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)


Print and online interviews with Rolf

the 33 1/3 new author q&a: rolf potts
By Michelle Chen, Bloomsbury Publishing — March 2, 2015
"Though Nevermind was more influential to my musical tastes than The Geto Boys, I never considered visiting Aberdeen. Grunge music was by definition an expression of the Pacific Northwest, but it wasn’t necessarily about place. Hip-hop, on the other hand, depicted place with street-level specificity.... read more

Rolf Potts on Travel Tactics, Creating Time Wealth, and Lateral Thinking
By Tim Ferriss, The Tim Ferriss Show podcast — November 4, 2014
“If in doubt, just walk until your day becomes interesting.... read more

Rolf Potts' Original Vagabonding Story
By Sherry Ott, Meet Plan Go — October 2014
"There's this idea that we need tons and tons of money to buy ourselves time, but that’s not really true. We just need to use what money we have to create time to do the things we love.... read more

Time = Wealth
By Alastair Humphreys, — October 14, 2014
"Simplicity is your ticket to travel. At home, it allows you to focus on what’s important and save money for the journey to come. On the road simplicity allows you to travel lighter and focus your attention on the world before you instead of the things you drag behind you.... read more

Rolf Potts On Present And Future of Travel Journalism
By Kira Tverskaya, The Loving Stranger — May 14, 2014
"I don’t think travel journalism is a zero-sum game; I think more traditional literary writing will continue to exist, even as technology makes it easier to evoke a distant land through pictures or videos or social media.... read more

What’s so special about Kansas: Interview with Rolf Potts
By Kristin Conard, Kansas Trail Guide — April 10, 2014
"Travel influenced my decision to come back to Kansas. In seeing how families drew strength and meaning from one another in distant corners of the globe, I made a decision to find a place close to my family.... read more

The Writer's Hot Seat: Rolf Potts on Travel Writing
By Michael Toner, Barnstorm Journal — February 4, 2014
"The more you write, the more your story tells you which details are and are not necessary... read more

Smart Travel Advice: Don't 'Micromanage' Your Next Trip
By Christopher Elliott, Huffington Post — January 26, 2014
""My best advice to is to research your trip to your heart's content before the journey begins. Then, once your travels are underway, toss out your itinerary and let the destination itself guide you... read more

Ask Me Anything: Vagabonding author Rolf Potts
Reddit AMA — November 14, 2013
"Being "efficient" isn't necessarily the best way to experience distant lands. Instead just wander, get lost, slow down, find a place you love and stay there awhile. Play games with your journey and keep learning.... read more

An Uncommon Interview About the Art of Long-Term World Travel
By Matt Kepnes, — November 14, 2013
"You don’t need to be Indiana Jones to discover something new and amazing on the road; you usually just have to walk 20 minutes in any direction, or take a bus to a town that isn’t listed in your guidebook.... read more

How Social Media Is Changing the Way We Travel
By Mike Richard, Vagabondish — November 12, 2013
"Serendipity is still out there, but one has to unplug a little, worry less about crowd-sourcing recommendations, and more about getting information and inspiration from one’s immediate surroundings.... read more

Interview with Author and Essayist Rolf Potts
By John Bocskay, Outside Looking In — September 25, 2013
"Often I use my time in Korea as an illustrative example of how you can intellectualize cultural difference all you want, but you can’t really understand it until you are immersed in that culture, making discoveries and mistakes as you go.... read more

When in Roam: Rolf Potts
By Christine Maxfield, CompassMag Podcast In — May 27, 2013
"Some of my best travel experiences have been the result of boredom, loneliness, and inconvenience. The immediate gratification and psychic comforts that come with technology can thus detract from the hard-won joys of patient immersion in a place.... read more

2°E with Rolf Potts in Paris
By Johnny Miller, Maptia In — May 22, 2013
"There's something about paper maps that involves active effort and imagination, a process of filling in the blanks with your own imperfect perceptions. I don't want to lose that.... read more

