Rolf Potts on Travel Tactics, Creating Time Wealth, and Lateral Thinking (#41 & #42)


“War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.” – Rolf Potts

“If in doubt, just walk until your day becomes interesting.” – Rolf Potts

Rolf Potts is the author of Vagabonding (hear the audio book sample here), one of my favorite books of all-time.  It was one of just two books (the other was Walden) that I carried with me around the world from 2004-2005.  Those adventures led directly to The 4-Hour Workweek.

World travel doesn’t have to be a wealthy person’s sport. In this often hilarious conversation, Rolf and I dig deep into travel tactics, creating time wealth, “managing success,” and much more.  It’s a fun romp through every imaginable topic, from business to poetry, and from Wall Street to psychedelics.


You can find the transcript of Episode 41 here. You can find the transcript of Episode 42 here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

Ep 41: Rolf Potts on Travel Tactics, Creating Time Wealth, and Lateral Thinking
Ep 42: Rolf Potts (Part 2) on Travel Tactics, Creating Time Wealth, and Lateral Thinking

This podcast is brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. Did you know I used 99Designs to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body? Here are some of the impressive results.

This episode is also brought to you by ExOfficio, which I’ve personally used since 2005 or so. They make ultra-lightweight, quick drying, antimicrobial clothing for men and women. Here’s my own ultra-light packing list (scroll down for video), which went viral.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What are the most valuable lessons (or tricks) you’ve learned through travel? Please share your story in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes.

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Selected Links from the Episode

Part I

Part II

Connect with Rolf Potts:

Show Notes

Part I

  • Converting travel fantasies into realities and the time-wealth principle [2:30]
  • Deconstructing and defining success, money, and freedom [12:00]
  • The time-strapped billionaire paradox [14:10]
  • Resources to fight the fears associated with world travel [25:09]
  • How new collaborative consumption technologies affect the long-term travel experience [29:00]
  • JP Morgan’s trip to Egypt, and what we can learn about business on the road [40:56]
  • Vacations and their effect on creative output [42:55]
  • When to leave the optimize-for-efficiency mindset behind [44:32]
  • Can you replicate travel benefits with a “staycation”? [51:37]
  • Exploring appreciation vs. achievement [54:08]
  • Rolf Potts’ writing process + “Swoopers” and “Bashers” [59:54]

Part II

  • The breakthrough for Potts in his writing: structure learned from screenwriting tomes [1:00]
  • Vagabonding and the therapeutic use of psychedelics [7:00]
  • The art of getting lost, and the benefits of getting lost [8:05]
  • What it’s like to teach writing in Paris, and who is a good fit for the class [16:15]
  • Thoughts on a mid-career Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) [22:13]
  • “Success management” and her champions: Dave Chapelle and John Hughes? [35:26]
  • Rapid-fire questions: Grizzly Man, Con Air, the love of poetry, and more [41:45]

People Mentioned

Part I

Part II

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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342 Replies to “Rolf Potts on Travel Tactics, Creating Time Wealth, and Lateral Thinking (#41 & #42)”

  1. My most valuable travel tip:

    Love Thy Neighbor (the Golden Rule)

    It’s amazing how great this principal works, not only with locals, but also with fellow travelers, airport/hotel/restaurant personnel, etc.

    Spread the love!

  2. Travel allows each of us to disconnect from the Matrix to be in reality. Unplugged, our individual truths seed, germinate, and flower into conscious realizations. How beautiful … #VIP

  3. The most important thing I have learned through traveling is the value of living in the moment….being present and understanding that having no five year plan is fine for now while I figure out what is most important.

  4. Mr. Tim Ferris,

    My name is Xiao Qu. We are inventing a neuroscience based dynamic language learning experience as a startup project.

    Recently after a long discussion regarding the theories behind designing, one of my group member pointed out that our designing theories largely resemble your language learning approaches published in the book “4 h chef” and other publications.

    I’m personally checking out your publications; also I would like to invite you to our advisory board to help us better our learning experience design.

    Here’s our mission: Enable every willing mind to acquire a FLUENT second language, using technology.


    Xiao Qu

  5. It is 100 percent true that airline websites increase the price of fairs if you check back a second or third time – it’s extremely offensive when you’re poor and stuck somewhere – I’ve been burnt this way. Use “self destructing cookies” add-on to be sure NO tracking and other spyware cookies are implanted. Disconnect ad-on is also good. Hide your IP address using TOR. This will stop this happening. Beware of train prices in England!! I was trying to get to Europe from Bristol, England when no flights were available. I finally got a flight from London. But the train to London cost 60 pounds – more than the flight! I didn’t think to try flying straight out of Bristol.. Oh and as Rolf says – any given US city & their corporatised police force, is definitely far more dangerous than any third world country.

  6. No matter where you travel and no matter how long, journal your journey in a way that is meaningful to you. Pictures, doodles, scrapbooking small momentos, personal essays, anything that captures the essence of the journey and the ipact that journey has on you. #VIP

  7. No such thing as safe internet access when travelling – consider all internet access insecure. Theres also blanket passive surveillance we all subject to. Privacy is a right! Use free Tails software on your own USB/DvD for totally independent internet – it’s an entire self contained anonymous private operating system. Check ”Reset The Net” and The Guardian Project for free layman friendly tools to use on computers AND portable devices for privacy and anonymity. These have all helped me a lot when abroad – feeling really secure with personal information is a good feeling. There is such a thing as techies running a net cafe knowing they can sell tourists information sponged from their computers

  8. Hey Tim, the most valuable lesson I’ve learned is to at least learn some of the language of the country you’re visiting. Even a rudimentary, basic, “get me from A-B” understanding and ability to speak, will go a long way with the locals.



