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Rolf Potts – Travel, Freedom & Happiness (#65)

Lessons from a world adventurer and the author of Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel

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Rolf Potts - Travel, Freedom & Happiness (#65) | The Black Country Buddhas Podcast | My Home Vitality

Introduction to guest:

Rolf Potts is a well-known travel writer and adventurer.

Rolf’s adventures have taken him across six continents, and include:

  • Piloting a fishing boat 900 miles down the Laotian Mekong,
  • Hitchhiking across Eastern Europe,
  • Traversing Israel on foot,
  • Bicycling across Burma,
  • Driving a Land Rover across South America,
  • Traveling around the world for six weeks with no luggage or bags of any kind.

Rolf is perhaps best known for promoting the ethic of independent travel, and his book on the subject, Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel.

The book is among Tim Ferriss’ top 5 picks and was the first one to feature on Tim Ferriss Book Club! Here’s what Tim says about the book: “Vagabonding teaches you how to travel (and think), not for one trip, but for the rest of your life. Everything in Vagabonding works. This book changed my life completely, and I wish the same for you.”

In this podcast we get into:

  • Rolf’s travel stories.
  • Rolf’s travel tips and predictions for the future.
  • Rolf’s philosophical and spiritual beliefs and how they have been impacted by travel.
  • Lots of life lessons for living a freer, more quality-focused life.

Enjoy the show and don’t forget to subscribe for more…

More from Rolf:


Books: Rolf Potts

Key quotes and takeaways from the show:

Vagabonding: “To travel in earnest. To make travel an active part of your life. To travel slowly, meaningfully and mindfully in a way that can hopefully deepen and enhance your life.”

You don’t have to be rich to travel.

Travelling full-time can be cheaper than paying rent and eating restaurant meals in any big city in Europe or North America.

You don’t need mechanical knowledge to travel in a van.

People are happy to help wherever you are, just ask. It’s actually a fun way to meet people – you suddenly become the most interesting person they’ve met that day.

“The misadventures and mistakes can turn into funny experiences.”

“I still think it’s possible to travel on $1,000 per month. It’s not easy travel, it’s not super convenient air-conditioned busses, there’s a lot of mudslides and bad roads.” – BUT IT IS POSSIBLE!

“The joy of travelling is in finding what is real.”

“Border regions really bring out the abstractions of the world.”

If you travel slowly enough, you will find things that you would never be able to find on the internet.

“If you see travel as a purely consumer act, you’re really selling it short. If you allow it to be a philosophical and spiritual act, it’s so much more meaningful.”

Happiness in life is actually a simple thing.

“Pocketless of a dime, I may purchase the pick of the Earth.”

Success is knowing what’s enough, finding enough material and financial success so that you can live in ways that excite you and ways that you can give back to your community.

First half of life is about becoming, second half life is about appreciating and helping others to become.

You can’t avoid slow travel when you walk.

Slow down, pay attention and don’t compartmentalise your life. “Attention, slowing down and savouring experiences is important.”

Be less of a consumer and more of a pilgrim.

Go slow, travel with respect and listen as much as you talk.


Question of the day:

“Can you be a good traveller if you’re introverted?”

Links to podcast sites:

Listen on Audible
Listen on iTunes
Listen on Spotify
Listen on Stitcher
Listen on Overcast

The full podcast:

Related episode:

If you enjoyed this podcast with Rolf you will also enjoy the one we recorded with Steve Maxwell, one of the best strength and conditioning coaches in the world and the first certified instructor of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) in the USA, who lived in a camper van for three years and later travelled internationally as a nomad for thirteen years, carrying everything he owned in a 45 litre Tom Bihn Aeronaut bag. He now lives in a tiny home in Washington State.

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Show notes:

  • 00:00 – Overall show introduction.
  • 00:44 – Finding your purpose and getting things done in life –
  • 02:45 – Introduction to today’s show.
  • 04:21 – Hello from Kansas.
  • 04:59 – The mythological beast of Kansas.
  • 06:56 – How Rolf’s vagabonding journey started.
  • 13:36 – How Rolf dealt with mechanical issues during #vanlife.
  • 17:03 – How much do you need to travel?
  • 20:56 – The most surreal experiences Rolf has had.
  • 23:54 – Rolf’s train-jumping experience.
  • 25:13 – Rolf’s reflection on some of his more dangerous experiences.
  • 29:05 – How Rolf started to become a digital nomad – writing and travelling.
  • 30:21 – Rolf’s philosophical and spiritual journey.
  • 32:24 – Where to find Rolf’s writing.
  • 33:14 – TikTok travel storytellers.
  • 34:06 – How Rolf defines success.
  • 36:13 – Do you need more in order to grow as a person?
  • 40:29 – Rolf’s current and future projects.
  • 41:58 – Would Rolf travel to Mars?
  • 43:40 – The main lessons Rolf has taken into his current life from worldwide travel.
  • 44:54 – The beauty of slowing down.
  • 47:32 – Can you be a good traveller if you’re introverted?
  • 49:12 – The best travel app (it’s not what you think)!
  • 52:08 – A good app for travelling in the UK.
  • 53:16 – What will travel be like after COVID-19?
  • 56:15 – How personal and professional travel differs for Rolf.
  • 27:28 – Tips (or lack of) for sleeping on planes.
  • 57:50 – Principles and life lessons that Rolf lives by.
  • 58:50 – Resources that Rolf often gifts, recommends and refers back to.
  • 01:00:43 – Travelling before vs. after education.
  • 01:03:38 – How travel provides perspective on home life.
  • 01:05:41 – Rolf’s final message and where to find him.
  • 01:06:45 – Where to find more, next week’s guest and
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