Longform Podcast: Rolf Potts
By Aaron Lammer, — March 20, 2013
"Instead of seeking out the stories, the stories sort of found me. I miss those days. I make more money from my writing now and I'm probably a better journalist. But having 7-day weeks to wander, month after month, for two years, was a great way to find travel stories..... read more

Sitting down with Rolf Potts
By Leyla Levi, Yale Herald — March 1, 2013
"I got a lot of emails asking how I could afford to do this and I decided to answer by making a list of philosophical reasons for travel. That 11-point list eventually became the 11 chapters of Vagabonding..... read more

Where to for travel writing?
By Iain Manley, Old World Wandering — September 24, 2012
"From Herodotus to the imperial-era Brits, travel accounts examined other cultures in part to answer the question, “Who, as a people, are we?” The information age has shifted this question so that it now asks, “Who, as a person, am I?”.... read more

Interview with Rolf Potts: Legendary Traveler & Writer
By Clint Johnston, TripHackr — July 19, 2012
"These days we have so many technologies and online resources that faraway places can at times feel familiar, but there’s no substitute for going to a place, smelling its air, getting lost in its back-alleys... read more

Interview: Rolf Potts
By Peter Cresswell, Always Twirling — July 9, 2012
"Countless people have experienced travels that transform them personally, but writing about those travels in such a way that the reader can vicariously experience that transformation is not always easy.... read more

Going On Long Walks: An Interview with Travel Writer Rolf Potts
By Bryan Schatz , — June 7, 2012
"A flâneur is someone who has decided to break out of the usual pathways and ruts of their habit-driven lives by taking random adventures through his own city. They aren’t walking with any goal save experience.... read more

Vagabonding Vagabond: Our Interview with Rolf Potts
By Vago Damitio, — February 18, 2012
"I think traveling and living out of a van during my first vagabonding trip taught me some essential lessons about minimalism. I didn’t have a lot of room for extra “stuff”, so all I brought were some clothes and camping gear.... read more

Interview with Rolf Potts: Travel Writer & Journalist
By David Thompson, Dave's Travel Corner — September 16, 2011
"Traditional stability is probably the biggest sacrifice that comes with travel writing -- especially since building the requisite level of expertise requires that you stay on the road longer than the average vacationer.... read more

The World According to Rolf Potts
By Peter Moore, Wanderlust — August 23, 2011
"I'm actually a fan of tourist zones, within reason. I like getting off the beaten path, of course, but I think you can learn a lot about a country by spending some time in its most overcrowded tourist attractions. Every tourist zone is subtly emblematic of the country itself ... read more

A Conversation With Rolf Potts, Travel Writer
By Daniel Fromson, The Atlantic — May 5, 2011
"The tourist demand for photographs of extreme-looking tribespeople has led to what anthropologists call 'staged authenticity': Local people will dress up in their most flamboyant ceremonial costumes when the tour bus shows up, because they can make more money dressed in goatskins and war-paint than t-shirts and sneakers ... read more

Rolf Potts Went There
By Luke Armstrong, The Expeditioner — April 11, 2011
"If you see a fight at a bar and tell the story later, you don’t start by describing what brand of urinal cakes were in the toilets, you cut straight to the most relevant and dramatic parts of what happened. That doesn’t mean you’re fictionalizing the events and details, it just means you’re sticking to the most relevant ones ... read more

How I afford two-month vacations
CNN Money — April 1, 2011
"In choosing to live cheaply and forgo the trappings of luxury — in keeping my expenses lower than the daily living costs of most U.S. cities — I was able to enrich my journey with life's most valuable commodity: time ... read more

Has technology robbed travel of its riches?
The Guardian (U.K.) — March 5, 2011
"What in Orwell's day was a matter of rail transit is now an issue of constant connectedness — what I like to call the 'electronic umbilical cord.' At one level this makes travel more accessible, but part of travel's charm has always been its disorienting uncertainty ..." read more

Lucky 13 Questions for Rolf Potts
By Michael Hodson, — March 3, 2011
"I'm thinking I'd like to be portrayed by Zach Galifianakis. I realize he’s nothing like me, but I'd want the audience to be entertained, and I'm sure there's comedic potential in a short, bearded, Greek-American version of Rolf Potts teaching English in Korea, learning the bagpipes in Cuba, and otherwise getting into misadventures. ... read more

