The Tim Ferriss Book Club Launches — Book #1: Vagabonding


The book Vagabonding traveled with me around the globe for 18 months.

This post is a dream come true.

Starting in college, I’ve fantasized about somehow driving fantastic but under-appreciated books into the limelight. I have a soft spot for out-of-print tomes and niche publications.

Flash forward, nearly 15 years later…

After three #1 bestsellers, I’ve finally pulled the trigger. For the last several months, I’ve been quietly buying audiobook and e-book rights to books that have changed my life, and producing audiobooks in professional studios.


This post launches the Tim Ferriss Book Club, and the first book is incredible: Vagabonding.

Why a Book Club?

There are several reasons…

  • I was greatly influenced by books recommended by Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club (e.g. Love in the Time of Cholera), despite the fact that I wasn’t her demographic.
  • I could never find a book club for 20-40-year old males, or a curator for that demo. I’m now in a position to give it a shot myself (and extend it to women, of course).
  • Based on recent experiments (BitTorrent and elsewhere), I think I can at least double an author’s print sales with my marketing of their audio/e-book. I like helping good writers.
  • This blog’s community is incredible…and we like books (see comparison to TV and NYT Op-Ed impact). The idea of having thousands of people read the same book each month, all interacting with one another and the book’s author, is thrilling to me. And, last but not least…
  • You’ve asked me to start a book club for years!

The time has come.

This leads us to Rolf Potts and a little tome with a huge impact…

Why Vagabonding?

“Vagabonding packs a serious philosophical punch and has a cult-like following among independent travelers…”
— The Oregonian

“This book will become a travel classic, and belongs in all travel collections.”
— Library Journal

Starting in 2004, I traveled the world for roughly 18 months. The lessons learned formed the basis for much of The 4-Hour Workweek.

On my journey — from the back alleys of Berlin to the hidden lakes of Patagonia — I had next to nothing: one suitcase, one backpack, and only two books. One of those books was Walden by Henry David Thoreau (naturally), and the other was Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel, written by Rolf Potts.

Since 2005, I’ve continued to read 1-3 books per week on average, or 50-150+ books a year.

Vagabonding easily remains in my top-10 list for life-changing books. Why? Because one incredible trip, especially a long-term trip, can change your life forever. And Vagabonding teaches you how to travel (and think), not for one trip, but for the rest of your life. Tim Cahill, founding editor of Outside magazine and a brilliant travel writer himself, has said of Vagabonding, “I think this is the most sensible book of travel related advice ever written.”

In my own dog-eared copy of Vagabonding, I have notes, underlines, and highlights on practically every page, ranging from the tactical (how to pack intelligently, what to bring, what not to bring, where to go, etc.) to the philosophical (the Upanishads, how to slow down after a lifetime of rushing and caffeine, etc.). I also have a wish list of dream destinations on the inside cover, including places like Stockholm, Prague, Paris, Munich, Berlin, and Amsterdam. The list goes on and on.

Using the Rolf’s tips, the same tips you can learn in Vagabonding, I checked them all off. I was able to explore many of them for 2-3 months at a time at my own pace, unrushed and unworried. It was a dream come true.

Everything in Vagabonding works. This book changed my life completely, and I wish the same for you.

Enjoy the adventures. May you have many of them.

Here is Chapter One from the brand-new audiobook, which includes new case studies and a Preface by yours truly:

From there, each chapter is better than the last. Click here for the full audiobook.

If you’re an author, agent, or publisher who’d like to talk about including your book in the Tim Ferriss Book Club, please tell me here.


Still on this page?  Let’s keep going, then.

Here’s the jacket description of Vagabonding:

“Vagabonding” is about taking time off from your normal life — from six weeks, to four months, to two years — to discover and experience the world on your own terms. Veteran shoestring traveler Rolf Potts shows how anyone armed with an independent spirit can achieve the dream of extended overseas travel, once thought to be the sole province of students, counterculture dropouts, and the idle rich. Potts gives the necessary information on:

Financing your travel time
Determining your destination
Adjusting to life on the road
Working and volunteering overseas
Handling travel adversity
and re-assimilating into ordinary life

Not just a plan of action, vagabonding is an outlook on life that emphasizes creativity, discovery and the growth of the spirit.

More goodies:
Reader and media praise for Vagabonding
Vagabonding BitTorrent Bundle
Vagabonding excerpt on YouTube (Part II – “Someday” is a disease)

Any special requests for this book club? Ideas or suggestions? Please let me know in the comments.

We’ll have some special reader-only events with Rolf soon, so be sure to listen to the book! It’s also available on iTunes, but it helps both Rolf and me more if you download the book through Audible.

I hope you benefit from this book as much as I have over the years. If you pay attention, it can change your life.

Posted on: November 11, 2013.

Watch The Tim Ferriss Experiment, the new #1-rated TV show with "the world's best human guinea pig" (Newsweek), Tim Ferriss. It's Mythbusters meets Jackass. Shot and edited by the Emmy-award winning team behind Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and Parts Unknown. Here's the trailer.

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172 comments on “The Tim Ferriss Book Club Launches — Book #1: Vagabonding

  1. Another smile brought to me by Tim Ferriss. I will listen to the book {I have credits already in my queue} on my 3 hour drive today. Thanks, Tim! Best wishes for another fabulous adventure and thanks for sharing with the rest of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Honoree, this article gave me a TRIPLE smile!

      1. I adored “Vagabonding” and I’ve met Rolf Potts, who is a easy going guy. Great selection!

      2. The book inspired me to start vagabonding in 2006. I haven’t stopped since. I’m now on a 4-year trip to all 54 African countries. Thank you Rolf!

      3. I love that Tim is starting a book club aimed at an overlooked demographic. As an avid reader, Tim should share his favorite picks.

      QUESTION: How does one get considered for the book club? I’d think my two books, which have their inspiration in “Vagabonding”, would appeal to Tim and his book club.


  2. Tim,
    vagabonding is pretty much the definition of freedom for me.
    It only works if you can spend time doing things you love, being location independent and not worrying about money.

    I’ll start listen to this book as soon as I finish my current book :-)



  3. Thanks Tim, you couldn’t have picked a better book for the launch of the book club. I’ve read this one and watched every one of Rolf’s YouTube videos. It’s been such an inspiration that I’m about to begin my own vagabond in March….three months traveling, camping, kite boarding and blogging across Australia. For those reading this, Rolf’s ‘No Baggage Challenge’ is worth checking out.


  4. This book has been on my to-read list for a while…still working my way down the list of books recommended by you Tim. Nothing like a book club and to push it straight to the top. Thanks for helping us all grow!


  5. Can’t wait to get a copy and start reading it! I had a question about your bittorrent bundle with the audio book. Has the unlocked portion of the full audio book been sent out? Because I have still not received it. And if there’s one book I would recommend that really changed my way of thinking and it really ties in with your M.E.D. it would be Jeff Olson’s “The Slight Edge”.

    Thanks Tim!


  6. Tim this is just amazing !!! Truly inspiring story and I’m can’t wait to see what other books you had in mind.

    Just a small question: is there any chance you’ll be able to release the updated versions of the book in ebook format? I personally don’t really like to listen to books. Thanks !!!


  7. This book recommendation could not have come at a better time. I’m nearing the end of a year out my normal life. I finally at the age of 44 took the GAP year that never happened in my 20s. I live by the sea so I moved high up a mountain. I’m hoping that this book will help me process the year that I’ve had.

    Liked by 1 person