Episodes
“We ‘massage’ the truth to make it fit the narrative we need it to fit in our lives.”  –Andrew McCarthy In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Andrew talk about how Andrew got started in travel writing, and how writing himself on the page helped him see himself in the world (2:30); when he does and doesn’t conflate certain details in the interest of a good story, and how he balances the “micro” and the “macro” elements of a travel story (12:30); how he decides who to write about, among the many...
Published 03/12/24
Published 03/12/24
“Unless we explore our neighborhood, we can’t imagine what might be right under our noses, nor be able to celebrate it, mourn its demise, or take action.” –Alastair Humphreys In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Alastair Humphreys discuss the concept of his new book Local: A Search for Nearby Nature and Wilderness (1:30); what Alastair found on his close-to-home adventures in England (7:00); the surprises he found in industrial and post-industrial environments (13:00); how he learned to pay...
Published 02/13/24
“I hate the Kansas City Chiefs with a passion reserved only for things that I love.” —Tod Goldberg In this episode of Deviate, Rolf shares his 2002 NPR “Savvy Traveler” dispatch about trying to watch the Super Bowl in Thailand (3:00); then he and Tod Goldberg discuss how they became NFL football fans as kids in the 1970s, and how this affected their fandom later in life (8:00); how it could be difficult in the days before the Internet for kids to find information about NFL teams and players,...
Published 02/04/24
“Billionaires can’t take a week off? What’s the point of having a billion dollars if they have fewer options than I do?”  –Tim Ferriss In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Tim discuss common travel fantasies, and the fears that keep people from traveling (5:00); how we can redefine what “wealth” is and live fuller lives (18:00); why keeping a healthy perspective on information intake, technology, and “efficiency” is important, both on the road and in daily life (25:00); the “beginner’s mind,”...
Published 01/09/24
“Sometimes it’s good to sit still and let a place move through you instead of you moving through a place.”  –Rolf Potts In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and The Vagabond’s Way book club participants discuss how one can be vulnerable to new experiences on the road instead of micromanaging an itinerary (2:00); how monuments to mortality help us think of travel moments in an existential way (11:30); how we can take the mindset of travel back home with us when the journey is over, and how the...
Published 11/28/23
“When asked to give advice to young people looking to become travel writers, I invariably tell them to go – alone – and live in a country where they don’t speak the language.”  –Thomas Swick In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Tom talk about the thematic limitations of memoir writing, and the early stages of Tom’s career as a journalist (2:00); his decision to move to Poland for love, and his experiences living in Warsaw around the time of the Solidarity movement (9:30); the task of writing...
Published 11/14/23
“One way of making famous landmarks more comprehensible is to look for surprises, good and bad, that go beyond what you are expected to encounter there, details that open you up to the raw imperfections of the encounter itself.”  –Rolf Potts In this episode of Deviate – which is a redo of episode 229, which didn’t air properly due to technical problems – Rolf and The Vagabond’s Way book club participants discuss how to break out of standard tourist routines and see places in unexpected way...
Published 10/31/23
“Not everyone who’s lucky is talented and not everyone who’s talented is lucky.”  –Tom Bissell In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Tom talk about Tom’s lack of travel experience when he joined the Peace Corps, and how he dealt with his early failures (2:30); the role that luck (as well as craft and obsessive reading) has played in his writing career (8:00); how, as a writer, to turn real-life people, including yourself, into convincingly human and honest nonfiction “characters” (16:00); Tom...
Published 10/17/23
“One way of making famous landmarks more comprehensible is to look for surprises, good and bad, that go beyond what you are expected to encounter there, details that open you up to the raw imperfections of the encounter itself.”  –Rolf Potts In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and The Vagabond’s Way book club participants discuss how to break out of standard tourist routines and see places in unexpected way (1:30); how to get beyond the transactional, “taxi drivers and bartenders” layer of...
Published 10/03/23
“One ironic anxiety of travel is that suddenly you’re living in ‘organic time’ and you’re not used to it.”  –Rolf Potts In this “vagabonding audio companion” episode of Deviate, remixed from Aaron Millar’s Armchair Explorer podcast, Rolf talks about his earliest travel dreams, and what compelled him to finally take a vagabonding dream trip around North America by van in his early twenties (2:00); how travel expectations and planning are often at odds with the joy of what happens spontaneously...
Published 09/19/23
“A wonderful aspect of traveling by train is the transactional relationship between passengers who feed off one another, picking up tips, offering advice, guarding each other’s belongings, and generating a trust that is unique to railway travel.”  –Monisha Rajesh In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Monisha discuss how her interest in train-travel dates back to a series of journeys she took around India (1:30); her more recent experience of taking the Trans-Mongolian train across Russia and...
Published 09/05/23
“We live in an age where you can take a series short flights inside a country to speed things up. You end up going to more places, but you experience less, because you’re not really committed to that chicken bus full of really interesting people who want nothing more than to interact with you.”  –Rolf Potts In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and The Vagabond’s Way book club participants discuss the idiosyncrasies of crossing land borders and traveling overland (1:30); travelers’ tendency to...
