Part travelogue and part memoir, The Call of the World is a candid and insightful account of the challenges and joys of backpacking solo around the globe, as well as one young man's journey of personal discovery.
Two years after earning a business degree from the University of Colorado, Trent Newcomer has a promising career in commercial real estate in Kansas City. However, he finds that when he opens the newspaper each day, he is much more drawn to the travel section than the business section. When he finally pays attention enough to hear the world calling to him, he feels he has no choice but to answer. He abandons his career, sells his car, and leaves to travel around the globe with nothing more than a vague itinerary and what he can fit into a small backpack. In doing so, he demonstrates how even on a very limited budget it is possible to travel to exotic places for extended periods of time.
For about a year and a half (from early 1995 to the middle of 1996), he travels through the South Pacific and Australia, then across Asia and down through Africa, before finishing with a short visit to Europe. His modes of travel include airplane, bus, train, rickshaw, bicycle, raft, horse, mule-drawn cart, and even camel. He stays in the cheapest dives he can find and opens himself to countless adventures along the way, while documenting his experiences, thoughts, and feelings in nearly 4,000 pages of personal journal entries.
From having a gun pulled on him in Vietnam and being jumped by a gang of men in Kenya, to experiencing more near-death bus rides than he can count, Newcomer soon discovers that the journey itself is much more meaningful than checking items and places off of a to-do list.
“While pushing my comfort zone beyond what I had previously thought was its limit,” Newcomer says, “I realized that even those tasks that seemed the most daunting at first could be overcome with a bit of persistence, flexibility, and good humor.”
The Call of the World is a looking glass into Newcomer’s mind and soul during that exciting time in his life, when he learned more about the world and his own place in it than he ever thought possible.
“I did my best to keep my eyes open to all that happened around me, but I wondered if perhaps I had been focusing so much on my own journey around the world, getting from place to place and packing as much adventure into each day as possible, that the true picture of my experiences eluded me. I stayed in cheap hotels and often ate my meals at street-side stands or local markets, all the while patting myself on the back for having the courage to “rough it” in pursuit of a more genuine experience. In truth, no matter how many scenes of poverty and illness I witnessed in my travels, the fact always remained that I had the option of simply picking up and moving on whenever the urge struck me. My concern was where I would lay my head the next night or what adventure would find me around the next corner. Their concerns were much more poignant: whether or not the next day would see their families with a morsel of food on the table.”