  9. Love the blog and the podcast!

    Tips –

    1. If you want to go somewhere, go now, don’t wait, you’ll never get everything and everyone in perfect alignment, if you have to go by yourself and make friends there.

    2. If booking flights with a connection, make sure the connecting flight is not the last one of the day, if you leave your self a 2nd option you’ll almost never get stuck over night in an airport.

    3. Contrary to the super light philosophy, I find if I take my own pillow, I sleep like I’m at home, regardless of how dodgy the bed. Down pillows are relatively light and roll up quite small, down to less then 1/4 of the pillow case.

    The rest of my tips have been covered in the other comments 🙂

  10. Great interview Tim!

    As for my favorite travel tips: ( #5 and #6 are my favorite tips)

    #1- Before going to the country, post on your social media sites that you are going. My friends have always had great tips and advice for me.

    #2- only have carry on luggage. I like getting in and out of airports

    #3- always carry some American cash with you (I like to have few benjamins). I need these for customs and in case my debit card is not useable.

    #4- pack a few zip locks in your luggage

    #5- if you’re going to a foreign country, learn some common phrases, or ideally be capable to have small conversations – I suggest this article: 12 Rules for Learning a foreign language:

    #6- learn to barter. It seems most of the world likes to barter. I suggest the counter intuitive, and low ball. The worst outcome is they get upset, the best scenario is you get a good deal and learn the real value of things.

    #7- Have a google voice number – makes calling and texting free and people can call you back


  11. One of the most useful travel tips I’ve implemented is very subjective to location and quite specific, yet has proven to help greatly on more than one occasion.

    While biking through certain areas of South America a few years back I had the misfortune of running into a man who successfully robbed me on the road. Luckily, my valuable possessions were dispersed and hidden well across my body, so he only got away with about 43 bucks.

    A few miles down the road I then ran into another person with the intention of robbing me, but I explained to the guy he was too late, someone else had just held me up a few miles back. He furrowed his brow and said, “Oh.” Then he turned and jogged away in the opposite direction.

    A few days later, in a different area, I once again crossed paths with someone wanting to relieve me of my valuables. Though it wasn’t true, I told the man that I had just gotten robbed a few miles back, and so had nothing to give him. He cursed, then turned and jogged away.

    Over the years, a few scenarios close to these have arisen, and I have recited the same script. So far, no one has checked to see if I’m lying, and no harm has come.

    All because of this strange, yet helpful travel tip.

  12. The most valuable thing I have learned through travel is that you can connect with people on so many levels just by being present in the moment, with them. If you genuinely appreciate what they are doing with and for you and for their culture it is amazing how everything seems to work out.

  13. The most valuable advice I can offer my fellow travelers is to keep your trips regional and contiguous. While many of us with brief and infrequent respites from our jobs might be tempted to pack in, for example, London, Prague, Madrid, Rome and the Greek Isles on a single 2-week trip, the greatest experiences I have had involved (a) getting to know a group of locals and a city/region/country extremely well and (b) traveling a few hours at a time and embracing dramatic changes in architecture, cuisine and cultural traditions.

    On a recent trip to the Balkans, I journeyed from Southern Croatia, replete with Ancient Roman ruins, tranquil beaches and fresh seafood, to Mostar, Bosnia, where still-wounded buildings bring chilling images of the ‘90s war to the present and where there is no shortage of grilled meats, to Belgrade, Serbia, where modern architecture accompanies raging nightlife (on barges on a river, no less!) and a deliciously synergistic mix of Austro-Hungarian and Turkish culinary influences. Visiting each of these places in succession allowed me to deeply appreciate the subtleties of each.

    Don’t feel the need to see the whole world at once. If you’re a traveler at heart, you will find time to travel again in the future. Keep the present focused and enriching. #VIP

  14. Went VIP last week and this is my first podcast, perfect since I love traveling. My favourite advice is Flâneur and be present in experiencing where we are at the moment, whether it be our own town, or a foreign country. I expect it will open up my world beyond what I’ve seen so far. On a side note, I checked out and I’m dying to try them out. Live on the other side of the world and they don’t deliver (for now) so finding ways. Thanks for this podcast!


  15. I have done most of my traveling in my 20s and was never very interested in too much sight seeing of moving around a lot. I think the essence of a really good traveling experience is blending a little in the population, maybe getting a short term job, and really meeting with the people at their everyday lives. That is the place where you learn the most, experience the most and can truly benefit from your traveling and learn something about yourself that you can implement in your life back home.

    In everything I do in life – every person I meet, every podcast I listen to, every experience I witness – I try to take one thing that is new for me, and make a note of it, or put it into use in my life.

    Because if we don’t change a little, evolve or get engaged in some way with the situations we meet in life, then what is the point really?

    And that goes especially to when your on the road.

    (although I try to feel it every day, even though I rarely leave my home…)

    Thank you Tim for the wonderful podcasts – they have become like a hobby of mine, and completely changed my “getting rich and retire” approach. In all honesty – it’s liberating!! so thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  16. Hi guys,

    To be perfectly frank even though it sounds cliché, the most valuable thing I have learned through travel (having just returned home from 3 years overseas) is perspective and tolerance for differing beliefs and points of view.

    I feel like a completely different person now 🙂

  17. On a solo world trip I not only learned that people in general, are good and kind, but surprisingly I got to see myself through the “mirror” of how thousands of strangers reacted to me–They weren’t family or co-workers or members of my social circle who never really tell you what they think of you, rather these strangers were transitory and weren’t investing in a future relationship.


