Five Years on the Road!



May there always be a road…

5 Years Away From the Rat Race!

Last year I celebrated my 35th birthday while on a plane to Bangkok. I barely noticed, and the other passengers certainly didn’t notice. While surviving another year on this planet is a feat in itself, today is even more special: the anniversary of the start of my new life, a second chance that I am thankful for every day when I wake up.

January 28, 2006 — five years ago today — I landed in Bangkok with a rucksack, a one-way ticket, and no bloody idea what I was doing. My first time out of the U.S., I was green, a newbie, an FNG as army guys affectionately call them.

Well, I still have no bloody idea what I am doing, but I can tell you — as can the new wrinkles on my face — that the last five years have been one hell of a ride!

Wow…had I known what was in store on that fateful night back in 2006 when I clicked ‘buy’ on the Delta ticket that deposited me in Bangkok, I probably would have had a nervous breakdown.

The remains of my human possessions, artifacts from years of corporate work, sat patiently and faithfully in a storage unit for years. I naively paid the rent until realizing that, having seen and tasted the world, there was no coming back. After 29 years of trial and error I am finally living my life quest; for better or worse, it must be followed through. There is no stopping now.

Secluded paradise or malaria dunghole, I am going to experience every corner of this world until I run out of money, run out of places, or one of the places finally succeeds in killing me.

Let’s get it on…life is good.

Time to travelThis fortune cookie wasn’t joking!

Going Places

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” – Confucius

Do you really have to be rich to escape the American Dream/Myth? I sport some rotting hemp strings on my wrists rather than a blingy watch but managed to go to these places below and plenty more on a skeleton budget over the past five years. I am not wealthy. I don’t sit at the top of a pyramid scheme. And I don’t sell widgets on the internet. If I can travel indefinitely, so can you!

Thailand (x5), Laos, Cambodia, Alaska (x2), Ireland, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Egypt, England (x3), Mexico, Jamaica, California (x2), Yellowstone, Montana, Portland, Colorado (x2), Wyoming, China, Indonesia, East Timor, Singapore, Malaysia (x2), Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Washington D.C., Florida (x2), Borneo, Brunei, and Vietnam.

Amazing what you can accomplish once you stop making rich, fat, white guys even richer by buying junk.

“He who knows that he has enough, will always have enough.” – Lao Tzu

Talk to Everyone

Every person you encounter, younger or older, has a story. As great as all the above places were, all the adventures, landscapes, animal encounters, and great times would have been worthless had it not been because of the people I met along the way. Most of the countries I visited were only possible due to the kindness of people I met in other places. Those same people shared their love, support, and couches with me at exactly the right times.

The ‘secret’ to perpetual vagabonding? Talk to Everyone! One conversation in one bar with a stranger may change your destiny and your life — or at the very least, your trip.

This Blog

“A journey is best measured in friends, not in miles.” – Tim Cahill

Despite letting the thing collect a few cobwebs this year, I love this blog. When I began Vagabonding Begins on five years ago, it was purely for the benefit of lowering my worrying family’s blood pressure. I had no idea at the time that this lowly blog would actually change my entire destiny.

I have met incredible, real-life friends whom I never would have known existed had they not read this blog and offered to meet in person. When somehow I hit around 1,000 readers a day, I actually began to feel accountable. I didn’t feel so alone out there on the road; how many times I found myself in a dangerous situation thinking…damn, I have to get out of here, survive, and write about this — I owe it to everyone!

Thank you to anyone, both friends and strangers, who turned their eyeballs this direction for a few minutes. Some even donated cash or used my links to keep me going. Honestly, I would not be writing this five-year summary had it not been for your well-timed generosity.

My old houseMy suburbia house sold in 2005 — traded for a backpack.

New Roads

Despite being mostly a collection of bad grammar captured digitally, this blog actually helped me land my first travel writing gigs that eventually led to photography work and so on. Low and behold, the cubicle-dwelling engineer was transformed into a lower-paid yet happier creator — an artist of sorts — of intangible excretions thrown out onto the internet.

The highest payment? I have a folder full of emails claiming that my writing motivated or gave hope to people all around the world who finally ditched their corporate gigs and hit the road. Money may not buy happiness, but damn it, that sure does!

Traveler First

Is my visited-country count as high as some of the “famous” travel bloggers out there with 50+ countries on their resume? Definitely not. Aside from incrementing countries systematically and making top-ten lists, most of these travelers spend a majority of their time in the field building and entertaining their 15,000 Facebook and Twitter worshippers. No thanks. One look at the dire state of my websites (and lack of eBooks for sale) should be a tell-tale indication that I am a traveler first and travel-industry entrepreneur second.

The Plan

“We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope.”Β  – Edward Abbey

My evil plan is unfolding as planned: Women will burn bras once again, students will throw middle fingers to the system, and soon the larger corporations will be putting hits on me — if they haven’t done so already. Capitalism will collapse and we will all run amok naked with flowers in our hair.

Not really, but honestly if I can escape the produce-buy-consume cycle and find a higher happiness — anyone can. Grab a copy of Rolf Pott’s book Vagabonding, stop buying junk, and get your head into the clouds where it belongs. Humans were meant to be dreamers — just look at kids. At what point does someone step in and pay us to forget our dreams? If you enjoy your job, embrace it. If you complain every day, get the f*ck out and live before it’s too late. Write one of these five-year posts for yourself one day.

