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Twitchhiker: How One Man Travelled the World by Twitter [Paperback]

Paul Smith
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 Aug 2010
There were five rules of Twitchhiker: o I can only accept offers of travel and accommodation from people on Twitter. o I can't make any travel plans further than three days in advance. o I can only spend money on food, drink and anything that might fit in my suitcase. o 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. o 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...

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Summersdale; 1 edition (2 Aug 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849530742
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849530743
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 304,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Before he was a writer, blogger and author, Paul Smith was an award-winning radio producer and manager, a trainee rocket scientist and almost, but not quite, inventor of the portable toaster.

His writing career began at the age of 14, with a monthly astronomy column for his local newspaper. It was so successful that the editor entirely failed to inform him when it was dropped for a feature about second-hand white goods.

In March 2009, he had an idea to test whether relationships formed through social media networks had value in the real world, and embarked upon the Twitchhiker project - an attempt to travel to the opposite side of the planet within 30 days, relying entirely on the goodwill and generosity of people using Twitter.

Product Description


Featured on (Excess Baggage BBC Radio 4)

Featured in (Thomas Cook Travel)

'He made it from London to New Zealand. Yet more amazing, he sounds like a decent, modest witty guy.' (The Times)

'Genuinely funny... easy-to-read and hard-to-put-down... it's unremitting and utterly addictive.' (Real Travel)

'Smith flies, sails, rides and begs his way across the globe.' (Wanderlust)

'I really enjoyed the book and have been spreading the word. Amazing.' (Iain Morris, TV Producer (creator, The Inbetweeners))

'A madcap and frankly inadvisable adventure... hugely enjoyable, very funny.' (Martin Kelner, columnist for The Guardian)

'Smith is one of our true British eccentrics and should be saluted. He is fearless and possibly quite mad.' (Alex Lester BBC Radio 2)

About the Author

Paul Smith (@twitchhiker) is a former Sony award-winning radio producer based in Newcastle. He currently has 11,000 followers on Twitter and blogs about travel at

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Choose your own adventure 21 Sep 2010
If you've ever found yourself cooking up a great plan or adventure whilst taking your morning shower, only to find after weeks or months of procrastination that someone else has executed your grand idea, then you must read this book. Why? Because here is a man who had the guts to follow through.

The aim is singular: Paul Smith is to travel from Newcastle in the UK to Campbell Island near New Zealand. Yet the method is beautifully incomplete: By his own rules, he must advance his journey exclusively through travel and accommodation offers from people on Twitter. He's not allowed to plan more than three days in advance, and his own money may be spent on food and drink only. If he receives just one offer for the next stage of his trip, he's obliged to take it. If there's more than one, he can choose.

There is a point in the book where Smith compares his story to a Choose Your Own Adventure tale, where the reader controls the outcome by making choices at key stages in the book ("If you want Jim to get on the train and follow the man with the suspicious-looking hat, go to page 13"). I remember lapping up these novels as a teenager, and at a basic level this "crowd-sourcing of the plot" idea might explain the child-like fascination and blind trust displayed by the random strangers who helped shape his unpredictable journey through public "@replies" on Twitter.

Luckily the parallel with these novels stops there. Unlike those relics of teenage nostalgia, Smith's book has the feel of a rounded, well-crafted novel and it proceeds at a satisfying pace that makes it hard to put down.

You don't need to be a social media enthusiast to enjoy it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great adventure! 2 Aug 2010
Thoroughly enjoyable. A really brilliant, unique idea which like all good ideas is fantastically simple. Could it ever work? The fact that it did tells you more about the true spirit of human nature than the technology behind it all. The book really takes you alongside Paul through every moment and emotion of the adventure. It gets tough going in the middle when you just feel that despite his good intentions, he's just hating it. But then a moment arrives when the clouds clear and he really starts loving it. A great account of what really must have been a fantastic adventure. The fact that no one with a twitter account has done anything even remotely unique since pretty much sums up the idea, and Paul.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I dare you not to enjoy this book!! 29 July 2010
By Adele
This book is addictive. As I turned the pages I felt I was by Paul Smith's side on his amazing journey. Each page seemed to make me smile (and indeed often laugh out loud!!) with his honest and brilliant style. A real 'feel good' book, laced with the anticipation of 'Will anyone respond?...How will he get to America?...Will he get a bed for the night?..Could he be kidnapped and never heard of again???..this book makes you realise that there really are fantastic, kind, generous, people out there, beyond your own back yard. This book will make you want to pack your bag, explore new places, meet new people, taste new foods and indeed have afew cheeky bevvies on the way. I dare you not to enjoy this book!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly enjoyable, eccentric story 13 Sep 2010
By M. V. Clarke VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book is highly rewarding on a number of levels; first, it's an eccentric and humorous read, second, it's testimony to the positive aspects of human nature and generosity, and thirdly, the journey it recounts raised a lot of money for a very worthy charity.

