Not all “word of mouth” advice is the same. Here are a few thoughts on whose advice you can — and can’t — trust.
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You can’t be too prepared.
I understood that in the abstract sense — who doesn’t? — but it wasn’t until one day exactly 20 years ago that I learned what it really meant. That’s the drizzly, bitter cold Northern California day I discovered I was broke.
I lived in a rat-infested tool shed that had been turned into a spare bedroom in a run-down part of East Berkeley. Down to my last $20, I trudged up to Telegraph Ave., to visit my bank. There, an ATM delivered the bad news dispassionately: I didn’t have enough money in my account to cover next month’s rent.
Come March, I’d be homeless.
Rolf Potts took his first extended trip — an eight-month journey across North America — two decades ago, and he hasn’t stopped. “I’ve traveled independently on every continent except Antarctica for as long as two years at a time, often for less money than it would cost me to live a rooted life in a major American city,” says Potts, the author of Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel. He’s walked across Israel, bicycled across Burma, piloted a fishing boat down the Laotian Mekong, and driven a Land Rover across the Americas. In 2010, to prove a point about traveling light, he trekked around the world for six weeks with no luggage or bags of any kind. “I’m a big believer in making time in your life to travel long-term and in taking things slow,” he adds. “It’s easier and cheaper than one might think.”