On Vagabonding

What dost thou think then of seeing the world? Can't ye see the world where you stand?

Herman Melville

This time next week, I will be in San Jose, Costa Rica. I do not know where I will be staying (probably some hostel). I do not know where I am going next (probably Peru, but who knows). I do not know when I will return to the states (probably by the end of 2015).

I don't think this is odd, but many do. I was under the impression that extended travel was standard for "gap years," those lucky times when someone has few obligations and the means to pick up and go. I think waht people find odd or concerning is how I am doing it. I do not have a set itinerary. I have no traveling partners (for now!). Nor am I affiliated with some university that will give me credits to affirm that I have learned something while traveling.

Library Cards Are Dangerous

This is how I prefer to travel, and looking back I got a lot of my notions from Vagabonding, a nice little book. I picked it up from the Cleveland Heights public library while I was feeling wanderlustful on co-op last year. It is a concise manual on how to embrace uncertainty on the open road. As Potts puts it,

Vagabonding is an attitude - a friendly interest in people, places, and things that makes a person an explorer in the truest, most vivid sense of the word.

The book gives practical advice not on how to plan a trip, but how to enter the vagabonding mindset. Live simply and work hard to finance your journeys. Travel light and keep an open mind. Develop a good sense of humor for when you inevitably make a fool of yourself as the culturally ignorant ass that you are.

So it was last year that I determined I would go vagabonding after graduation. I've saved up dough from my brief stint as a professional software engineer and I have nothing holding me down.

I picked the book up again from Pittsburgh's Carnegie Library (I will miss this library dearly!) and am leafing through it once more. The advice is timeless and I recommend the book if you want to get in the right mindset for long periods of travel.