Twitchhiker | Paul Smith's travel tales from here and there

Twitchhiker Project

This page explains the idea and rules of the original Twitchhiker Project, which took place in March 2009. I made it as far as Stewart Island in New Zealand, and with the aid of several thousand people on Twitter raised £5,285 plus £949.82 in Gift Aid for Charity: water.

What is Twitchhiker?

The Twitchhiker is both a project and a person, @paul_a_smith. That’s me. Hello there. On 1st March, I’ll attempt to travel as far around the world as possible in 30 days, relying only on the goodwill of people using Twitter.

While travelling, I’ll be raising as much money as possible for charity: water.

For the love of all things holy and sacred, why?

To see if it’s possible. Because it might be fun. And to raise a eye-bulgingly enormous stack of money for charity: water, a fantastic cause currently being supported by the global phenomena that is Twestival.

So what are you going to do?

The aim is to travel as far from home (Newcastle upon Tyne, UK) as possible within 30 days. New Zealand is the place closest to the opposite point on the planet to my house, so that should be my intended destination. Actually, the closest landmass is an island so insignificant that Google can’t be bothered to name it. If you can identify it, please let me know. It’d be good to know where I’m aiming for. [it’s Campbell Island apparently, according to people who know better than I]

I may spend two days sat in Newcastle’s Central Station before catching the bus home, but I’m hoping that Twitterers will offer me a car ride up or down the road, a bed or sofa for the night; hopefully somebody can help me onto a standby flight or the likes of Eurostar, or maybe they’ll have a ferry ticket they can’t use. If I can get out of the UK, then anything’s possible.

How will you raise money for charity: water?

People can sponsor me at Please consider that I may end up in the shower block of a Mexican jail as a result of this challenge, so I’d prefer you were generous to a fault. The target is to raise at least £3,000, which will mean charity: water can fund a well project in a developing country.

What happens after 30 days?

I get to go home and see if I’ve been burgled.

The rules

The are five rules I have to follow throughout the 30 days. Obviously I’m at liberty to bend them if certain death or amputation will otherwise occur, but I’ll do my best to stick to them:

I can only accept offers of travel and accommodation on Twitter, from users who are following @twitchhiker
This means if a Twitterer’s sister’s boyfriend’s father has a spare train ticket, I can’t use it; the help has to come directly from the person using Twitter. This may be too restrictive, but I want to draw on the support of the Twitter community, not to use Twitter as a search engine to find third party services.

I can’t make any plans further than three days in advance
It’s entirely possible that before I begin this challenge, I could have my entire route pre-determined and that would be no fun at all. So unless an offer of transport or accommodation is made within 72 hours of it being applicable, I can’t accept it. Damn.

I can only spend money on food, drink and anything that might fit in my suitcase
All travel and accommodation must be offered to me through Twitter. If I can’t, then I’m sleeping rough.

If there’s more than one offer on the table, I get to choose which I take. If there’s only one, I have to take it within 48 hours.

I’m not entirely happy about this bit. If any part of this challenge is going to see me dead in a ditch or under a patio, it’s this part.

If I’m unable to find a way to move on from a location within 48 hours, the challenge is over and I go home.
I hope my fellow Twitterers won’t let that happen.

70 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Good luck mate, I’ll put a link to your post on my blog.

Comment by Chaitanya Kuber

I’m looking forward to seeing how you go along… I’ve got a flat in Budapest you can stay in if you need a bed for the night…. (is this the sort of thing you mean?)

Comment by chindogu

All the best man, good luck!

Cant really help you on your journey, as i live in the same town as you, but i will put a blog article up to help link in to this place, and definitely get a donation up too.


Comment by Shepy

Wicked idea. Wish I could come with you!

Will be following you and hoping I can help at some point, (but I doubt it as I live in Newcastle and am not going anywhere on the 1st March!)

Good Luck.

Comment by Ben Drury

Good luck dude! you’re very brave!

Comment by Ben Moorhouse

Good luck dude – when u hit london gimme a buzz I’ll give you a warm meal.


Comment by londoneater

Good luck. Its an interesting challenge. You start on my birthday!

Comment by Port3M5

best of luck, if you make it to the states i’m sure you’ll be able to cross the country.

Comment by Roy Morejon

The island you are referring to is apparently “Campbell Island”, according to Google Earth. It has a Penguin Bay, a Six Foot Lake and a Mount Honey so sounds quite exciting for such a small place.,_New_Zealand

Comment by milh0use

Oh! Head for Folly Island, somewhere off the coast of Campbell Island!

Comment by milh0use

Good luck – I’m close too, but will link it on my blog and tweet it. @lauramaddison.

Comment by laura maddison

I predict a great success for both you and your charity. Good luck Paul!

Comment by Julie

it would be even more awesome if you made it right the way around, back home too!

Comment by Port3M5

Good man! If you stop by Edinburgh, let me buy you a haggis supper and a dram to wash it down.

Comment by jim wolff

Hey! Can you see you starting a whole new trend of gap years/months!