Rolf on TV Q&A: Rolf Potts on watching the Travel Channel for 5 solid days
By Jeff Hart, Culture Blues — February 28, 2011
"I've been working on a series of scripts for a travel mockumentary (think "The Office" meets a National Geographic series) that simultaneously explores and lampoons the genre — and I'd love to think there might be a network clever and ballsy enough to embrace meta-programming." read more

Around the world in just his clothes
By La Carmina, — November 26, 2010
"Twelve countries, six weeks, zero baggage. Writer Rolf Potts takes the term traveling light to its minimal extreme ... read more

Backpacker Novels: A Conversation
With Kristin Van Tassel, World Hum — November 11, 2010
"These books, while kind of sensationalistic, pointed toward a tipping point in the way people were traveling. They seemed to imply that the rituals of travel were becoming indistinguishable from the rituals of home. ... read more

Rolf eats a bug My travels: Rolf Potts goes round the world with no luggage
The Guardian (U.K.) — November 6, 2010
"We tend to pack unnecessary things because certain items feed into our psychic bubble of comfort – a kind of half-hearted attempt to bring home with us – when in fact not much is required, in the material sense, to enjoy a great time on the road. ... read more

Freelance Zone: 5 Questions With Rolf Potts
By Catherine L. Tully, — October 18, 2010
"In the age of blogs, nobody needs a bland, "travelogue" recounting of what happened to you on the road. You need to tell a story — you need to guide the readers' experience of your journey.... read more

The Future of Air Travel?
By Neil Cavuto, FOX Business News — October 1, 2010
"The cost of flying is soaring and your money is soaring out of your pockets. How about filling your pockets with something else. Maybe your luggage? Impossible you say? Well, I want you to meet the guy who says you're wrong, really wrong. ... read more

Rolf Six weeks around the world, with no bags: Could you do it?
By Laura Bly, USA Today — August 20, 2010
"Having no bags means I have nothing to fall back on, nothing to pack "just in case." But in many ways that's a good thing, since I can pack only true essentials. ... read more

How to Travel 12 Countries with No Baggage Whatsoever
By Tim Ferriss — August 20, 2010
"Rolf sees his no-baggage journey as a real-time experiment in traveling ultra-light, and a field-test for a more philosophical idea — that what we experience in life is more important than what we bring with us. ... read more

Man Circles the Globe Without Luggage
By Scott Mayerowitz, ABC News — August 20, 2010
"Rolf Potts won't be worrying about luggage fees or lost bags as he travels around the world over the next six weeks. That's because he isn't bringing any luggage, not even a carry-on. ... read more

Rolf Potts on Travel Blogging
By Matt Gibson, Transitions Abroad — April 19, 2010
"I'm not sure that journalism schools have ever been all that essential for travel writers, and traditional educational institutions don't often touch on the literature of travel. It's a genre that readers tend to discover on their own — and for writers it's a genre that arises from a passion for travel and writing that is often independent of formal education... read more

Rolf eats a bug Rolf Potts: More than Just a Vagabond
By Raymond Seguin, Intercultures — April 2010
"If you try to make the place match up to the postcard then it's sort of absurd. You have to be willing to accept everything, and that includes manifestations of the culture that may seem inauthentic... read more

How I Travel: Rolf Potts
By Steve Bramucci, — January 19, 2010
"One of these days, some random Vagabonding reader is going to recognize me while I'm making a fool of myself in some exotic corner of the world. You don't become a travel expert by being flawless in your travels, but by trying new things and being willing risk mistakes... read more

What's In Your Backpack, Rolf Potts, Travel Guru?
By Lola Akinmade, Matador Goods — November 11, 2009
"A leading name in the world of travel and vagabonding, award-winning travel writer and author Rolf Potts gives Matador a peek into his backpack before heading off to Genoa, Italy to claim his much-deserved Chatwin Prize for travel writing.... read more

