Newcastle to New Zealand with British Airways - £1,066 Newcastle to New Zealand via Twitter – £0 Ever thought about travelling down under, but been put off by the cost? Fear no more, it can be done for free. It might take a bit longer than a direct flight, but it can be nonetheless! Paul Smith had a dream, a 30 day journey from his home in Newcastle to Campbell Island, 200 miles off the coast of New Zealand.
To help accomplish his dream, Paul decided to test the power of social networking. Could he travel to Campbell Island using only offers of transportation and accommodation from Twitter followers? Completing the challenge was looking unlikely until one of Britain’s most recognisable ‘tweeters’ comedian Stephen Fry brought Paul’s challenge to the attention of his followers. Once this happened the dream journey gathered momentum with a tweeter called Leanne offering a ferry ticket from Newcastle to Amsterdam; Paul was now on his way. With only two bags to carry his possessions, Paul’s journey to New Zealand began. Once in Amsterdam, Paul got a train to Paris paid for by two French tweeters. He then went from Paris to Saarbrucken in Germany, where German Andrea Juchem drove him to Frankfurt. The next leg of the trip took Paul across the Atlantic to New York courtesy of a ticket bought by an American called Owen using his Air Miles. Paul then made his way across America to Los Angeles, stopping off in a number of cities on the way including Washington, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Austin and San Francisco. It wasn’t all planes, trains and automobiles for Paul though, when in Austin he managed to make an appearance on the US equivalent to GMTV, Good Morning America, appealing for help to complete the trip. He even managed to fit in an A-list party in Hollywood he was invited to (via Twitter of course). It wasn’t just the regular tweeters helping Paul on his journey; a flight from L.A to Auckland was provided by Air New Zealand. Paul eventually arrived at Stewart Island, the closest bit of land to his intended destination – Campbell Island. But within the rules he set before his journey began, he could only accept transport from Twitter users, consequently with a population of 300 people, this was not to be and Paul gracefully accepted defeat. However, with a free flight back to the UK provided once again by Air New Zealand. In an age of egocentrism, Twitter has shown that social media not only allows people to express their views on Jeremy Kyle or Jedward, but also has an enabling power for a community of strangers around the globe to unite to carry out extraordinary feats of kindness.