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!)

Elephant

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 –

kitty

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.

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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.

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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.

Challenge 5 – Best video interview

If you’ve been following the Big Blog Exchange you’ll know that we have been setting our bloggers challenges to complete both before and during their exchanges. Before they set off we had the dare your exchange partner challenge. Next came the blogger bucket lists. Lastly came the Local Lingo video challenge – where our winners put together short video survival guides to help their exchange partners get by in their countries for 10 days.

Whilst they were away on their adventures we set them a few more challenges to keep them extra busy. Firstly we had the best hostel breakfast challenge, next came the the best landscape photo challenge, followed by the best activity video challenge and the favourite hostel photo challenge.

Now it’s time for our 5th and final challenge – Best video interview!

We left it entirely up to the individual bloggers who they interviewed. Some spoke to hostel staff and some spoke to locals. Every video is interesting in it’s own right, and here are their submissions..

Jono, Australia to Slovenia – Interview with locals on the Slovenian alternative music scene

Roy, South Africa to Spain – Interview with the people of Catalonia on the independence vote

Nina, Slovenia to Australia – Interview with Aussie residents on Australia as a destination

Ruth, UK to Hong Kong – Interview with Stephanie on the history of Mei Ho House hostel

Lucie, France to USA – Interview with Perry, front desk manager at HI Austin

Ainoha, Brazil to Ireland – Sustainability interview with Patrick from the Ireland Cashel hostel

Belen, Malaysia to Argentina – Taste Exchange, local food sampling with her exchange partner Vincents family

Logan, Canada to India – Interview with YHAI staff

Kitty, Hong Kong to the UK – Interview with a local man

Vincent, Malaysia to Argentina – Interview with a Brazilian on holiday in Buenos Aires

Manuel, Spain to South Africa – Interview with a Spanish man living in South Africa

English translation:

– What is your name and age? My name is José Carlos Ruiz Almansa and have 29 years.
– The first thing I want to know is how long have you been in South Africa? For two years
– For what reason did you come to this country? Coincidences of life
– What surprised you most when you first came to South Africa? Public transport … basically it doesn´t exist!
– What is the biggest difference you find between South Africa and Spain?
– I would say that there are not many differences, there are quite similarities between the countries.
– How do you define South Africa? A country of opportunity.
– In closing, was there any time you return to Spain? For now, it is not planned.

We had members of HI watch all of the videos and cast their vote. It was an incredibly hard decision as every video is fantastic! However, there can only be one winner.

Aaand the winner is.. LUCIE! Well done Lucie! Great interview with HI Austin staff.

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Challenge 4 – Favourite hostel photo

The exchanges may have come to an end, but the Big Blog Exchange journey isn’t quite over yet!

If you’ve been following the Big Blog Exchange from the beginning you’ll know that we have been setting our bloggers a string of challenges to complete both before and during their cultural exchanges. Before they took off we had the dare your exchange partner challenge – in which we asked our bloggers to be a bit mean and dare their exchange partners to do just one thing whilst in their country. Next came the blogger bucket lists, which saw our winners put together a wish list of once in a lifetime experiences and attractions to tick off while they were away. Last, but by no means least, came the Local Lingo video challenge – where our winners put together short video survival guides to help their exchange partners get by in their countries for 10 days.

Whilst they were away on their adventures we set them a few more challenges to complete, firstly we had the best hostel breakfast challenge, next came the the best landscape photo challenge, and our third challenge was the first part of our best activity video challenge.

Now it’s time to bring you the results of challenge number 4!

We asked our winning bloggers to send us a photo of their favourite hostel they had stayed in in the exchange countries, and here is what they came up with…

Ainoha, Brazil to Ireland – Knockree hostel

Ainoha, Knockree hostel Ireland

Belen, Argentina to Malaysia – Wira Kuala Lumpur hostel

Belen Wira Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

Jono, Australia to Slovenia – Hostel Tresor (It used to be a bank, so he thought he’d rob it and escape on a long board!)

Jono, Slovenia, Hostel Tresor

Kitty, Hong Kong to the UK – Bath hostel

Kitty, UK - YHA Bath

Logan, Canada to India – Delhi hostel

Logan, Delhi hostel

Lucie, France to the USA – Baltimore hostel

Lucie - USA, Baltimore hostel

Manuel, Spain to South Africa – Coffee Shack hostel at Coffee Bay

Manuel, Coffee Shark at Coffee Bay, SA

Marcela, Italy to Philippines – Mayflower inn Hostel, Cebu City

Marcela - Mayflower Inn Cebu City

Nina, Slovenia to Australia – Sydney Harbor Bridge hostel

Nina, Australia - Sydney Harbour hostel view

Purujeet, India to Canada – Whistler hostel

Purujeet, Canada - HI Whistler

Roy, South Africa to Spain – The Hat hostel, Madrid

Roy - The Hat, Madrid and Alfonso winner

Ruth, UK to Hong Kong – Mei Ho House hostel

Ruth - Mei Ho House HK

Stephanie, Ireland to Brazil – F Design Hostel, Salvador

Stephanie, Brazil, hostel F design salvador

Taralynn, USA to France – Yves Robert hostel, Paris

Taralynn, France, Paris Yves Robert

Tessa, Philippines to Italy – Ostello Villa Camerata hostel

Tessa - Ostello Villa Camerata Italy

Vincent, Malaysia to Argentina – Marcopolo Inn hostel, Buenos Aires

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

We had every member of the HI office cast their vote, tallied them up and we have our winning hostel photo.

