Twitchhiker: How One Man Travelled the World by Twitter
October 13, 2011
Paul Smith There were five rules of Twitchhiker: I can only accept offers of travel and accommodation from people on Twitter; I can’t make any travel plans further than three days in advance; I can only spend money on food, drink and anything that might fit in my suitcase; If there is more than one offer, I choose which I take; If there is only one, I have to take it within 48 hours; If I am unable to find a way to move on from a location within 48 hours, the challenge is over and I go home.
Bored in the bread aisle of the supermarket one day, Paul Smith wondered how far he could get around the world in 30 days through the goodwill of users of social networking site Twitter. At the mercy of these rules, he set his sights on New Zealand – the opposite point on the planet to his home in Newcastle. All he had to do next was explain the idea to his new wife.
In an adventure wrapped in nonsense and cocooned in daft, he travelled by road, boat, plane and train, slept in five-star luxury and on no-star floors, shmoozed with Hollywood A-listers and was humbled by the generosity of the thousands who followed his journey and determined its course.
@twitchhiker – I can send you to Wichita by Greyhound if that’s any good! Sent 10:13 AM Mar 12th. I was more or less in the exact geographical centre of a different continent, and a nameless woman some 4,000 miles east in Dublin was buying me a bus ticket…
This was such an original idea it made me want to read the book. How exciting to travel the world and not know exactly where you are going and where you might sleep tomorrow! It was great to read about all the people who made this journey possible and all the ups and downs that there were. You can’t expect to circumnavigate the globe without a few hassles! Smith writes really honestly about how the journey worked out, the difficulties, the things he hadn’t thought about and the things he wasn’t prepared for.
It was interesting to learn about the world of Twitter, too. This was something that I was mostly unfamiliar with. This book does contain a unique insight into twitter and the tweeps that use it, (if you are not into this particular mode of communication you could learn a whole new vocabulary!). It was thought-provoking to reflect on the way communication has changed so much in recent years and on the impact on society of social networking sights. Smith offers some of his own insights into these issues, but there is plenty of room just to draw your own conclusions.
However I was disappointed that Smith didn’t write more about the places he visited. As he travelled across Europe and America he also had to work (fair enough!) but this didn’t allow time for actually visiting the places he was travelling through. When Smith reaches New Zealand he finally begins to have more time for his surroundings and it was great reading about the beauty of the country and his interesting experiences with the people he encounters there. Verdict: A light-hearted and interesting read, but not quite what I was expecting so not one I’ll hang onto. Reviewed by Helen