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

World Travel for Almost Nothing #4

If you missed the story of how I met my wife, let me remind you. I was couchsurfing at her family’s house in Morocco.

Couchsurfing likes to remind people that it’s not a dating site, but in fact, it is a place where I’ve met many of my closest friends and the woman I married.

coucsurfing in Morocco
This was the first day I couchsurfed with the family that I would eventually marry into. Wow.

One of the keys to mastering the art of world travel on almost nothing is learning to trust strangers and let them become friends.

World Travel on Almost Nothing Tip #4:
Make strangers into friends.

One of the things that I love about Couchsurfing.com is that it relies on opening your heart and mind to the hospitality of strangers. Contrary to popular belief, most people on the planet are good and want to help you in this life. If you doubt that, look inside yourself and I’m sure you will see it is true.

couchsurfing in Brussels
Rafael and I became brother fools after he offered me his couch in Belgium.

I wrote my thesis in college about the fans of the TV show LOST. One of the amazing things I found was that when fans traveled to Hawaii they often found places to stay, free guided tours, and new friends waiting for them. In that case, what brought these people together was a love of a TV show. For the world traveler, you are more likely to come together because of a love of travel.

I’ve made friends just about everywhere I’ve been and in the process I’ve managed to avoid paying for hotels, meals, and sometimes even transportation. I’m not saying you should be mercenary about seeking out and using people, I’m saying that when you open your arms to the world, you often get a hug in return.

Couchsurfing in Quebec
Kelli hosted me on two seperate occaisions in Quebec. I can\’t wait to return the favor.

While I’ve never been a WWOOFer or used HospitalityClub.com, I certainly have known plenty of people who have. These sorts of communities thrive on the fact that people are in general kind and good natured. If you don’t believe that, then you better keep paying for hotel rooms and guided city tours.

World Travel for Almost Nothing #3

One thing that screws everything up  is being in too much of a hurry. We all think time is money but in fact, it’s the opposite, money is time usually but time is time and you have a set amount of it to do with what you please.

You can trade it for money, give it away for free, or waste it being a pissed off grumpy asshole but you can’t actually buy time, you can only sell it.

Paris sculpture
Time is not money though this Paris sculpture certainly is both.

So the lesson from that leads to my third tip for traveling the world for almost nothing.

World Travel for Almost Nothing Tip #3:

 

Chill out man. Just take it easy. The slower you move the less money it takes. Think about it, if you want to get a ticket to wherever you want to go today and then come back in three days, you have to pay a premium. However, if you slow it down and make it for a departure in a month and staying indefinitely…it’s cheaper. Now how about if you walk there….take a year to get there.

pot plants in the basement
Sometimes when you slow down enough people will even show you what they have in their basements…

As a guy who has walked around the perimeter of Oahu, Hawaii and who hitched across Canada with $4, I can tell you that being in a hurry means you have to pay. If you are willing to take your time, you won’t. I’m currently on a slow motion trip around the world. It’s happening, but not in 80 days.

hitch across canada
I was hoping this hot air baloon would give me a ride across Canada’s plains, but no luck that time.

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!