(Queue drum roll) aaand the winner is…. MANUEL! For his beautiful shot of the Coffee Shack hostel at Coffee Bay, South Africa. Here it is again for you..

Manuel, Coffee Shark at Coffee Bay, SA

Well done to all of our bloggers for these great shots. We’ll be bringing you the second part of our best activity video challenge very soon, alongside our best video interview challenge!

The conversation is still going #bigblogx

Day 10 – BBE daily summary

As sad as it makes us to say it – the exchanges have now come to an end!

Yesterday our bloggers enjoyed their last day in their exchange countries, took in their last doses of the beautiful cities they were residing in, and reflected on the wealth of amazing experiences they have all had over the last 10 days. It’s been an incredible journey not just for the bloggers – but for the readers and all of us here at HI too.

Our bloggers may be making their way back home today, but the Big Blog Exchange journey is far from over!

Over the coming days we’ll be bringing you the results of some more challenges we set the bloggers during their exchanges – such as the second edition of our best activity video challenge and the results from our best video interview challenge! We’ll also be posting some interviews with the bloggers and of course, our video epilogues that will see them all reflect on their Big Blog Exchange journeys – keep an eye out for these videos at the end of November.

If you’re only just tuning into the Big Blog Exchange journey – it’s still not too late! You can still join us for a 10 day digital trip around the world by going back to our day 1 daily summary and making your way back to here – the final day.

You can follow their adventures and catch up with what they will be doing when they return home as they report live on Twitter, as well as by searching the #bigblogx tag on Instagram. You can also catch up with our 16 winning bloggers by taking a look at their individual blogs, as they post more stories, reflections and photographs from their journeys.

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For now, here is what our bloggers got up to on the 10th and final day of their exchanges..

Lucie, France to USA! Lucie spent the last day of her USA exchange in the wonderful city of Austin, Texas. A city she has grown to love over the last few days, and will take away nothing but fond memories of. It was a beautiful, sunny day in Austin yesterday – and Lucie made the most of the weather by kicking off her Sunday with a long walk along boardwalk. She grabbed some lunch at a DIY restaurant, and admired the beauty of the natural spring pool right in the centre of the city. She ended her day in Austin by visiting the crazy cathedral of junk and made her way back to our Austin hostel to start work on customising her Big Blog Exchange T-Shirt! 
Follow Lucies journey on Taralynns blog.

Builf uout oen lunch Lucie in austin Lucie Lunch Museum of junk natural spring pool in city centre, austin Sunday morning broadwalk texas

 

bbe shirt

Taralynn, USA to France! Yesterday Taralynn explored Amiens a little before a long day of travelling back to the iconic capital of Paris – the city she kicked off her Big Blog Exchange adventure in 10 days ago. Taralynn has written a post on Lucies blog about her lunch with the secretary general of Hostelling International in Amiens yesterday.
Follow Taralynns journey on Lucies blog.

10755876_794657913906861_784530866_n Street performers in Amiens travelling

Logan, Canada to India! Yesterday Logan set off in a Jeep in search of wild tigers, it was on his India bucket list to see them in their natural habitat, and he was determined to tick it off. We’ll have some photos for you soon from his day, for now however, here’s a reminder of what he did the day before. He set out to complete his exchange partner Purujeets dare – to ride a camel. He couldn’t find any camels however – so he improvised! He rode an Elephant through the jungle and saw a whole host of other wildlife – we’ll count that as a dare completed! Logan has also spent some time with the fantastic YHA India team in the offices in Delhi!
Follow Logans journey on Purujeets blog.

Elephant

Logan meeting with YHA India team Logan with YHA India CEO With YHA India full team

Purujeet, India to Canada! Yesterday Purujeet made his way over to Halifax in Nova Scotia. He explored the markets for the day and made his way back to our Halifax hostel for some home cooking and a farewell!
Follow Purujeets journey on Logans blog.

Bridge in Halifax, Peggyscove Canada Capture lobster at niagara Toronto street art

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Vincent, Malaysia to Argentina! Vincent spent his final day in Argentina in Buenos Aires – and what a beautiful day it was! He got his caffeine fix at Cafe Tortoni with his exchange partner Belens dad and his friend, before heading out to explore the city a little more before saying goodbye to Argentina, for now!
Follow Vincents journey on Belens blog

BA Street baa blossom in buenos aires blossom tree in buenos aires Buenos Aires HS Florida hostel inside Cafe in Buenos aires Cafe torton buenos aires coffee Hostel buenos aires HS Florida hostel staff Vincent ba Vincent with Belens dad and friend Vincent with Belens dad Vintage taxis

Belen, Argentina to Malaysia! Belens last day in Malaysia was spent in the state of Penang, the place she has seen a wealth of unique and beautiful street art in over the last few days. Vincent has spent time with both of Belens parents in Buenos Aires since arriving in Argentina, and Belen has also met some of Vincents loved ones while in Malaysia! While in Kuala Lumpur Belen had a meal with Vincents wife and sister! 
Follow Belens journey on Vincents blog.

