Are You a Hobo, Bum, or Vagrant?

Do you know the difference between a hobo, a bum, and a vagrant?

If so, then maybe you’ll want to make sure you visit Britt, Iowa – that’s where the NATIONAL HOBO CONVENTION is held every year. The convention is held the 2nd weekend of August, and has been held in Britt for the past 110 years.

Britt is home to the Hobo Museum, founded by Hood River Blackie, Steamtrain Maury, and Feather River John. Some hobos are even buried in Britt, including The Hardrock Kid, Mountain Dew, Slow Motion, and Shorty Connecticut Slim.

So what is the difference between a hobo, a bum, and a vagrant?

  • A hobo may be transient and wander around the country from town to town, but they are skilled labor and willing to work for their day’s food and lodging.
  • A bum will still beg for money, but will not work.
  • A vagrant won’t even beg for money.

The hobos also abide by THE HOBO CODE, a set of 16 rules to make living a wandering life easier for all. Some of their rules include:

  • When in town, always respect the local law and officials, and try to be a gentleman at all times
  • Always try to find work, even if temporary, and always seek out jobs nobody wants. By doing so you not only help a business along, but insure employment should you return to that town again
  • Do not allow yourself to become a stupid drunk and set a bad example for locals treatment of other hobos

Looking at the rest of their rules, maybe the hobos were on to something that the rest of us should follow as well.