For the Naysayers

If you were one of the many people — there were a small handful — who claimed that vagabonding was impossible and that I would be broke, hungry, a bum, kidnapped, insane, lonely, get rabies, turn into a zombie, or wake up one day a loser: thank you for the motivation to beat the odds. πŸ™‚

Oh yeah, one more thing…*#*$*#*@ (that’s the sound of me sticking my tongue out and dancing around the room).


“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller

Just for fun, I’ll close this lengthy bragging session with a lengthy list — hopefully there’s still room left on the internet — of some of my most memorable travel experiences, both good and bad, from over the last five years.

I dedicate every adventure to my travel mate Elin, who lost her life in 2009 while vagabonding with me in Indonesia. I will see her again on that last, ultimate road one day. Also, to my family, who despite their reservations, just rolled with it and supported me.

Random Memorable Vagabonding Moments Over the Last Five Years

Just a small sampling of an experience that is impossible to summarize. Thank you for reading and here’s to another five (or more) years of travel…see you on the road!

“May there always be a road.” – Ancient Tibetan travelers

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25 Responses to “Five Years on the Road!”

  1. Congratulations! Not only for your anniversary, but also because you remained true to yourself and a traveler first. Cheers to another 50 FUNtastic years of travel for you!

  2. Greg, You are such an inspiration to me. I’ve been following your blog for over a year and it’s giving hope when I felt like I was failing. I’m finally out of the produce-buy-consume game. I sold my personal possessions, paid off my credit card ( I’m free at last!!) and have been sleeping on my brothers couch to save all my money. I’m off in 7 weeks to Thailand on a one way ticket, ready to see where the wind blows me.
    Thank you and all the vagabonds out there that has inspired me.
    See you on the road.

  3. Touching Tiger, Hidden Komodo Dragon. Mr. Rogers, you made out of the neighborhood and beyond…I raise my glass you you, my friend.

  4. Congrats on the 5 years!

    If I hadn’t randomly found this website about two years ago, I don’t know what I’d be like! Because of a mixture of books and your blog, all I can think about is traveling full time. This blog really helped give me direction in where I want to go in life! Thanks so much Greg!

    Oh, and I totally appreciate how you don’t push ebooks here! It’s very considerate of you!

  5. Congratulations Greg, to 5 years on the road! May you have many more!! πŸ™‚

  6. Grats on a life worth living, Greg. Thanks for all the time and energy you have spent keeping your reading public informed and entertained on your travels. I hope to begin discovering many of these same places before the year is out. Your web sites are providing much need info for my planning.

    May you celebrate many more “5’s”.

  7. Kudos, my fellow vagabonding friend. Kudos, indeed.


  8. Congrats on sticking it to the corporates faces for 5 years!
    I finnished off your whole blog about 1 year ago while stuck indoors on my first trip. Since then I’ve been checking in every week or so.
    As for now I’m bunkin up money to hit the road again.

    Thank you

  9. Congratulations my friend!

    I’ve followed your adventures for almost 2 years and even gotten a few buddies hooked too. At last I have my one way ticket booked and eight weeks until my journey begins. I hope to see you on the road. Stay safe and stay cool. Cris x

  10. Congratulations! I moved to Australia 4 years ago this coming Sunday and before I left everyone said I would never make it to Australia and even if I did wouldn’t last a year! Next up…my gap year (which everyone is saying I won’t be able to do either due to the “extreme financial burden” because apparently I give off the impression that I need to stay in 4-5 star hotels).

    If you are ever in Sydney, send me a message! I’d love to meet up.

  11. 1oftheeveryonesyoutalkedtoinabar February 8, 2011 at 10:21 am

    All know the Way, but few actually walk it. β€” Bodhidharma

  12. congrats on such an amazing milestone!

  13. You’ve come a long way baby…what an inspiring tale you tell my friend. Hopefully, I am one of those friends you so fondly recognized in your article however, we have yet to meet. I wish you the very best on your journey through life and know there are friends out there like me, who enjoy every word and revel in living vicariously through your prose and pics. Thanks Greg!!

  14. congratulations on your achievements or rather adventures in life… i am also looking forward of ditching my corporate career… ive been bumming for 6 months now and hoping that i could continue to do so and travel the world… or at least some parts of it…

  15. Congratulations! I’ve been hooked on your blog ever since I found it and it’s great. Makes me feel like I am doing the right thing. Cheers to perpetual vagabonding, life, and living in the moment. May you always have a road.

  16. Congrats! I hope to be on the road soon as well. Keep up the great work. You’re an inspiration to me.

  17. Congrats! I wish I could(had the nerves) to travel for more than a week at the time and actually left the cube world. Sounds like another five years will add some more wrinkles but you are enjoying it.

  18. I plan on selling my house and traveling long term by the end of this year, so reading about your adventures reaffirms my desire to do so. Not sure how I would handle “meeting the Mother of all spiders”!!! Wowzers!

  19. Greg, as I’m going into my second month of traveling, I come back to read this article for inspiration when I’m feeling down. thank you for being awesome.

  20. I love this site and this post!! 5 years on the road and that’s a cool fortune cookie photo. I left my hometown 10 years ago now, loving the travel lifestyle. Jonny

  21. Great. Keep up the good work. I am on the road for over 7 years and still enjoying it.

  22. I traveled thru Asia for 12 years. Eventually you’ll learn writing about it, cheapens your experiences.

  23. Have to disagree with you, Wally. Writing about it (some published, some in personal journals) enhances the experience for myself.


  1. Tweets that mention Five Years of Vagabonding for Greg -- - January 28, 2011

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Greg Rodgers, Frank Price. Frank Price said: Keep at it Greg! RT @bucho_ky: Today marks my 5th year on the road away from the rat race – woohoo! […]

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