All posts by Vago Damitio

Vago Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. He jumped ship from a sinking dotcom in 2000 and decided to reclaim his most valuable commodity, time. He bought a VW bus for $100, moved into it and set out on a journey to show the world that it was possible to live life on your own terms. That journey took him from waking up under icy blankets in  the Pacific Northwest to waking up under palm tress in Southeast Asia. Three years later, his first book, Rough Living: Tips and Tales of a Vagabond was published. After diving into the Anthropology of Tourism and Electronic Anthropology at the University of Hawaii (with undeclared minors in film and surf) he hit the road again in 2008. Since that time,he's lived primarily in Morocco and Turkey, married a Moroccan girl he couchsurfed with, and become a proud father. He's been to more than 40 countries, founded a successful online travel magazine (this one!), and still doesn't have a boss. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook
Sophia, Bulgaria

Top Five Places to Visit on a Trip to Bulgaria

Sophia, BulgariaNestled in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula, Bulgaria offers a breath-taking country that has been inhabited by some of the world’s greatest cultures. The birthplace of Spartacus and Orpheus and home to the ferocious ancient Thracians, Bulgaria offers a wonderful history in a beautiful setting that is just waiting to be explored.

Sophia

Sprawling, dynamic and unique, Bulgaria’s capital city features a unique blend of stark Communist-style architecture and traditional European designs. With a thriving modern culture that celebrates both the past and the future, Sophia is one of the most exciting urban environments in the country. Established over 2,500 years ago, Sophia is home to several museums, over 250 historical points of interest and some of the Bulgaria’s oldest orthodox churches and cathedrals.

Bulgarka Nature Park

Beautifully diverse Bulgarka Nature Park offers some of the most stunning landscapes in the country. Located in the center of Bulgaria and easily accessible from any of the major cities, the Nature Park offers lovely views, interesting cultural sites and plenty of open space to explore and enjoy. The Etar Architectural-Ethnographic Complex, Sokolski Monastary, and Shipka Memorial are located within park limits and offer insight into the fascinating history of Bulgaria. Home to a vast assortment of wild animals and with more than 30 maintained trails sprawling across varied terrain, the park is an ideal place for hiking, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, bird watching and other outdoor activities.

Belogradchik Fortress

One of the most well-preserved structures in Bulgaria, the Belogradchik Fortress dates back to Roman occupation. Positioned for surveillance instead of defence, this fortress served as one of the most important structures in the country after its expansion in the 14th century. The fortress played a significant role in the country’s development and offers striking views of the Bulgarian countryside.

Kazanlak

Nicknamed “The Town of the Roses and the Thracian Kings”, Kazanlak is an inviting city that is as fascinating as it is beautiful. With a history of settlements dating back to the Neolithic era, Kazanlak is home to the ancient Threcian Kosmatka Tomb, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city itself was established in the early 1400s and has become one of the world’s largest producers of rose oil; the vibrant colours and lovely fragrance of roses makes Kazanlak the perfect place for a leisurely stroll, and the Museum of Roses offers guests a fresh perspective on these attractive plants. Travellers can also visit cultural treasures such as the Koulata Ethnographic Complex, the Buzovgrad megalith, Buzludsha National Park and the Iskra Town History Museum.

Plovdiv

As the second largest city in the country and one of the oldest cities in Europe, Plovdiv is a thriving modern environment that proudly embraces its roots. The heart of the city is full of preserved architecture from the 19th century, complete with descriptive signs that resemble the heritage plaques of the UK. Plovdiv’s Central Garden features meticulously kept grounds, lovely trees and the Simfonia show of synchronized fountains and lights, making it a perfect place to relax and enjoy the city. Plovdiv is also the site of the Plovdiv Roman Amphitheatre, Bulgaria’s largest building from the Roman Era. Now fully restored and capable of seating 7,000, this glorious amphitheatre spent centuries hidden under 15 metres of mud!

camping in Hawaii

World Travel for Almost Nothing #2

The biggest rip off of modern times wasn’t the mere stealing of billions by Bernie Madoff, it was convincing most of the people on the planet that they need anything the modern world provides.

In fact, you were born with everything you need and whether you believe it or not you will keep getting everything you need until the day you die. Included in that isn’t shampoo, peanut butter, a new car, a great job, breast implants, or a college degree. I fell for it too…but the truth is all you need is the desire to move to the next second in this life and you already have it or else you’d already be dead.

sitting on the beach in Kalalau

The cost for this moment was only paid in muscle.

World Travel Tip #2

Modern nation states are built on a simple lie. That lie tells you that unless you can pay for new goods and services your life won’t be worth anything. It’s complete and total crap.

