Didn’t win this year? Here’s why you should try again in 2015..

Last year when the Big Blog Exchange first kicked off, hundreds of excited bloggers from countries scattered all over the world jumped at the opportunity and signed themselves up. Only 16 winners could be chosen, and 2014 saw the turn of 16 new bloggers – jumping out of their comfort zones and into the 2013 winners shoes.

If we could – we would have sent every single blogger who entered over the last two years off on an adventure as they have all been so unique and deserving.

We just wanted to take the time to address the hundreds of wonderful bloggers who have not made it to the top 16 in the competition over the last few years, and to put the message across that it does not mean you can’t be packing your bags and heading off on an adventure in 2015!

Vincent, one of our 2014 winners, packed his bags and left his coffee shop in Malaysia a few weeks ago to make his way to Argentina, swapping places with his exchange partner Belen.

Vincent’s story is one that we find particularly inspiring, and we wanted to share it with those of you who are perhaps feeling slightly dis-heartened after not being selected – as you could be in his shoes next year!

Vincent first heard about the Big Blog Exchange around it’s launch in 2013. He signed himself up, pushed for votes, blogged his heart out and sadly was not selected as one of our winners.
He did not let this defeat him however, instead he went away and put a lot of thought into his blog. He worked on himself, his blogging techniques and came back to the competition stronger than ever this year. It all paid off when the news reached him that he was a BBE 2014 finalist – and would be heading off to explore Argentina!

We asked Vincent to put together a little article on his journey, addressing those of you who were not selected as winners directly – and here is what he has to say:

Two months ago, I wrote a post about my winning the Big Blog Exchange (BBE) 2014 organised by Hostelling International.  In it, I described how I felt (and reacted) when I learnt that, together with 15 other bloggers from around the world, I’d won the competition.

Having now returned from my most eye-opening exchange to Argentina, I thought it apt that I should share with everyone why winning the BBE meant so much to me.  It is also my hope that this post will serve as humble motivation for those who didn’t succeed in either this or last year’s competition to try (and try) again and not give up.

Here’s why winning the Big Blog Exchange 2014 exposed wide open the emotional side of me.

1.  I PERSEVERED.  For a brief period after BBE 2013 and after failing to even make the finals last year, I was left exasperated – disheartened even – from the battle and indeed was apprehensive about joining this year’s competition (in fact, I’d told a fellow Malaysian blogger that I probably wouldn’t).  Deep down, however, I always knew throwing in the towel was never going to be an option.  A 10-day overseas cultural exchange was too massive and meaningful a prize to forgo without putting up a good fight, however you look at it.  So, soon after my elimination from last year’s BBE (I didn’t even wait for the exchanges to start), I prepped myself (and my blog of course) for another go at this year’s competition.  I was determined to win the BBE at some stage.

  For more than a year, I worked really hard to improve my blog in preparation for BBE 2014.  I open-mindedly thought over my site vis-a-vis those of last year’s winners – even those of some of world’s most popular bloggers.  I revamped my blog’s layout where I felt there were flaws, revisited my writing style, rethought the things I’d write about (without losing my own identity of course), dedicated considerably more time to the activity and, through social media, worked hard to widen the reach of my blog.  I also punctiliously made sure my posts were as interesting and, more importantly, as engaging as possible.  In short, I reinvented myself as a blogger in the hope of going one – or even two – better in this year’s competition.  Time is of the essence in any contest, and when BBE 2014 kicked off in July, I duly joined on its second day – my confidence and optimism significantly higher than they were last year.

3. I REALLY WANTED THIS.  If, like me, you have an earnest desire to learn about and experience unfamiliar cultures, then giving the Big Blog Exchange a shot (or anothershot) really is a no-brainer.  Indeed off the top of my head, I struggle to name another blogging competition that offers a prize as generous as an all-expenses paid trip to a foreign destination complete with itineraries that promise maximum exposure to the country, her people and her culture.  Being the curious guy that I am, I couldn’t let such a grand opportunity pass me by without giving it another shot.  After all, all I had to do was share my daily experiences with the rest of the world through my photographs and, of course, my writing.  I wanted this;I wanted this real bad.

My recent exchange to Argentina was so culturally- and intellectually-enriching that I feel I must share my journey in the Big Blog Exchange with all of you.  The road for me has been a long and occasionally arduous one.  But as with most things in life, hard work and perseverance usually pay.  I mean, just imagine… Argentina.  In fact, winners can look forward to exchanges anywhere in the world; Iceland, New Zealand, Switzerland, Peru or even Japan.

I’m nearly 50; I work 14 hours a day, six days a week and have only 250 blog followers to my name – pittance compared to many of you.  Hence, if I can win the Big Blog Exchange, so can you.  At the end of the day, it all comes down to how much time and effort you’re willing to put into your blog and into the competition.  It’s also about how you project yourself to the judges through your work.  Above all, it’s about how much you genuinely want to be part of the BBE project and how much heart you’re willing to put in to achieve this end.

