Later this month is the start of the first annual Globetrotting Challenge, a travel race that will have two top travel blogging couples racing from Turkey to Tuscany. And Laurence and I are one of those two couples! The travel race will have us racing overland across 10 countries in 10 days while competing against another couple in 10 challenges along the way. All of this will be recorded live via social media so that followers will be able to follow along on all our travel adventures, struggles, triumphs, and embarrassing mishaps along the way. Want to find out more? Keep reading and we’ll give you the lowdown on the Globetrotting Challenge and even tell you how you can get involved!
**UPDATE: Unfortunately the Globetrotting Challenge will not be taking place as planned. The other team (Dave & Deb) pulled out of the challenge the day it was set to begin. We sadly had no control over it and are deeply disappointed there won’t be a fun race for you to follow (at least not this year). We still did the winning reader challenge (finding street art in Sofia – 31 pieces in 2 hours!) and will mail postcards to all those who signed up for postcards from our European travels over the next 2 weeks. After learning that the race would not take place, Laurence and I decided to travel overland though Eastern/Central Europe on our own to reach our flight out of Tuscany. Our unplanned travels have taken us so far from Istanbul to Sofia to Bucharest to Vienna! Lots of new places for us. Next stops are Rome and Pisa. Sometimes the best trips, are the unplanned ones!**
This initial idea for the Globetrotting Challenge was born back in June 2016, as we were catching up with Dave and Deb of ThePlanetD at the Travel Influencers Summit in Colorado last year. We discovered that after the conference we were all headed to Sri Lanka to speak at a second travel conference, one hosted by the Professional Travel Bloggers Association (yeah travel bloggers sadly do spend time in conferences too!). We decided to have some fun and created a mini-race as we flew from Colorado to Colombo, Sri Lanka, both with multiple flight connections along the route. We recorded our journeys over social media and it ended up being a lot of fun and our followers enjoyed the race. Sadly we lost that race to Dave & Deb and had to buy them some beers, but that little good-natured race led to a bigger idea of doing an annual race on a much grander scale. That planted the seed for what would become the Globetrotting Challenge!
Who is Our Competition?
Our competition is travel blogging couple Dave and Deb who write the popular adventure travel blog ThePlanetD. This Canadian travel blogging duo have been running their blog for 8 years and have visited over 100 countries and been to all 7 continents! They are stiff competition and definitely have some experience on us, and we know they are going to put up a fight (just look at their fierce photo!). But Laurence and I feel ready to take them on and hopefully win the Globetrotting Challenge to redeem ourselves after losing the mini-race from Colorado to Sri Lanka to them last year.
Our Globetrotting Challenge Task Master
After coming up with the race concept and rules, we knew we’d need an outside party to help us. We needed someone to come up with challenges, tells us our next destination, and generally help keep things happening behind-the-scenes while we were racing like maniacs across Europe. Let us introduce Gary Arndt who runs the long-running award-winning travel blog Everything-Everywhere. As his blog name implies, he has been just about everywhere! Behind the scenes, Gary will be the official Globetrotting Challenge Task Master providing us with our challenges and checkpoints and tracking our progress throughout the race. We have no idea what exactly Gary has in store for us (a bit scary!), but we have no doubt it will be exciting! We’re also hoping to share regular updates with Gary via Facebook live so stay tuned for our first kickoff live video on April 23rd!
How Will it Work?
The first Globetrotting Challenge will have us racing from Turkey to Tuscany in a 10 day period. Along the way, couples must complete challenges and reach checkpoints. Challenges will range widely from intellectual to physical challenges (e.g., scavenger hunt in Istanbul to row-boat race across Lake Bled to a travel knowledge quiz ) and will see teams compete head to head with one another to win. Winning challenges allows that couple to have an early start on the next part of the race and they also get to punish the other couple in some small way (e.g., asking them to wear ridiculous hats during the next leg of the race, choosing their lodging for the night, or having them eat something exotic/disagreeable). The winner of the race will be the couple who is first to complete all the challenges and checkpoints and arrive at our final destination, a luxury Tuscan villa called Borgo Argenina.
This won’t be a staged event with loads of background support, it’ll just be four real travelers racing along with a limited budget and a number of restrictions (e.g., no flying and no rental cars). We’re all seasoned travel experts who travel for a living; however, this long-haul race is designed to test our travel skills to the limit. We’ll be enduring long bus rides, overnight train rides, challenges that will take us out of our comfort zones, and who knows what else as we travel overland between these countries. Each day we’ll be crossing country borders to find ourselves in a new country and have to contend with constant changes in local currencies, customs, and languages. Each day we’ll have to book our own hotels, find food, buy tickets, and figure out public transportation in addition to competing in challenges and racing from one place to the next. We won’t have any special privileges and won’t be able to simply fly from one place to the other. We’ll also be sharing everything live across our social media accounts as it happens (thanks to each of us traveling with KnowRoaming Global SIM Stickers) and involving our readers/viewers along the way in a number of ways!
What is the Prize?
Ultimately, Globetrotting Challenge is about having fun and testing our travel skills, but both couples will be fiercely determined to claim the prize of the title of “Savviest Travel Couple of the Year”. The winning couple also gets their choice of rooms at the villa and a homecooked meal prepared and served by the losing team, not to mention bragging rights for an entire year!
How Can I Get Involved?
There are loads of ways to get involved from just following along at home, to interacting with us online, to deciding on challenge wins, and even deciding on what our second challenge will be! We’re also sending out postcards to readers along the race route!
Follow Along & Interact with Us on Social Media
First, you can just follow along on our social media feeds – all five of us will be sharing both timely and live updates on the race as it unfolds. Best places for live updates are Twitter and our Instagram stories, although we’ll also be posting info on Instagram and Facebook as well. We will also have Facebook Live videos hosted by Gary before and after the race as well as regular videos along the race route on our Facebook pages. Missed some of the race, use hashtag #GlobetrottingX to find past posts to get caught up!
