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Paul Smith, a 33 year old Brit, had a brilliant idea, posted it on Twitter and waited. Within minutes his first responses started pouring in. The idea? Travel the world for free, using Twitter to find free transportation and hotels along the way. It sounds unbelievable, but it actually worked!

One winter afternoon in 2009, Paul (@twitchhiker) had the idea to travel the world. It’s not that unusual of an idea, but Paul set out to travel the world completely free by calling on the help of Twitter users to get him to where he wanted to go. In 30 days Paul reached New Zealand without buying an airline ticket or booking a night at a hotel. How did he do it? By totally relying on the generosity (and largely curiosity) of Twitter users.

2 days after his initial tweet, news had already gone viral about what Paul wanted to do on social media networks and his story even made it to the local New Zealand news. All it took was one tweet, a little trust and Paul was off to travel.

The first part of the journey was taken care of by @minxlj who offered him a seat on a ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam. Next came a train ticket to Paris followed by a flight from Frankfurt to New York bought with the use of one very generous person’s air miles and then he continued on to Auckland, New Zealand.

The full story is already scheduled to be published in August, outlining the phenomenon of viral travel planning and the very practical uses of Twitter and Paul’s journey around the world. What to know more? Check out the Twitchhiker blog, follow @twitchhiker on Twitter and ask Paul yourself what the trip was like!

The rules of Twitchhiking:

  1. Only accept travel and accommodation offers posted on Twitter.
  2. Don’t make any plans further in advance than 3 days.
  3. Only spend money on food, drink and anything else that might fit into my suitcase.
  4. If there is more than one offer, choose freely. If there is only one offer, then you have to take it within 48 hours.
  5. If are unable to find a way to move on from a location within 48 hours then the challenge is over and it’s home-ward bound.

Would you do it?

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