  18. A travel tip: having a portable MiFi with an international SIM-Card, in order to have always a safe and reliable internet connection. The first choice was Europasim that covers more than 40 countries for 3 € per day flat, with 500 MB, 50 SMSM and 50 minutes included. Unfortunately this SIM is not available anymore to buy online, but there is a trick: buy it in Italy with a special tariff combination. More infos in (the website describes how you can buy this SIM-Card in Italy for 10 €, with 5 € credit included)

  19. Great episode. Please do round 2.

    *Can you please outline – step by step – how one can test-drive the vagabonding lifestyle – as risk-free and as easily as possible?

    People hear the world travel, and they turn off. It feels daunting, risky, overwhelming. Vagabonding on the other hand, seems interesting.

    (New term = none of the old associations)

    Potts: How did you get hooked? What was the initial stimulus that catalyzed this 15-20 year obsession?


    ****Please interview Nassim Taleb.

    I’m reading antifragile. I feel the essence of it is MORE impactful and practically useful than I, and many others understand.

    He’s very misunderstood. And I think thus underappreciated.

    Ask the right questions, guide the discussion, and make his concepts easier to understand and implement.

  20. On long international flights I put my wallet in my front pants pocket instead of my back pocket. This way I am able to sit comfortably. – Marty M

  21. The most expensive part of travel is usually flying so the longer you stay the more value you get.

    I used to fear packing up and leaving, but now ending my travels seems worse. The list of things to do and see never ends. #VIP

  22. Don’t plan your trip based on famous sights you want to see or cool stuff you’ll enjoy uploading pictures of. Set out to have experiences that can’t be captured on camera. Immerse yourself in a new culture, rather than just being a spectator to it (try volunteering, helpx, wwoofing, CS…) and value your trip by what you personally took away from it and learnt from it. Stick to one place, and give the trip a theme or a goal, like a specific sport, practicing a language, learning how to live off the land, volunteering at a festival…… Experiences like skydiving, riding an elephant and visiting some famous monuments might seem cool at the time, but what I’ve come to realise is that they quickly became forgettable because they didn’t teach me anything about myself or leave me with anything to bring forward into my day to day life.


  23. What did I learn from travelling the world now over 10yrs?

    1. keep a lean package, if possible <10kg for 7 days, there is alwats a laundry to find;

    2. have at least 300USD always w/ you in cash; 1/4 ounce gold for worst-case (either coin or bar);

    3. make digital copies of docs, keep contacts on a global accessable platform;

    4. have a global health insurance, but learn how ro cure yourself alone if injured/sick;

    5. learn languages, even if few basic words; plan in advance, but not so much leave some events to happen randomly;

    6. hire a local guide for first three days, you learn faster and up to date tips; additionally is the entrance for a nee network;

    7. keep a log book of daily activities and contacts in paper; better in paper, fax later to a VA to update your blog;

    8. don't trust electronics, they always fail, especially at extreme environment conditions;

    9. learn to trade for logging and food, not money; identify basic needs you may solve from your experience. trade fair shows are interesting events if you are looking for a temporary job in case you don't have a running MUSE (concept 4-HWW book);

    10. carry a good photo camera, open voice box account for people leaving you msgs either as voice or MP3 msg, avoid carrying computers and mobiles, go and connect w/ locals, you will learn and have much more fun.

    Enjoy the jorney!

  24. First off: I’m a huge fan of your podcast, Tim. I love it!

    But! Please try to hold yourself back a little. I was really looking forward to this interview, but unfortunately Mr Potts rarely got a word in! You rambled for much more than usual and Mr Potts was relegated to sitting in the background and listening to you. As much as I enjoy your voice, I would’ve preferred to hear more from Mr Potts. Perhaps try to keep your part of the talking to 20-30% instead of 60-70%?

  25. Need a free shower while your traveling cross country? Hotel parking lots are famous for being able to be pulled into late at night while crashing in your car to get some cheap sleep. With all the “legitimate traffic” coming and going out of the parking lot throughout the night, who is going to notice one more car and hassle it?

    The added perk is in the morning as guests leave their rooms, often leaving the doors open or ajar, a person can go in these rooms (provided it is before check out time, the maids don’t notice and your sure the guests are gone!) and relax, watch a little television and take a shower. If one was really promiscuous, one could make some coffee and even go down for the continental breakfast.

    When the maids knock and ask if you are checking out today, you say “Yes, we will be out by checkout time”. Of course leaving a few dollar tip for the maid should be a prerequisite to ease any guilty conscience one might have of having taken something that wasn’t yours. In this regards one can rationalize the room was rented out and paid for anyway, you are just using up what time is left on it after it has been vacated (a questionable rationalization I know).

    In regards to helping yourself to the continental breakfast, well this might take the party crashing a little too far, but one might rationalize this act by having suffered through a number of hotel’s continental breakfasts in the past and thinking you might be doing them a favor by helping them get rid of it.

    Remembering the real goal here is to simply find a safe place to sleep in your car and get a shower in the morning, one could leave it at that. Tipping the maid in a sort of “Robin Hood” fashion is a nice touch and shows some “class”. After all, I am not condoning breaking the law, but rather occasionally pushing the envelope when necessity calls.


  26. The only strategy I use.

    1) Iron Clothes

    2) Pack Clothes in Neat Bags which goes into a Compact Travel Bag

    3) Pack Toothpaste and Shaving Kit inside of a Neatly Maintained Kit


    5)Open Clothes

    6) Use Clothes

    7) Pack Again in Neat Bags which go into a Compact Travel Bag

    8) Use Toothpaste and Shaving Kit

    9) Put Toothpaste and Shaving Kit back inside Neatly Maintained Kit

    10) Come Back Home

    11) Clothes Go to Laundry

    12) Repeat

    Simple process that I use every Twice a month to Travel. Works Wonders.