Belen with Vincents wife and sister Penang

Ainoha, Brazil to Ireland! The last stop on Ainohas Irish adventure is the city of Dublin! She explored the city, and is preparing to say goodbye to the wonderful HI Ireland staff and the country she has fallen in love with over the last 10 days.
Follow Ainohas journey on Stephanies blog.

Last stop

Stephanie, Ireland to Brazil! Stephanie spent the last day of her Brazillian adventure in Rio de Janeiro, in the same city and hostel in which she began her Big Blog Exchange adventure 10 days ago. She met a fellow traveller from Scotland and they decided to head into Rio exploring for the day together. They visisted the Panema Hippie Fair, stumbled across a traditional Irish bar – and headed for the top of the iconic Sugar Loaf Mountain! 
Follow Stephanies journey on Ainohas blog.

10809713_1550607961837489_909944397_n cabanacopa hostel rioIpanema Hippie Fair  Ipanema Hippie Fair2 IRISH BAR metro New pal from scotland] rio hostel copacobana Stephanie at sugar loaf sugar loaf mountain Wild monkeys

Jono, Australia to Slovenia! After a big farewell celebration (with a lot of wine) the night before in our hostel, it was time for Jono to say goodbye to Slovenia. He spoke of the country with such a warmth, and was incredibly saddened to have to say goodbye. He headed for Venice to catch his flight back home, and it’s beauty somewhat softened the blow of leaving Slovenia (briefly anyway.) He was told to get a taxi to the airport, and spent a few minutes slightly confused as to how until he realised that the taxis would of course be by water! Here are some additional photographs from Jonos 10 day Slovenian adventure.
Follow Jonos journey on Ninas blog.

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Nina, Slovenia to Australia! Nina arrived at our Melbourne hostel yesterday, and sadly today she is saying goodbye to Australia and the Big Blog Exchange journey. She said she has had the experience of a lifetime, and when we spoke to her earlier she was in Malaysia on her way back home – already missing it down under!
Follow Ninas journey on Jonos blog.

Melbourne central YHA Goodbye Australia tweet with text and photo Capture

Ruth, UK to Hong Kong! Yesterday was Ruths final call for shopping in Hong Kong – so she visited all of the local markets! Today with a heavy heart she says goodbye to Hong Kong and flies back to the UK. Here are some snaps of her with the staff from our YHA Mei Ho House hostel. 
Follow Ruths journey on Kittys blog.

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Kitty, Hong Kong to the UK! Kitty wrote a letter to Bristol and Bath describing the differences between the cities, and how much she loved them. Today she is in Liverpool and will be returning to London to catch her flight back to Hong Kong and say goodbye to England – for now at least.
Follow Kittys journey on Ruths blog.

1797563_705878639502190_4914973164341919823_n 10808522_794629573913572_1737385618_n postcard to bristol and bath

Manuel, Spain to South Africa! Yesterday Manuel enjoyed his last day in beautiful Cape Town and took this incredible shot for us. Today he’s headed for Johannesburg before catching his flight home to Spain!
Follow Manuels journey on Roys blog.

Manuel Cape Town

Roy, South Africa to Spain! Roy spent yesterday in the last stop on his Spanish itinerary – the iconic city of Barcelona. He enjoyed his last Spanish sunset before heading back to Madrid to catch his flight home to South Africa this afternoon. 
Follow Roys journey on Manuels blog.

Last sunset in Spain

Marcela, Italy to Philippines! Marcela said goodbye to Baguio and made her way back to the city of Manila, today she catches her flight home and says goodbye to the Philippines – but she’s already started planning her return in 2016!
Follow Marcelas journey on Tessas blog.

Capture

Tessa, Philippines to Italy! Tessa spent yesterday hanging out with the Pope, well, not literally, but she did see him! She went on a tour of the Vatican and managed to capture a shot of the Pope as he appeared on the balcony at midday. She’s decided to stay in Europe for a few extra days to see France and Iceland, and we wish her a safe remainder of her trip! She spoke of how proud she was that she had faced her fears and travelled solo for the past ten days in Italy on the Big Blog Exchange – and we’re so pleased about that!
Follow Tessas journey on Marcelas blog.

Instagram snip - survived travellign on my own Pope

Our bloggers may be making their way back home from their 10 day exchanges today, but the Big Blog Exchange journey isn’t quite over yet!

