This week on The Traveler Series, meet Mike Richard of Vagabondish. Mike is the founding editor of Vagabondish.com who turned his personal travel blog into the thriving community and travel website it is today. Swapping an office job for a life on the road, Mike left his 9-5 in 2010 to travel the world. With a deep rooted love for the outdoors– including hiking, backpacking and adventure travel–Mike has grown Vagabondish into a successful site garnering more than 300,000 visitors each month. Here I interview Mike on what inspires his traveling, how he started Vagabondish and the one thing he cannot travel without.
Author Rolf Potts once described the thrill of travel as offering the “hum of possibility.” It’s a beautiful, eloquent way to describe travel that’s always stuck with me. What would normally be routine (ordering a coffee or boarding a train) back home suddenly becomes an intriguing challenge when I’m in a foreign country. Every minute of every day feels new, fresh and fascinating.
For those who don’t yet know you, can you explain your travel style?
In lieu of the rapid “checking countries off my bucket list” style of travel, I much prefer slow travel. I’ll often spend a few weeks or more in a single town/city to really get a sense of place.
How do you afford your travels?
I fully fund my lifestyle – including my travels – through my work on Vagabondish.com.
Where has been your favorite destination?
Hmm … that’s always a loaded question. For sheer, toes-in-the-sand vacationing, I love the Maldives. It’s staggeringly beautiful – literally breathtaking. But, for a destination that has just about everything, South Africa is it for me: amazing food and wine, some of the best adventure opportunities in the world, safaris and wildlife and one of the most diverse landscapes/geography of any country I’ve ever visited.
If you had to settle down in one location forever, where would you choose and why?
For the scenery, the food and (most importantly) the wine, I’d open a bike rental shop/cafe with my girlfriend on the coast of Spain. It’s been our collective dream for as long as I can remember.
What’s the funniest or weirdest cultural idiosyncrasy you’ve either witnessed or experienced?
It’s difficult to pick just one. I spent six weeks in South Africa last year – much of that time driving the length of the country. I found it very strange that drivers will sometimes almost drive off the road to let others pass them on the highway. It’s a level of courtesy we just don’t see here in the States.
What keepsake do you have to get at all your destinations? (Whether it’s something free like ticket stubs or brochures, or something you have to buy)
Whatever is small and pack-able. Things like ticket stubs, magnets and postcards always make it into my pack. And the cheesier, the better.
As a travel blogger, that’s an easy one: my laptop. Close second: my iPhone.
What is the best piece of travel advice you’ve picked up over the years?
Be patient. It’s your best asset when traveling because few things ever go exactly as planned.
Why did you begin your website? And how did you come up with your website name?
Vagabondish.com started as a personal blog. As a typical working American with limited vacation time every year, I wasn’t able to travel much so my site was a way to daydream in a tangible way about traveling. The name evolved from wanting to have a single, memorable English word (surprisingly “vagabondish” is a real word!).
What is your one piece of advice to budding travel writers looking to start a blog or website?
You have to want – to love – to write, even when you have no audience. If you dive into blogging expecting to make boatloads of cash and free trips around the world, you’re going to be very disappointed. I work harder and longer hours now than I ever did at my previous job. Although I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Follow Mike and Vagabondish.com here