Vote on the Challenge Winners
If you are following along on social media, you can not only comment, egg us on, and ask questions, but you’ll also have the opportunity to decide the winners of a couple of challenges along the way. Who took the best photo or had the most entertaining video or made the best appetizing looking meal? Whatever the challenge might be, we’ll be asking readers to decide the outcome of 2 of the 10 challenges! So follow along and stay tuned to find out when those opportunities will be coming along.
Decide on What One of Our Challenges Will Be
Finally, we are giving our readers the opportunity to actually decide on one of the challenges. Since Gary is in charge of where we need to go each day (our checkpoint) and our daily challenges, we don’t know where we’ll be or what we’ll be doing. We’ll have to wait each day to see what he has in store for us, but for our second challenge, we do know it will be taking place in Bulgaria. Vote below on several challenge ideas (ranging from street art photography to rakia drinking to an egg and spoon race to a history knowledge!) and whichever gets the most votes is the one that wins! This challenge you help decide!
Get a Postcard from Us!
As a small way to give a little memento to readers from our race, the four of us are going to be mailing up to 100 specially designed postcards from places along the race route. Each will have a short handwritten message from us. Who knows where it will be postmarked?! So if you love receiving postcards in the mail like we do, just fill in your mailing address in the form below to get a little surprise in your mailbox from us! If you have any trouble using the embedded form below, just click on this link that will take you directly to the form.
Globetrotting Challenge Details
When: April 23, 2017 to May 2, 2017
Race Route: Race will start in Istanbul on April 23rd following the Inflow Travel Summit and race will end in Tuscany at the beautiful Borgo Argenina Villa. Couples will likely be visiting the countries of Turkey, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy, hitting checkpoints and competing in challenges along the way.
Post Challenge: The contestants will enjoy a well-deserved break in Tuscany from May 3-7 at the villa, savoring will the beauty of the Italian countryside and easy pace of Tuscan living throughout their stay. The winners of the race will enjoy a few extra perks.
Our Sponsor: We’d also like to introduce our sponsor, KnowRoaming, who is making it possible for us to stay connected and online throughout the Globetrotting Challenge and share our travels and challenges in real-time. KnowRoaming provides affordable voice and data roaming in 200+ countries and territories worldwide with their Global SIM Sticker, Global SIM Card, and other roaming products. The Global SIM Sticker that we’ll be using is an innovative one-time application sticker that applies to the SIM card of your unlocked mobile phone/tablet. The SIM Sticker remains dormant at home and automatically connects to local networks when you travel abroad in 200+ countries and territories so you never have to worry about finding roaming solutions or costly carrier packages for each trip. Unlimited data packages are also available in 90+ countries and counting and all data usage can be tracked on an app. KnowRoaming also offers FREE WhatsApp usage so you can stay in touch with friends and family without having to spend anything. Rates can be up to 85% lower than similar carriers, so do check them out if you are looking for ways to stay connected while traveling internationally!
**Reader Discount: Use discount code JLSAVE30 at checkout to save 30% on any KnowRoaming SIM Sticker or SIM Card purchase, plus you’ll also receive $5 in free KnowRoaming credit!**
Globetrotting Challenge Challengers:
Dave Bouskill and Deb Corbeil, Canadian travel bloggers who write at ThePlanetD. Dave and Deb are well-known travel personalities in both mainstream and online media and have traveled to more than 100 countries on all seven continents. Their blog motto is that “Adventure is for Everyone”. Find them on Twitter (@theplanetd), Instagram (@theplanetd), and Facebook (theplanetd).
Laurence Norah and Jessica Norah (yep, it’s us!), a British-American travel blogging couple who run two travel blogs, Finding the Universe and Independent Travel Cats. Finding the Universe is an award-winning adventure travel focused photography blog run by Laurence and Jessica Norah. Live since 2010, it has won multiple awards, including being named a top 10 travel photography blog on USA Today, and winning the 2015 Bloggy for best photography on a travel blog. Independent Travel Cats: is a luxury focused couple travel blog run by Jessica and Laurence Norah that delves into history & culture and provides detailed travel advice and destination guides to its readers. Live since 2013, it’s been featured as a top couple’s travel blog by TripAdvisor. Follow Finding the Universe accounts on social media here: Twitter (@lozula), Instagram (@lozula), Facebook (FindingtheUniverse), and Pinterest (@lozula). Find the Independent Travel Cats on social media here (in case you are not already following!): Twitter (@TravelCatsBlog), Instagram (@independent_travel_cats), Facebook (IndependentTravelCats), and Pinterest (@indietravelcats).
Our Task Master:
Gary Arndt is an award-winning blogger and travel photographer who has been traveling around the world since 2007. His travels have taken him to 190 countries and territories. His blog Everything-Everywhere is one of the longest running and most popular travel blogs in the world. In 2010 Time Magazine named it one of the Top 25 Blogs. Find him on social media here: Twitter (@everywheretrip), Instagram (@everythingeverywhere), Facebook (everythingeverywhere), and Pinterest (@GaryArndt)
The five of us will all be posting on our own social media channels (especially over Twitter and Instagram stories), but also doing live video updates on Facebook Live. We’ll also curating everything on our Globetrotting Challenge accounts. Follow along on Twitter: @GlobetrottingX and on the event’s official Facebook page. Keep up to date with all the news by using the hashtag #GlobetrottingX
So follow along, it’s going to be an adventure!
We’d love to hear what your thoughts are on the Globetrotting Challenge! What types of challenges would you like to see? What do you think is going to be the toughest aspect of the race? Who do you think will win? For any press inquires or questions, please email [email protected]