Follow the conversation #bigblogx

 

Day 9 – BBE daily summary

Day 8 was yet another incredible day for our winning bloggers on their cultural exchanges! We had music and BMX festivals in Austin, un-explainable Wi-Fi and strange Bryan Adams related taxi journeys in India, pub crawls involving people from 7 different nationalities in Canada, cat street art in Malaysia, traditional Irish music at pubs in Galway City, beautiful beach days and snorkeling in Arraial do Cabo, bank robberies and quick, clever getaways in Slovenia and Kangaroo burgers in Australia. Day 9 was nothing short of incredible too, here is an overview of some of the things our winning bloggers experienced yesterday…

If you’re only just tuning into the Big Blog Exchange journey, do not fear, it’s not too late! Just go back to our day 1 daily summary and make your way back to here, day 9! You can catch yourself up on all of the unique and inspiring experiences our bloggers have been diving into over the last 8 days in 16 culturally diverse countries scattered across the globe.

You can follow their adventures as they report live on Twitter, as well as by searching the #bigblogx tag on Instagram, and of course by taking a look at their individual blogs.

We’ll be filling you in tomorrow on what our bloggers are getting up to today – the last day of their BBE journeys!

Lucie, France to USA! Lucie is spending the last two days of her USA adventure in the capital of Texas – Austin. After a crazy time at Fun Fun Fun Fest the day before, yesterday she woke up and set out to explore every nook and wonder of the city. She sipped ice coffee by the farmers market and found a beautiful spot to sit and take in the beauty of her surroundings, whilst listening to the music blasting from Fun Fun Fun Fest! 
Follow Lucies journey on Taralynns blog.

Austin riverbanks Austin Capture Lunch Texas Texass Weird in Texas

 

Taralynn, USA to France! Taralynn spent yesterday exploring the beautiful city of Amiens. She enjoyed lunch at Les Bouchees Doubles with the secretary general of Hostelling International, Madame Edith Arnoult-Brill! Taralynn said ‘Have you ever met someone so inspiring that they make you stop and wish god had put more hours in a day so that you could carry on talking to them?’. After lunch she explored the city further, and spoke of the wonderful character she had noticed in every french street she had been to so far. 
Follow Taralynns journey on Lucies blog.

10785021_1582558328642037_1793991597_n Amiens, France fall in amiens Lunch with secretary general Lunch

 

Logan, Canada to India! Yesterday Logan set out to complete his exchange partner Purujeets dare, but he couldn’t find any Camels – so rode an Elephant instead! (Improvisation) He stroked his beard in concentration as he caught up on some blogging – and today he’s off in a Jeep in search of some wild tigers!
Follow Logans journey on Purujeets blog.

Capture LOGAN PURUJEETS DARE TWEET LOGAN PURUJEETS DARE PHOTO

 

Purujeet, India to Canada! Purujeet spent yesterday in Montreal and had some time to tour around every nook of this incredible city. In the evening, just to stick with general stereotypes – Purujeet went to see a real Canadian Hockey game between the Montreal Canadians and the Minnesota Wild! 
Follow Purujeets journey on Logans blog.

Hockey match

 

Vincent, Malaysia to Argentina! Vincent is back in Buenos Aires, the city in which he kicked off his Argentinian adventure 9 days ago. He spent yesterday on a walking tour of the cities CBD and got so carried away that he ended up a little bit lost – and without a map to hand! Luckily, he found a comfy stall in the street to rest himself and his poorly ankle from his hike a few days back. Vincent tells us that he got pestered by a lot of ‘Arbolitis’ (Illegal money exchange touts) on the tour – not ideal! He still had a wonderful day however,which we’re happy to hear. We’ll catch up with Vincent tomorrow and find out what adventures today brought him.
Follow Vincents journey on Belens blog.

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE Exif_JPEG_PICTURE Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

 

Belen, Argentina to Malaysia! Yesterday Belen set out ready to take on her exchange partner Vincent’s Malaysian dare, to go up to the iconic and beautiful Kek Lok Si Temple in Penang, and grab a Durian on the way! There were a few barriers standing in her way – firstly, a storm started brewing. Next, her bus driver decided to completely skip her stop. It seemed as though the world didn’t want Belen to complete this dare! She persevered through the barriers and the rain however, and the view she had when she reached the temple was absolutely stunning. Oh – and she bravely tried the Durian too!
Follow Belens journey on Vincents blog.

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Ainoha, Brazil to Ireland! The cliffs of Moher were on Ainohas Ireland itinerary yesterday! Along her way she saw Galway Bay, and maybe some Leprechauns. We’ll have some photo’s for you all soon!
Follow Ainohas journey on Stephanies blog.

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Stephanie, Ireland to Brazil! Stephanie said goodbye to the beautiful beaches yesterday and made her way back to our Cabanacopa Hostel in Rio. She got a little bit lost, but our hostel street signs helped her out!
Follow Stephanies journey on Ainohas blog.

