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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration)

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

  1. Picked this up yesterday.. already on pg 107. I can see that much of the structure + tips in 4-Hour Workweek were inspired by it! (The Resources section at the end of each chapter in particular is akin to 4-Hour Wkwk)

    It’s been a great read, and is certainly getting me even more ready to go out and experience the world.

    Having read “The Art of Learning” already, “Daily Rituals” is next.

    So far they’re all wonderful picks, Tim!


  2. Hi Tim,

    I would like to recommend “The Idea Hunter” for a possible addition to the book club. I think it would be a nice followup to “The Art of Learning” because once one learns “how to learn” then they need to agile enough to find great ideas that inspire them to do amazing things, which “The Idea Hunter” argues how to strategically do that with an actionable system.


  3. Sticking w/your style of book (fiction): “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas.
    A book jam-packed w/useful advice on life…and “prison” escapes…
    Love to see a work of fiction in the club.


  4. I first picked up this book around 2004 or so. A year and a half later, I took my first international trip: a month in Thailand with nothing but a daypack. I’ve re-read this book countless times and it’s definitely in my top 5 of all time. It has great info not just for travel, but how to organize your life better in general. Excellent choice for first book in this club!!