Meet the Twitchhiker. His quest – to see how far he can travel in 30 days relying solely on the hospitality and advice of the Twitter community, and raising money for charity as he goes
Twitchiker Paul Smith
Pleased to tweet you … Paul Smith on his twitchhiking travels
Since lunchtime on Monday, I’ve either been delirious with excitement or in desperate need of the toilet.
I’ve agreed to put my life in the hands of nearly 2,000 complete strangers in the belief that their support, goodwill and generosity will propel me across the globe. Equally, I could spend two days contracting pneumonia on a park bench in Byker.
This is the life that awaits me when I adopt my alter-ego of the Twitchhiker on 1 March. As you may have guessed by the less-than-creative name, the challenge owes its origins to Twitter, the social networking service seeping into the mainstream consciousness.
Twitchhiker was born among the aisles of Tesco, where the queues of dawdling customers had me yearning for a place far away. Having vented my frustration by tweeting on my mobile, I recalled a fleeting thought I’d had several months earlier: would the Twitter community support me if I tried to flee the North East and travel the world?
That was on Saturday. On Monday, I sent my first tweet about Twitchhiker. Stephen Fry took note five hours later, and today I’m being watched by hundreds of people around the world, ready and willing to assist me in my quest – to travel as far from my home as possible in 30 days, relying solely on offers of transport and accommodation from other Twitter users.
On my journey, I’m raising money for an amazing cause called charity: water, which wants nothing more than to ensure everyone on the planet has access to clean water. Even if I wasn’t fundraising, I sense Twitterers would recognise the churlish plight of an idiot and support me regardless.
By Paul Smith guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 4 February 2009 13.25 GMT