10755787_803611993038048_1934585169_n 10808642_457550754386364_1675108980_n Hostel sign Rio Praiadocabo

 

Jono, Australia to Slovenia! It was with a heavy heart that Jono said goodbye to Ljubljana yesterday, he took with him a mind full of warm memories and was headed for Postonja. Despite the flooding caused by the heavy rain over the last few days, Jono set off with a positive mindset and went to the caves to hang out with the Slovenian Batman, yes, that’s right – Slovenian Batman! Our hostel put on a celebration for Jono to make his last night in Slovenia one to remember, and what better way to celebrate than with wine!
Follow Jonos journey on Ninas blog.

capital by night Cave farewell Floods predjama castle

Nina, Slovenia to Australia! We have a little update from a few days ago for you all from Nina, she met up with Katherine – our BBE winner from last years exchange in Melbourne for cocktails! She’s been hiking in Grampians National Park and visited Great Ocean Road too!
Follow Ninas journey on Jonos blog.

DAY 7 NINA AND LAST YEARS WINNER Capture Capture4454 Great ocean road

Ruth, UK to Hong Kong! Ruth visited the Hong Kong Space centre yesterday, Heritage 1881, and of course had more amazing cuisine!
Follow Ruths journey on Kittys blog.

DAY 9 SUMMARY

Kitty, Hong Kong to the UK! Kittys itinerary changed yesterday, meaning she gets to spend two whole days exploring the wonderful British city of York – and of course, turning her breakfast into fantastically creative little faces.
Follow Kittys journey on Ruths blog.

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Manuel, Spain to South Africa! Manuel is currently in beautiful Cape Town, and yesterday his blog made it onto one of the 7 wonders of the world – the iconic Table Mountain.
Follow Manuels journey on Roys blog.

Table Mountain Secretos de Madrid

Roy, South Africa to Spain! Roy has officially touched down in the beautiful Spanish city of Barcelona. He checked into our hostel, grabbed his camera and set off to explore, and of course took some some outstandingly beautiful shots along his way.
Follow Roys journey on Manuels blog.

10747887_753805941357992_1390894276_n Barcelona Streets The basilica View from hostel barca

Marcela, Italy to Philippines! Marcela spent yesterday taking in her last dose of Baguio, a beautiful city a few hours north of Manila. She took this stunning shot, and today she’s getting on a bus back to Manila.
Follow Marcelas journey on Tessas blog.

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Tessa, Philippines to Italy! Tessa spent yesterday touring the world famous Vatican! She’s there again today, hoping to snap some photo’s of the Pope as he appears on the balcony!
Follow Tessas journey on Marcelas blog.

01 Breakfast Triangolo IMG_8341 02 Couple in Rome IMG_8541 03 Desserts IMG_8525 04 Poste Vaticane IMG_8485 05 St. Peter's IMG_8456 06 Vatican Silhouette IMG_8508 07 Dome Ceiling IMG_8438 08 Skies IMG_8498

 

Follow their journeys on Twitter and Instagram #bigblogx

Winners Landed

Day 8 – BBE daily summary

What an amazing journey the Big Blog Exchange 2014 has been so far, every single day we’ve seen our winning bloggers leap out of their comfort zones and experience new things in a new country, staying in our hostels, gaining an understanding of the countries culture and sharing every thought and moment with us all. If you’re only just tuning in, you can catch up on what’s been happening over the last 7 days by going back to our day 1 daily summary, and making your way back to right here – day 8! Here is an overview of what our winners got up to yesterday in 16 countries across the world.

To follow their journeys you can read their individual blogs, but remember they will be posting on their exchange partners blog for the duration of the exchange. You can also follow the individual adventures as they report live on Twitter, as well as by searching the #bigblogx tag on Instagram.

Lucie, France to USA! Yesterday Lucie said goodbye to the beautiful city of San Diego and headed over to Austin, Texas! She had the fantastic opportunity to attend Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin and said it is by far one of the best festivals she has ever been to in her life. She saw some giant Jenga, some BMX shows, had a grab & go traditional festival lunch and discovered some new favourite bands. She stayed in our HI Austin hostel last night. 
Follow Lucies journey on Taralynns blog.

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austin texas BMX Bye san diego hello austin fff fest 1 FFF Fest goobdyee Jenga Lucie at fff lunch a ffff  wildcat

Taralynn, USA to France! Taralynn landed in Rennes yesterday. As soon as she arrived she became obsessed with the city and declared to her readers that she absolutely adored it. She spent the day exploring and last night she made her way to the next stop on her french itinerary – Amiens. She’s exploring there today, and we’ll catch up with what she got up to on tomorrows summary.
Follow Taralynns journey on Lucies blog.