    Note:Only suitable for people travelling to and fro home.


  27. It might seem obvious or kind of silly, but the first time I travelled outside of North America I went backpacking in Europe, and it was a big eye-opener to discover that “everybody speaks some English” is a myth. Fortunately, a willingness to enthusiastically try to use other languages – even if you mangle them – and act things out generally is well-received and often gets across what you’re trying to say/ask.


  28. The best travel tip/hack I ever found was the Q-tip washing machine trick! Simply use Q-Tips in the machines instead of coins! Careful! It takes practice 😉 #VIP

  29. Getting off the beaten path. When I was with the Air Force Reserves and whe went on our two week deployments to differnet parts of the world, myself and a few friends always made it a mission to get as far aways as time would allow to a remote part of the country. These are by far my best memories of traveling. Actually getting away from the ports of entry which most tourist stay close to and immersing ourselfs in the culture without the safety net of Americanization that sometimes happens around thses entry points.

  30. My wife has a common Russian name, Alla. As we were crossing the Sea of Marmara on a ferry, she disappeared. I climbed to the top deck wearing my backpack, and began shouting her name. When I looked around, everyone sitting around the top deck had their eyes wide open and jaws dropped. Suddenly, I realized that with my southern accent, they thought that I was shouting Allah. I told my wife that I would just call her Sweetie for the rest of that trip.

  31. Travel for me is a way to refresh, to gain a new perspective. It is what I try to convey when writing about the places I visit.

  32. As a tour guide in Paris, I’m so glad you brought up “le flâneur”. I try so hard to convince my clients that the best way to really *experience* Paris is to wander aimlessly, just allowing the moment to take you where it will, and perhaps end up at a sidewalk café where you can have the next best experience in Paris: people watching. Americans are usually so intent on planning everything, every moment, and even purchasing “experiences” that they never understand the real joie de vivre of being in Paris. 🙂

  33. The biggest lesson that extended travel taught me was the value in “shutting off ” my smart phone. This is the biggest lesson for me because it’s the one I use most. A casual dinner with friends can turn into a fantastic experience when simple distractions like my phone have been eliminated. #VIP

  34. Get in love with a local and stay longer…the ultimate way to learn the country and culure #VIP

    Saludos de Argentina

  35. Tim…. PROFOUND!!!

    the second half with Rolf, was amazing. Talking about success in the abstract (at least to society like with Dave Chappelle) really struck home for me and im assuming, many of your viewers. For those of us who strive to achieve greatness (in which ever and how ever that applies to us) its VERY refreshing to hear just a glimpse of these incredibly successful people who turned down the “norm” and decided to make a better choice for them selves.

    in the beginning of this podcast i was a bit bummed because it seemed very conversational and less educational, but in the second half i think you really hit your stride with Rolf Potts and really got into more the inner workings of him and your self.

    Thank you for a great podcast. please keep them coming. As far as I am concerned, most of your Podcasts have been some of your most helpful (to us the listeners) and most interesting projects you have embarked on.

    Thank you again. and this style of podcast. less “hacking” and more abstract understanding is far more inspirational to me and in many cases i think MORE “hacked”!

  36. I don’t have one best tip, but here are a handful of good ones I’ve learned –

    1) Use AirBnB. The community really looks out for your best interests – I was in Nice, France and learned I was ordering off a “tourists menu” (This menu experience is rare, but also a real thing). AirBnB hosts are typically very proud of their city, and will often provide you with info so that you avoid these places and have the best experience in their city.

    2) Use Tim’s packing advice. Green as the grass, I went out on my first out-of-country trip and thought I needed numerous bags. I found myself in Florence, lugging so much unneeded crap. Get a good travel back pack, and roll your clothes up. If it doesn’t fit in the back pack, don’t bring it.

    3) Get a decent pair of shoes. After all the walking, your feet will thank you.

    4) Get a travel water bottle. If you lose it, buy a plastic bottle. Always keep water with you. The same rule applies with books.

    5) Try to take pictures with the people you meet. Don’t worry about the selfies – Allow yourself to enjoy the experience without the need to prove it on FB or IG.

    6) Before you leave on your trip, log onto Google Earth to view what the outside area of your AirBnB looks like. Most hosts will give great directions to their place, but doing this will at least give you a great idea of the surrounding environment – especially if you’re arriving late in night.

    7) If you’re traveling with a friend(s), make sure to have a meet up point in the event you get separated. This seems trivial, but you might find yourself alone, without a cell phone… Out of experience, this comes in handy.


  37. Load up the area/city of where you’re staying on google maps to your smart phone before you arrive, that way you’ll have access to a map no matter the time of day so you know where you need to head without a problem #VIP

  38. I keep a toiletry bag packed at all times. It contains all of the basic essentials and then some. It is extremely convenient for short overnight trips. #VIP

  39. I was on a quick turn-around trip & really didn’t want to get sick, so I wore a medical mask & no one wanted to sit next to me….AHA! How to get more room on the plane! #VIP

  40. In response to your question near the end of this episode, should this be an appropriate place to leave it, I would love to hear a part II of this conversation somewhere down the road. I am about to embark on my first worldly travels, largely inspired by thoughts that were at play in this conversation. As you mentioned you may have divulged down a different path if not for Vagabonding, I too may not have finally made the decision to do so without both Vagabonding and the 4-Hour Workweek. They may not have planted the seeds of long-term travel and lifestyle design, but they were high powered fertilizer that sprouted and structured my “far-fetched dreams” into a tangible reality that I have worked to attain.

