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Business & Life Skills

How to Barter for Paradise: My Journey through 14 Countries, Trading Up from an Apple to a House in Hawaii

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adventure road sign travel world live adventurous with outdoor eOn the 200-day journey around the world, Wigge makes forty-two trades and meets strange, kind, funny, friendly, eccentric, and good-natured people who help him in his quest. It’s a journey you won’t want to miss! Join CJ as she gets tips from Michael Wigge on how to barter. Learn Wigge’s bartering tricks that he uses as he travels around fourteen countries and six continents exchanging goods for more valuable ones. Find out how he trades an apple for sixteen cigarettes in Germany; a couple of trades later in India, he fixes up a motorized rickshaw and trades it for silk; in Australia, a millionaire amuses himself by offering him an art piece for the silk if Wigge feeds a wild crocodile. Finally, he arrives in Hawaii armed with two bicycles, a surfboard, Portuguese porcelain, three solid-gold coins, a Porsche wristwatch, a record by musician Coati Mundi and accompanying contract for 25 percent of the proceeds from his next single, a voucher for a two-night stay in a mansion in L.A., and a piece of original artwork by painter Alex Stenzel—to trade that for a stay in Hawaii.

Blog Post by our Guest

Bartering from Country to Country!I traveled through 14 countries to barter an apple for bigger and better goods until I finally reached my goal — a house in Hawaii.

So that I was always trading up, I had to develop certain strategies. One such strategy was to change countries. I would take my “good” from one market and enter a market in which this good had a higher value.

For example, I bartered for 250 feet of fine silk in India. The market value there wasn’t more than $200 for that amount. So I took the silk to Australia, where its market value was nearly $2000 because Australia generally imports silk rather than produce it.

Actually, looking at the world and its income and price disparities from country to country is depressing. Our capitalist structure means poor countries with a low price levels stay poor—compared to industrial countries with extremely high price levels like Japan, the UK and Australia.

So my bartering continued by jumping from poor and producing countries to rich and importing countries.
Morally, I felt ok about using the unbalances in the world economy for my bartering experiment, especially since imports from countries like China help the poorer areas rise as well (otherwise China wouldn’t be called the upcoming world super power of the future).

Other examples of bartering during my trip include turning a painting from the Ukraine into a watch in Portugal, and a travel voucher from Tanzania into gold in the U.S.

But I also tried it vice versa: I got certain barter goods in Switzerland—one of the richest countries in the world— and took them into India, a poverty-stricken country. I actually turned my Swiss goods into a three-wheeled, motorized Tuk Tuk that held a much higher value.

The key: These goods from Switzerland—a hand washing machine, for example—normally aren’t available in India, so it was considered “exotic.” Not to mention that washing clothes is a very important and frequent custom in India, as people change clothes at least once a day.

Tuks Tuks on the other hand can be found on every street corner in India and are produced very cheaply. So, if you go from rich to poor or poor to rich, people can always get something great out of your barter deal while you barter for bigger and better.

I am sure that Swiss hand washing machine is still a great and exotic attraction in the streets of southern Indian Cochi and that the people I bartered with feel they got a great deal. I know I do

About Our Guest

Michael Wigge

michael_wigge_2150-150x150reporter, filmmaker, writer (37 years old)
Michael Wigge has been working for ten years as a reporter and writer for both private and public broadcasters. His work is characterized by a mixture of journalism and entertainment. His specialties are cultural issues which he examines in a very entertaining way.

In 2002, Wigge drew attention to himself for the first time on TV broadcaster VIVA plus presenting comedy clips on the daily show “London Calling”. In this context he sets a record for the longest donkey ride in music television history and visits the Queen of England, dressed as King Henry VIII, on her 50th throne jubilee at Buckingham Palace (she takes it serenely British).

In 2003, he returns to Germany and attracts the attention of the political world as satirical reporter “Dr. Wigge” for the political program “The Chancellor’s Bungalow” (WDR) doing crazy interviews e.g. with the chancellor and the president. From 2004 to 2006, he is on the road as a reporter for “Sarah Kuttner – Die Show” (VIVA and MTV). Under the heading “Wigge on a Mission” he conducts interviews with Hollywood celebrities using insane quirks and confusing statements. Ben Stiller wants to cancel the interview, Hale Berry puts Wigge’s eyelash in her décolleté and Angelina Jolie calls him a “crazy but fantastic man”.

Furthermore he appears on the “ARD Morning Show” as a special reporter for the Olympics Summer Games and the European Football Championship 2004.
Wigge also produces independent formats, such as “Wigge BIG in Japan” (VIVA, 2004) and “Kulturschock” (MTV, 2006). For the latter he lives with the Sanema Indians in the Amazon rain forest. From 2007 to 2010, he produces the self-deprecating culture series “Wigge and the Truth about Germany” and “Land of Loveliness” on Deutsche Welle TV. For this he is awarded platinum in the category “On-Air Talent” at the 41st Houston World Film Festival in 2008 and the series is one out of six best productions at the New York Film Festival. In 2008, he works as a reporter for GEO in Canada.

In 2009, Wigge receives the ZDF VJ Award in the category “Best Newcomer Video Journalist”. In 2010, “How to Travel the World for Free” is the first collaboration with ZDFneo and is also published as a book. The documentary series (5 x 30 min., ZDFneo broadcasted May / June 2010) is awarded with the Accolade Award of Merit for Best Feature Documentation in the U.S. in 2011 and is nominated for the Grimme Award 2011 in the category “entertainment”. The series is renamed “How to Travel the World for FREE” for the international market.

In 2011, Wigge produces the TV series “Wigges Tauschrausch” (How to Barter for Paradise). For this self-experiment he travels the world bartering from an apple to a house in Hawaii. This entertainment series has been broadcasted as 6 x 45 min. documentary on ZDFneo and was published as a book.

In 2012, he publishes the book “How to Travel the World for FREE” worldwide and the series is broadcast on numerous PBS channels in the U.S. Wigge appears on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Katy Perry. Later on he appears with his story in the LA Times, USA Today and on the Today Show.

In 2013, Wigge crosses Germany on a razor scooter – 2500 kilometers in 80 days and publishes this project as a TV series and a book in Germany. In the same year he travels Switzerland for free for 3Sat television.
“How to Travel the World for free” and “How to Barter for Paradise” are published in winter 2013/2014 bei Skyhorse Publishing. “How to Travel the World for Free” runs for the second year on PBS in several US markets. End of 2013, Wigge is awarded with the Columbus Award in silver of the “Vereinigung Deutscher Reisejournalisten”.

2014 Wigge receives the Houston Award of Worldfest-Houston and also the Accolade Award “Award of Merit” in “Germany by Scooter” as an on-camera talent.