Rolf Asking Rolf Potts
By Sarah Moshontz de la Rocha, Globe Corner — October 17, 2009
"It's kind of insulting to assume that people in, say, the Middle East can't differentiate between a nation's foreign policy and its individual citizens. Better to tell the truth, gently challenge people's stereotypes about America, and humbly represent your country on a person-to-person level than tell some dumb lie about being from Toronto.... read more

How to be a long term traveling Digital Nomad
By Markus Albers — February 9, 2009
"One of the great things about vagabonding-style long-term travel is that it's pretty much recession-proof. This is because vagabonding isn't about how much money you have so much as how you choose to spend that money... Part II

Interview with Rolf Potts
By Matthew Kepnes, — January 18, 2009
"Ideally, travel should be an act of humble curiosity, and when you start to worry about where you stand in relation to other travelers you kind of lose the point. In a sense, the tourist/traveler debate is an exercise in insecurity — a kind of comfort blanket that people cling to amid the uncertain social atmosphere they enter when they leave home... read more

Marco Polo Didn't Go There, But Rolf Potts Did
By Kimberly Murgatroyd, — January 16, 2009
"I've always been intrigued by the idea of television, but it was never really a part of my master plan. But in early 2007 the Travel Channel began actively looking for "qualified insiders" — people with active travel expertise, not just "actors" — to host their shows... read more

The World Over: A Profile of Rolf Potts
By Frank Bures, Poets & Writers — Nov/Dec 2008
"I didn't realize that there's sometimes a stigma attached to travel writing. I started traveling around Asia in 1998 and I didn't go home for any substantial amount of time until 2003. I was just this guy sitting in cheap hotels writing stories..."read more

Cusco at Night

Travel Writing 2.0
By Stephanie Pearson, Outside — November 2008
"A generation ago travel writing was an extractive task, a one-way communication that tended to exoticize far-off places. It's harder to do that these days, since the guy you write about in, say, Ethiopia can read what you've written and disagree with more

A Vagabond from Kansas tells his tales
By Peter Delevett, the San Jose Mercury-News — November 8, 2008
"Any place can be a cool place to go. Not just Paris and Cape Town, but your hometown. Down the block. Flyover country. I've always believed that the destination is less important than what you find along the way... read more

Rolf Potts Talks: New Book, Old Notes, Future Career
By Kelly Westhoff, — October 21, 2008
"At the end of the day, though, we're still stuck inside the tourist matrix. One old conceit of travel writing was to make that matrix disappear, to make it seem as if you were standing alone and unique in the world encountering the exotic by yourself, when in reality, you usually do it in a crowd of people.... read more

The Stories Behind the Stories
By Carly Blatt, — October 20, 2008
"The endnotes in Rolf's new book often include explanations about why he used specific narrative techniques or why he had to leave out certain parts of some experiences. Many of his endnotes answer questions that we as readers would ask a friend telling us travel stories over a beer.... read more

Student Traveler interview
October 6, 2008
"Don't get too caught up in your travel fears, and keep in mind that you get better at travel with each new day on the road. Mistakes and misadventures are part of the joy of travel — so don't worry too much about a "perfect" journey, and just get out there and see what the world has to offer..." read more

Rolf Potts on "Letting it Flow," and the Stories that Never Got Written
By Eva Holland, Matador Pulse — September 22, 2008
"Even when my writing is flowing, it's doing so in the context of a deliberately structured narrative. The passages of mine that seem to flow down the page didn't necessarily flow that way onto the page... read more

Mursi Men

Rolf Potts: Revelations from a Postmodern Travel Writer
From World Hum — September 19, 2008
"I'd like to think that travel literature in coming decades will champion a kind of Postmodern Realism -- a measured-yet-optimistic sensibility that cuts through the fantasies of tourism and the alarmist hue of international news reporting to leave us with something essentially human and true about the rest of the world... read more

An Interview with Rolf Potts (Vagabondish)
By Mike Richard, — September 18, 2008
"I didn't travel abroad when I was a kid, nor did I have much money growing up, but I eventually wandered my way across the world just the same. In many ways, I wrote Vagabonding as a letter to my 18 year-old self, to encourage people like me about the possibilities of travel.... read more