    Perhaps it’s a bit pre-mature to say conversations like this and both of your perennial works have had a profound effect on my life, as I am only soon to begin my vagabonding journey. But they have had a profound effect on my thinking and have started me down a path I am more excited to traverse than any I’ve previously taken.

    This conversation yielded more interesting perspectives from two of my favorite modern philosophers (in the best sense of that word), I’d be glad to hear a round II. Thanks for all the fish!


    We are supposedly more connected than ever before

    Yet people feel so distant

    The emptiness of the algorithm is slowly creeping in

    So close, yet so far away

    1’s and 0’s are changing the world

    There are good days, and there are bad days

    I have no fucking clue if it’s good or bad

    Maybe it’s the wrong question to ask

    Maybe we should kill all stereotypes instead of feeding them

    The narcissistic army of glory

    Word of the year: Selfie.

    I don’t judge, but I think it’s fucking pathetic.

    Start making good art, and stop trying to please everyone

    At the end of the day your worst enemy is yourself

    Stop feeding the ego

    Start living the life

    Throw away your tablet

    Fuck your fucking iphone

    Life is what’s its about

    Technology is a tool

    And it’s taking over your lives

    Wake the fuck up!

    Just playing, I know your all dreaming

    Life is so beautiful

    Technology is wonderful

    Now you can watch all the porn you want, all the time

    “Have it all”, “Just do it”

    You can do whatever you put your mind to

    You are the hero

    The day you win, is the day you accept everything

    [Moderator: link removed]

  42. Tim, The past 4 podcasts (and one being where you were interviewed for an startup blog – thought I had saved that one) are just terrific. I believe it is the sharing more of yourself and dialoguing and letting you geeky side out that really is making it all click on all cylinders. You are definitely hitting you stride. Thanks.

  43. I just listened to part 1. thank you Rolf and Tim. I liked the idea of focusing on appreciation rather than achievement. ala Italian dinner. I will savor and enjoy a long meal as homework. Haha. #VIP

  44. Tim, you’re so inspiring! I can’t tell you how many days I’ve listened to your podcasts since I’ve joined the email list and have heard exactly what I need to hear on that day!

    I really appreciate you taking the time to share your heart and bring these amazing people to the likes of us! So so grateful for you! Thanks Tim!

  45. my travel hacks: always fly with chapstick, earplugs, and a spare set of underwear. if you have anything over a 5-6 hour flight, you’ve probably spent 8-9 hours sitting in uncomfortable environments in the airport and have several more hours on the arrival end before you’re in your hotel. changing underwear mid-flight is incredibly refreshing, although I’ll admit it sounds weird. #VIP

  46. Tim,

    Thanks for another great podcast. A line from the book that resonates within me is as follows, “Adventure is wherever you allow it to find you-and the first step in any exploration is to discover its potential within yourself”. This conjures up so many memories of my adventures across Japan and Costa Rica. Especially in Japan, I managed to overcome the language barriers to reap some massive travel rewards.

    My suggestion for your next interview is Kelly Starrett. He seems to have a great personality and has some intriguing insight on sports performance.

    Have you read “Extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds”? My father gave me this book and I found it fascinating as a young college student.

  47. By the way, you’ll always undermine a funny person by introducing them as “hiiilarious”: Jerry Seinfeld once recounted the time he was introduced as “the funniest man in the world” and everyone in the audience figuratively crossed their arms and went “Oh really?”.

  48. I learned something valuable from the Japanese back in 1979…we had some Karate students stay with us for awhile to train with us and learn about our culture. When they arrived they brought gifts, one of which I still have today. So when I travel and visit someone in particular, I always come with a small gift…its the right thing to do…

  49. Some #VIP Tips:

    Bring half the clothes and twice the money. (Pack less, experience more!)

    Negotiate the ride fare *BEFORE* you start moving!

    Observe what locals pay before sitting down for a meal. Don’t be upset if your charge is higher, but use that knowledge to understand what’s unreasonable.

    Understand body-weight exercises and carry Aylio loop workout bands to stay in shape on the road. Particularly important for extended vagabonding.

    Don’t forget to bring hydration salts.

    Carry a notebook & pen for illustrative communication.

    Relationships & serendipity trump an agenda any day of the week.

    [Moderator: link removed]

    As always, thanks for the absurdly useful podcast + books, Tim! 😀

  50. The most valuable thing I’ve learned through travel has been that the more unsure I am, the better the adventure usually is. #VIP

  51. Hey!

    This past summer I spend 2 and a half months in the crowded, beautiful, busy land of Mumbai, India. It was an EXTRAORDINARY experience, and learnt so many things and grew so much as a person. There are a couple of tricks and lessons which I’ve learnt, for example, try and travel alone but know one or a couple people that can guide you. I found that traveling alone, I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted and however I wanted, but it was vital that I had family to direct to me to major points of my travel and how to, in general, focus my time to get the best experience from my journey. Other tricks would be always keep a GPS, even ones that don’t require internet, with you. Know where you are at all times, and it can be a life savor. Lastly, my final advice would be to don’t cut any corners and every adventure, assuming it’s relatively safe, can be a new experience, and to have the best time, you have to cultivate that mentally to make the most of your time.

    andd ye 🙂

    – Rushabh

  52. Thanks, Tim, I really enjoyed these podcasts, and they’re so rich I’ll listen again. Love the concept of “time wealth”– so true.

  53. P.S. I say don’t bother with an MFA. You can get the craft from books. Write from the heart. If you like Naomi Shihab Nye’s poetry, your road is golden.

  54. Tim, Rolf, this was a very profound episode for me, in particular your discussion around success and progression of how you define it through life. Paying attention to how you know your priorities should change is a fundamental step towards questioning societal norms and not sleepwalking through life.

