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10 Things You’ll Need to Pack to Get a House for Free While Traveling the World

How to Barter for Paradise

The following is a guest post by Michael Wigge, author of How to Barter for Paradise.

I had set a goal: I wanted a house in Hawaii. To get it, I would travel around the world, bartering an apple for bigger and better items, finally ending with the Hawaiian home.

Think it isn’t possible? It is, and I went through 14 countries, making 42 trades along the way to reach that goal. But this challenge didn’t just happen spontaneously.

It required almost a year of planning, specifically about what I should bring. Here are ten things I packed for my journey.

Packing List

1. A “Barterman” costume

This costume looked like an American superhero similar to Superman, but on the front, it said “Barterman.”

I wore it several times to attract the attention of a possible barter partner. It worked well, especially in America, where people started queuing to barter with Barterman!

2. A video camera

Yes, I admit it. A camera in your hand always makes you look more important, so people are more likely to join your wild project.

Some millionaires joined this barter ordeal, most likely because they wanted to be filmed as the hero who helped Barterman reach his goal.

3. Diamond manual

The third item I put in my backpack was a manual that explained how to distinguish a natural diamond from a fake.

I know this sounds random, but I needed it in Tanzania, where I planned to barter three ounces of gold for tanzanite, a diamond only available in Tanzania.

The manual came in handy as I realized the diamond presented to me was not as valuable as its owner claimed. Tanzanite Trade canceled!

4. Two Strong Guys

Yes, I took two guys with me on that trip around the world, mainly for logistical reasons. When you barter for bigger and better, be prepared to carry huge goods around—at one point, I had a table and a surfboard.

The apple was just a small start of a long chain of goods I needed to barter to reach the house. You really need people to carry this.

5. A Notebook

This was extremely important for me because, during that 200-day world trip, I contacted about 1,000 people by mail to ask them for a barter deal.

Social media also facilitated several barter deals, like a jade stone trade in New Zealand.

Apple in Germany
The author with his apple in Germany

6. Media contact lists

Before leaving to travel the world, I ordered contact lists for media outlets in several countries. Publicizing myself was important. I wanted people to know that Barterman is in town to barter!

For example, I dressed up as Barterman on a Comcast TV Show in California.

7. A painting of a Hawaiian House Surrounded by Flowers

It just fit into my backpack. This somewhat kitschy image of my dream house in Hawaii was a great support during the trip. Looking at it daily motivated me to continue bartering and not give up.

Always keep an image of your dreams with you. It will help make it happen!

8. 14 Different SIM Cards

No joke, I had to take cell phone SIM cards from every country with me to communicate quickly with local people for possible barter deals.

I still have that collection that ranges from Indian Vodaphone to Ukrainian UTEL cards.

9. A Passport with 14 Visas

Don’t forget that before you leave, because you won’t reach that dream house otherwise.

10. Medication

I didn’t take any with me, which was a big disaster. I got parasites in India, which made me seriously sick for three weeks.

And I also had substantial back issues and an endless flu at one stage. No medication, no good!


Michael Wigge

About the Author: Michael Wigge is a German journalist, filmmaker, and author of How to Barter for Paradise and How to Travel the World for Free.

Learn more at

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Saturday 8th of March 2014

That is absolutely amazing! I love how people are getting more and more creative in figuring out ways to travel and get someone else to pay for it. Kudos to him for thinking out of the box. I hope more and more people will take inspiration from him and get out of their comfort zones to travel around this beautiful world of ours. Thank you for the post!


Saturday 1st of March 2014

Haha! Great video.

Going to order the box and take it with me on my next adventure!

Adam Finan @ Tropical Nomad

Tuesday 25th of February 2014

This is crazy! Fair play to him.. A well executed plan that helped him achieve his dream!

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