The word vagabond seems to carry such a negative connotation in our society. (thank you Wikipedia) It is often used to reference a drifter, a grifter, a bum, or a hobo. Truth is it is little more than a person who wanders from place to place without a settled home. That is the definition anyway. If the tiny house movement has taught anything though it is that home is more a state of mind and less a physical location. A house is not a home. A home doesn’t have to be just a house. I like to think of a vagabond as someone who travels about needing little more than what he can carry; a sojourner by trade.
Why Do We Look Down On Vagrancy
I have had a very hard time trying to figure out why being a vagabond is perceived as negatively as it is. I think the real difference though is deciding if you want to refer to a vagrant or a modern vagabond. The difference? A vagrant is more often than not characterized as an outsider or a person to be mistrusted. They come in to communities looking for help and charity and if they are met with passivity they steal what they want or need and are gone in the dark of night. A vagabond is a nomad or someone who feels no need to set down roots in any one particular place. They are not against working hard, making money, and moving on to the next adventure. Their lives are free of clutter and they feel no need to tie themselves down to possessions. It can even be argued that our human sense of minimalist traveling can be traced to the teachings of Jesus Christ who himself was a wanderer, resisting earthly possessions and focusing on more innate truths.
The Art Of The Vagabond
Some of the more notable vagabond groups existing at the turn of the 19th century were actors, singers, and stage musicians. They entered a community, setup their theatre, performed, and left. Their desire was to make honest money entertaining where entertainment was welcome. From this discipline Europe and North America have come to enjoy slapstick comedy, dance troupes, light opera, and even Shakespearean theatre.
Living life as a vagabond means so much more than being a troubador or a vagrant or a bum. It is about traveling the world and interacting with the local cultures in a way that won’t break the bank. The 21st vagabond is embodying that mindset and actually taking the tiny house lifestyle to its absolute tiniest. What can be more compact than your entire life contained in less than 4000 cubic inches (or 1.7 sq.ft.) Today’s vagabond is more refined and more connected than ever before. They prefer to be called digital nomads, world travelers, or – as I like to say – location independents. The common thread though is the love of living simply, sustainably, and anywhere one fancies.
How To Vagabond
Living as a vagabond can be as easy or as difficult as you want it to be. There are three very specific areas that must be examined before taking even the first step. They are:
- Self-Actualization. How do you see yourself? What makes you tick? When do you feel full and when do you feel empty? What encourages those feelings?
- Finances. How can you generate some income to continue traveling?
- Lifestyle. How are you currently living? Do you already travel to some degree or are you stepping out on faith? What tools and resources do you have to help you vagabond?
The life of a vagabond is very similar to life in a tiny house. Being confined to limited possessions brings about an unparalleled freedom. It can give you access to harsh environments, nonconventional travel arrangements, help you stay healthy, teach you about yourself, and allow you to experience the world as it is. There are no luggage straps or packing cubes to tied you down.
What do you think? Is it realistic to be a modern day vagabond? Could you “give it all up” and take to the open road with little more than what is on your back?