeker in one’s own hometown, amid friends and family.
@Wilson: Great advice to counteract generalized travel-fears by seeking information from the people who live (or have lived) in a given destination. Another way of gaining perspective is to think about the headlines from your own country and what that might project to the rest of the world. I’m from the U.S. and I’ve never experienced a truly dangerous incident here, but there are people from outside the country who think the U.S. is all about school shootings and urban gang warfare. It’s essential to look past the more alarming news headlines when you’re trying to assess the safety of a given destination.
@Richard: You raise the eternal question of sustainability for the vagabonding lifestyle. I think there’s always a rhythm, a give and take between personal and professional development, between work time and free time. If money is low right now, that probably just means it’s time to get back to work and strategically save for your next adventure. From the sound of it, you’ll also be wanting to plan your transition into doing the kind of work you’d love (NGO English schools and volunteer programs). I’ve had friends in similar positions with similar ambitions, and it’s often a matter of gradually gaining the experience and contacts to make it happen. That internship sounds promising (though of course it sounds like you might need to do some other work first to sustain the internship). So while I wish I had a silver bullet for you to make this transition happen overnight, I think it’s just a matter of being consistent, staying informed, and eventually moving closer to the kind of work you love.
What I have finally realized about travel is that no matter where you go, you still have to face yourself. Most people think that if they travel, they can somehow “escape” the world and their worries. However, when I travel, I can never really escape myself and my own mind. If you got issues with your family or other things in life, those things will continue to bother you in your mind during your travel. They won’t go away until you resolve them. So, don’t use travel as a way to escape.
Tim, great post!
It’s been on my mind for a while now to get out in my own environment more, if just to bike and go to more farmer’s markets. I keep thinking…once I get this biz going, or that biz going, I’m on my way to South America or somewhere. I think I’ve been behind my computer screen too long! And I’ve read enough books already, any more is probably just lagniappe at this point.
I quit my job a few months ago, working on my blog, freelance writing, and toying with the idea of investing in some rental properties before I make the plunge to travel out of the country. I’ll definitely keep up the blog and the freelance jobs if I do, but not sure how I would manage the properties.
Also considered getting a camper/rv and traveling through the US before going out of the country…just to get my feet wet and to gain confidence traveling along.
Anyway, great post, glad to see a new post, and thanks for your thought-provoking and inspiring website!
Tim and Rolf,
Thanks so much for the post and video! Your books are truly life changing.
Do you have any advice for this gym rat concerning staying in shape while traveling long-term? Thanks again.
Great video! I’ve been living the expat lifestyle for the last 5 years and while I’ve loved it, I’d forgotten what I really wanted to do and that was to travel more off the beaten path. So yes, I’ve travelled a lot but not *experienced* as much as I was planning on. It’s time to make some changes again.
Do you have any advice for this gym rat concerning staying in shape while traveling long-term?
Check out Steve Maxwell and his bodyweight material. He lives out of his RV travelling the country and he has great stuff. The guy is 57 but looks great for any age.
@Alex: I tackled the fitness-on-the-road issue in a column for the Travel Channel’s WorldHum.com a couple years back:
That advice applies when I’m moving around a lot. When I say in one place for awhile, I usually get a weekly or monthly gym membership. In Cuba a monthly gym pass cost me $7; in the Dominican Republic a monthly pass cost me $18. It’ll cost more in more developed countries, but gym prices are rarely more than you’ll find in the U.S.
I just reviewed Rolf’s book and it was very interesting. This is so uncommon for “us” to travel this way that it requires a real commitment to really enjoy the experience.
After spending one year in Berlin I relaly felt understood like he describes in the last chapter.
Anyway, this is an healthy practice that everybody can experience just by starting not to plan everything while traveling 🙂
Great article especially the points about your time as a commodity and being forced to simplify your life.
I would add that if you couple a simple life, with ample time AND good financial intelligence then in this new information age you are on a good path for achieving lasting wealth and happiness in life.
Good advices 🙂
Rolf and Michael- thanks so much for the advice, I really appreciate it!
Tim/Rolf, I was so happy to see another post to Tim’s blog – I have missed the blogs and was wondering where Tim was. I was a vagabonder in the 70’s and 80’s and eventually got a job in international development, which paid for even more vagabonding. However, am currently stuck in DC writing ‘stimulating” reports and your blog is tugging at my vagabonding spirit- your blogs are getting me fired up about fime, freedom and travel again. Rolf, I agree with you that one should go slowly and focus on 1 city, country, region – depending on the time one has to travel. I see so many young kids (and old kids, my age) wanting to tick off the citiies, cathedrals and museums they’ve seen and not taking the time to “see” the place.
Keep up the traveling and the posting to inspire us former vagabonders to get back in the saddle. .
I just watched Rolf’s video and wanted to leave another comment. I’ve only made two trips out of the country so far, and one was a week long trip to Mexico city to visit a Canadian friend who taught in a university just outside of the city. I was probably 25 when I made that trip. It was the first time I’d ever traveled alone, and outside of the US. So I had few expectations, which was a good thing. Not speaking Spanish didn’t help with my anxieties during the 5 hour bus trip I had to take once the plane landed. I did pick up several words and some phrases during that trip though, hunger and being “lost” are big motivators!
