Archive for ‘Types of Vagabonds’

December 4, 2011

Vagabond Type of the Day: Nomad

by Ashe Vagabond of the Vagabond Express

Day 3

Nomad: Born for the Open Road

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
ché la diritta via era smarrita.

Midway in the journey of our life
I came to myself in a dark wood,
for the straight way was lost.


– Dante

They’re in the crowd; they’re back on he road; they’re here today; they’re gone tomorrow. Now you see them. Now you don’t.

Happy-Woman-In-Golden-Wheat-FieldNomad Vagabonds are a hybrid of the Transient and Thoreau Vagabonds in some ways, but with some added traits of their own. This type of Vagabond moves A LOT. They possess an ever-changing, ever-moving spirit that seeks to absorb more of the world and its inhabitants and more of the open road. They have very few possessions and are often found living their entire existence out of a backpack or less. They rarely feel attachment to any location or person, and they are comfortable both in groups and alone. They may travel alone for a time and then travel with a community for a time. It changes depending on where they are that day. They may take up a temporary job in a town they’re crossing through just to make enough money for more stashed food and a bus ticket to the next town. Christopher_McCandless_into_the_wild-2

They are unlike transients because they are often alone and don’t feel a need to be part of a social community. But they are unlike the Thoreau Vagabond because they are still often quite social, though in a detached sort of way. “Live for the moment!” one might exclaim if you are starting to get attached, make plans, or get them to settle down.


The Nomad Vagabond is in love with the open road itself.  They thrive on change, new experiences, a sense of total   freedom from limitations and expectations, and personal growth through their experiences. 21wild-600One might say these people are running away from or trying to escape something, but they will argue that blindly following social norms like cattle is a worse form of escapism. For a Nomad Vagabond, the open road and all the variables it implies is the ultimate test of their very fibers as a living creature, a way to transcend the limits that they feel a standard, by-the-book lifestyle would degrade them to. These are the Vagabonds that have wandered for a time with Transients, managed to stumble upon a Thoreau Vagabond in the woods, and have worked a few part-time jobs along the way.

Christopher Mccandless of Into the Wild is a Nomad Vagabond.

December 3, 2011

Vagabond Type of the Day: Thoreau

by Ashe Vagabond of the Vagabond Express

Day 2

Thoreau: The Lover of Solitude

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. – Thoreau

HDTHenry David Thoreau was an American philosopher and naturalist. He broke away from society, went out in nature, built his own house, and grew a garden to feed himself from. He pulled away in order that he might better himself and he used his experiences and insight to write amazing books and poetry. As he puts it:

Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.

I think there is a specific style of Vagabond that very much resembles Thoreau with regards to their beliefs and the way they live their lives. Therefore, I call this kind of vagabond a Thoreau Vagabond.

About Themalone-in-peace

The Thoreau Vagabond likes solitude, silence, peace, and  simplicity. They seek retreat from both people and social norms. They are drawn to experiences which allow them to be alone with their thoughts, where they may ponder life and reflect on themselves. Many Vagabonds like solitude. But the Thoreau Vagabond takes this to an extreme. This type of Vagabond may believe that he or she could live their entire lives without seeing a single person and not miss them much at all—if at all. They may pull away into the shell of a remote destination for long periods of time or even forever.

They are often writers or philosophers. They are very industrious, as they must learn how to deal with a vast array of human experiences with no one but themselves to rely on. This means health, food, hygiene, shelter, and entertainment must all be supplied by the Vagabond as an individual without help from a community of experts (no doctors, supermarkets, laundry machines, pre-made houses, or television). You can then reason that this type of Vagabond is staunchly self-reliant, independent, and brave.

alone3 Often their ideas are unique, as they are able to create their opinions, views, and beliefs without being influenced by masses and popular culture. Don’t be surprised upon meeting this type of Vagabond if they have no clue who Kim Kardashian is and, more importantly, don’t really care. However, they may know a thing or two about history that you don’t, because they tend to like books. I’ve known a few of these types. They abhor being tracked, so any form of identification would be against their nature (meaning driver’s licenses are out). They are also some of the most unusual characters, because they develop their personalities mostly in isolation, so they have very little idea what it means to conform to a social norm, for they aren’t fully aware of what the social norms are—again, they don’t really care, either.

