The Big Blog Exchange journey 2014.

When the Big Blog Exchange project first ran last year, it had never been done before, and Hostelling International was overwhelmed by the positive response it received. HI sent 16 excited bloggers from all corners of the globe on an adventure, swapping countries, cultures and blogs with each other for 10 days, all the while sharing their experiences with the rest of the blogging community following their journey digitally.

2014 saw the turn of 16 brand new bloggers, and over the last few weeks we’ve watched our winners jump out of their comfort zones – growing, learning and experiencing new things every single day in a country culturally different to their own.

When we first opened the competition back in July, hundreds of passionate, committed and talented bloggers signed themselves up to the chance of winning a once in a lifetime adventure. The voting phase saw the birth and growth of an inspiring, strong and supportive blogging community – helping each other out along the way and making friendships as the competition progressed. We had our wonderful 100 finalists, and in September our 16 fantastic winners and their exchange countries were announced to the world.

We’ve come a long way since the announcement, and their individual adventures have had readers all over the world on the edge of their seats over the last few weeks. It’s been an incredible experience not just for the bloggers – but for us at HI and for all of those following their journeys too.

One of our 2014 winners, Vincent, said “My sincere thanks to HI for the opportunity. It’s been an experience of a lifetime and a true eye-opener.”

If you’ve missed the Big Blog Exchange journey – it’s still not too late to join us for a 10 day digital trip around the world! You can catch yourself up by going back to our day 1 daily summary , and making your way through each day of our bloggers exciting trips.

This year we had 16 culturally diverse countries represented in the project: Australia, Slovenia, Malaysia, Argentina, India, Canada, South Africa, Spain, Hong Kong, England, France, United States of America, Brazil, Ireland, Philippines and Italy. It was wonderful to see the beauty of these countries through the eyes of the bloggers, and to follow them every step of the way as they explored their new surroundings and immersed themselves in the cultures.

We have our blogger epilogues coming to you at the end of November. These will see our winners reflect on their Big Blog Exchange journeys and we’ll be posting all of these on the blog for you, so make sure you tune in!

We thought we’d take some time to have a little look back over what has happened over the last few weeks, the ups, the downs, and everything in-between…

Before they took off, we had our bloggers put together bucket lists to tick off while in their exchange destinations – and many of them have successfully ticked off their entire lists!

Next – we had the slightly mean ‘Dare your exchange partner challenge’, in which we asked each blogger to dare their exchange partner to do just one thing whilst in their country. We’ve had quite a few dares completed, from Durian fruits to Elephant rides and Oreo’s with Peanut butter! Here’s a few examples of our bloggers taking on their dares head on..

Taralynns dare for Lucie, to try Oreos and peanut butter in the States!

Ruths dare for Kitty, to visit Harrods food court in London!

Kitty completing ruths dare HARRODS

Purujeets dare for Logan, to ride a camel in India! (He couldn’t find one, but he could find an Elephant – we’ll count that!)


Vincents dare for Belen, to try the Durian in Malaysia!

Logans dare for Purujeet, to take a photo with a Canadian by the Pacific, and one by the Atlantic in Canada!

Purujeet logans dare 1 Purujeet logans dare 2

Before they took off we had our first video challenge – the Local Lingo Challenge! Our bloggers put together short video survival guides for their exchange partners, to help them get by for 10 days in their country! Take a look at all of our bloggers survival guides by clicking the link above.

Challenge number 1 from the exchanges was the best hostel breakfast photo challenge, we saw some fantastic breakfasts from HI hostels in several diverse countries – and after a lot of deliberation our winner was announced as Kitty, travelling to the UK from Hong Kong! This was the winning picture of her British hostel breakfast –


Next came the best landscape photo challenge! We asked our bloggers to send us over a photo of the landscape within their host country, viewing its beauty from their perspective – and the results were stunning. Every photo was unique and diverse, but our winner was Jono, travelling from Australia to Slovenia – for his wonderful photo of Bohinj Lake!

Jono - Bohinj Lake.

Next came the best activity video challenge, where we asked our bloggers to put together a short video of their favourite activity they had taken part in since arriving in their exchange countries. We had trails in Hong Kong, Rickshaw journeys in India and vibrant shows in Argentina. In the end however, our deserving winner was Jono for his crossing the River Mura in Slovenia video! (This also ticked off his dare from exchange partner Nina!)