Lunch Rennes collage Rennes

Logan, Canada to India! Logan took a train up north and got into Ramnagar, where his next accommodation was located. He had a bit of trouble acquiring Wi-Fi so unfortunately we don’t have any photos for you from his day, we do however, have a strange little story. Despite his frustration borne from the lack of Wi-Fi that day, Logan managed to find connection for a brief period of time. He was sat outside his accommodation by the entrance, and suddenly realised his phone had picked up a signal from somewhere. He looked to his right and saw a deep, ominous Indian jungle. He looked to his left and saw 5 homeless men cooking their dinner over a fire, whilst listening to Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’. He was slightly confused about where this connection had come from, given his odd location – but he didn’t question it, and instead decided to use the surprise glimpse of connection to inform us of this strange occurrence. You may  remember Logan’s odd Justin Bieber themed taxi ride at the beginning of his trip in Delhi, he thought this would be the last time he would hear this, but he was wrong. His driver in the middle of the Indian jungle played it again yesterday, shortly followed by Celine Dion and Bryan Adams, the perfect trio of terrible Canadian music (his words, not ours.) He laughed as an entire street of Indian residents turned to watch as his taxi pass through, with Bryan Adams ‘This Is Me’ on full blast. What an odd day. We assume he will be compiling all of these songs into a ‘BBE India 2014’ soundtrack when he returns to Canada. Today he’s off to see some Tigers and Elephants!
Follow Logans journey on Purujeets blog.

Purujeet, India to Canada! Yesterday Purujeet said goodbye to Niagara, the falls and the fantastic team of staff he had formed such a warm opinion of (and had become a part of for a while) and made his way to Montreal. He explored the area for a while and headed out for Tacos at a fantastic little Mexican place. Last night he attended a pub crawl, and partied with fellow travellers from 7 different nationalities, swapping stories and making friends, staying in line with what this project is all about – cultural understanding. 
Follow Purujeets journey on Logans blog.

M Montreal meal pub

Vincent, Malaysia to Argentina! Yesterday Vincent left HI Bariloche and made his way to the airport. His next stop was Buenos Aires, a city he has already formed fond memories off from earlier on in his BBE adventure.
Follow Vincents journey on Belens blog.

Capture cryv hostel band Plane and andes bariloche airport plane ticket vdrg

Belen, Argentina to Malaysia! Belen has been exploring Penang further, saw even more of Malaysias unique and beautiful street art (that involves a lot of cats!) and visited the fantastic camera museum – a great place to visit for any blogger!
Follow Belens journey on Vincents blog.

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Ainoha, Brazil to Ireland! Yesterday Ainoha made her way back through Dublin and over to Galway City! She explored the area, saw the Spanish Arch and ended her night with some traditional Irish music at a local pub, before retiring to our Sleepzone hostel.
Follow Ainohas journey on Stephanies blog.

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Stephanie, Ireland to Brazil! Stephanie spent her 8th day in Brazil in the naturally beautiful area of Arraial do Cabo! She was originally supposed to get on a bus back to the city, but she just couldn’t say goodbye to the beautiful beaches just yet. She extended her stay slightly and did some snorkeling, and after seeing her photos – we understand why!
Follow Stephanies journey on Ainohas blog.

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Jono, Australia to Slovenia! Jono has described the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana as a ‘fairytale town’. Yesterday, despite the rain, he woke up ready to make the most of his last day and night in Ljubljana. He said goodbye to hostel Tresor, a former bank, but not before robbing it and escaping on a long board.
Follow Jonos journey on Ninas blog.

capital Capture rain sign in hostel tweeti

Nina, Slovenia to Australia! Nina has put together a video of her time canyoning and abseiling in the beautiful Blue Mountains that we just had to share with you! Yesterday Nina was in Melbourne exploring, she saw some street art, had some Kangaroo burgers and stayed at our Melbourne hostel.
Follow Ninas journey on Jonos blog.

10734185_663127517136357_2632340876706350445_n Capture Great Ocean Road Kangaroo burgers in yha melbourne street art

Ruth, UK to Hong Kong! Ruth met Stephanie from YHA Hong Kong yesterday, and had a fantastic tour around a local museum.
Follow Ruths journey on Kittys blog.

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Kitty, Hong Kong to the UK! Kitty wrote a letter to London, thanking it for the incredible few days she spent there at the beginning of her adventure in England. Yesterday she hopped on her next train over to York!
Follow Kittys journey on Ruths blog.

10171821_705870022836385_8229252440311657860_n Letter to London train to york

Manuel, Spain to South Africa! Manuel spent yesterday in beautiful Cape Town, and took some amazing shots for us.
Follow Manuels journey on Roys blog.

Capture CT CTT CTTT

Roy, South Africa to Spain! Roy took some beautiful shots in Pamplona, said goodbye and made his way over to Zaragoza yesterday. Today he’s touched down in Barcelona, and we’re already excited to see his shots from the incredible city. 
Follow Roys journey on Manuels blog.

Kingdom of Navarre, Pamplona original shot The Basilica, cathedral of our lady pillar zaragoza

Marcela, Italy to Philippines! Marcela has now reached the last city on her agenda, Baguio! She checked into our hostel and enjoyed the stunning views.
Follow Marcelas journey on Tessas blog.

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Tessa, Philippines to Italy! Tessa explored Italy‘s third largest city yesterday, Naples.
Follow Tessas journey on Marcelas blog.

09 Creamy Buildling IMG_8195 10 Vegetable Market IMG_8241 11 Naples by the Water IMG_8292 12 Breakwater IMG_8328

It’s currently day 9 of our 10 day digital trip around the world, and we’ll be giving you the full low-down from today on the blog tomorrow!

