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How to Prepare for a Vagabonding Adventure

If you’ve dreamed of seeing the world, go vagabonding! Vagabonding involves taking an extended break from “normal life” to travel the world.

“…beyond travel, vagabonding is an outlook on life. Vagabonding is about using the prosperity and possibility of the information age to increase your personal options instead of your personal possessions.” ~Rolf Potts

Within the next few years, we plan on biking across the U.S. and have taken a number of steps to prepare for the adventure. By simplifying our lives and paying off our debt, we’ll be able to take an extended sabbatical via bicycle.

If you want to go vagabonding preparation is key. Below are 6 essential actions you need to take before hitting the road.

1. Learn to live with less.

Leading a simple and minimalist lifestyle are essential components of vagabonding. The freedom to go vagabonding isn’t dependent on your income level. Instead, it’s about being aware of how you use your current income.

Micro-action: Examine your expenses. How can you decrease your spending?

2. Stop expanding and keep it simple.

Curb your materialism and stop buying stuff you don’t need. Consumer culture has told us over and over again that to be happy we should buy more stuff. Don’t buy into what the status-quo tells you. Stay out of the mall.

Prior to leaving for the road, sell, donate or lend out your stuff. There is no need to hold on to clutter while you’re traveling the world. It’s amazing what you can get by without.

Micro-action: Your life options are more than consumer options. So the next time you’re tempted to buy a new gadget or pair of shoes, ask yourself:

  • How much time do I need to work for this item?
  • And how can I use this money to fulfill my dream of traveling?

3. Eat at home.

It’s tempting to eat out frequently. On the surface it seems easy and somewhat healthy. But how many times have you waited in a long line just to pay a lot for a cup of coffee or a sandwich?

Making good meals at home is less expensive, will save you time, and is a fantastic skill to cultivate.

Micro-action: If you eat out a lot, slowly cut back and start making food at home.

4. Sell your car(s).

If you live in a city and have good health, you don’t need a car. By selling your car, you’ll save $9,000 per year. All of that cash can be set aside to save for travel purposes. As a side effect,when I sold my cars I also lost about 15 pounds and became more physically fit.

Micro-action: Add up how much you spend on your car every year. Expenses will include car payments, interest on you car loan, gas, insurance, maintenance, parking tickets, etc. In my calculation I also included the expense I used to have for a gym membership.

5. Rent out your home.

If you own a home, rent it out while you’re traveling. You can make a little extra cash while you’re vagabonding and come back to your abode once your adventure is over. Make sure you pay your bills in advance, like your mortgage.

Micro-action: Consider hiring a rental management firm to take care of your property while you’re away.

6. Rein in your debt.

“The more we associate experience with cash value, the more we think that money is what we need to live.” -Rolf Potts

Being free from debt will give you more options. So before you hit the road, pay off as much debt as possible. By reducing your debt, you’ll literally earn the freedom to travel.

Micro-action: Read Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolf Potts


If this post helped you, please share the content with your tribe! 🙂 Thanks for your support.

Note: This post was originally published on Life Without Pants. It has been updated and edited for RowdyReaders. Since I’m on the road this weekend, I thought it would be the perfect article to share again. Cheers! 🙂

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Matt Madeiro September 6, 2010, 1:38 pm

    Rolf Potts is pretty much my idol. He’s the one who kick-started my love for travel, and his book then lead me to all the other key philosophies of my life. I’m so glad to hear you’re considering a vagabonding trip yourself!

    And consider this another recommendation of Vagabonding (the book). It’s genuinely one of the greatest and most inspirational works I’ve ever read.

  • Nina | Castles in the Air September 6, 2010, 3:17 pm

    Woo hoo! That’s awesome, a bike trip across the U.S.!

    I’m planning 3 travels in the upcoming months: Costa Rica for 7 days, Berlin/Amsterdam (hopefully) for 10 days, and Taiwan for 3-6 months. I can’t WAIT! A minimalist lifestyle helps tremendously. Thanks for the simple tips, Tammy!

  • s September 6, 2010, 3:31 pm

    I think this is a great thing to do, but how do you take time off like that? I understand the minimalist lifestyle but what do you do for medical insurance? One unexpected surgery could really put someone in a huge hole. Is it not a fear?

    Maybe it’s because I am over 50 and to pick up a non employer paid insurance policy is uber expensive, if you could even find one to cover you with a great health history…forget it if you have health baggage.

  • Tami September 6, 2010, 4:07 pm

    Another great post Tammy! I have just finished doing the micro-action under #1…I called all the companies from which my monthly expenses come from and negotiated lower on each one. I got my internet down to 22 a month (was originally 45), sat. TV down to 9.95 a month, (about 20 basic channels, still seldom watched except travel and cooking channels), and, I called up to cancel my satellite radio in my car (an unneeded expense) but kept it because they are giving me 6 months free now (I’ll cancel in 6 months…lol). I also got ATT to lower my cell phone plan to the senior citizen plan, even though I’m only 41! They would rather make a little bit of money from you than none at all!
    Basically, if you call and the first words out of your mouth are “I’d like to cancel my service”…they send you right to their “retention” department, which is where the deals are. Then, I found an awesome cruise deal and booked that…because I’m spending my money on memories now and not a bunch of “things!”

  • Rebecca September 6, 2010, 5:09 pm

    Where will your kitties live while you travel?

    • Tammy September 7, 2010, 11:30 am

      @Rebecca – with family or friends. 🙂

  • Kyle Crum September 7, 2010, 1:36 am

    Good times! I have a friend who biked across the US last year and he enjoyed it a lot; got to see parts of America that most people just drive through.