    Vagabonding still sits on my travel bookshelf next to my rough guides and maps. It’s a truly great book and was part of what inspired me to take longer trips and embrace ‘difficult travel’ a little more.

    I live in Scotland and may be a little biased, but you should both come over here and explore some of the wonderful scotch on offer, even if it does mean taking up nightcaps again.

    Also re poetry, check out the late Edwin Morgan who created some rather quirky and linguistically brilliant poetry through his life.

    Tim – keep up the awesome work the podcast just gets better and better. I would love to hear you interview:

    – Tony Conrad (for angel investing opinions & info)

    – David Beckham (would be very interesting to get his take on success and motivation)

    – Richard Branson (hey, you’re going to his island so why not)

    – Dave Grohl (doesn’t need an explanation)

  55. I use baking soda as shampoo, body wash, exfoliator, deodorant, bathroom cleaner, clothes wash, bug killer. Non toxic, light. Vinegar for hair conditioner, bug bite salve, food wash and condiment, cleaner, clothes rinse. Two things with at least 10s of uses in travel and home, easy to find, non-toxic. Both good for stomach problems – we know those. (Vinegar cures gerd too, and is a good AM tonic.)

    I appreciate this interview and have been “vagabonding” much of my life. It’s encouraging to hear people younger than me understanding time is the greatest wealth there is. Thank you!

  56. Wow, I actually just happened to come across the book “Vagabonding” a couple of weeks ago in my public library ,and as I was reading I couldn’t help to think of you Tim and wonder if you had read this book prior to writing the 4 Hr work week. Its a great book and cool to see that it did have a inspiration on you after all.

  57. Lesson: It will work out.

    Show up at midnight Friday and find out you botched the reservation? And this is a birthday present trip for wife? It worked out.

    Discover your AirBnB place in a mountain town is up the equivelent of seven flights of stairs. Even being out of shape and asthmatic, It worked out.

    Get new shoes the day before departing? It worked out.

    Plunge in, it will work out.

  58. Selamat pagi Tim!

    I was listening to this episode on my morning run through Ubud, where my wife and I moved for 6 months. I just launched a podcast as well – meaning I have lots of connecting to do every day with folks back in the US, and I was thinking about what you and Rolf were talking about when it comes to being unplugged. I would like to think that it is a little different being unplugged on vacation, vs. moving somewhere knowing you will be working on a big project. Nevertheless, I think taking regular breaks from connectivity wherever you are (home or abroad) is equally challenging and rewarding. Did you unplug for extended periods back in 2004-2005 when you spent 18 months on the road? Great show!

  59. Tim,

    Thank you so much for organizing an amazing interview once again. The parts you both discuss about using Air BnB for traveling really interested me because my girlfriend and I have a trip to Brazil planned for next year and are looking for ways to 1) stay out of hotels and 2) embrace the culture a little more.

    Also, if you were looking to nail an impression of Ludwing von Drake you certainly did it. Before you said anything I said to myself, “that sounds like that scientist duck I used to watch.” Well done sir. Here is my favorite LvD moment (2mins). Hope you enjoy, have a great weekend.

  60. I’ve always been a fan of avoiding jet lag by forcing yourself to stay awake until the proper time to sleep in the new time zone. Also leaving preconceived ideas about what has to be done at home. Flexibility is key for good travel. #VIP

  61. This podcast may have very well been the most impactful I’ve yet to hear. Thank you soooo much. I purchased his book and amazon says its been handed to the carrier. Soooooo it should be here in 5, 4, 3….

  62. Travel is about stories. And the best stories happen to us unexpectedly, from the people we meet and the ways in which we help each other find our way. But you need to put yourself in the position to let these stories happen to you.

  63. On Southwest, the exit rows have a flight attendant standing there to be sure passengers are qualified to sit there. So, just tell the flight attendant you want to sit there and she moves aside! #VIP

  64. What did I learn from travelling the world now over 10yrs and 4 continents?

    1. Keep a lean package, if possible <10kg for 7 days, there is always a laundry, shower, river or tapping water to find, ask the locals;

    2. Have at least 300USD always w/ you in cash; 1/4 ounce gold for worst-case scenario (either coin or bar); Before leaving tell your credit card operator where you're spending next;

    3. Make digital copies of docs, keep contacts on a global accessable platform or carry the most important phones w/ you pn paper and leave a copy w/ a friend or VA;

    4. Have a global health insurance, but learn how to cure yourself alone if injured/sick; find out about emergency call services, just in case you need, specially if you go for extrem sports and outdoor;

    5. Learn languages, even if few basic words; plan in advance, but not so much, leave some events to happen randomly when you are out there;

    6. Hire a local guide for first three days, you learn faster and up to date tips; additionally, it's a good starting for a new network of contacts and amazing adventures;

    7. Keep a log of daily activities and new contacts in paper; better in paper, 'cause you my quickly FAX later to a VA to update your blog;

    8. Don't trust electronics, gadgets always fail, especially at extreme environment conditions batteries will always fail;

    9. Learn to trade for logging and food, not money; identify local needs you may solve from your experience. Local trade fair shows are interesting events if you are looking for a temporary job in case you don't have a running MUSE (concept 4-HWW book);

    10. Carry a good photo camera, open a voice box account for people leaving you msgs you may call then back later, avoid carrying computers and mobiles, go and connect w/ locals, you will learn and have much more fun.

    Enjoy the journeys!

