Wiki Vagabond Launched —
“The Teutonic tramp does not wander at random through the lands of which his knowledge is chaotic or nil. He profits by the experience of his fellow-ramblers. If he covers an unknown route, he returns with a notebook full of information for his fellows. Thanks to this method, the German beggar colony of Cairo had long contained a bureau of information to which many a vagabond of other nationality bewailed is linguistic inability to gain access.”
In Harry Franck’s epic work, A Vagabond Journey Around the World, he wrote of the German tramps that he encountered in Cairo. He wrote about how they would carry little notebooks with them that were full of traveler notes, tips, hand drawn maps, and information that would allow them to travel cheaply through the world. These notebooks would contain information about where to get free or cheap meals, cheap lodging, addresses of rich folk to pull a graft on, timetables for ships, and maps of how to walk between cities.
When two German tramps would meet, they would exchange notebooks and share any new information that the other one may have collected. Like this, the German travelers carried ever changing travel guides of specific and usable budget travel information.
I had a dream of building a website that could act in the same manner as the notebooks of the old time German travelers. I had a dream to build a website full of travel information that I could use, travel information that is not the general slag of the guidebooks that any traveler worth their salt could figure out on their own, but travel information about the specifics of how to travel through places well — with very, very little money — and how to get to places that most people are not able to find.
I envisioned an online travel guide that could receive the notes of travelers all over the world at the click of a button, a guide that could be updated and edited by a community of writers, a guide that would have a no frills appearance and could be printed on paper easily.
I envisioned a Wiki Vagabond, an extreme budget travel guide full of the tips offs that travelers usually only share with each other over bottles of beer: a group edited travel guide where low income travelers could lay out the road ahead for their brethren who follow, a database of traveler folk knowledge where I could upload the exact locations of cheap travel necessities and traveler grafts (“So, how do you get free rides on Japanese railways???? Like this . . .”).
The job of the traveler has always been to share their knowledge of the road ahead with other travelers. I have published this online guide with this intention in mind.
Spending $8 for a meal is not budget travel, spending $10 per person for a hotel bed means that I will soon go broke. Wiki Vagabond is a website that has the lowest, grittiest, bottom of the barrel travel information for travelers with stomachs of steel, a lust for uncomfortable beds, and only a light jingle of change in their pockets. Wiki Vagabond is for travelers who never want to go home.
It is for information like:
Exactly where to find a cheap meal, exactly where to locate a cheap bed, how to hitchhike from point A to point B, where to line up for free food, where to find a cheap bicycle in X and X location, what parts of a city are the cheapest, and what places a clever tramp should avoid.
Wiki Vagabond is for real travel information that we can directly use to travel cheaper, complete with self generated maps.
I work, I trade web pages for accommodation, volunteer my labor for a free bed, ride a bicycle, camp, walk, rent $100 a month apartments . . . This is how I often travel.
This is nothing special, I know that there are other people who travel like this. I want to know what these people know, I want to ask them for tips, I want to hear their recommendations, I want to copy pages out of their notebooks. The babble of the guidebook writers on $50+ a day budgets means little to me — we are not in the same shoes, not on the same page, why would I read their book to guide my travels?
So I started this Wiki Vagabond project in hopes that I can come up with a travel resource for travelers who want to go the farthest distance with the smallest amount of money — for travelers who want to work, get off the tourist trail, put a little life into their daily bread.
Traveling on the tramp takes work. It takes time to find the cheapest places to sleep, it takes time to find the cheapest food stales in a city, it takes time to figure out how to find a used bicycle and suit it up for travel. If I am able to get Wiki Vagabond going, then I know that it will save me time when traveling. If I could just refer to another traveler’s hand drawn map that has a many cheap hotels and food stalls marked off, then I would be drastically ahead of the game: I could follow in the footsteps of another and have more time for sitting on the beach.
This is what I want Wiki Vagabond to be: a collection of extreme budget travel information that can make traveling more enjoyable for travelers strapped to their pennies, for travelers who know that they must hold onto every last resource so they don’t feel compelled to return home.
It is not too enjoyable walking out of 10 hotels in a city before finding a suitably priced bed, it is not too enjoyable being awoken in the night by a cop telling you that you cannot sleep where you bedded down to camp. I want to know where other travelers camped, where they ate, in a particular city. In exchange, I will tell you the same.
The work of traveling is finding your sustenance, finding your daily bread, your daily shelter. Information is often the key to working less. Travel is a pursuit of information and knowledge. Some of the information that I seek on the Road is for reasons of personal interest, some of the information is to keep myself kicking and money in my pocket. When I walk into a town, I usually ask a dozen to two dozen people questions about where to find a cheap bed and cheap food. Travel guidebooks are often deficient in this kind of information — they assume that $20 is an OK price to pay for a bed.
If I could have a data source that could tell me in advance where the cheap, local places are in a town, then I could better put my time towards pursuits of knowledge that I enjoy: like talking to people as a friend, rather than a scrounge trying to save money.
My hope for Wiki Vagabond is that it could help travelers put more time into enjoying their travels, rather than scouring towns in search of what they need.
I figure that it would take at least 10 travelers uploading pages regularly for a year before Wiki Vagabond could be a real usable travel resource. It is difficult to build a site like this. It is easy to upload the information that I research, but it is difficult to get other travelers to do the same. What I need are a few volunteers, people who are willing to occasionally upload the locations of cheap hotels and food stalls while traveling, people who are willing to take an hour and draw a map of a town with all of the budget amenities pinpointed, what the site needs is a team of vagabonds bent on sharing their notes of the road ahead with other travelers.
Begin uploading pages to Wiki Vagabond
Register for Wiki Vagabond and participate in this project
Buy a Vagabond Journey Around the World