Rolf Potts Answers Your Travel Questions
From — September 17, 2008
"I get irritated if I hear someone brag about the time he's spent on some rice farm near Vang Vieng, and then in the next breath bag on people who live in "Red States" he's certainly never visited. How can you consider hanging out with a Laotian farmer a virtue when the idea of a Kansas farmer brings a sneer to your face?... read more

Rolf Potts on the "tourist" versus "traveler" debate
By Sean O'Neill Budget Travel — September 16, 2008
"So your next-door neighbor went to Guyana and he wants to tell you all about it -- is he showing off or just channeling the excitement of his journey? Odds are it's the latter -- and if you reflexively judge him as a travel snob just because he went someplace exotic and enjoyed it, then you're the one who's being a jerk... read more

Rolf's Marco Polo "Virtual Book Tour"
Appeared in various online venues — September 15-26, 2008
Rolf marks the debut of Marco Polo Didn't Go There with a series of interviews and features in blogs and websites such as Tim Ferriss's 4-Hour Work Week and National Geographic Traveler's "Intelligent Travel" more

Airport Sign, Tres Lagos

Rolf Potts: Adventures on a shoestring
From the Times Online (U.K.) — April 2, 2008
"In a time when adventure travel is equated to deep-bush walking safaris or Arctic polar bear watching, we wanted to know if it is still possible to have great, life changing adventures on a shoestring. Few are better equipped to answer this question than Rolf Potts... read more

Rolf's Very Subjective Guide to Bookstores
From the National Geographic Traveler blog — December 13, 2007
"In 15 years of near-constant global travel, I've found bookstores to be both a psychic sanctum and a destination in themselves in faraway places. I seek out bookstores not just to find more

Rolf Potts: Traveling Mercies
By K. Van Tassel, The Wittenburg Door — Nov./Dec. 2007
Rolf talks travel and religion with the Christian satire magazine that published his first paying freelance story in 1992...full article

Globetrotter says wealth lies in experiences
By David Clouston, Salina Journal — August 14, 2007
"Few in Salina will recognize Potts when he returns from his travels to unwind at his rural farm home in Saline County. But the 36-year-old Wichita native's byline is familiar among readers of ...full article

Rolf Potts On The Future Of Travel Writing
By Tim Patterson, Brave New Traveler — August 9, 2007
"Rolf shares his thoughts on travel writing for the Internet, the intoxicating "hum of possibility" that travel generates and why "speeding off toward the horizon with a sack full of Benzedrine is not always the best way to approach a journey ...full interview

Falkland Carcass

Vagabonding and the Joy of Journeys
Q&A with Tom Chiari of UConn — Posted August 2007
"Vacationing is a way of using travel to escape from life for a short time; vagabonding is a way of using travel to embrace life for an extended period. Vagabonding isn't necessarily better than vacationing — everyone needs ....full Q&A

Conquering your fears and living your travel dreams
Los Angeles Times blog series — July 5-10, 2007
"The most shocking thing when many people dream of taking time off for world-travel is not the audacity of the dream itself, but the fact that so many folks never get around to doing it. Many of us fantasize about ...full article

Travel Writing and Americanness
Q&A with Melanie Tortoroli of Harvard — Posted May 2007
"Even those Americans who presume to reject American culture do it in a very American way. Culture is stronger than you think — more visceral than intellectual — and you can't just will it away when you move overseas ....full Q&A

Campaign for the American Reader Page 69 Test
By Marshal Zeringue — January 5, 2007
Rolf analyzes Page 69 of Vagabonding as part of an independent online initiative encouraging people to read more books ...full article

AirTran's Go Magazine: Dream Jobs
By Catherine Arnold — May 2006
Rolf's travel-writing career is included in a roundup of "dream jobs," including film directors, whale naturalists, and professional poker players ...full article


