Vagabond. Just the word by itself brings forth a negative stereotype as in hobo, bum or a homeless wanderer. However, precede the word vagabond with “global” and your thinking may shift to something like this: hey, this person really does have a purpose after all.
You may be a global vagabond and not even know it. Or, you may know someone who may fit that description. As in a friend who decided to spend his gap year traveling the world. Or a retired individual with a EuroRail pass and flight connections with no set schedule to follow.
A global vagabond possesses many secrets as he travels the world. If not secrets, at least important discoveries that make his trip a real adventure — an unforgettable experience that will have him looking at the world with fresh eyes.
Sleep is Where You Find It
Travel the world and you will go from teeming city to small village with lots of different communities in between. No person can avoid sleep, which means finding places to stay that are affordable, relatively safe and protected by the weather.
Even so, with a sleeping bag in tow, you will sleep outside if you have to. On a park bench. In an abandoned car. On the docks.
Global vagabonds also find the cheapest places to get inside. You are not about to stay at a Marriott, Hilton, a Hyatt, or the local equivalent. What interests you are places where you can come as you are, talk with people without being judged, and crash for the night. A hostel is an ideal place, but couch surfing will do when no other choices are available.
Food is What You Make of It
A global vagabond quickly learns that food is what you make of it. In many cities 5-star restaurants and street food carts stand shoulder to shoulder. You cannot afford the former, but you take the latter because the food is warm, edible and cheap.
You also know that local fare makes for the best food. Rice and beans. Chicken, but rarely beef. Delicious sauces. Locally sourced wine and beer. The prices cannot be beat because the fare is what most of the locals can afford.
Getting Around Never Gets Dull
You may have flown halfway around the world to get to your destination, but that may be the most significant transportation you will take until you return home. In Europe, you get the EuroRail pass, but you also know that buses, subways, taxis and ferries will take you where you need to go.
A good pair of walking shoes is not only necessary, but are required. Public transportation can only take you so far — with an oversized backpack to lug with you, you are on your feet more than you are sitting on your back side. You will accept rides from strangers too even if that means riding in the back with the chickens.
Money Matters, But Barter is Best
You brought money with you and have credit cards. You also know that conserving cash is essential if you want to keep your global excursion alive. Besides, robbers await and you carry very little money on you.
Money certainly opens doors, but you soon learned that it is not the only “currency” available. In every country around the world people exchange goods and services without cash. This is called bartering and you have it figured out.
Bartering allows you to get a hot meal and a place to stay for several hours of hard work. Chopping wood. Stacking logs. Helping to drive in livestock. Painting a house. There is no job you will refuse or at least try. Strength and youth are your commodities, what you will gladly offer for a little comfort.
Language is a Barrier to Overcome
You speak fluent English and understand that English is the language of international business. In major cities, English-speakers are not hard to find and are often desirous of trying out their skills on you.
Even if your familiarity of a native language is small or nonexistent and English is not spoken by anyone else, you have become quite skilled at making your needs known by using hand signals. It may take you some time to communicate, but a challenge is only something that needs to be overcome. Language barriers will never stop you.
The Police Are Helpful or Corrupt
Not all officers of the law are helpful. Some are corrupt. You know that touting your Americanism has its advantages, but it can land you in immediate trouble in some locations. You either avoid those trouble spots or you go in with your eyes wide open.
Nearly every country on the face of the earth has a US embassy, a consulate or has an interests section with a different embassy. Wherever you travel you are aware of these offices, but you do not stop in unless you absolutely must. After all, you are a vagabond of the global kind, and are not bound by your citizenry or any other manmade constraints as you travel the world.
You Will Know When it is Over
At some point your global escapade will come to an end. That ending will come on your terms if you have anything to do with it. You have traveled highways and byways, sailed most of the seven seas and have connected on one or two flights to help you make a transcontinental shift.
And when it is over you will look back, knowing that it was an experience that you will not and cannot repeat, but that’s okay with you. For the heart of a global vagabond will always yearn for something different and new even as his own world changes.
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