But looking back on the trip, 7-8 years later, the things I remember most are the brief but meaningful interactions with people and some out of the way places:
(1) Visiting an antique store (my first trip out of the apartment alone!) to buy a rosary and talking with the owner using my guidebook, but leaving and feeling confident that I was able to make such an exchange for something I now treasure.
(2) Having a local hold my hand sing to comfort me as I scuttled down the side of a pyramid on my rear end (I’m afraid of heights, and the view from the top was horrifying, nothing compare to the trip up!)
(3) A photo of the most beautiful little house I’ve ever seen from a day trip into a colonial mountain village, I have kept the photo in a frame and nearby for inspiration to travel again.
(4) The guy on the street who gave me 2-3 quarters (I was lacking less than $1) so I could get back to the airport in time. I was in panic mode and he came to my rescue. Not sure why I needed this amount, but I definitely needed small change for whatever reason…
It’s really true that you remember the people and interactions more than the views, the “adventures”, the landmarks, and even the food. I’m a foodie, and I definitely DO remember the food (and mostly I remember the food in context… like the steak and cactus in the upstairs restaurant sitting across from my friend who was reading a book and eating a cheese soup and the cheese was so gooey and stringy it kept getting all over his face), but the people stay with you forever!
I’ve been an expat for the last 3,5 years and love it. Only I don’t travel as much as I originally wanted to. AFter reading your article I think that I should really try to travel more again!
What a great post at PERFECT timing. I just came back from 4 weeks in Russia. Amazing trip. I read 4HWW on the ride to and from. I am currently reading it again to pull out some more things I can implement immediately. The post is perfect timing because I am now in the planning phase of my first mini-retirement and I am going out of my skin knowing that I can’t start for 12-18 months… now I can slow down and use these tips to enjoy the moment in the here and now for what it is while planning my first ex-pat experience.
I am a 31 y/o guy that until the first read of 4HWW was full bought into the rat race and the materialistic life it provided. Your book changed my reality paradigm. I now have virtual assistants, a mail scanning/forwarding service, and attitude that are allowing me to really enjoy life in a way I never thought possible. DEAL is perhaps the most innovative yet common sense approach to living a purposeful life I have come across. Thank you so much for publishing and keeping it going for all of us. You are the motivation behind the movement. Thank you!
Agree with the second paragraph of point #1. I don’t travel as often as I’d like, but I never feel as alive and excited as I do in a new town, exploring and interacting with locals with no timetable. I did this a few months ago in Portland, Maine. I was alone but far from lonely. I can’t wait to do it again this summer.
Timmy and Rolfster! It’s about time you two did a dual-post 🙂
Having lived in New York City for some time now, I’ve found the application of your “principles” timely, relevant and enriching – without ever leaving town.
1) NOT having a car here is a true luxury. I love leveraging my commute time on public transportation for self-enrichment and reflection. Currently, I’m going back and forth between an Italian language audio program, Gary Vaynerchuk’s ‘Crush It!’ audio book, and a J. Krishnamurti dialogue.
2) I’ve moved away from the swank dining scene of New York City, in favor of the authentic (and always humble) mom-and-pop restaurants of a given culture. Additionally, I’ll ALWAYS try the beer/wine from a given region, and if my language skills allow, I’ll try to hold a decent conversation with the waiter/waitress/owner. My faves right now are Caracas Arepa Bar (Venezuelan) and Zebu Grill (Brazilian) – strongly recommended!
3) I walk my dog to Central Park daily, regularly trying new routes and stopping to enjoy the architecture surrounding me. Once in the park, I find immense enjoyment watching my dog frolic off-leash with his ‘buddies’. The dog community here in New York City is INCREDIBLE (especially, before 9AM on the weekends!). It truly is a sub-culture in itself.
4) I’ve had a lot of luck with Craigslist and Meetup.com here, as well. There are some incredible people doing some really incredible things. Meeting new people from different backgrounds and cultures is easier than ever. I recently had lunch with a woman from Tibet, who fled from the Chinese with the Dalai Lama many years ago. Simply listening to her stories were mind-blowing.
In a place as vast and fast-paced as New York City, it is very easy to speed through life miserably, trying to keep up with the latest-and-greatest, and missing the beautiful underlying culture altogether. That’s where your advice hits like a friggin’ sledgehammer. I can hardly contain myself when I think about all of the experiences I have left to uncover here!
Molto grazie per l’ispirazione, amici.
This is an outstanding post. I try to live my life this way. Unfortunately, however, I see too many people trapped in the mode of goods-and-status-accumulation, as opposed to experience-accumulation. Do we blame society for this? It can be very difficult for people to break out of patterns, especially when their behaviour results from years of parental pressures to be a “good middle-class citizen”: get a high-paying job, buy a house (and a mortgage), have children, rinse, repeat…
I think it is wonderful that you’ve focussed on the fact that you don’t have to be travelling to behave like a traveller. I wonder if people who have never had the impetus or good-fortune to do an extended travel stint will fully understand these principles? But it is really refreshing to see the ideas outlined here for people to think about.