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Backpackers go global with Matt’s iTravel

10 March 2009 @TeessideUni


Visiting cybercafés in Mexico and Guatemala gave computing student Matt Webster the idea for a social networking site for backpackers.

Matt’s idea has now reached fruition as iTravel, the final year project for his BSc (Hons) Multimedia degree. It will be displayed at the University’s annual exhibition, ExpoTees, on Tuesday 17 March from 1.00pm to 5.00pm.

ExpoTees displays more than 70 final-year projects from the University’s computing students, is free, open to the public and takes place in the Phoenix Building, Woodlands Road. Students will also be available to talk to the public.

Matt, 22, from Scales, Cumbria, first thought of developing his site two years ago. He said: 'I was travelling through Mexico and Guatemala and using cybercafés to keep in touch with family and friends using Facebook and MySpace. But the computers were low powered and made this difficult. So I thought about how to devise a site that could work on an older, less sophisticated computer.

Travellers can add comments 'The iTravel site includes individual profiles for backpackers, with a basic photograph, email, and the route to be taken. Other travellers can also add comments or advice on the journey.

'The site can help bring your home world closer, better than just emailing. I’m going to Guatemala at the end of the year solo, to do charity work and will use iTravel to keep in touch with my parents, brother and friends. The web address is Who knows it could become a global success!'

After he finishes his degree, Matt will be working for an American charity ‘From Houses to Homes’ in Guatemala, helping to build houses. He will be involved from the very start of building, helping to mix cement and laying bricks.

This won’t be Matt’s first experience of international charity work. Aged 19 he helped on the building of a school in Nicaragua for another charity. Matt said: 'It’s an amazing feeling, doing something worthwhile and giving something back. And seeing people’s reactions to what we’ve done for them. I was hooked after the first work in Nicaragua.'

Matt needs to raise £800 for his next charity journey. To sponsor Matt, email .

Matt is the son of Christine and Dougie Webster and a former pupil of Ulverton Victoria High School and Furness College.

ExpoTees has been sponsored by Codeworks, an organisation that supports the digital sector in the North East, who will be sponsoring

In the News

Student creates new website for backpackers
Darlington & Stockton Times (Cleveland), 06/03/2009, p.3
University of Teesside student Matt Webster has developed iTravel, a website for backpackers, as his final year project for his BSc in multimedia. He hopes it will allow him to keep in touch with frie