EPS 32: Rolf Potts, Celebrated Travel-Writer and Best-selling Author


Rolf Potts is a celebrated travel-writer and best-selling author (over a million books sold!). Besides writing best selling books, teaching writing in Paris each summer, occasionally hosting a television travel show, and inspiring the polymath, phenom Tim Ferriss to embrace the Vagabonding philosophy (as well as give Potts’ book of that same name the coveted spot of “first book in the Tim Ferriss book club”), Rolf Potts lives in rural Kansas and saves for extended world travel. And there’s also the gangsta rap project.

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Wikipedia article on Rolf HERE.

Rolf’s Website HERE.

(Find all his books, audio books, travel photos, essays, and much more there.)

Rolf on Twitter HERE.


Guest, Rolf Potts

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MIN 1:00

On Rolf’s philosophy of life (vagabonding) that makes room for a richer way of experiencing the world and the people in it.


Tim Ferriss made Vagabonding his first book club selection.

A philosophy of life, travel and seeing the world.

Vagabonding and the “time-wealth” value-adjustment from which action naturally follows.

(video by Tim Ferriss)

Time is treated as a commodity but thinking of how we will spend our days and our lives can poorly reflect a life we really want and actualize time well.

Travel is not an expensive indulgence. Freeing up the time to travel can be the greater obstacle (mind-frame) for living well.


Seeing Time as the true wealth of our lives.


The repercussions of “the selfie stick” for the modern traveler.

How technology affects how we travel.


Technology can have you living through a screen instead of traveling or living at a firsthand level.

Tourists of everyday life. Is performance engaged enough?


Counting selfie sticks in Paris.

It can advertise that you are there to harvest photos.
(The least obtrusive selfie stick I could find, in case the temptation for better shot is too much.)

Comic book Wenamun the ancient Egyptian travel story.

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 11.55.29 AM

If we get bored, lost, or lonely while traveling you are forced to be more imaginative and be more engage with the people and place where you actually are. These are gifts of travel.


Discipline and the ability to wean off technology and allow life to happen can give us richer experiences. More surprises and more vulnerability can make for a better trip.

Put the smart phone away.


Asking people where to eat who actually live there.


How he has evolved as a world traveler?


Being a Korean ex-pat for a few years and understanding how cultural is a gut-level thing that helps to learn while living there so that the abstractions change into lived experiences.


Rolf on having a provincial perspective and how it has been a benefit to him because he appreciated the smaller towns and places and not judging the place for their perceived lack of sophistication. People have more time for you in small towns. Big cities can have more arrogance toward other more rural places.


His recent travel adventure: Renting a car in France with a 100 page road atlas but no guide book. Seeing the beautiful town and eating Beef Burgundy.


His Paris writing class.

Ladder of abstract in writing. We meditate the world through abstractions. Root myself in the concreteness of travel and use my 5 senses.


The crap shoot of how he choses where to travel.

Visiting friends feels less like travel than it does like reunions.

On traveling alone and winter traveling.


Places with bad reputations can be the best places to travel. Syria, though, has become too dangerous, but had been one of his favorites.

Egyptians are very accommodating except near the pyramids where it’s very tourist-heavy.

China is a giant country with many things to experience.

Russia also has a lot to experience.


Less traveled parts of the world can be more interesting and people can have more time for you.

New projects:

Comic book (Wenamun) inspired by reading about travel in the ancient world. The anti-hero is Wenamun who bumbles through his travels. Proceeds go to help Syrian Refugees, Save the Children Fund.

Buy it HERE: The Misadventures of Wenamun


Another writing project:

Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 Series
Small books that feature historically significant music albums.
the Geto Boys

Houston and the 5th Ward of Houston

and gangster rap group called the Geto Boys 1990 self-titled album.

the psycho-graphical way to see a city.

Gangster rap was about the crack-era urban decline of certain areas.

Gangster rap in the 1980s and 1990s was the first black music form in the 20th Century that wasn’t appropriated and sold “with a white face”. Authenticity was so important in the art form is was done differently.


First exploring the 5th Ward in 1995 and going on a police patrol ride-along and seeing the crime from that vantage point and coming back in 2015. People ride horses in parts of the 5th Ward. The inner city in often a troupe. In Houston, the ghetto is place-specific and Rolf enjoyed writing about the history of it too.

Investigation of place.


Where to find Rolf, his writings, his books, and travel photos: rolfpotts.com

May you see world travel in a different way. It is accessible.

Sorry, this is only a partial recording! The LIVE viewers got a great Q & A with Rolf. Don’t it out on the next one. Show up on TUESDAYS at 8pm EST / GMT -4 for the guest of the week.

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