12 April 2013
I’ve been calling myself “a lifelong vagabond traveler” in my author bio for years. Think I first focused on claiming that term when I read Vagabonding in Europe and North Africa by Ed Buryn, back in the mid-70s. Among other things, Buryn knew as much (or more) than I did about hitchhiking, which was our major mode of transport in those days. His offbeat, follow-the-wind approach really resonated with me. Always wished I would have run into him somewhere along the road.
Recently I ran across Vagabonding by Rolf Potts (pub 2003) and was excited to see how many of the same principles reappeared in his book. (Perhaps not so surprising, as Potts describes in detail the impact of his own discovery of Ed Buryn.) Potts is another off-the-beaten-path traveler who has made his way around the world without deep pockets—but plenty of nerve. Anybody looking for a template for how to approach long term travel (or just get beyond the tourist fringe) would do well to check out his work.
Just by example, here are three quotes that all appear on the same page (49):
“The world is a book, and those that do not travel read only one page.”
“Traveling hopefully into the unknown with a little information: dead reckoning is the way most people live their lives, and the phrase itself seems to sum up human existence.”
” . . . vagabonding is not just a process of discovering the world but a way of seeing—an attitude . . .”
For me, one of the most valuable lessons that both authors stress is the need to remain light-hearted and roll with the punches. (I don’t think either one uses those exact terms.) So much of travel is out beyond your comfort zone, and beyond your ability to control. Ride with that. Embrace it. Learn to flow around obstacles, rather than attack them head-on. Both Buryn and Potts also remind me to savor the chance encounters of the road as well, with local and fellow traveler alike.
As a Christian, it’s a valuable reminder to me that we are all pilgrims, walking the long road home to glory. But oh, what twists and turns en route! Savor the journey . . . we only take it once.