Travel Writers
Vagabonding Guide

Vagabonding Audio Book at

Marco Polo Didn't Go There
Marco Polo Didn't Go There


The Misadventures of Wenamun

Geto Boys
The Geto Boys (33 1/3)

To order signed copies of Rolf's books, send an inquiry email to books [at] rolfpotts [dot] com.

An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel

Villard/Random House

"Vagabonding" is about taking time off from your normal life — from six weeks, to four months, to two years — to discover and experience the world on your own terms. Rolf shows how anyone armed with an independent spirit can achieve the dream of extended overseas travel. Outside magazine founding editor Tim Cahill calls Vagabonding "the most sensible book of travel related advice ever written." Book excerpt and full information available at

Marco Polo Didn't Go There
Stories and Revelations from One Decade as a Postmodern Travel Writer

Travelers' Tales

This book collects Rolf's boldest, funniest, and most revealing journeys from his first 10 years as a travel writer — from crashing the set of a Leonardo DiCaprio movie in Thailand to learning the secrets of Tantric sex in a dubious Indian ashram. Each chapter contains a "commentary track" — humorous endnotes that reveal the ragged edges behind the experience and creation of each tale. Offbeat and insightful, this book is an engrossing read for students of travel writing as well as armchair wanderers. Book excerpt and full information available here.

The Misadventures of Wenamun
A graphic adaptation of the oldest literary travel tale known to man

Sensitive House

Rolf and illustrator Cedar Van Tassel recreate the comic tale of Wenamun, an ancient Egyptian priest whose overseas voyage in search of Lebanese timber resulted in an ongoing series of fiascos. Based on a source papyrus that was lost to history until the late 19th century, the protagonist's misadventure is delightfully entertaining, and has a confessional, self-deprecating feel that makes it stand out from other ancient narratives. Unlike the characters in more mythic tales of adventure, Wenamun is not on a hero's journey. He is, in his hapless progression of mistakes, an anti-hero of sorts, as clueless and arrogant as any culturally oblivious tourist.

The Geto Boys (33 1/3)
A chronicle of the moment in music history when hip-hop replaced rock as the transgressive sound of American youth


Charting the rise of the Geto Boys from the earliest days of Houston's rap scene, Rolf Potts documents a moment in music history when hip-hop was beginning to replace rock as the transgressive sound of American youth. In creating an album that was both sonically innovative and unprecedentedly vulgar, the Geto Boys were accomplishing something that went beyond music. To paraphrase a sentiment from Don DeLillo, this group of young men from Houston's Fifth Ward ghetto had figured out the "language of being noticed" — which is, in the end, the only language America understands.

Forewords and Introductions

Best Travel Writing Volume 11 True Stories from Around the World
By by James O'Reilly (Editor), Larry Habegger (Editor), Sean O'Reilly (Editor) (Travelers' Tales, 2016)
Rolf wrote the introduction to Travelers' Tales' annual anthology of the best travel stories from around the world. Contributors include Don George, Marcia DeSanctis, Thomas Swick, Jill Robinson, Erin Byrne, Kimberley Lovato, Christina Ammon, and Peter Wortsman.
Words of Mercury Tales from a Lifetime of Travel
By Patrick Leigh Fermor (Skyhorse, 2014)
Rolf penned the Foreword to this anthology of writing from every stage of Leigh Fermor's life, from his journey through Eastern Europe just before the outbreak of the Second World War, to his encounter with voodoo in Haiti, to a monastic retreat to Normandy to try to write a book, to his planned and executed kidnap of a German general under British orders. Written in a singular, elegant style, Leigh Fermor's tales have inspired generations of writers and continue to shape the language of travel.


