Thursday Traveler: Vago Damitio

Every Thursday, A Dangerous Business will be shining the spotlight on a world nomad, travel blogger, armchair adventurer, or just someone really cool in the travel world. This week, the traveler is Vago Damitio of Vagobond.com. Vago  is a travel writer, blogger and teacher. He has spent his life mastering how to have incredible adventures on minuscule budgets. Someday he hopes to have the option of using gigantic budgets.

1. How do you define the word “traveler,” and why would you consider yourself one?

It's a funny thing, this idea of travelers and tourists. To me, a tourist is someone who has a set agenda. They know where they will go, what they will do, and when they will return. A traveler, on the other hand, operates on an altogether more free form consciousness. Plans can change, and when you travel, if you aren't flexible, you often miss out on the best things. Yes, I'm definitely a traveler, but sometimes I don't even like to be labeled by this definition. I almost never have the budget to travel so one way tickets usually get me to my destination. Over the past decade, I've learned that as long as I can carry all my possessions, it's cheaper to actually move to a place. Not to mention the experience of living and working in a foreign culture gives you an even broader perspective than just traveling there. As such, I'm often a traveler, but more often I am what I like to call a ‘moovist'. I move to new countries more often than I travel to them.

2. What has been your favorite travel experience thus far?

Meeting my wife in Morocco and getting married in a traditional Berber wedding in the Sahara is leaps and bounds over everything else. Since getting married, I've brought her into the moovist lifestyle with me. This has sometimes been challenging for us both, but she is a rugged and adaptable Arab woman, so she hasn't killed me yet (although I thought she might when I made her sell our last refrigerator before we moved to Turkey!)

3. How about your proudest travel moment?

There are a lot. Obviously getting married was one, but since I already mentioned that, I'll tell you a few others. Climbing to the top of Mt. Taishan in China was a dream that came true. I was so excited that I passed a lot of people on the way up and when I was sitting at the top, basking in my accomplishment, a lot of these Chinese men and women came to congratulate me! I admit it, I felt proud.

On a completely different level, I was on a bus in Frankfurt once when a man went into an epileptic seizure. No one knew what to do and I moved forward, told people to stand back and cradled his head in my lap until he was through it. After he recovered, he stood, said thank you and got off the bus to go to his job. On that day, I felt like my travel really served a greater purpose.

4. Have you had any travel mishaps or bad experiences? If so, have these influenced how you view the place where they happened? Would you go back?

When I was hitching across Canada with $4, I found myself stuck on the plains with no blanket. It started to get very cold and it was so wet that I couldn't get a fire going. I crawled in the back of an abandoned truck and curled up for about four hours before finally being so cold that I had to get up and move. I was traveling with no gear. I'd love to hitch in Canada again, but next time I'll at least have a blanket roll.

5. Name one thing you can’t travel without.

I converted a stainless steel coffee cup with a lid into a small french press. I love my coffee and won't travel without this. It's a luxury, but one that brings me a lot of comfort and enjoyment.

6. Name one thing you wish you COULD travel without.

I wish I could travel without shoes. I hate having to wear shoes but planes always make you wear them and many buses, trains, etc. also have policies about going barefoot.

7. What do you think has been the biggest thing you’ve learned while traveling (about yourself, a destination, a culture, travel itself)?

The biggest thing is that you don't need money to travel. You just need the desire to get up and take the first step. Those people who say “I wish I could do what you do” are liars, if they really wished it, they would. It's as simple as that. What they really wish is that they had the ‘nads to step away from their fears.

8. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

I love Hawaii, but it's just too expensive and far from everywhere else I want to be. That's why I left. I would live there if I could afford the lifestyle I want to live. Maybe someday. Other than that, it would have to be someplace with a respectful culture, great technology, and cheap living. Possibly Brazil or the Philippines would fit the bill.

9. Name one place you’d like to see or one experience you’d like to have before you die.

I bought 10,000 acres on the moon from a guy about 15 years ago. Really! Is it legal? Probably not, but maybe. Just about every U.S. President and astronaut also bought from the same guy.  I'd like to pay a visit to my lunar property and see about opening up the first lunar hostel there.

10. If there was one thing you wish somebody would have told you before you started traveling, what would it be?

Unless you are planning to sleep in a tent, there is no need to carry one! I carried my Northface tent halfway around the world before realizing that in most places I was going, I wouldn't be able to use it. I was confusing backpacking in nature with backpacking around the world. Sounds stupid, but I did it.

Visit Vago's site: Vagobond
Follow Vago on Twitter: @vagobond
Be friends with Vago on Facebook: Vago Damitio

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Are you a travel blogger who has something to say on these topics? Do you know of somebody really interesting in the travel universe that you’d like to see interviewed? Speak up! The Thursday Traveler needs some interview subjects.

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