I’ll retweet to the Liverpool posse. We’re a friendly lot.

Comment by Mandy Phillips

Your mental lol good idea tho and sure you’ll get lots of help good luck 😀

Comment by Chatnchoons

Fantastic idea, only those who think different can change the world…

Best of Luck

Comment by Ben

I doubt Belfast is on the agenda, but I’m good for a bed if you need it.


Comment by Aaron Abernethy

Good luck, mate! I guess Norway is a bit out of your way, but if you end up here anyway we’re here to help. Great initiative on your part! =)

Comment by Stian T

Wow, fantastic, if marginally demented, plan! :o) I’m only a few hundred miles from you so I don’t imagine you’ll need a bed roof over your head that soon but if you do, just holler.

Other than that, I’ll link you on my blog etc and I’ll be following your progress with interest.

Good luck :o)

Comment by gemmak

Good luck, will RT and link.

I gave three students on a race to Berlin a lift last Monday, this sounds much more interesting…

I hope you don’t get stuck in a petrol station on the A1 for 9 hours like they did 😉

Comment by James Parton

You are mad – but that’s what makes the world fun. Well done to you

Comment by Glamgirl

This sounds so brilliant. Well done, will nip over to justgiving now and donate some cash. will also put link on my little blog.

Comment by Joanna

Good luck! I’d be amazed if you didn’t smash that £3000 aim. Hopefully the snow will have thawed out by then eh?

Comment by Tim

Amazing idea, if you come through London I’m sure I can give you use of an Oyster card and a couch/hot meal!

I’ll re-tweet to everyone I know.


Comment by Livingdeadpingu

You’re mad. But it would be good, before you went, if you’d give me back that fiver you owe me. And I’ll tweet and blog you I suppose.

Comment by James Cridland

You are a Star! A Brave Star!

If only I were young and foolish again… Sigh.

But, hey, we do what we can, where we are, no? So I’ll re-tweet, follow — and the minute I get my blog going again, I’ll blog you.

Good luck! Really looking forward to following your progress

Comment by Jane Howitt

Good cause. Well done. I’ll promote it in my own little way. I know what it’s like to take such a leap of faith. Good luck.

Comment by Knower

Spare bed available in Paphos.

Comment by Wendi

Let me know if you need to kip in London…we have a spare double bed! let me know on @benbateman

Comment by BenBateman

Amazing plan. Good luck my fellow Geordie… I’m sure you’ll be snowed under with London offers but I’ll make one at the time all the same.

Comment by Sorl

Great idea, good luck to you!

Comment by georgina

All the best with this, I’ll tweet my meager offers of assistance closer to the time to comply with the rules and get my James to donate (he pays tax).

Comment by Beth Hart

Pure genius! I hope you make it to New Zealand – it is a place of awesomeness. Try for Wellington and I’ll buy you a pie – they are immense over here.

Comment by alexbettylou

Fan-twitting-tastic mate! Will RT and blog it and Follow 😉

If it ends up being overland, you’ve got a place to kip near Malaga and a run to the ferry terminal for Morrocco! … @gurubody

Comment by Lindsay McLeod

I will help anyway I can.

My Mum is from Newcastle and I have a few aunts still living there.

My Mum died in May 2007 and in May 2008 I took a motorcycle trip across america and back. 20 States 20 days. I made lodging arrangements with an online community much smaller than Twitter. I know you can do it!

If you are anywhere near Waterloo, Ontario Canada count me in for a ride as far as you need. We even have a basement apartment available.

God Bless your trip. I’ll help spread the word.

Comment by Graham Hardie

Supporting you all the way my friend. It’s a marvelous idea by the way. Can’t wait to read about your adventures.

Comment by jonoble

Suggest you GoogleMap your location daily. May have already been suggested or maybe you planned to do it. Would help potential Twelpers aid you in your quest! Good luck…

Comment by Bog Raver

What a good idea.

I am in Auckland NZ and we can put you up. Not flash but we can feed you.

Comment by Maureen Perkins

Good luck hun! Absolutely amazing charity that your fundraising for! xxx

Comment by belladonna20

Ha! I’ve just read my own rules – I thought I couldn’t comment on my blog, but I did say that that was only during the challenge, so hello there.

@chindogu that’s exactly the sort of thing I mean!

@milhouse thank you – I knew somebody clever would know the answer.

@lauramaddison if you’re on the top floor at Altitude, you’re probably in my old office 🙂

@jamescridland I think you’ve mistaken me for somebody else.

Everyone else – now I’ve remembered my own rules, I’ll drop by and say hello (until 1st March, at least).

Comment by Paul

If you come through Los Angeles, there’s a hot bath/shower and bed. I’ll twitter you as the time comes. Also, GoogleEarth your progress would be most fun if you have GPS. Unfortunately iPhone won’t let them run in the background, so it would have to be a dedicated Garmin or Tomtom or somesuch.
Check out for do it yourself mapping.

