Often, when people ask me how they can get started vagabonding, I tell them, “just go someplace, and start learning from there.” It’s probably never exactly that simple for everyone, but I’ll stand by that advice. Regardless of all the dreaming and planning and anxieties that predate a journey, taking the first step is what makes it real – and the more you go, the better you get at it.

It is with this in mind that I’ve joined forces with AirTreks to share my stories and experiences in an effort to make travel – and taking that first step of a journey – as accessible as possible to as many people as possible. AirTreks has been a pioneering leader in building vagabonding flight-itineraries for three decades now, as they’ve mastered the task of helping travelers plan world-wandering journeys (and offer travel-support as those journeys play out).

I’ve been working with AirTreks and BootsnAll since Vagabonding came out nearly two decades ago, and their travel style and mission has always aligned with my own. AirTreks co-signed the Indie Travel Manifesto, which I co-produced with BootsnAll almost a decade ago, and they’ve helped me plan (and support) the air portion of several multi-stop global journeys for nearly a decade as well.

Below are some examples of my previous vagabonding/AirTreks journeys, which I want to provide as trip ideas for you to copy or adapt in your own way. I hope you’ll find what you need here to dream, plan – and experience – your own profound journey.

Read Rolf’s Essay…

5 Ways Indie Travel Has Changed — and Stayed the Same — Since 1999

By Rolf Potts

Twenty years ago, when I set off on my first multi-month vagabonding trip around Asia, I noticed that a lot of the backpackers I met – cool indie travelers from places like Denmark and Tasmania and Oregon – were fixated with the notion of what travel must have been like in the 1970s. Indeed, as enjoyable as Thailand and India and Japan were in 1999, there was this sense that we had missed out on an earlier, purer era of travel some two decades before – a time before the advent of dial-up Internet cafés and international phone-cards and backpacker-ghetto street-kiosks that sold bootleg Fatboy Slim cassettes.

Earlier this year, when I arrived in Sumatra on what was to be the first leg of a 20-year vagabonding-anniversary tour across Asia, I had trouble wrapping my head around the wonky math that can frame the passage of time. In 1999, the very notion of 1979 felt as antique and faded as an Instamatic photo-print from that era – yet to my 2019 self, 1999 still feels like it wasn’t all that long ago. Sure, dial-up Internet connections are ancient history (as is the notion of using a plastic tape to access your music, or a plastic phone-card to call home), but is the way we travel today really all that different than the way we traveled two decades ago?

Read full essay here.

Rolf’s World

The Deviate Podcast
Listen to off-the-beaten-path stories and interviews with some of the most fascinating people in the world, including Tim Ferriss and Ari Shaffir. Find your favorite episode here.

Rolf is perhaps best known for promoting the ethic of independent travel, and his book on the subject, Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel (Random House, 2003), has been through twelve printings and translated into several foreign languages. His second book, Marco Polo Didn’t Go There: Stories and Revelations From One Decade as a Postmodern Travel Writer (Travelers’ Tales, 2008), won a 2009 Lowell Thomas Award from the Society of American Travel Writers, and became the first American-authored book to win Italy’s prestigious Chatwin Prize for travel writing. Learn more or get your own (signed or unsigned) copy here.

Paris Writing Workshops
Four unique 2019 classes to choose from! Each July since 2005 Rolf has directed a month-long creative writing workshop at the Paris American Academy, in the artistic heart of Europe. For 2019 he’s added several new short-form classes in Paris, find out more about them here.

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