Top positive review
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The perfect book for travel inspiration and planning
on 18 October 2005
Though there are many books out there to help you plan long-term and "gap-year" travel, Vagabonding stands out in its unique blend of philosophical inspiration and straightforward planning advice. If you've ever harbored a desire to take a few months or years off to travel, Potts' book will stoke your wanderlust and fill you with newfound confidence to hit the road.
The philosophical core of Vagabonding revolves around the idea that time -- not money -- is the truest form of wealth. How you spend your time is more important to true living than accumulating "things" -- and travel is a deep resource for acquiring rich life experience. A flexible and open-minded attitude, Potts insists, is the best travel tool you can acquire -- and this attitude starts before you ever leave on your journey. In other words, be prepared to take your travels slow. Don't over-plan your travels in advance. Learn as you go and be open to new experiences. Don't obsess about how others travel; just find your own way.
Beyond inspirational matters, however, Vagabonding is a great resource for the practical issues of travel planning -- offering a nice mix of print and online resources without being laborious or redundant. The book is not encyclopedic or exhaustive in this regard, but in the age of the Internet and Lonely Planet-style guidebooks, it doesn't need to be. Potts' resources point you in the right direction, advising and informing your online and guidebook research without presuming to do it for you -- a nice, intuitive information-age touch that (unlike other travel-planning guides) keeps the book from bogging down in superfluous and outdated information.
On a final note, I'll confess I probably wouldn't have written this review had it not been for the misleading two-star review below. With all due respect to the reader from Kent, Vagabonding is in absolutely no way philosophically rigid or closed-minded ("Research your own experiences for the truth," says Potts in the introduction, quoting Bruce Lee. "The creating individual is more than any style or system."). Moreover, having read the book several times, I've found that Potts' evenhanded approach "ridicules" nothing (save perhaps the idea of spending too much money on your travels, or of micromanaging your itinerary in advance) and his quotes from other thinkers dovetail seamlessly with his own ideas.
In short: If you choose only one book to plan a year abroad, this is the one to get. (It's worth a re-read when you get home, too.)