sponsors always were:
During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
This project has been supported by these great and warmhearted companies:
Netherlands: Paping Buitensport, ODLO, IPtower.nl, AVRO Dutch Broadcasting Org., Travelcare, TunaFish, Book A Tour, StadsRadio Rotterdam; UK: Lazystudent, KissFM, The Sunday Times, The Guardian; Isle of Man: SteamPacket/SeaCat; Ireland: BikeTheBurren; Belgium: Le Temps Perdu, Majer & Partners; Austria: OhmTV.com; Norway: Scanrail Pass, Hurtigruten, Best Western Hotels; South Africa: eTravel, British Airways Comair, CapeTalk, BazBus; Spain: Inter Rail, Train company Renfe; Australia: Channel 9 Television, Bridgeclimb, Harbourjet, SeaFM Central Coast, Moonshadow Cruises, Australian Zoo, Fraser Island Excursions, Hamilton Island Resort, FantaSea Cruises, Greyhound/McCafferty's Express Coaches, Aussie Overlanders, TravelAbout.com.au, Travelworld, Unlimited Internet, Kangaroo Island SeaLink, Acacia Apartments; Malaysia: Aircoast; Canada: VIA rail, Cedar Springs Lodge, BCTV/GlobalTV, St. George Hotel, VICKI GABEREAU talkshow, Ziptrek Ecotours, Whitler Blackcomb Ski Resort, Summit Ski & Snowboard Rental, High Mountain BrewHouse, Cougar Mountain Snowmobiling, Whistler Question Newspaper, Snowshoe Inn, First Air, Nunanet.com, Canadian North Accommodations by the Sea, DRL Coachlines Newfoundland, The National Post and Air North.
My name is Ramon Stoppelenburg (1976). Let me tell you about the story of my life.
On May 1, 2001 - I was 24 - I left my house (read: student room) in The Netherlands, with a backpack filled with clothing, a digital camera, a laptop, and a mobile phone.
From May 2001 to July 2003 (a time way before Youtube, Facebook or even Twitter!) I travelled the world WITHOUT ANY MONEY, visiting people who invited me over through this website. I crossed distance with my thumb or with help of sponsors and supporters. In return for all support I wrote about this all in my daily reports on this website.
In July 2003 I arrived back home after a 22-weeks trip through Canada. It was then when I decided to quit.
I once quit my journalism study to travel the world. Thanks to global media support and helpful sponsors I could travel to other countries and stay with people who invited me over.
Most of the times it was all part of a media circus and I knew I couldn't travel without it.
I shared popcorn with Geri Halliwell and shook hands with Steve 'The Crocodile Hunter' Irwin. Britney Spears was published next to me in an American newspaper and even in The Netherlands many magazines wrote about me and my adventures.
American television networks followed this website about the 'notorious Dutch freeloader who travelled the world since May 2001'. Every month millions of people from all over the world read my reports. When I arrived in Oslo, Sydney or Vancouver, I would already have a full mailbox of media requests.
From 2001 to 2003 I had travelled through 18 countries, personally met some 10,000 people on the road, slept in 500 different beds, ate some 1,500 meals and had some 600 showers. I have always wanted to travel because of the cultures, the flavors, the scents, the people. I visited people in Africa, Australia and North America, where I got all the way to the icey north of Canada.
People had the strangest reasons to invite me over at their place. Out of simple hospitality, or because they have travelled around themselves, or because they loved to meet a Dutch person.
Of course it flattered me a lot when a tv-crew would follow me around for a day (or more). And it was always interesting to tell people where my hometown Zwolle can be found. "East of Amsterdam," I'd say. "Oh yes, Amsterdam!"
Of every single day on the road I took loads of photos and at night I sat down behind my host's computers (later behind my own laptop) to write a throrough daily report. The next day it was up and go again. And it was the same thing everywhere again.
I continued for almost two years: moving from one place to another, meeting strangers and updating this website for the online audience that would express themselve on guestbooks and forums. This resulted in 7,000 photos and over 550 reports and two years of weekly columns for a Dutch newspaper.
You might understand now that I sometimes felt trapped in a cage that I had created mysefl. When I wanted to get out, I knew I simply couldn't. It was like having a full time job and the website was the family I had to support. If I didn't do my thing well enough, my kids would complain.
The only way to get out was to go home and say: I quit. Just like that.
I know some people can be very happy with one job in a lifetime, but I didn't see me travel the way I did for a very long time. I am even surprised that it took me so long!
When I just finished this project in August 2003 I was very bitter about it all. I did not want to think about it and for once not care about a website.
Fortunately things went better with me. Nowadays I look back much more happier about the amazing feat I have accomplished and I am still VERY thankful to all the hospitable and friendly people out there that made this all possible. It is because of them you are actually visiting this website...
I decided to do something else: to spend a period to write the book Letmestayforaday.com about my travels. Something that's not virtual but real and where stories don' t have to keep a website alive, only memory. You will enjoy it, I know.
You can check out more about the book and what I'm doing at the moment on my personal homepage www.ramonstoppelenburg.com.
Maybe, one day, I come up with other crazy ideas!
Oh, I did!
Since June 2008 I organize walks up Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest mountain, offering an adventure of a lifetime. And in September 2010 I moved from The Netherlands to Cambodia, where I currently live in a palace with a bamboo hut on top too! And to keep others enjoying traveling too: join the European Cooking Trip that starts of in the summer of 2011. How's that for doing crazy stuff? Follow my updates on this all on my blog.
Check out more weekly videoreports I made while staying in Canada here on YouTube.
So, what was this website about?On this website I show you that it is possible to travel for free. I figured out that one person can easily share one day of life with somebody else and help out with the basic essentials, like food and a place to sleep.
I asked people to let me stay for a day at their place, in return I shared the experiences in the daily reports of this website.
Where are you now?From February 17 until July 26 I have travelled from the Netherlands to Canada and travelled all the way through Canada for these five months.
Once back home I decided to quit and continue with a more normal life.
Where have you been?Since May 1, 2001 I have already travelled through
- The Netherlands
- Isle of Man
- Northern Ireland
- South Africa
- Hong Kong
How much money have you personally spent on all these travels?NOTHING since May 1, 2001, when my travels started. I travel from place to place with the help of my thumb. Long distances have (so far) been sponsored by companies who get free advertising in return. When I am actively traveling and writing, this website receives over 1 million hits per month.
I only paid US$ 35 for the domainname before this project got started. Donations along the road are not counted in.
Sure Ramon, but how did you cover those air fares? How did you cross oceans?The travel company Etravel.co.za in Johannesburg sponsored me to South Africa in 2001 and Tnfsh.com supported me to Australia last year. In the beginning of this year I got an email from a lady from Calgary who offered to help me to get to Canada. She bought a full ticket with her aeroplan points.
How many invites did you get totally ?Until I put a lock on the invite-me-over-page, I had already received 3,577 invitations from 72 countries.
Hey, I hope you were not only freeloading on others! What did you do in return?All I asked was some help in food and a place to sleep. In return I wrote about everything in the daily reports on this website. About how I got there, about my hosts, maybe their cooking, their life, dreams and whatever happens when I was there.
This website currently contains some 500 diary entries and over 7,500 photographs in the reports.