    Despite any “fears” that you might have in doing this, it will be well worth it. We’ve been living a semi-nomadic life for over 2 years and enjoy the opportunities and challenges that come along with moving through the world with nothing more than you can carry.

  • Tami September 7, 2010, 7:28 am

    S brings up a point I hadn’t thought about, what do you do about health care if you quit your job? I am lucky to have a 9-5 job which I adore, so I wouldn’t ever quit, but if I did, there is no way I would go without insurance. And I am very anti “burden on society” so relying on the government would never be an option for me. I’d love to heard what others do about this!

    • Tammy September 7, 2010, 11:15 am

      @Tami and S – I agree with Eric’s comments.

      Logan and I found a very helpful health care broker that helped us sort through a lot of different plan options. In the end we found something that suited our needs. Health insurance is a very complex topic and the type of plan you choose will depend upon your health and the risk you want to carry. I’m not an expert on this topic and strongly encourage you to talk to a health care broker and examine a variety of plans before you make any big decisions.

      Also the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) has a number of resources on their site.

  • Erik September 7, 2010, 8:40 am

    We did exactly this, and left for what was to be a year-long, round-the world tour. After a year we’d only made it to Chile (from Mexico), so we extended for another 6 months. We picked up the Pott’s book before we left, and read it several times along the way, as well as lending it out to other.
    You can buy inexpensive “travel” insurance which includes emergency-health insurance (to answer one question I saw). Only about $700/year.
    It takes planning, and saving, and minimalism for some time to get ready for a long trip like this, but it is SO worth – as long as you like to travel and have an interest in other cultures, etc.

    • Tami September 7, 2010, 11:32 am

      That’s so good to know. It’s a shame it has to be such a huge concern, but last year I took my daughter in for an out patient surgery (in at 10, out at noon…two hours) and it ended up costing over 14K. My insurance paid 10K, but still….4K–I could have done a lot of traveling with that. You guys have been really helpful, thanks!

  • Joe3 September 7, 2010, 1:30 pm

    Nice article Tammy……I’ve most always lived below my means and always take time off between positions. I find that traveling alone gets to me after 3 months, then I get bored. I’ve also never worried about healthcare…knock on wood….no serious problems in 30 years! I’d like to bike across the US also and have looked at several companies that provide the service….or will you and Logan just wing it?

  • SarahG September 7, 2010, 2:34 pm

    Hi Tammy,
    I recently added your blog to my must-read blogs (which is not very many!). Most of your posts resonate with my soul and inspire me to make some changes (that are really already in motion) about the place for stuff in my life.
    Thanks for sharing!!!

  • Sean September 7, 2010, 4:31 pm


    I did almost every single one of these things at the end of last year when I took off for Thailand. Not only did it make my dream of travel a reality, but it also made me much happier in the process.

    I’ve since returned home from Asia, and have found it surprisingly easy to continue with each of these things that you mentioned. Well except for the sell your car bit. While I’ve succeeded in not buying a new one, that doesn’t mean it isn’t without its difficulties. Especially when it starts raining like it is currently 🙂

  • Kristin September 7, 2010, 7:17 pm

    I did a post today about a wonderful evening mu husband and i had … with very little today. I thought of you.
    Have a pretty day!

  • Trey Hall September 8, 2010, 5:28 am

    This is such great content. Even if one has health issues that keeps us from fully embracing the minimalist life, there are many many things that we can adopt that will trim (sometimes amputate) the excessive American Dream lifestyle in order to fully devote ourselves to worthy causes and others. Thank you so much.

  • Sophia September 8, 2010, 6:19 pm

    I am a newer reader to your blog and am really enjoying it! This is a great post to get folks think about what they can do help make their next adventure possible. We are currently on a one-year “geographical sabbatical” living in a little coastal town. Steps 1, 3 and 5 are some of the things we did to make this happen. Have a wonderful time on your bike adventure!

  • Caz from Aus September 9, 2010, 1:25 am

    I spent 3 weeks going across the US by train (I love cycling but that wasn’t really an option by myself or with the amount of time I had), stayed with friends along the way and loved taking in the sights with someone else “driving” 🙂

  • Bill September 9, 2010, 8:16 am

    My wife and I are preparing to start on a trip to go explore the country and ourselves. We’ll be living in a 22′ RV and plan on earning extra cash by working as concessionaires at some fairs and festivals along the way. Eventually we would like to live on a sail boat!

    We recently rented our house to prepare for this, it’s freeing to not feel tied down to one place!

    As for health insurance, we are looking into the emergency and accident type plans. We feel that we are healthy enough to not have to go to a standard doctor or dentist visit for a while. Another plus to vagabonding is that it is a healthier lifestyle than the “9-5”. When you are out doing stuff you are burning calories and staying fit, can’t say the same for sitting at a desk.

  • Molly On Money September 14, 2010, 5:10 am

    Growing up every summer my Mom would pile us kids into the VW camper van and take off for six weeks. It instilled a sense of adventure in me without the need for fancy hotels.
    I live outside the city but am still mulling over the idea of living without a car. It would create many challenges (we have to haul our trash 6 miles away) but if I could do it it would be quite the achievement.

  • Alan November 12, 2010, 10:03 am

    Hey, vagabonding sounds like a neat idea. I think your ideas in how to make it possible are cool. Too bad I don’t live in the city. I kind of need the car. Alan