When I was first learning about long-term travel, I had the incredible opportunity to meet the godfather of RTW trips, Rolf Potts, author of Vagabonding.

His keynote speech at a Meet Plan Go conference in New York packed a lot of information into the hour or so he was at the podium, but today I really only remember three key pieces of advice:

  1. There is no more unique way to experience a country than walking across it.
  2. You cannot prevent traveler’s diarrhea. It will inevitably happen at some point or another.
  3. Your only true possession in life is your time.

It’s not a new concept, this idea that time is the most valuable thing you own. On Potts’ blog, you’ll find a quote dating back to the early ’70s encouraging folks to save money for basic needs and spend time more lavishly. In other words, don’t waste your time tending to material wealth and consumer goods — experiences are more valuable.

Beziers Vineyard

When I’m in my old age, am I really going to remember a particular dress I wore or book I bought in my 20s? Or am I going to remember the time my friends and I got stranded at a winery in France and had to walk 10km back to our hostel?

I was never much of a shopper to begin with, but planning a RTW trip makes resisting the pull of unnecessary stuff even easier. Why should I spend $50 a month on a gym membership? Jogging or working out at home costs nothing, and that $600 I don’t spend this year could cover all my day-to-day necessities in Thailand for an entire month.

When I’m in my old age, will I remember that gym membership I never really used? Or will I remember getting drenched at Chiang Mai’s famed Songkran festival, honoring the Thai New Year?

Time is money. I’m spending mine wisely.

Rolf Potts’ Vagabonding introduced long-term travel as a concept to the United States. I turned to it many a time in my planning. Read on to find my 10 favorite Vagabonding quotes.

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