Friends and vagabonders,

Recent months have taken me to places like Wales, Italy, and France — though I’ll confess I’ve spent less time vagabonding than I have giving lectures about the art of vagabonding. 2009 was kind to me in terms of book accolades, as Marco Polo Didn’t Go There became the first American-authored book to win Italy’s prestigious Chatwin Prize in travel writing. The book also won a Lowell Thomas Award from the Society of American Travel Writers (“This book of travel stories is provocative and compelling,” the judges wrote. “Potts’ style is personal and the narrative quality high”) as well as a Notable Book Award from the State Library of Kansas (“Potts’s portrayal of his life on the road is captivating, with some stories that are hilarious and others that are absolutely terrifying”). In other book news, I had stories appear in The Best Travel Writing 2009 and Best of Lonely Planet Travel Writing — and my Believer story “The Henry Ford of Literature” made the list of “notable stories” in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2009.

Many of my travels in 2009 entailed public lectures, including gigs at the Los Angeles Times Travel Show, the Tucson Festival of Books, the Book Passage Travel Writers’ Conference, the 100th anniversary celebration of the global youth hosteling movement, and international awareness celebrations at the University of Kansas and the College of Staten Island. A couple of my overseas lectures — the Do Lectures in Wales and a reading at Paris’s Shakespeare and Company — are available online in video form. I also did radio interviews with travel guru Rick Steves and Kansas City radio legend Walt Bodine.

In the world of print, my favorite story of recent months was “Where No Travel Writer Has Gone Before,” a World Hum story that detailed my anthropological experiences on a one-week Star Trek cruise from New York to Bermuda. I also wrote a Russia story (“St. Petersburg, Vampire-Style”) for Afar; tales about Cuba, Prague and Jordan for The Guardian; a feature about Australian Aboriginal art for mental floss; and an essay about Laos for Outside. My essays about long-term travel appeared in international venues such as the Sunday Indian and Italy’s L’Espresso, and my commentary about the legacy of Che Guevara and the joys of international dating appeared in World Hum.

Though the details of my 2010 plans are still coming into focus, you can always check in at my Events page to catch my latest speaking and teaching gigs. In addition to upcoming university and library appearances in Texas, Kansas and New York, I’ll be teaching my annual creative nonfiction workshop at the Paris American Academy this coming July.

Cheers — and happy vagabonding,

Rolf