What is a Vagabond?

vagabondHistorically, vagabonds were pretty tough, anti-establishment characters who lived as homeless drifters by choice. Modern vagabonds tend to be people who live off the grid or those who travel the world from out of a backpack.

Traditionally a vagabond is a person who wanders from one place to another, with no real home of their own. In modern culture this could be a homeless person or a street person. However, vagabonds aren’t the same as people who stay in a city (or any one place) and live there without having a typical home. Vagabonds are a subculture of their own making.

Some offbeat world travellers call themselves vagabonds. They travel the world, they travel as cheaply as they can (in order to keep travelling , they work here and there… but they do have a home to plan to return to once they finish travelling. The vagabond tourist is about seeing the world and stretching their resources for as long and as well as they can along the journey. Historically, vagabonds were more rebellious and travel was their way of avoiding putting down roots or really belonging or being found anywhere.

Vagabonds (tramps, hobos, or drifters) during the Great Depression lived a homeless lifestyle by choice. Often they were fugitives from the law or just avoided the law after having a few run ins with the police and/ or jail. My Grandfather was a drifter for awhile. He told me about some of his adventures. He said the tramps were dangerous and he learned to avoid them. Those men could be brutal and were living by taking what they could get.

After living that way awhile some of them adapted the lifestyle as their own subculture. They created rules and guidelines for who they were and created a culture out of their vagabond lifestyle.

There’s a romantic ideal of the vagabond (the little hobo with patches on their clothes and a pack slung on the end of a stick), but that’s not based on the facts so much as the idea of travelling and seeing the world, meeting new people and enjoying different cultures. The modern is about adventure.

wanderers

Could You be a Vagabond?

  • You really need a change, like a jump start for your life or your spirits.
  • You haven’t figured out your career path or all your jobs seem to be dead ends.
  • You don’t have a lot of obligations, personal (family and kids) or financial (mortgage on a house).
  • You feel burnt out or you’ve lost (or never really had) your sense of who you are.
  • You’ve never really travelled, never left your own country, or even your own home town.

 Other Words for Vagabond

  • vagrant
  • tramp
  • drifter
  • hobo
  • wanderer
  • nomad
  • landloper
  • train hoppers

 The Downside of the Vagabond Lifestyle

  • Living out of a backpack, suitcase, luggage of whatever sort.
  • Always looking for travel arrangements and destinations.
  • Finding temporary work on the road, year round.
  • Not having a place of your own where you can put down roots and keep your stuff.
  • Living under someone’s (couch sitting, hostels, etc.) roof with their rules and ways.
  • Meeting and getting to know people but always moving on and not having any real relationships with anyone.
  • No routine, having to adapt and make plans every day.
  • Packing and repacking everything into one bag and then hauling it all around.
  • Eating on the fly – sometimes not eating when the money is low.
  • Living on a tight budget and having to be thrifty.

Vagabond Lifestyle

Vagabond as a Traveller

Articles About Being a Vagabond

4 thoughts on “What is a Vagabond?

  1. Nice article! I’d note to your readers that plenty of people make a great living from online work these days, so the “vagabond lifestyle” doesn’t need be one of penniless days and hard to find work and shelter. Also, some of us like having so few possessions that they could all fit in a backpack or suitcase!

    • I especially like to bring as little as possible when I travel. Not sure I’m a vagabond so much as I just don’t want to carry around and keep track of a lot of stuff. I do enjoy the travel itself and I don’t mind if I’m not so glamorous if it means I can get around on the bus a bit longer.

  2. Vagabonding is wonderful. It has it’s downsides like everything but I think the most important upside to it is the freedom. If you get a little travel weary you can stay on a farm for a while and if you want to go and travel just go and ride your thumb to the next place. Great article by the way.

    • Thanks Stephen. I wish I could let go of more stuff, especially things I’ve kept on my to-do list too long. I think a key element to vagabonding is not feeling obligated to many people or things. That’s where I run into trouble.

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