If you think a Thoreau Vagabond just needs a little coaxing and some social practice, then perhaps they could quote Thoreau again in response:

Most men lead lives of silent desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.

alone (1)

November 29, 2011

Vagabond Type of the Day: Transient

by Ashe Vagabond of the Vagabond Express

Day 1

Transient: The Clan Type

Not all those who wander are lost.

Vagab I am putting Transients first because they may be the heart and soul of what a typical vagabond is fabled to look like. When a person says ‘vagabond’ these might be the first people who come to mind. No matter what kind of wanderer you are, likely you can “feel” this group, understand its core fabric, and appreciate the level of extremism they are willing to live in so that they can live the life on the road—and on their own terms.

Strong personalities abound in these groups. I have personally migrated with transients and camped out with them in various cities in different countries. I was never a full-blooded transient, but I do have a first-hand understanding of this kind of vagabond.

About Them

Definition of TRANSIENT (Merriam-Webster)


: passing especially quickly into and out of existence :transitory <transient beauty>

: passing through or by a place with only a brief stay or sojourn <transient visitors>


: affecting something or producing results beyond itself


Transients are what happen when the fringe of society becomes so distant from the main social groups that they just plain fall of the map entirely—but in groups. Transients usually travel in packs. They are not “homeless people.” Some call themselves “residentially challenged” in jest, but what they really mean is that they don’t  WANT to live in society the way most people do. Their lifestyle represents a rigid fortitude to manifest their own destiny within the confounds of what they deem valuable in life.

Notable values they hold dear: freedom, friendship, unencumberance.

Notable values they don’t really give a hoot about: money, materialism, societal roles.


They are often self-educated, well-read individuals who are very capable of participating in society like any average person—yet choose not to. To really give a description that might ring a bell: they are those “punk” looking people with the dreadlocks and pit bulls roaming around at all hours (at least the average person would unknowingly label them punks). These Vagabonds move a lot, but may stay for a certain period of time in certain locations. They follow a life pattern similar to our hunter-gatherer ancestors, actually, and one might argue that they’ve managed to remain pure in a constantly changing social landscape.

These people usually know the best and safest places to camp out, and they’ll gladly sleep there with or without a tent. They usually have a vast network of contacts in all walks of life across many cities, states, or even countries. They fluently enter and exit mainstream society, meaning that they may sleep in the woods but wander into town to buy beans for their open campfire back where the clan is waiting.


They look out for one another, are often humanists with a strong sense of kin with their fellow man (and animal), and are not unknown to have hidden talents under all that unassuming exterior. I mean that person with the green mohawk walking with that muscular dog could be a concert trained pianist or have a university degree—seriously. At the very least, they have a Diploma in Life Experiences that most people know nothing about.


If you’d like to live amongst them or spend time with them, leave your pretention at the door, but feel free to unload your quirks. They are usually very resilient to displays of originality and genuine character, unlike the folks back at the office.


* The awesome photos are from The Life of American Vagabonds. Click on the link to be taken to even MORE awesome photos of Transient Vagabonds.

November 29, 2011

Vagabond Breeds

by Ashe Vagabond of the Vagabond Express

Over the next few days, I will dedicate posts to types of Vagabonds. I am not trying to put our kind into boxes and label us, but rather to show what a range of lifestyles can be imbued into the character of a person who loves to travel. This is mostly for fun. I am excited about the idea of looking at vagabonds through a range of potential meanings, rather than assuming that we are all the same. Definitely, we’re not. In my own travels, I have met so many other travelers. I noticed that often we shared a love of the road, but there are ways in which I came to understand differences in orientation from one vagabond to the next. There are trends…

Well, I’ll try here. Please give me your feedback and maybe I can adjust my views based on what others think regarding this.

So far, I have made a list. It looks like this:

Transient: The Clan Type

Thoreau: The Lover of Solitude

Nomad: Born for the Open Road


Entrepreneur: The Money Makers

Frequent Flyer: Top Secret Vagabonds

The Backpacker

Gypsy: The Traveling Artisan

Messengers: Vagabonds with Missions


Tomorrow I will start with the Transient and go from there.