Filled with humour, this is the extraordinary tale of Paul Smith, aka Twitchhiker, attempting to travel from Newcastle to the opposite point on the earth, Campbell Island, some way of the southern tip of New Zealand's South Island, using only offers of transport and hospitality from members of Twitter. It's a bit like Tony Hawks' trip around Ireland, only on a bigger scale and without the fridge (see Round Ireland with a Fridge). It is quite simply, a brilliant idea; eccentric, adventurous, and exploiting social networking for assistance. The journey is, unsurprisingly, filled with many surprises, interesting characters, detours, parties and of course, difficulties; these range from funny situations regarding clean clothes and the like, to more serious ones, as the author recounts with openness how he misses his family and how his bipolar disorder affects him.

The many people across the world who help Smith are a testament to human good nature, generosity of time a spirit and a desire to be part of something quite mad. There are rich business people, large companies, poor couples and families, journalists, old people, young people, experienced travellers, all sorts really, and they're all willing to help. From offers of a sofa for the night, to paying for a long flight, or driving Smith for many hours, these are people who are warm-spirited with a sense of curiosity and adventure.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blew my mind 28 July 2010
This book is competently written but it is the story itself which is spellbounding.
To get from Newcastle in the north east of England to New Zealand in thirty days
without paying for a thing is simply amazing. I read the book in two sittings and at the end I just sat and reflected that truly the world is a very small place.
And also, if you are willing to test yourself a bit you will be surprised by,not only, what you will find, but also what you will find out about yourself.
I certainly would recommend to anyone that they should read this book. Enjoy
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and funny
Two things I look for in a travel book, an interesting story and a funny recount of it. this book has it in abundance
Published 18 days ago by Luke capon
3.0 out of 5 stars The start of a new craze?
I'll keep this quick and simple. Enjoyable adventure and an original concept. Travel the world by twitter.I Like Pauls writing style and the story never stands still. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Keith Larkworthy
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant read!
What a clever idea! Not a Twitter user, but nevertheless enjoyed the concept and the journey. Really wanted him to gain his objective.
Published 21 months ago by mrs m cryer
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and informative
This was a great read. Its about travelling from Newcastle to an Island near New Zealand.He has set up some conditions and rules by which he can travel. Read more
Published on 27 Sep 2012 by Stephen Luff
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
One of the best books I've read in a long time - reads a lot like early Bill Bryson. Paul is a phenomenal writer with an incredible story. Read more
Published on 9 July 2012 by Mr. J. O'nolan
5.0 out of 5 stars The new Bill Bryson
I have just finished Twitchhiker, and I haven't laughed out loud so much while reading a book since reading Bill Bryson's books about America. Read more
Published on 29 April 2012 by Michelle
5.0 out of 5 stars This book will change your life
If anything this book will definitely advise you to avoid Tescos in Gateshead, which I can attest to, having lived here almost all my life, the book is a wonderful journey where... Read more
Published on 2 Mar 2012 by Wildheart Baby
3.0 out of 5 stars A light-hearted and interesting read.
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! Read more
Published on 7 Feb 2012 by Big Book Little Book
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique idea that transforms in to an epic adventure across the globe
Twitchhiker is a highly entertaining and relatable account of a once-in-a-lifetime journey. You feel as though you are there every step of the way with Paul, feeling the highs and... Read more
Published on 5 Jan 2012 by LBritton
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly disappointing
I was really looking forward to reading this book after reading the other reviews on Amazon and having a secret admiration for a man who had the balls to make such a simple idea on... Read more
Published on 29 Dec 2011 by Rich
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