    – David Wilde

  65. I think the most valuable piece of advice/tip/trick that I can give to an individual who is about to embark on a travel experience is never to be afraid of what is about to happen. Sometimes before any type of travel, a nostalgic and anxious feeling will suppress all your thoughts, but you have to fight it because the best time of your life is just ahead of you and you will regret big time if you would leave the opportunity and decide not to do it instead.

    Ciprian Morti


  66. Tim, have enjoyed all the interviews that you have posted from Peter Thiel to the latest one with Rolf Potts. What I find interesting is that in the case of Rolf he talks about how “cheap” vagabonding can be and shares his personal experiences when he spent no more than a thousand dollars a month for the 18months of travel that he did and many other such examples but these examples work very well with the average person who cannot afford more as then they will be forever tied to their jobs and will never get to vagabond. However, when it comes to the extremely wealthy people I see the same problem – that is for them they cant imagine vagabonding without spending millions on their travels and then they put if off because they dont have enough wealth to spend these millions! I have found that even if you spend all year staying at five star hotels and eating out at reasonable restaurants (not Michelin star or very fancy places), and manage your drinking and other expensive habits, you can get by for a few hundred thousand dollars a year – this sounds like a lot for most folks but for the very wealthy it is a small amount, and if you assume that they can get at least a 10% return on their investments it does not take more than a few million dollars put away to fund this lifestyle indefinitely!! This then becomes very doable for a lot of wealthy people as they have such amounts of money stashed away as investments (in fact this amount will only be a small fraction of what they really own). That said I came across many people who after understanding the logic of my arguments would acknowledge that vagabonding was doable for them, they would then not do it as they suffer the same problems that Rolf speaks about – they are trapped into their lifestyles, their possessions, the “friends” that they keep etc etc all of which keep them from vagabonding as it is too hard to get away from all of these “prisons” which others called trappings of a successful millionaire!

  67. Advice from a fellow writer: hold a reading of your script as soon as possible. It’ll give you an external deadline and will be more sociable than writing by yourself. Plus _dialogue is a different kind of animal to prose_.

    Hire a producer, who’ll hire a director and a casting director, and will book a venue. They’ll then get the casting director to get a cast together. (You’ll probably get better actors if you book them at short notice, because successful ones won’t want to commit to a one-day workshop in advance.) Have the cast read through the script in the morning and then spend the afternoon discussing it with them and the director. Repeat in a few months’ time, once you’ve completed the next draft.

    This should all cost less than a couple of grand and will be more valuable at this stage than reading any more books or interviewing any more writers. Of course, you’ll probably end up looking stupid (no-one’s first script is any good), but humiliation is a necessary step towards expertise, as you well know!

    Best of luck,


  68. Oh, also: read the chapter, “Density and Subplots in ‘The Sweet Smell of Success'” in Alexander Mackendrick’s “On Film-Making”:

    Best piece of writing I’ve ever read on dialogue, which is somewhat overlooked in “Save the Cat”.

  69. Great episode (as always). Particularly intrigued by the “pyschogeographic” concept. I was driving home in my small rural town, and the instant that concept was explained I saw my world change. So instantaneously, it was as if a switch had been flipped or a filter applied. Thank you!

  70. Hi Tim

    Thank you for another amazing podcast.

    What is the name of the book you mentioned that you most gave away ?

    I look forward to hearing from you and thank you for your time.


  71. It is very interesting to see that you guys struggle with the same questions of self-worth, time. efficiency and presence balance and so many same questions I (and many I assume) have. I am sure most of listeners here would agree that you both are incredibly talented and added a lot of value to the world and each of us. But it seems to be so human to always struggle and question oneself.

    And I agree about seeing your hometown in new eyes. I do try to do it when back home, but my hometown of Siauliai, in Lithuania is just impossible for me. Too much familiarity and too little. Vilnius is better. But after some years of vagabonding now I settles in Taipei. This megacity is endless inspiration and discovery. Even if I get into a routine A to B point paths, I often again fall back in love with it. It’s endless little streets with Chinese lanterns and small food stalls, neon lights, never-stopping movement with quiet nature spaces. Blade runnerish feeling of urban future and Buddhist/Dao temples from distant past.

  72. I lived in Japan for three years and it taught me an amazing amount about America, because I got to how it looked from the perspective of a country with a completely different cultural ancestry. I also learned that one of the great satisfactions of travel is that every place you go you find the strange and the familiar in fascinating combinations.

  73. Hold on, you taught Steve Wozniak who to tango in preparation for his appearance on Dancing with the Stars? WTF? What kind of universe do we live in?!

  74. The most valuable thing I have learnt from travel is to just roll with disruptions to your routine. It’s inevitable that being away from home will mess up the things you do regularly.

    When I first started keeping a habit journal, I used to dread going away for work because I knew the good habits I was forming and tracking would be be skewed by the decisions forced upon me by travel. For example, my diet and nutrition were affected when I travelled to the US.

    However, I have accepted that disruption is just a small inconvenience when travelling and it’s always offset by the thrill of seeing new places.

  75. Tim and Rolf,

    This episode came at the perfect time. Four months ago my wife and I reduced our stuff to zero so I could quit my high paying unsatisfying job. We moved to eastern Europe for a few months in order for our young daughter to get some time with her grandparents. From there we thought we’d move to Hawaii. I’m sitting here in Hawaii as I write this, having fun but also having realized- crazy as it sounds- that Hawaii is not a good fit for us. I bought a ticket to Virginia yesterday (our plan B), feeling like an irresponsible failure. Then I heard this episode and suddenly everything we are doing seemed wonderful and perfect. We will soon be fulfilling another dream, spending our first Christmas with our daughter in a historic house in Virginia, baking cookies, sitting by a cozy fire and Christmas tree, sipping wine. Perfect. Like you said, you can’t predict the twists and turns of an adventure like this. Thanks so much for the inspiring and comforting words. Ok, I’m off to Waikiki beach to have a surf…

  76. The quote you attributed to Potts, “War is god’s way…” was actually from Ambrose Bierce more than 60 years ago.

  77. Such an interesting discussion!

    I love the concept of the time-poor billionaire and the rational Dave Chappelle. I’d bought into the common assumption that he was “crazy” but he just might be on to something.