Click on thumbnails for reviews and ordering information from

The Irresponsible Traveller Bradt
Editor: Jennifer Barclay
Rolf's Story: "Intrigue Under the Big Screen"
Notable contributors: Michael Palin, Dervla Murphy, Simon Calder, Simon King, Tim Cahill, and Matthew Parris.
The Best of Lonely Planet Travel Writing
Editor: Tony Wheeler
Rolf's Story: "Something Approaching Enlightenment"
Notable contributors: Simon Winchester, Jan Morris, Pico Iyer, Jason Elliot, Tim Cahill, and William Dalrymple.
The Best Travel Writing 2009 Travelers' Tales
Editors: James O'Reilly, Larry Habegger, Sean O'Reilly
Rolf's Story: "Up Cambodia Without a Phrasebook"
Notable contributors: Pico Iyer, Tony Perrottet, Stephanie Elizondo Griest, Gary Buslik, and David Farley.
The Best Creative Nonfiction, Vol. 2 W.W. Norton
Editor: Lee Gutkind
Rolf's Story: "The Art of Writing a Story About Walking Across Andorra"
Notable contributors: Heidi Julavits, Stefan Fatsis, Pagan Kennedy, Donovan Hohn, and William deBuys.
The Best Travel Writing 2008 Travelers' Tales
Editors: James O'Reilly, Larry Habegger, Sean O'Reilly
Rolf's Story: "Death of an Adventure Traveler"
Notable contributors: Sara Wheeler, Catherine Watson, Tony Perrottet, and Richard Goodman.
Encounters with the Middle East Solas House
Editors: Nesreen Khashan and Jim Bowman
Rolf's Story: "Dancing at the Blood Festival"
Notable contributors: Jeff Greenwald, Murad Kalam, Mal Karman, Laurence Mitchell, and Michel Moushabeck.
The Best American Travel Writing 2006 Houghton Mifflin
Editors: Tim Cahill and Jason Wilson
Rolf's Story: "Tantric Sex for Dilettantes"
Notable contributors: Alain de Botton, Pico Iyer, David Sedaris, Gary Shteyngart, and George Saunders.
Tales From Nowhere Lonely Planet
Editor: Don George
Rolf's Story: "The Living Museum of Nowhere and Everywhere"
Notable contributors: Simon Winchester, Pico Iyer, Tim Cahill, Stanley Stewart, and Anthony Sattin.
The Best Travel Writing 2006 Travelers' Tales
Editors: James O'Reilly, Larry Habegger, Sean O'Reilly
Rolf's Story: "Road Roulette"
Notable contributors: Alain de Botton, Herbert Gold, Bob Guccione Jr., Tony Perrottet, Jeff Greenwald and Patrick Symmes.
What Color is Your Jockstrap? Travelers' Tales
Editor: Jennifer L. Leo
Rolf's Story: "Signs of Confusion"
Notable contributors: Tim Cahill, Susan Orlean, Elliott Hester, and Laurie Notaro.
The World is a Kitchen Travelers' Tales
Editors: Susan Brady and Michele Anna Jordan
Rolf's Contribution: "Mandu Rolf-Bap"
Notable contributors: Catherine Watson, Richard Sterling, Lydia Polgreen, Jay Cooke, Cindy Wallach, and Mary Taylor Simetti.
By the Seat of My Pants Lonely Planet
Editor: Don George
Rolf's Story: "Something Approaching Enlightenment"
Notable contributors: Simon Winchester, Jan Morris, Pico Iyer, Tim Cahill, Doug Lansky, and Jeff Greenwald.
The Best Travel Writing 2005 Travelers' Tales
Editors: James O'Reilly, Larry Habegger, Sean O'Reilly
Rolf's Story: "Circuit Broken"
Notable contributors: Susan Orlean, Pico Iyer, Mark Jenkins, Bruno Maddox and Murad Kalam.
Travel Writing Lonely Planet
Author/Editor: Don George
Rolf's Contribution: "Travel Writing Tips"
Notable contributors: Tim Cahill, Daisann McLane, Pico Iyer, Sara Wheeler, Rory MacLean and Stanley Stewart.
The Best Travelers' Tales 2004 Travelers' Tales
Editors: James O'Reilly, Larry Habegger, Sean O'Reilly
Rolf's Story: "Anthem Soul"
Notable contributors: Simon Winchester, Brad Newsham, Jeff Greenwald and Alison Wright.
The Kindness of Strangers Lonely Planet
Editors: Don George, His Holiness the Dalai Lama (preface)
Rolf's Story: "My Beirut Hostage Crisis"
Notable contributors: Tim Cahill, Jan Morris, Simon Winchester, and Dave Eggers
Hyenas Laughed at Me and Now I Know Why: The Best of Travel Humor and Misadventure Travelers' Tales
Editors: Sean O' Reilly, Larry Habegger, James O'Reilly, Tim Cahill (introduction)
Rolf's Story: "Cowboys and Indians, Thai Style"
Notable contributors: Elliott Hester, Doug Lansky, Richard Sterling, William Dalrymple, and Jennifer L. Leo.
A House Somewhere: Tales of Life Abroad Lonely Planet
Editor: Don George and Anthony Sattin
Rolf's Story: "Digging Mr. Benny's Dead Uncle"
Notable contributors: Peter Mayle, Isabel Allende, Frances Mayes, Pico Iyer and Paul Theroux.
Travelers' Tales: Turkey Travelers' Tales
Editor: James Villers, Jr.
Rolf's Story: "Turkish Knockout"
Notable contributors: Tim Cahill, Nick Danziger, Robert D. Kaplan, John Krich, and Tony Perrottet's Wanderlust: Real-Life Tales of Adventure and Romance Villard/Random House
Editor: Don George
Rolf's Story: "Storming 'The Beach'"
Notable contributors: Pico Iyer, Isabel Allende, Simon Winchester and Jan Morris
Best American Travel Writing 2000 Houghton Mifflin
Editors: Bill Bryson and Jason Wilson
Rolf's story: "Storming 'The Beach'"
Notable contributors: P.J. O'Rourke, William T. Vollmann, Tim Cahill, Bill Buford, David Halberstam and Dave Eggers
Adrenaline 2000: The Year's Best Stories of Adventure and Survival Thunder's Mouth Press
Editor: Clint Willis
Rolf's story: "Be Your Own Donkey"
Notable contributors: Reinhold Messner, Mark Jenkins, Conrad Anker, Alex Lowe and Philip Caputo
Not So Funny When it Happened: The Best of Travel Humor and Misadventure Travelers' Tales
Editor: Tim Cahill
Rolf's story: "Penny Pinched"
Notable contributors: Dave Barry, Anne Lamott, David Sedaris, Bill Bryson and Douglas Adams
Travelers' Tales: Greece Travelers' Tales
Editors: Jason Alexander, Larry Habbegger, Sean O'Reilly
Rolf's Story: "Slumming the Pink Palace"
Notable contributors: Lawrence Durrell, Paul Theroux and Henry Miller
The Rolf Potts obscure collection
Some of the fiction and satire stories Rolf wrote while he was in college later wound up in small-press anthologies, including The Best of Pif Magazine: Off-Line, In Our Own Words: A Generation Defining Itself, and On the Eighth Day God Laughed. More information about these titles, and Rolf's contributions to them, can be found here.