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Twitchhiker: How One Man Travelled the World by Twitter Paperback – 2 Aug 2010

58 customer reviews

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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: 2.5 x 12.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 200,539 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.'


'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

Inside This Book

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Stefan Ferreira on 21 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback
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 By Richard Spencer on 2 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. V. Clarke VINE VOICE on 13 Sept. 2010
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Adele on 29 July 2010
Format: Paperback
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By tsl04 on 27 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback
Twitchhiker is the tale of an ordinary man who had (a) an extraordinary idea and (b) the courage of his convictions to make it happen. Like a 21st century version of Around The World In Eighty Days' Phileas Fogg, Paul Smith decided to undertake an incredible journey, travelling - literally - to the other side of the world, his destination being Campbell Island, a point diametrically opposed to his starting point of Newcastle. Aiming to complete his trip within 30 days, his self-imposed rules stated that he could only use transportation provided and funded by fellow users of the microblogging service Twitter. In other words, his objective was to travel to the other side of the globe relying solely on the kindness of strangers.

If you aren't familiar with this social networking tool, it is essentially a platform which allows you to share updates of up to 140 characters which can be read by any other user. These could be Facebook-like status updates ("Good morning! Stuck on the M4 again"), conversations with another user, weblinks, photos or relevant news. Its detractors point to it being just another way for self-promoting narcissists to broadcast the minutiae of their lives, but Twitter has notably become the fastest way to engage with friends with shared interests (or followers, in Twitter's terminology), or to disseminate news around the world, from the Iranian elections to the emergency plane landing on the Hudson. Personally, I love it - it is my front-line for information-gathering, making 'traditional' push media like email alerts or RSS feeds feel positively cumbersome by comparison.

Smith's grand expedition underlines the sense of community and altruism which exists in this virtual world.
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