#bigblogx

Winners Landed

 

Day 1 – BBE daily summary

After months of anticipation, prepping and planning – the Big Blog Exchange 2014 has now officially kicked off!

A few days ago we shared with you some photo’s of our bloggers packing up, travelling across the world and landing in their exchange destinations – and after a bit of exploration, some chats with our hostel staff and a good nights sleep, yesterday they all woke up ready to dive into their 10 day adventures!

As we have said before, every day we will be posting a daily summary of what the bloggers got up to on the previous day, you can also keep up to date by following their adventures as they are translated live on Twitter, as well as on their individual blogs. Remember, they will be posting on their exchange partners blogs for the duration of the exchange, and you can follow their journeys as they blog LIVE on their personal Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts too!

Yesterday was of course, Halloween! Here’s a little taster of what our bloggers got up to on their first full day in their exchange countries..

Lucie, France to USA! Lucie spent her first day in the USA at our Washington DC hostel, and celebrated Halloween DC style – she even got a bunch of high 5’s for her Panda costume. 
Follow Lucies journey on Taralynn’s blog.

LUCIE HALLOWEEN IN DC IMAGE LUCIE HALLOWEEN IN DC MONUMENT TWEET ready for halloween! got her high 5s

Taralynn, USA to France! Taralynn has written her first post on Lucie’s blog about her first day in Paris. Taralynn spent yesterday exploring the city, and celebrated Halloween with a bunch of scary movies in Paris!
Follow Taralynns journey on Lucies blog.

BLOGGING FROM PARIS HOSTEL Day in paris First french dining experience - twitter snip HAIR DAY 1 HALLOWEEN IN PARIS

 

Logan, Canada to India! Logan woke up on his first day to a fantastic breakfast, and spent the day exploring the busy city of Dehli!
Follow Logans journey on Purujeet’s blog.

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Purujeet, India to Canada! Purujeet spent Halloween in Vancouver, and there was a pumpkin carving contest in our Vancouver Downtown hostel!
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ollow Purujeets journey on Logans blog.

Pumpkin carving contest

Vincent, Malaysia to Argentina! Vincent and Mercedes from HI Argentina went to see a tango show yesterday, had a beautiful dinner and even gave the tango classes a go themselves!
Follow Vincents journey on Belens blog.

Dancing with Mercedes tweet - Vincent Dinner with Mercedes Vincent same tweet

Belen, Argentina to Malaysia! Belen spent her first day in the beautiful Kuala Lumpur, and met some HI Malaysia staff!
Follow Belens journey on Vincents blog.

10731742_795516647161753_624268254_n Good morning, Kuala Lumpur! hi malaysia staff

Ainoha, Brazil to Ireland! Ainoha awoke on her first day in Ireland to a full breakfast with the HI Ireland team in Dublin! After a little exploration, she headed over to the fantastic city of Cork for the next leg of her trip.
Follow Ainoha’s adventure on Stephanies blog.

Breakfast with Zaz and the team in Ireland

 

Welcome to Cork City!

Stephanie, Ireland to Brazil! Yesterday Stephanie ticked something off her bucket list and visited the Cristo Redentor!
Follow Stephanies journey on Ainohas blog. 

barra Christo Redentor bucket list

 

Jono, Australia to Slovenia! HI Slovenia were fattening Jono up for the winter in Bled yesterday. He saw Idrija and made his way to a winery in the Vipava Valleys!
Follow Jonos journey on Ninas blog.

Cake in bled idrija On the way to Slovenian winearies - twitter sniop vipava valley

 

Nina, Slovenia to Australia! Nina spent her first full day down under on Bondi Beach in Sydney learning to ride the waves with ‘Let’s go surfing’ and YHA Australia! She also bravely took on Jonos dare, and we have photographic evidence!
Follow Ninas journey on Jonos blog.

Surfing in Sydney

JONO

 

Kitty, Hong Kong to the UK! Kitty spent her first full day in the UK exploring London Town, and met Sam from YHA England & Wales who showed her the ropes, and gave her the train tickets for her 10 day trip around England. She had a picnic in the park and grabbed a fresh Strawberry box from Portabello market.
Follow Kittys journey on Ruths blog.

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Ruth, UK to Hong Kong! Ruth woke up in Hong Kong on her first day to an incredible view of the cityscape, and enjoyed afternoon tea whilst looking out at a truley stunning sight.
Follow Ruths journey on Kittys blog.

Afternoon tea - original photo View of Hong Kong selfie

 

Manuel, Spain to South Africa! Manuel spent the day exploring South Africa, just look at these stunning scenes he snapped yesterday!
Follow Manuels journey on Roys blog.