Comment by jillydoc

Great idea. Will keep an eye out and offer you any support I can nearer the time. Hope you get some sleep over the next month – you might need it! Lesley x

Comment by Lesley

Good plan! My colleague at Never Odd, Jon is looking at how the blog can best display my progress. We’ll have it sorted by 1st March.

Comment by Paul

Excellent idea man, best of luck! Got you on my blogroll.


Comment by Josh

Well guys, this is my mad brother that is doing this. Yes, he is eccentric… yes, he is loopy… but, he has the determination and the willpower to get through this and make the difference. That’s why he is globe-trotting for the benefit of others, and I’m sat 35 miles further south of him serving KFC!

Come on, Paul, you know you can do it!

Comment by ChrisSmith

Let me know if you make it to beautiful Santa Cruz, CA! We have a room waiting for you! @kirstiscott

Comment by Kirsti Scott

Paul, have just sponsored you a few quid.

I’m sorry it’s not more but I have a Valentine’s dinner to cook and Aldi have sold out of duck breasts so I am going to have to try Sainsbury’s or Waitrose.

I think what you are doing is amazing and I wish you all the very best. And of course I am very grateful to you that your act of madness sorry wonderful fundraising initiative also inspired

Many thanks and warm wishes


Comment by Linda

Gah. How ridiculous, have been thinking about my comment, I’m not really a duck breast kind of woman, too skint for that.
Anyway, good luck.

Comment by Linda

Hi Paul,

I wish you the best of luck with this, I know you will do really well and raise tonnes of cash


Comment by Dean 'Midas' Maynard

Can’t wait to support you from the 1st of March! I’ll try to get you to the mainland!

Comment by Ramon

Make sure @RichardBranson is following you 😉

Presumably you can go on local radio in various places on route, get interviewed about what you are doing and get people to follow you on Twitter and help?

Good luck!

Comment by Andrew Chapman

Wow! We are about to leave Scotland for New Zealand via Argentina and Australia – unfortunatley won’t be very helpful to you, unless you need to bunk on a floor in Argentina B&B’s! Will follow your progress with interest since your journey is opposite to ours!! Will also put link on my website too to help spread the word…! Go for it!

Comment by Paola

Good luck Paul I knew your mad, but not this mad!

Hope you make and I will be watching to see if you do.

Comment by Paul G

man this is an awesome idea and you got some balls to depend only on twitterers with all these crazy rules! who made the rules?!?! best of luck. if you make it to the states i will be lookin…

Comment by djustin

If you make it to the southwestern states of the US, I should be able to find you a couch, and another twitterer or two to help you along. Three cheers for charity:water!

Comment by fromafricawithlove

[…] Smith,也可以叫他@twitchhiker,计划从3月1日开始这场奇特的旅行,旅行时间取决与这些友善的Twitter追随者们的支持。他的目标是有多远走多远,起点是自己的家乡英国纽卡斯尔市的泰恩河畔(Newcastle upon Tyne, UK),大概估计将抵达的最近的大陆会是(52.546° S 169.173° E),也就是新西兰的海域。“一个仅有5英里宽的小岛,没什么太大的价值,就连Google都懒得给他命名。”Smith在自己的关于(about)页面中写道。 […]

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Fantastic idea, the very best of luck with it! If you happen to go the long way around and end up in the North West of Ireland I’ll be in touch again.

Comment by Eddie

[…] the Twitchhiker The Twitchhiker is also known as Paul Smith.  Paul used to “have a proper job in radio”, but now write about media for the […]

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Good luck – what a fantastic idea – and what a brilliant cause. I will do what I can to help. Am based near Heathrow and Gatwick so let me know if I can help you get to either. Or anywhere else! Go on boy!!!! x

Comment by Alex Stone

[…] on Nomadic Matt. By far the most interesting of this crop for me, though, was my discovery of the twitchhiker, who is traveling from Newcastle, UK as far as he can get in a month, relying on the kindness of […]

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If you get as far as South Africa we’re waiting for you! Good luck on your journey and we hope that you’ll make lashings of cash for your charity. When you finished this trip, come out to RSA and try it here, you’ll have a blast.

Comment by Hayley

Heya Paul
am now following your tweets – yes it is Campbell Island – NZ’s Department of Conservation (and possibly local iwi) manage it – will be a bit chilly down there (sub Antarctic)! See: for a bit of history.
I’m in Wellington – you’re welcome to a couch and a tour around Te Papa when you get here 🙂

Comment by emmakb

Ahhh…. I see. West you go!

Comment by aprilcole

I saw you on Campbell Live a little earlier in the evening and I am very impressed. What an adventure!!!

Comment by GERRI

[…] talking about a lovely man called Paul Smith – a writer from the North East – also known as the Twitchhiker. He recently spent 30 days travelling from his home in Newcastle to New Zealand relying entirely on […]

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Wow! I hope you’re taking a video camera with you? I wish I had a string of lovely houses that you could stay in all the way to New Zealand. Unfortunately I don’t..

Comment by Lilylimpet

[…] there was the lovely Twitchhiker who I interviewed earlier this year at SXSW in Austin. He’d decided to travel as far from his […]

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