Published 08/22/23
“Domestic travel to rural places can be as important as international travel that is more obviously cross-cultural.”  –Rolf Potts In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Marci talk about how the best trips are guided by curiosity about eight key things, rather than checklists (2:00); what Marci has learned from several decades of writing guidebooks to rural and small-town Kansas, and how these places are worth fighting for (10:30); how urban people can better experience rural places (17:00);...
Published 08/08/23
“A souvenir can be anything from a travel experience that honors a certain moment in your life, certifies the journey that took you there, and celebrates the confluence of people and places and actions that made it possible.”  – Rolf Potts In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Suzanne talk about the ways souvenirs help narrate our travel experiences (2:00); the five different historical categories of travel souvenirs (7:30); the old trend of collecting hair and bones from famous people...
Published 07/25/23
“In alien parts, we speak more simply, unencumbered by the histories that we carry around at home, and look more excitedly, with eyes of wonder.” —Pico Iyer In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and The Vagabond’s Way book club participants discuss how he prepares for the book-club sessions (1:30); how the first days of one’s journeys have an optimistic energy and excitement, and how “culture shock” is a real thing (4:00); how travel can put us into a childlike mental state, and how travel...
Published 07/11/23
“We do not just keep and collect things. We trouble ourselves to repurpose, create, and invent things just to carry, a little easier, those stories we cannot live without.” —Kendra Greene In this episode of Deviate, Rolf speaks to the directors of two very different museums — Dawn Hammat of the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum & Boyhood Home in Abilene, Kansas, and Greg Long of Long’s Collectible Showplace & Gift Shop in Salina, Kansas (0:00); what people are drawn to in a...
Published 06/27/23
“Quietly use travel to deepen your life, and to build stronger relationships – not only with other cultures, but with your home. Figure out ways to give back.”  –Rolf Potts In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and David talk about how travel allows you to “waste your twenties” in a good way, and how Rolf has come to define “adventure” (2:00); how to plan travels in such a way as to leave room for spontaneity, and how to meet people on the road (8:00); how to communicate in a place where you don’t...
Published 06/13/23
“Not every fearful decision I’ve made has been bad, but most of my bad decisions have been based in fear.”  –Andrew McCarthy In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Andrew talk about the two halves of Andrew’s professional life – acting and travel writing – and his transformative first journey on the Camino de Santiago in 1994 (2:00); Andrew’s decision to return to the Camino after the pandemic with his 19-year-old son Sam, what it was like to walk for days at a time with Sam, and how being in...
Published 05/30/23
“The truth is that our travel anticipations, and our memories, have a way of holding only the most striking parts of an experience—the parts that don’t cause burnout.” —Matt Kepnes In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Matt talk about travel journaling, and a journal Matt has designed for travelers (1:15); why travel burnout happens, and how Matt first experienced it on the road (4:30); why rest days are important to a journey, and why one shouldn’t over-plan one’s days on the road (10:00);...
Published 05/16/23
“Things don’t happen in Las Vegas. Things are happened in Las Vegas. All actions in the town are so meticulously predicted and orchestrated that spontaneity itself exists only as the ghost of compulsion.”  –Rolf Potts (in 1998) In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Ari discuss Rolf’s 1998 Las Vegas essay “The Mystical High Church of Luck,” and their relationship to their early creative work (2:30); how the experience of Las Vegas depends on what stage of life you’re in, how Vegas compares to...
Published 05/02/23
“Nothing against bucket lists, but sometimes that interest that makes you weird and nerdy at home is going to make you vulnerable to all the weird nerdy people in some distant new place who are also interested in that thing.” —Rolf Potts In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and The Vagabond’s Way book club participants discuss what compels us to be interested in certain places, and how Rolf’s latest book is designed to be read over the course of a year (2:00); how nomads can create consistency...
Published 04/18/23
“You hear how there’s many words for snow in native cultures in Canada; there are actually over 20 words for ‘fog’ in the Faroe Islands.”  –Matthew Landrum In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Matthew discuss what makes the landscape and culture of the Faroe Islands distinctive, and how Matthew came to study Faroese (2:00); how your motivation to travel to a place affects what you see and experience there, and how isolation affects people’s worldview in a place like the Faroes (13:00);...
Published 04/04/23
“"I wasn't partying. I wasn't relaxing on the beach. I was photographing – working – every minute of the day. That was a means to see as much as I possibly could. And to keep looking.”  –Kevin Kelly In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Kevin discuss the ambitions and connections that led Kevin to Asia not long after high school (2:30); how Kevin's interest in photography affected his experience of Asia (7:30); how seeing other cultures gave him perspective on his own culture, and on himself,...
Published 03/21/23
"Success is often about finding just enough material wealth to fund the life that makes you happy." —Rolf Potts In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and The Nomadic Network book club participants discuss how travel can intensify the attention you pay to life at home (2:30); how the best discoveries of travel can't be planned, and how you can give yourself permission to travel at all ages in life (10:30); how travel can give you perspective on the notion of "success" (22:00); what various book...
Published 03/07/23