Capture south africa

Roy, South Africa to Spain! Roy spend his first day in Spain in Madrid. He went with the REAJ HI Spain team over to Museo Thysse!
Follow Roys journey on Manuels blog.

museum MADRID

Marcela, Italy to Philippines! Marcela woke up on her first day in the city of Manila, explored and went to a local food market recommended by one of our fantastic BBE 2014 finalists from the Philippines. Oh, and she made a new best friend too.
Follow Marcelas journey on Tessas blog.
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Phillipines street

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Tessa, Philippines to Italy! Tessa has been painting some beautiful things about her BBE adventure. She landed and made her way to Piero Rotta.
Follow Tessas journey on Marcelas blog.

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TESSA HERCULES PAINTING FINAL

Our bloggers have now all settled into their exchange countries, got their bearings and had a glimpse into the culture, but there is so much more to come. Every single blogger has been put on an incredible itinerary – and we can’t wait to follow their individual adventures over the next 9 days to see what they get up to!

Remember, although our bloggers will be posting on their exchange partners blogs for the duration of the exchange – they will be blogging live throughout each and every experience on their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts too. Search the #bigblogx tag to follow the journeys, and click on the blog links above to read their articles.

Are you ready for a digital trip around the world? #bigblogx

Winners Landed

Aaaaand they’re off!

We’ve come a long way since we launched the Big Blog Exchange competition on the 23 July. Since then we’ve had the pleasure of meeting hundreds of passionate, talented and diverse bloggers from all corners of the world. We’ve been through the voting phase, during which we saw the birth of an extraordinarily supportive global blogging community – a community that is still to this day going strong. Next we tallied in the votes and announced our fantastic 100 finalists. After this came the incredibly difficult task of narrowing everybody down and deciding on who our 16 winning bloggers would be this year, and in September we proudly announced them and their exchange countries to the world..

Since the announcement in September, both the bloggers and the team have been frantically busy, prepping and planning every detail of their cultural exchange adventures – and we can’t believe the day has finally come!

Some of our bloggers are currently packing up, grabbing their passports and getting ready to leave, some are at this very moment flying across the globe and a few have already touched down in their exchange counties. Tomorrow will mark the beginning of 16 diverse adventures, and will see 16 bloggers from all corners of the globe jumping out of their comfort zones and exploring every nook of a country culturally different to their own.

Of course along the way each and every one of them will be doing what they do best – blogging. We have 16 incredible countries represented in the project this year, each with it’s own unique culture and rich history, and we can’t wait to see them from our fantastic bloggers perspective.

Everyone is invited to join us on a 10 day digital trip around the world, following the bloggers footsteps, learning what they learn and experiencing everything with them.

This blog will serve as a central hub for all of the BBE adventures. Every single day we will be posting a ‘daily summary’ with photo’s, videos and stories from each of the 16 bloggers different journeys. You’ll be able to follow their individual adventures not only here on the blog, but by following their individual blogs and social media accounts.

You may remember we asked our bloggers to put together a small bucket list for their exchange destinations, we’ll be following the bloggers and catching up with them afterwards to see if they managed to get any of their lists ticked off! You may also remember we asked the bloggers to dare their exchange partners to do one thing whilst in their country – we’ll be following these up too, just to see if they were brave enough!

Tune into the site from 31 October for a 10 day digital trip around the world with the Big Blog Exchange!

To follow our bloggers journeys live on Twitter, click here.
To follow their individual journeys on their blogs, click here. 

For now, here are some updates on the whereabouts of our 16 bloggers! We’ve already had some lost luggage, some storms and some delays – but hey, it’s all part of the real travel experience right?

We’re so excited here at HI, and we hope you all are too…

Kitty has touched town in London Town, and Ruth is on her way to Hong Kong! 

B1KQw0mCUAEAmcf final

waiting for flight instagram

Vincent is on his way to Argentina, waiting at the airport – and Belen is in a very similar position!

SHOES WAITING

delayed

 

passport selfiemap

 

We’ve just heard from Logan and he has just touched down in India safe and sound, and Purujeet is currently in the air on his way to Canada!

Logan goes to India

 

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Lucie is on her way to the United States, and despite a slight issue with some lost luggage – Taralynn has landed in France, explored Paris a little and had a nice big American sized coffee!

Pre flight

 

pre flying

 

IN FRANCE

 

27 October Passport and Map taralynn

 

Fleece tuk tuk

 

passport

 

Manuel has landed in South Africa, and Roy has touched down in Spain and is exploring the capital, Madrid! 

LETS GO TICKETS

blog cathedral

 

Ainoha is currently in Amsterdam and will soon be in Ireland and Stephanie is on her way to Brazil!

Airportin the air passport laptop Packing

 

pass port passport airport brazil Pre flight photo instagram

 

Nina has landed down under, and Jono is on his way to Slovenia!

Boarding tweet

flying from JFK airport

PASSPORT AND SLOVENIA TICKET

 

Arrived in Australia, Sydney Opera House

 

Tessa is on her way over to the beautiful Italy, and Marcela has just hopped into her taxi to the hostel in Philippines!

Painting on the plane - Italy

HERE I AM instagram pre flight marcela on her way Packing

Remember to tune into the blog from tomorrow to follow  their journeys!