Our next challenge was the best hostel photo. We asked our winners to send us a photo of their favourite hostel from those they had stayed in on their exchanges. They were all beautiful, but our winner was Manuel, travelling from Spain to South Africa, for his shot of Coffee Shack hostel at Coffee Bay!

Manuel, Coffee Shark at Coffee Bay, SA

Our last challenge from the exchanges was our best video interview challenge! We had our bloggers interview local people and hostel staff, and they all put their own unique spin on the interviews. They were all insightful, but our winner was Lucie for her wonderful interview with HI Austin front desk manager – Perry!

As well as completing our challenges, our winning bloggers had a wealth of incredible experiences while they were away. Here’s a short re-cap of each day of the 10 day exchanges. You can of course read all about which each individual blogger got up to on each day of their exchange by going back and reading our 10 day daily summaries! For now however, here’s a brief overview and a mishmash of photos from each day…

We had broken luggage wheels, delayed flights and lost luggage – but our 16 bloggers all touched down safe and sound in their exchange countries ready to begin their adventures!

Day 1 – Halloween!

Halloween was the day our bloggers kicked off their cultural exchange adventures! We had Tango lessons in Argentina, fancy dress in the USA and surfing in Australia. See what each individual blogger got up to by clicking here.

Breakfast with Zaz and the team in Ireland 10731742_795516647161753_624268254_n tweet arrival in slovenia HI logo 10729257_668611626579225_590846913_n LUCIE HALLOWEEN IN DC IMAGE south africa Surfing in Sydney Pumpkin carving contest MADRID View of Hong Kong Christo Redentor bucket list Day in paris Capture Met in Argentina by Mercedes Frenso

 Day 2 – 1st November!

Day 2 saw beautiful locks in Paris, taxi journeys involving cows and Justin Bieber in India, boat rides in Malaysia and crazy Brazillian Halloween parties. See what each individual blogger got up to by clicking here. 

irish name and breakfast boat ride in putrajaya LAKE BLED kitty LOGAN INDIA TRAFFIC lucieee Capture FOOD Sydney shot  ROY BURGOS CATHEDRAL Ruth - day 2 in hong kong photo mash halloween rio steps OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Day 3 – 2nd November!

Day 3 saw belated Halloween celebrations in Baltimore, visits to the Taj Mahal in India, swimming with Whale Sharks in the Philippines and Sherlock Museums in the UK. See what each individual blogger got up to by clicking here.

ainoha in cork Cfdrxer k 10729196_730548230353143_1530079303_n 2 lucie in baltimore coffee bay underwater NINA BLUE MOUNTAINS 10729287_654373364659900_2031739256_n ruth day 3 summary 928059_523482364454861_1301611438_n 10735171_1501597946771735_1631428639_n Tessa hostel on her way to veince Vincent - Malaysia 2

Day 4 – 3rd November

Day 4 saw open top bus tours in Lyon, wineries in Mendoza, street art in Malaysia and meetings with the BBE team in London.

1517346_367183753460342_1392472620_n Exif_JPEG_PICTURE vincenza 10735554_741289379283684_2052214636_n TARALYNN LYON 927353_1505409233043900_1817265493_n 10755764_359340594237231_561608285_n surf tumblr_negz3ey05Y1rvynzxo2_1280 challenge jono     IMG_3098       capture2

Day 5 – 4th November

The 5th day of our bloggers adventures saw river cruises in Melaka, beautiful walks in Ireland, quad biking in Brazil and press conferences in Slovenia! See what the individual bloggers got up to by clicking here.

JONO NEWS CONFERENCE1 TBBE (1133) AINOHA AT CASHEL ROCK cork city art 925365_1487471448172920_886735157_n 1380316_703524283070959_8867749053536341876_n View from SD hostel cape town day 5 4th nov, ferry to bohol Capture 10735063_598133660291653_51549060_n 10755943_370272443151069_2239764_n 10748287_615992661846250_492080685_n Tessa ourside building in Burana Italy

Day 6 – 5th November!

