Vagabonding Travel Vs. Vacation Travel

Traffic jam on Sukhumvit in Bangkok

Vagabonding Is a Way of Life


Rolf Potts, author of the book Vagabonding, describes it as:

The act of leaving behind the orderly world to travel independently for an extended period of time…


A deliberate way of living that makes freedom to travel possible.

So, simply put, vagabonding is the act of choosing experiences and travel adventures over working away your life for material things.

Vagabonding vs Vacation

What is the difference between vagabonding and a vacation?

A vacation is an attempt to squeeze a year’s worth of enjoyment, relaxation, and adventure into a two-week or 10-day package. What often results is an expensive distraction and then an unsatisfied return to reality, which is always waiting at home. In fact, after vacation, you find yourself worse off than before you left, playing catchup with work, mail, chores, unpacking, etc.

Someone who is vagabonding keeps a traveling mindset. They may be back home to visit loved ones or earn money, but they are always anticipating the next trip. They prioritize experience over accumulating objects. A vagabond works to provide the fuel for travel and adventure, not to build a lifestyle of fashion and toys in an attempt to impress others.

Adventure calls, and it has a loud voice.

Why Not Wait for Retirement to Travel?

Because it may be too late!

Although the thought is a little dark, there truly is no guarantee of good enough health later to do the things you really want to do.

What do so many wealthy people want most? Time.

That was the answer given by dozens of millionaires and successful entrepreneurs when asked. They all wanted more time with their families or to do things they enjoyed, but ironically, many were commuting an average of 10 hours a week to earn more money! That’s 500 hours (20.8 days) a year lost just to get somewhere to earn money.

Unlike money, those hours can never be replaced.

Sure, you do need to prepare some for the future. This isn’t about becoming a “vagabum.” But try not to get stuck in the cycle of working to earn money that is then used to buy things to distract you from working in the first place! Don’t sell all of your time and then use money in an attempt to buy time back — that’s a losing cycle.

If island life is the goal in retirement, then fear not: my rent on the Thai island of Koh Lanta was only US $300 a month for a sea-side bungalow. Why wait until prices go up?

What About Money for Travel?

Vagabonding travel doesn’t cost as much as you may think.

Do you really need all those subscription services? Do you need a new car when your old one still runs fine? Are your clothes really that out of fashion? Does your smartphone still work well enough?

Financing vagabonding is often simply about adjusting your priorities so that saving for travel comes first. More than a majority of long-term travelers I met were poor university students who had managed to stay on the road for years! They certainly weren’t rich.

Despite the widespread myth, you don’t have to be rich to travel extensively.

No need to start hating money…it does come in useful. But don’t structure your entire life around getting more of it!

Budget destinations such as Asia, Africa, and South America offer unlimited adventure and culture. Many destinations cost a fraction of what you spend to live at home daily. For the cost of one average dinner-and-movie night in the United States, you could eat, sleep, and play for days in Thailand!

A footstep on a beach

Why Bother?

People are shaped by their experiences. When you only make time for experiences on weekends, it can take a long time to grow into the person you should be. What better way to get to know yourself than to accept the challenge of the road?

The benefit of extended vagabonding travel will carry over into all parts of your life; work, relationships, and general health get a boost. Vagabonding creates new reference points and causes life at home to take on an entirely new context.

How can you be upset about a traffic jam after having experienced daily life in a country still plagued with landmines?

How to Get Started Vagabonding

Making the decision to escape the Rat Race is the first and most important step. Next, cut bogus expenses, begin saving, and use our site as a personal guide to get started on the path to adventure. Anyone can start a new life of vagabonding. Stay positive; don’t let naysayers “talk sense into you” — go make your dreams come true!

To help you stay motivated, begin by grabbing a copy of Vagabonding (affiliate link), look in backpacking travel forums, and check out the vagabonding blogs of other people who are living the life (mine is The more that you see how many people have escaped the Rat Race (link to my site and survived to tell the tale, the more you will realize world travel is not something that only belongs to the rich!

Follow our Vagabonding Facebook Page or Twitter for updates, tips, and weekly inspiration for escape.

I will see you on the road.

Originally Published on

Learn to start backpacking
Learn how to escape the Rat Race and start backpacking!