The wonderful thing about the Big Blog Exchange is that it’s open to all bloggers regardless of age, blogging experience or following.  So do keep an eye out for next year’s competition by regularly visiting either Hostelling International’s official website or the BBE website for the latest news and announcements.   Remember, if this ol’ fella – a mere hobbyist blogger – can do it, SO CAN YOU!

Good luck.

To read Vincents blog and catch yourself up on the journey he recently embarked on, visit his blog.

You can also catch yourself up on what our 16 winners experienced on their cultural exchange adventures this year by going back to our day 1 daily summary, and making your way to day 10.

If you are still craving an extra dose of the BBE, head over to the site and read through our winners individual blogs to see what they got up to.



The wait is over – meet our winners!!

The waiting is finally over! A few moments ago we announced our 16 Big Blog Exchange winners and their exchange countries – and what an amazing bunch they are!

Here’s a quick reminder of this years exchanges…

Exchange one: CANADA – INDIA

– Logan Anderson, CANADA: http://backpackersguidetoearth.tumblr.com/

is swapping places with..

– Purujeet Parida, INDIA: http://sfscient.wordpress.com/


Exchange two: FRANCE – USA

– Lucie Aidart, FRANCE: http://voyagesetvagabondages.com/

is swapping places with..

– Taralynn Mcnitt, USA: http://simplytaralynn.com/


Exchange three: UK – JAPAN

– Ruth Silverton, UK: http://rooth121.blogspot.co.uk/

is swapping places with..

– Ashley Dy (Wildcard winner!), JAPAN: http://candykawaiilover.blogspot.co.uk/


Exchange four: SPAIN – SOUTH AFRICA

– Manuel Garcia del Moral, SPAIN: http://www.secretosdemadrid.es/

is swapping places with..

– Roy Potterill, SOUTH AFRICA: http://www.roywrench.com/



– Jui Seng Quek, MALAYSIA: http://www.vincequek.com/

is swapping with..

– Belén Palacios, ARGENTINA: http://viajarenpelotas.com.ar/


Exchange six: IRELAND – BRAZIL

– Stephanie Buckley, IRELAND: http://eatsleepchic.co/

is swapping with..

– Ainoha Moura Aguirre, BRAZIL: http://www.vanguardiasustentable.com/


Exchange seven: SLOVENIA – AUSTRALIA

– Mic Melansek, SLOVENIA: http://ineedtoiletpaper.com/

is exchanging with..

– Jono Cusack (Wildcard winner!), AUSTRALIA: http://www.seesomething.com.au/


Exchange eight: ITALY – PHILIPPINES

– Tessa Go, PHILIPPINES: http://instagram.com/googlygooeys

is exchanging with..

– Marcela Fae, ITALY: http://fotostrasse.1982.us/


CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU ALL! We’re excited to watch your adventures unfold…


It has been an incredibly difficult decision this year for the jury – you’re all so wonderful. 

Each and every one of you brings your own unique vibe to blogging and you are all so passionate and talented. We at HI genuinely have felt privileged to spend so much of our time getting to know you all individually – as well as enjoying all of your amazing blogs, articles, photographs and stories. We’re hoping that even if you’re not a winner this year, you will stick around to watch these 16 bloggers prepare for their journeys, take off and embark on the BBE experience, helping HI to make the world a better place and spread cultural understanding. This blog will be a central hub where you can keep up to date with their journeys and the competition – so stick around! We’re sure you’ve all got tips and advice for them and that the community feel we’ve built up here together over the last few weeks will continue to flourish throughout the next steps of the competition. We’re so excited for the next stages and we hope you all are too! The journey is far from over!


A Day With Kisty

Kisty, our winner from Singapore visited the Hostelling International offices on Monday (17th June) to meet the Big Blog Exchange team and enjoy a cupcake reception! She also met the CEO and President of HI, in addition to taking part in an interview about her overall experience!


Kisty meeting our HI President!


BBE team Brianda and Scarlett with the cupcakes for Kisty!

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Traditionally British Scones, Jam and Clotted Cream!

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We also spent a day in London with her too!

camdenkisty13 camdenkisty1



Thanks for visiting us Kisty! It was great to meet you.

Stay tuned on this blog for the video interviews, we can’t wait to share them!

Travel Around The World In 10 Days!

The adventure is now upon us. The 16 winners of the Big Blog Exchange have been eagerly preparing and awaiting their trip – and now, they are currently all flying to their exchange destination to embark on the journey of a lifetime.

But, the competition isn’t over yet. They still need your help!

From the 7th June – 17th June, whilst away on their adventure, the vote button will reappear on all 16 profiles, and YOU will be able to vote for your favourites. You can vote for the blogger you enjoy reading on a daily basis or perhaps the blogger whose BBE journey you have found to be most inspirational.

Join the 16 winners whilst they travel around the world. Experience 16 different countries, in 10 days. Through their eyes!

The final BBE champion, is in your hands.

Join the adventure at bigblogexchange.org 

Follow the bloggers on Twitter #bigblogX

Vote for your favourites now!