A look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs shows what you actually need. Food, sleep, air, defecation, and a sense of who you are. That’s it. The rest is luxury and as such is not necessary. In fact, it often gets in the way.

camping in Hawaii

Sometimes a beer is necessary. Usually it\’s not. It\’s always good though.

Nobody is charging you to breathe. Water can be found for free just about everywhere on the planet (though it may take a little umm…digestive adjustment), if there isn’t a free toilet, you can probably defecate on the ground, and if you don’t know who you are, isn’t it time you found out? You don’t need a therapist to tell you, you just need to take the time to ask yourself and listen for an answer. In addition companionship, love, self esteem, and even security can be found for little to nothing.

hiking aroudn Oahu, Hawaii

These strangers became friends as I hiked around the Island of Oahu. A simple hello led to sandwiches and ice cold water! Mmmm!

Step outside and start a conversation with a stranger and I can promise you that if you are looking for food or shelter, you will find them, maybe not with the first person you talk with but certainly with someone. Contrary to popular belief, people are GOOD and they want to help each other. Unless you are a real ass, you’ll find people take joy in being a part of your life and that includes food and shelter.

Tomorrow: Adjusting your pace

world travel hiking

World Travel for Almost Nothing # 1

Maybe you’ve noticed that I manage to see quite a few places and you’ve thought to yourself “Boy, I wish I had the money to do that!”

The fact of the matter is, so do I. The other fact of the matter is that I don’t. In the past several years it has been the exception rather than the rule for me to have a job. I don’t have any savings. I’m in debt up to my ears (but am constantly deferring my student loans) and yet even so in the past year, I’ve managed to travel on three continents, have a fabulous wedding in the Sahara, and get quite a few little side trips and excursions in too. How do I do it?

travel to laos for free

I look tall next to these Lao women who live in a small Mekong Village

Honestly, I’m not sure, but the following is some of what I’ve figured out about how to travel for next to nothing. Inchallah, it will inspire one or two of you out there to get off your butts and hit the road like you’ve always dreamed of. If it does and your life changes forever, feel free to buy me a beer someday.

As I just commented to my friend Nick, a trip to the grocery store in the USA costs most than I spend on most of my adventures. World travel doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, there are many times that it is free.

racing cars in Barcelona

Paying for the chance to race GoCarts in Barcelona was an expense I consider to be necessary.

Of course the travel agencies, cruise lines, and airlines don’t want you to know that. Big hotels and resorts live off of people who don’t know where they would stay without Hilton or Marriott to house them. Those guys and the talking heads in the media earn their salaries selling trips to all-inclusive resorts and big time guided tours of places you can walk through for free.

They are banking on the fact that your imagination stops at your credit card and that most people are just too damn scared to take a chance when they leave the confining comfort of their own home. I’m about to spoil that misconception. Unless those guys start sponsoring me, I’m going to keep giving away tips and tricks that open up the entire world to you.

Nothing holds you back more than fear. Fear of the unknown. FDR said it right, we have nothing to fear but fear itself. Face it, you’re going to die and you’re going to lose everything. We all do. You have very little control about when that is going to happen. The thing that makes most people miss out on the joy of travel is that they think they can control it and so they stay at home watching Jeopardy until they die of a coronary. They know the geography of the world, but they’ve never seen it. If you don’t open the door, you won’t see anything but the television.

world travel hiking

Fear would have meant this starlit hike with friends who didn\’t share any language with me would never have happened.

Tip #1 for Cheap World Travel:

Let go of all that routine that arises from you trying to control your own dead end. The best thing about living is new experience and you can have as many as you want for free. Once you step away from your societal imposed responsibilities, you find that the world opens up and gives you more joy than you’ll ever find trying to buy your future security at the expense of the present.

When you start breaking free of your routine, you will discover the wonder of new faces and places, taste incredible new foods, and discover secrets about yourself and the world that you never expected to find.

Each new wonder unfolds before you like a road that was hidden from view and like any road, a new experience will often lead you to another and another and another. When you walk the road of travel, you get to experience life differently from when you take a package vacation or go through the daily motions in your ‘home’. In fact, the world is your home, if only you choose to accept it.

Sunsets are free. Mountaintops don’t cost a thing. Walking through a public market takes not a dime. Striking up a conversation with someone working beside a road you are walking down can lead to adventures you can’t imagine. Just being in a new place will provide you with more insights about yourself and the world than all the new clothes, fancy meals, or well rehearsed tourist trips can ever give you.

Eiffel Tower, Paris, looking up at the tower

Sometimes a new perspective can really change things.

Your mentality is the primary reason why world travel costs a ton. Change it and you will find that few things are as cheap.

Tomorrow: What you really need!