Around the World, Low and Very Slow: Johnny Vagabond is Two Years Old


Johnny Vagabond is Two Years Old

Two years ago I sat at my laptop on a cold rainy night and clicked the Publish button for the first time. Until that moment, this whole “I’m gonna travel the world and write about it” thing wasn’t quite real. I was saving money and making plans but this was my first concrete step in a journey that would change my life.

I’ve since clicked that button over 250 times and over 200,000 people have stopped by the site (some of them even returned!) It’s a crazy world.

I started the blog a few months before I left, knowing I’d have a lot of things to learn and bugs to work out, so while it’s now two years old, I’ve only been traveling for 21 months. “Only” 21 months is far longer than I ever expected or hoped. I have no idea how long this ride will last — I plan simply to travel as long as I can and so long as it’s fun.

I’d like to take a moment and thank everyone who has followed along and especially those who have left a comment or sent an email with words of encouragement. I can’t tell you how much that means when I’m sitting in a dingy hotel room, having one of those “What the hell am I doing?” moments.

Thanks, too, to those who have asked for advice or shared tips — being thousands of miles from home (wherever that is now) and still feeling a sense of community is a strange and wonderful thing.

I thought this would be a good excuse to share some of my personal favorite posts from the last two years. Not all of them did well traffic-wise, but they’re the ones I’m most pleased with for one reason or another. Thank you all again for hanging around and I hope we can have this chat again in another couple of years.



My Hand-Picked Favorite Stories (They’re Ripe!)

Johnny Vagabond is Two Years OldThree Mistakes on a Hot Day in Bangkok — Only one week into my big adventure, I discover that I have a talent for getting myself into awkward situations. Lucky me.

One Bizarre Night — Poker Scam in Saigon — I think a good definition of stupidity is knowing something is a scam but going along with it because you “want to see how it works”. I managed to escape but others weren’t so lucky — check out the comments.

Fighting the Fear: On Two Wheels in Vietnam — Riding a motorbike through some of the craziest traffic in the world isn’t all puppies and rainbows. On this day, the Fear nearly got the best of me.

Death Ride for Buddha — Battered scooters without headlights, Buddhist rock carvings, bush meat and a day-long adventure in Laos. What could possibly go wrong?

Depression, Burn Out and Renewal on the Streets of India — In which our hero loses his mojo, mopes about a bit, then gets it back in a most unexpected and painful way.

My First Night in Kathmandu — Lost, freezing and your ears are bleeding from the world’s worst cover band? Welcome to Kathmandu.

BONUS: Making Friends and Influencing People in India — Christine over at almost fearless was kind enough to run this piece in which I once again manage to put my foot in my mouth and offend a kind Indian family.


My Favorite Photos

Another 3 Months in Asia: My Top Ten Photos — Some of my favorite shots from traveling through Vietnam and Laos for three months.

The Pushkar Camel Fair, India — Over 50,000 camels and cattle converge on the holy city of Pushkar for a week-long celebration.

The Ganges River at Sunrise — My all-time favorite photos from one of the most photogenic places I’ve ever been, the eternal city of Varanasi, India.

The Songkran Water Festival in Chiang Mai — Three days of utter mayhem in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The Thais really know how to celebrate New Year.

Photo Essay: A Thai Wedding in Chiang Mai — My friends Mark and Sa were getting married in Chiang Mai and asked me to play wedding photographer. Can I get a “hell yes?”


Travel Tips that Might Actually Be Helpful, for Once…

Travel Photo Tune-Up, a Step-by-Step Tutorial — I share my tips and tricks for improving your photos after the fact, using Adobe Lightroom.

Real World Travel Tips — These are my tips for getting the most out of your travels and really experiencing the local culture.

RTW Gear Update: My Top Ten List — After a year on the road, what worked best and what got sent home?

How I Saved Hundreds on Travel Shots — If you’re traveling for a long time, a little research could save you a small fortune.

My Daily Budget by Country — How cheap is it? A day’s spending broken down for Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Honduras.

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen December 3, 2011 at 12:51 am

Congratulations Wes!! I’m so impressed and entertained. :) Oh, and informed! Wishing you many more days, months, years of safe, successful travel-blogging! I still owe you some Fritos.


wes December 10, 2011 at 4:12 am

Where’s my Fritos?! Thanks, Karen :)


Krishna Prasad December 3, 2011 at 3:01 am

Congratulations Wes. I am happy for you to reach this milestone. May you have many more years of experiences ahead. I have been inspired by you posts and have learnt a lot through your wonderful posts.


Nomadic Samuel December 3, 2011 at 7:11 am

Congrats and hopefully many more anniversaries when it comes to your travels and blog.


Jeremy December 3, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Good onya, mate! And congrats for sticking with it! You’ve got a great site and some fantastic stories.


Dean December 3, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Congrats mate. I’ve really enjoyed reading…and laughing at..your great stories ;) Keep up with the great work. Cheers


Erin December 3, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Congratulations Wes. What a great collection of stories and beautiful photos. Your knack for getting into awkward situations certainly keeps us entertained.


wes December 10, 2011 at 4:11 am

It’s a weird talent to have, but I really can’t complain :) Thanks.