  78. Tim your podcasts and books are superb. You are a modern intelligent lifestyle guru. I will start my 4hourworkweek life with a book of poetry. I love writing it and it is easy for me. I love the concept of time wealth. I will have it soon. One way to understand poetry is it is using language in a non-prose form to communicate something that is hard to communicate. I did standup for a few years and poetry does not give the instant gratification of standup. It is more like creating an edict in stone (…hoping someone will find it at a time in their life that they need to find it.

    Here are couple of poets that have influenced me. Robinson Jeffers This book has amazing classic photography in it too. Some of the poetry was redacted to fit the pictures.

    Norman Williams’ poetry is beautiful and about the midwestern america

  79. Enough already about how hard it is to be an author. Playing music is hard, as are most creative endeavors, and most other worthwhile endeavors (and many that are not). Commiserating about how tough your chosen work paths are does not make for good podcast listening. On WTF, Marc Maron’s guests all have similar challenges to create their career, and while they acknowledge the challenges on occasion, this is not a topic of conversation in his interviews. And for good reason.

  80. Hey Tim,

    Awesome show!

    Here are the 5 statements that I loved most:

    1. Don’t wait until you’re retired to travel. It’s not exactly the best time to do it.

    2. Traveling is a great way to cash in on your time wealth.

    3. You don’t wait for life to give it to you, you create it.

    4. It’s not money that’s in the way; it’s a mindset thing.

    5. The substance of your life is gained through experience.

    I love to travel. Traveling has become the byproduct of my biggest passion: diving. Now diving isn’t exactly inexpensive, especially if you’re going to places such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Maledives etc. But there are amazing spots where you can travel & dive for next to nothing. And one of those places is Egypt, Dahab in particular. Amazing diving spots plus Dahab’s Blue Hole is famous for its Apnea Championships. On top of that, you get to hang out with the locals and learn more about Egyptian culture, indeed very fascinating.

  81. This is one of my favorite pod casts. Especially part II. The topics you dig into, which you struggle with, I resonate deeply with.. Of course my life situation is much different BUT it still hit home. I really like how the momentum and intensity and how it spilled over into the topic of success, naturally. I grew up in the midwest and I live in silicon valley now. I am finding it hard to merge my midwesterness here. Like a fish out of water. This podcast is helpful with that issue.

    At any rate. Completely off topic. I’m working through chronic lyme and Dr. Rowen in Santa Rosa uses ozone therapy and ultra violet light by drawing out 200cc of your blood, in a closed system, and using ozone and UV on it then they re-infuse it into you. I will try to email you a PDF on it. I am getting this treatment next Monday.

    Here is Dr. Rowen discussing ozone at the Silicon Valley Health Institute:

    Dave Asprey told me ozone therapy is a better long term therapy vs long term antibiotics. Implying that short term antibiotics can be ok… but not long term. Also that lyme usually doesn’t happen without simultaneous mold exposure and that finding a physician who does ozone therapies along with Dr. Shoemaker protocol to help clean up mold in your body. Last tip I received is that low dose cortisol (short term) could be transformative along with 60 days of fluconazole per Dr. Klinkhardt protocol for lyme.

    If you want to check for mold a doctor can order a urine mycotoxin lab from:

    If positive then somewhere in your environment (home or business) has mold right now or it can show up positive from past exposure because the mold doesn’t leave the body it keeps recirculating for years after exposure. It costs $700 I came up low positive for Trichothecenes.

    On the flip side in the video of Dr. Rowen he says lyme and mold labs are useless and that he doesn’t bother with them. He implies that ozone therapy fixes the root cause by fixing your immune system (it modulates the immune system) so that the lyme and mold can be taken care of, as it should be, by immune system.

    I bet you already have the lyme all handled by now with all the people you know but in case you are still searching maybe this will help.

    Last thing I that makes me feel better…I never capitalize the word lyme, it is only a word, not special enough to warrant a capitol L. Spell check constantly capitalizes it and I make a point to go back and remove the capitol L’s 😉

  82. As I across to this website, I have been wondering how you did it in just 4 hours a week. I believe you have such a very intellectual mind…. Anyways, I am new in blogging lifestyle and English is not my primary language, that is why for me it consumes almost a day a one post in my blog.

  83. Great content about freedom travel. I think every individual needs to get outside their comfort zone and travel to places far different that will challenge their beliefs and ideas about human nature. Soaking in a different culture can do wonders to your confidence and improve your interactions with others in a positive way. Have a great thanksgiving people!

  84. That podcast was so great, I’d love to have Rolf Potts again in the future in your show !

    Tim, if one day you give an other chance to french and want someone to do some conversation training, as a native french guy, it will be my pleasure to offer you some of my time for free practice speaking about what ever you want to talk !

    That’s a life time offer, do not hesitate a second if that can be useful to you, it will be my pleasure 😉

  85. Really intrigued about the subject of “success” and the brief points you and Rolf talked about with Dave chappelle and john Hughes. The definition of success is the achievement of one’s own goals…no one else’s. Take a look at tom shadyac. His story is thought provoking.

  86. If your description of 99 Designs is accurate, then they are a spec work site. Spec work is highly unethical and hurts all creative fields.

    Why do you support spec work?