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Book Review: How to Travel the World for Free

"I did it, and you can do it, too!"

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How to Travel the World for Free

"How to Travel the World for Free" by Michael Wigge

Would you travel 150 days, from Berlin to the Antarctica, for free? In How to Travel the World for Free author Michael Wigge relates how he did. "Free", in this case, means not taking a penny or a credit card along as you travel around the world. It's just living on your wits, what you can convince others to give you for food and lodging, and what you can earn along the way.

Wigge's Travels

Michael Wigge, a German journalist and comedian, started in Berlin and spent 150 days traveling 25,000 miles across four continents. He finally walked among penguins in the Antarctica, before returning home. Along the way, he learned that it doesn't cost anything to ask for help, and worked at such diverse - and at times imaginative jobs - ranging from carrying baggage for hikers on a Peruvian trek to pillow fighting for money.

The book is filled with interesting anecdotes about his travels. Along the way he discovers, and readers learn, about people's helpfulness, prejudices and attitudes.

His journey is full of fascinating interactions with locals. Trying to hitchhike while walking for miles (and being ignored by Amish families passing by in buggies), he's on the edge of exhaustion when an Amish man driving a buggy stops and takes Wigge to his house. He eats with the homeless in a church in Albuquerque, and agrees to make a video advertisement in exchange for a room in a Las Vegas motel. His sleep on Waikiki Beach in Hawaii is interrupted by a drunken group of tourists.

He works as a "hill helper" pushing people up some of the steep hills in San Francisco. Then, he starts carrying a sign saying "pillow fight me for just one dollar", which gets several takers. (If you want to learn pillow fighting "techniques" go to page 91 in the book.)

A free bus ticket from Costa Rica to Panama comes from a ticket agent who understands what it's like to have no money. In Cartagena, Colombia, he asks a woman at a cyber-cafe for a place to stay. She takes him home to a single-story house where 13 people are living.

In Peru, he earns money carrying baggage for vacationing trekkers hiking from Cuzco to Machu Picchu. During his time in South America, families and friends he's made along the way pass him along to relatives and friends in other countries. During the final days of his journey, he works on a ship taking passengers on a cruise to the Antarctica.

Lessons Learned

Wigge writes: "What am I taking away with me through this experience? In life it's not always about more; more is more than enough.... Not everything in life needs to be a deal. One should give instead of investing. This is a lesson I need to keep in mind. When you really give without seeing a benefit in it, or expecting a return, you open up, learn new things, and become unbelievably richer.

How to Travel the World for Free"

The book is a fun read, although you may find yourself skipping around instead of reading every word. "How to Travel the World for Free" shows one man's journey to learn about himself, and offers interesting insights into how some people are willing to help each other. In addition to the book, How to Travel the World for Free", Wigge made a short television series about his travels. You can see a trailer of the show and purchase the book on his Web site.

Adventure Travel Books

Here's a mix of entertaining and informative books for armchair adventure travelers. Some of these books will make you want to travel to special locations for adventures, and tell you how to arrange these trips and vacations. Other are just pure escapism, especially the books that tell tales of an adventurer's rougher, unexpected experiences.

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