Day 6 saw Californian sunshine, hikes in Patagonia, un-anticipated falling Mango’s attacking bloggers in Brazil and stunning views in Port Stephens. See what each individual blogger got up to by clicking here.

DSC_3342 DSC_0254 DSC_0258 Sunset SD PS Toronto map 1739446_587456001383598_1168895900_n Brasilia Taralynn Venice orange buildings Vincent trek 11

Day 7 – 6th November!

Day 7 saw our bloggers visit some truly iconic landmarks in Canada, cakes and punting in Cambridge, cathedrals in Spain and beach days in the Philippines.

10735212_1537510353132286_1926944776_n 10787715_589342884503390_2066365246_n Capture Cambridge cakes Punting in Cambs Melbourne beach hutz Melbourne beaches Ready for Melbourne adventures Street art in Melbourne 10311132_736572899750731_597566139_n NF Staff selfie Castle Pamplona with text Church inside a castle, Pamplona Streets of Pamplona Andre, Hostel 7 Brasilia staff Say HI to the world signBye Marseille  Goodbye, Marseille Marseille, France 14 San Gimignano IMG_8060 Bariloche

Day 8 – 7th November!

Day 8 saw music festivals in Austin, more strange taxi journeys in India, pub crawls in Montreal, bank robberies in Slovenia and love for Cape Town.

galway city 10546530_339940182857369_1500213080_n Capture Letter to London Lucie at fff CT 1739782_1590895304464163_1456009458_n street art pub Kingdom of Navarre, Pamplona original shot Capture 10787793_1492051094410826_1468568296_n 10803000_308958305973417_48636345_n beachhhh Rennes 11 Naples by the Water IMG_8292  Gelatos plane ticket

Day 9 – 8th November!

Day 9 saw bloggers lunching with the secretary general of Hostelling International in France, Hockey matches in Canada, Challenge attempts in Malaysia, streets oozing with character in France, Space Centres in Hong Kong and Vatican city explorations in Italy.

10735523_548915311908287_73743796_n 10747927_837344799619681_1641010639_n capital by night York Capture Capture Table Mountain Secretos de Madrid Great ocean road Hockey match Barcelona Streets The basilica Hostel sign Rio Praiadocabo 10785021_1582558328642037_1793991597_n Amiens, France 05 St. Peter's IMG_8456 07 Dome Ceiling IMG_8438 Guard at the Vatican

Day 10 – 9th November!

The last day of our bloggers adventures saw a lot of flight tickets, DIY meals in the USA, bloggers meeting their exchange partners families in Argentina and Malaysia and a lot of heavy hearted goodbyes.

Last stop Belen with Vincents wife and sister TBBE (1203)  With YHA India full team 10808522_794629573913572_1737385618_n texas state capitol Manuel Cape Town Goodbye aus photo - HI and YHA AUS Logos included Last sunset in Spain 1796687_766985430040423_5574615421716008580_n Stephanie at sugar loaf sugar loaf mountain travelling Pope HS Florida hostel staff blossom in buenos aires

What an adventure it’s been!

On the 24 November we’ll be receiving our bloggers video epilogues. These will see the bloggers reflect on their Big Blog Exchange experiences, and we’ll find out what it changed for them.

3 thoughts on “The Big Blog Exchange journey 2014.

  1. It was so nice to meet Purujeet Parida at HI-Wentworth in Wentworth, Nova Scotia, Canada. Purujeet played some classical Indian violin for us… AWESOME! We also sang some Canadian folk songs… FANTASTIC! Purujeet enjoyed homemade pancakes with Nova Scotia maple syrup (thanks “chef” Alyssa!). Congratulations to Purujeet and all of the16 creative and talented winners of the 2014 BIG BLOG EXCHANGE! I hope more of you will come visit HI-Wentworth in your future travels!

    1. It was nice to meet Andrew – the Yoga expert, Alyssa – the smile factory and Shane – the guitar maestro over a nice bonfire! I say nice, actually I can’t find words to describe the experience and I will definitely visit again in winter, maybe with my friends and hope to relive some of it and more…

  2. I hope that if an American wins next year, there’d be a better person. Tara Lynn was not a good representative for our country. Oh well, I loved hearing about Lucie and the others this past year!! Looks like you guys enjoyed yourselves 😀

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