Rolf Potts interview: Eight Diagrams
By Wayne Yang, Eight Diagrams — June 14, 2006
"At the time, I thought the USA journey would be a ritual of getting travel out of my system before I got serious and started a normal, stationary American life. As it turned out ...full interview

Rolf Potts: Travel Writer and Vagabonding Guru
By Nana Chen, eMarginalia — December 2005
"At 34, Rolf Potts, the author of Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel, has wandered through forty-five states and fifty-five countries. It all started a decade ago when ...full interview

Global Nomads and Travel Journalism
Q&A with Lea Teuscher of City University (UK) — Posted October 2005
"Recently, I think traditional travel media have been conservative, more aligned to "safe" trips and attractions close to home, or without any cultural "risk". As far as I'm aware, there are very few major travel newspaper sections or magazines that cover ...full Q&A

Rolf Potts on Long-Term Travel
By Clay Hubbs, Transitions Abroad — March 2004
"Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to Long-Term Travel is a remarkably well-written book in which the author expands on virtually all the views I have presented in Transitions Abroad over the past 27 years. Like us, he keeps all his ..."full interview

Young Pioneers interview
By Dan Eldridge, Young Pioneers — Spring 2004
"At 33 years old, travel writer and self-proclaimed 'vagabond' Rolf Potts is easily the youngest pioneer featured in our Independent Travel Icons issue. If his youth alone doesn't make you jealous enough, consider that Potts'..." full interview

Mongolian Race Costume

Wanderlust turns writer into a career vagabond
By Janet Fullwood, Sacramento Bee — November 23, 2003
"Always wanted to bum around Asia for a year but thought you couldn't afford it? Stop making excuses, counsels travel advocate Rolf Potts in a thoughtful new book about taking a break from the rat race: Vagabonding begins the moment you stop making excuses, start saving money and ..."full interview

Rolf Potts Speaks Out
By Claire Smith, Student Traveler — October 2003
"Rolf Potts wants to tell you how to travel. To be more accurate, he wants to tell you how to think when you travel. He doesn't want to suggest a destination, or what to bring, or how to get there. He's not interested in such practical thoughts — Potts is after your ...full interview

Q&A with Vagabonding author Rolf Potts
By Jim Benning, World Hum — February 4, 2003
"Rolf Potts made a name for himself writing evocative travel stories as the Vagabonding columnist at His piece "Storming the Beach" became an instant classic and landed him in the pages of the 2000 Best American Travel Writing anthology. Since then, Potts' writing has appeared in publications far and wide, including National Geographic Adventure and Conde Nast Traveler ...full interview

Vagabonding with Rolf Potts
By Michael McCarthy, Intentional Traveler — February 2003
"There are two types of people: those who live to work, and those who work to live. Then there is Rolf Potts, who lives to travel and to learn. At age 32, Potts is a veteran shoestring traveler with a decade of wandering the planet under his belt. In ...full interview

Sailing in Greece

Hitting the road: Author Rolf Potts travels in search of that very small moment
By Gretchen Giles, North Bay Bohemian — January 23, 2003
"When Rolf Potts was 23 years old, he'd had enough rainy weather. He had $5,000 saved, a few good friends, and the van was running OK. So on New Year's Day 1994, he and some pals took off from their Northwest college home in search of sun. Thirty-eight states and eight months later, Potts realized that he'd found a new calling ... full interview

For Rolf Potts, every day is a winding road
By Jayne Clark, USA Today — January 10, 2003
"Rolf Potts is living a life that most avid travelers only dream of. While most of us make do with a carefully orchestrated 10 days here, two weeks there, the 32-year-old from Wichita has been moving through Asia and Europe and North Africa for the past six years. He has learned a thing or two along the way ...full interview

The Significance of Salon Travel
By Jim Benning, Online Journalism Review — September 2000

Former English teacher wanders into literary stardom
By Andrew Weber, The Korea Herald — August 11, 2000
"He has contracted cholera in Laos, spied on Leonardo DiCaprio in Thailand, and partied with the world’s wildest librarians in St. Petersburg. Through it all, he has always found time to post his stories at Meet Rolf Potts, the Jack Kerouac of the Internet age.... read more