Apple December 3, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Congratulations on your 2nd anniversary on the road! This is my favorite out of all the travel blogs I’ve been reading lately because it’s so unbelievably funny, witty and more importantly, inspiring. Reading all of this just makes me want to go out there and experience what the world has to offer… But I still have to finish college and get a job first. :) But until then, be sure I’ll still be reading your awesome blog until that time comes!


wes December 10, 2011 at 4:10 am

Awww… thanks so much.


Stephanie - The Travel Chica December 3, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Congrats! I just passed my one-year, and it is amazing to think that I actually have been on the road for this long. I’ll have to check out some of these “best-of” posts, since I’ve only been following along for the last few months.


wes December 10, 2011 at 4:10 am

Grats! It flies, doesn’t it?


Alex December 3, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Congratulations. I’m passing the 7 month mark soon and I can’t believe how quickly it goes by. Thanks for the great photos and the even better stories!


Gray December 3, 2011 at 11:26 pm

Congratulations, Wes! It’s been a great 2 years of posts.


wes December 4, 2011 at 3:24 am

Thank you, Gray :)


Daniel Christianson December 4, 2011 at 10:57 am

For those of us who are sitting at home having them ‘What the hell am I doing moments?” this blog is a fantastic break. thankyoou for all your efforts and keep having fun man.


wes December 10, 2011 at 4:09 am

Ha! Fair enough. Thanks, man.


Mike at the Irie Bean (Watkins) December 4, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Well gee! Has it been that long? It is great to just sit here in Austin, Texas, and see the world on my computer. What a deal! After all, life is a journey whether wherever you are!


wes December 10, 2011 at 4:09 am

Thanks Mike! Drink one for me. Flirt with the baristas too, please


ayngelina December 4, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Congrats Wes, I can’t believe two years has passed since I started reading you!


wes December 10, 2011 at 4:03 am

Right back atcha!


Sarath December 5, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Congrats Wes. Your articles are great and I’ve been following it for the last two months. Can’t wait to read more from you…


April Neylan December 6, 2011 at 8:10 am

Bravo Johnny! I really love this blog. Keep up the great work :)


Lily December 6, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Your blog is always an enjoyable read, never predictable, makes me laugh and inspires me to do more travel – long may you run!


wes December 10, 2011 at 4:01 am

Thank you, Lily!


Micah December 7, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Congrats Wes! Here’s hoping for another 2 years.


Kurt W December 7, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Great photos and posts…here’s to you keeping it going. Cheers!


Kan December 8, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Hahaha god Wes you have some of the funniest stories! I’ve been an anonymous follower for a very long time and absolutely love the great stories you tell. Can’t wait for another 2 years (hopefully) and more of great adventures from you!


wes December 10, 2011 at 4:00 am

Thanks so much, Kan — it’s good to hear that. Happy travels.


Darcy Tara December 10, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Your stories are hilarious and very interesting. You are definitely doing what you should be doing. Keep it up. Much appreciation. You have all of us along for the ride.


Lane December 11, 2011 at 11:57 pm

Congrats on the anniversary… I have followed your site for some time now and believe your story telling is amazing. You make going to get bread into an adventure.


Colleen Hayward December 12, 2011 at 1:30 am

I feel like I’ll never get out of here, I just hope that within a year’s time I’ll start to accumulate such rare stories that you share with us!


Amanda December 14, 2011 at 5:00 am

Congrats on 2 years! It’s crazy how fast time flies, isn’t it? I know I haven’t been commenting much lately, but your site really is one of my favorites, and it’s great to see it doing so well!

Thanks for including some of your favorite posts here, too. I have some reading to do now!


Federico December 14, 2011 at 11:30 pm

Congrats Wes…2 years already…wow. I remember the Ganges pics… since then I have not forgotten the name of that city, Varanasi, and it´s a must in my list.


Joseph December 29, 2011 at 4:59 am

Congrats Wes! my personal favorite of your entries was “Depression, Burn Out and Renewal on the Streets of India” – not for the painful reawakening obviously, but because it was so heartfelt and could really relate to it! keep up the awesome work and I wish you many more years to come in the travel blogging biz!


Wrabbit007 January 3, 2012 at 10:16 pm

My two favorites from your list: The Poker Scam in Saigon (you might not be surprised to know how many other bloggers I’ve chatted with that have experienced the same deal!), and the Renewal on the Streets of India post – nothing like a good nut-crushing story to get the creative juices flowing, so to speak! Keep up the great work!


Jeff Dobbins March 19, 2012 at 3:49 pm

An impressive achievement. Congratulations. Look forward to following your adventures many more years.


André Malenfant May 3, 2012 at 8:36 am

Thanks for reminding me that we should always take the time to comment on the great work of others. I have been reading your blog since I started planning my own RTW adventure. I know when I go to your blog that I will read a great article and will laugh, often to tears. Certainly amongst the top travel blogs on my list!