And, remember – if you’d like to take a look at the full list of all 1,173 participants you can do so by visiting bigblogexchange.org and clicking on the ‘participants, old list’. 

all winners

Join In The Conversation

Just a few days to go before our lucky 16 bloggers head off for an adventure of a lifetime! We can barely contain our excitement!


If you’d like to keep updated on the bloggers travels, photographs and experiences, you can join in the conversation at #bigblogX , alternatively – you can follow our Twitter account @hostelling.

We hope you all join in on this fantastic experience and help us to change the world using the power of blogs. 

Our 16 Bloggers!

Chee Chingy, our fantastic Malaysian blogger has a real talent for graphics and illustrations (as her blog shows), so we asked her if she would like to illustrate all 16 of the winners in her own quirky way. Happily, she obliged – and so we are pleased to reveal her fantastic final image featuring all of our 16 BBE bloggers!

all winners

We think it’s amazing! Do you recognize your favourite bloggers? 

Meet Camie Juan – Winners Interviews!

wild spirit

Firstly, for those who haven’t read your blog before – can you explain to us a little about what your blog is about?

Wild-Spirit is a personal and lifestyle blog, wherein I basically just write about my life, what interests me, my personal point of view and opinions, where I share photographs and a few artsy stuff here and there.

I live by my motto of “Je ne regretted rien.” And very much like Edith Piaf, I live my life with no regrets. I take life day by day, I take risks, I live it to the fullest and my mistakes are what has shaped me throughout the years, I live my life with no inhibitions, and that is what being a Wild Spirit is all about, that is what my blog is all about.

Why did you first decide to set it up?

I’ve been a blogger for years, but I decided to set up Wild-Spirit and stick with two years or so ago during a turning point in my 20’s, a time I was growing up and starting to live freely. As a fickle teenager, I was always changing usernames/blog names, but I finally stuck with Wild-Spirit and took my blogging a bit more seriously since then.

How long have you been blogging for?

Since I was about 13, I believe! It’s been 10 years. Can you imagine? My first blog was on DiaryLand.com, you can check it out. It’s basically the same website, same interface, and design ever since I started 10 years ago. It’s quite amusing! So I’ve been on different blogging platforms, but continually kept the theme of my blogs pretty much the same: Personal and lifestyle.

How are you preparing your for your trip?

Well, I’ve been prepared for this my whole life, to be quite honest! Haha

  1. Non-stop research on Germany and places I want to visit
  2. VISA applications – I had my interview recently and will find out in a few days if I am granted a VISA! (Cross your fingers and toes for me!)
  3. Talking to my mom’s German husband for tips/do’s & don’ts in Germany (Be a smart and safe traveller!)
  4. Mentally (and emotionally) preparing myself for this trip that I just used to day dream about – I’m trying not to have all these expectations, good or bad. I want to just surprise myself once I’m there.

What are you most looking forward to?

I look forward to experiencing being in a totally different country that is the complete opposite of what I am accustomed to, without expectations of what the food will be like or how the people are. I’m looking forward to surprising myself with whatever I’ll learn and gain certain knowledge only few of us in the world have a privilege of learning through travelling. And as a history fan, I’m looking forward to learning a bit more of German history, albeit 10 days doesn’t seem enough to learn everything, it’s still a start!

As you probably know, the Big Blog Exchange is all about ‘changing the world, using the power of blogs’. How do you think you and your exchange can help change the world?

Everyone knows that Germany and one of the biggest world war events go hand in hand. The holocaust was a picture of many, including prejudice, discrimination, and racism. I already have my own notions about past and present Germany, World War II, etc. but many still go on with their lives unknowing and completely ignorant of that part of history. It’s my hope that through my exchange, I can open the eyes and the minds of these people… Even if it’s just one person. Sometimes it only takes one person, to change their mind about their views and beliefs, and that can somehow start a domino effect, and that would’ve been enough.

How do you plan to record your trip? Are you going to be blogging through video, pictures, written words or all three?

I plan to do all three, actually! Video recording, lots of photos and written words and integrate them not just through blog posts but through other social media (Instagram and twitter) as well.

If anyone knows of great prepaid sim cards with great data that I can use while in Germany, let me know! 🙂 I want to keep all social media accounts updated as much as possible!

Are you excited at the prospect of swapping blogs?

It’s really exciting! But also scary! I will be exchanging with Tine from Lunch For One, and hopefully her readers will welcome me with open arms! It’s not just me who finds the blog exchange exciting, but rather some of my readers as well. They can’t wait to see the adventures Tina will embark on during her stay in the Philippines!

Is this your first time travelling or have you travelled before?

I’ve travelled to neighbouring countries of the Philippines but never outside Asia!

Have you heard about Hostelling International before, or is this your first experience with us (have you said HI to the world yet)? Are you excited?

I actually only heard of HI when BBE started. I’m so thankful to have discovered HI, though! Now I can actually plan trips without worrying about expensive lodging. Honestly, knowing HI exists makes me happy!

Are your readers excited about your trip? Have you been blogging in the run up to the exchange?

My readers are my biggest supporters aside from family. You wouldn’t believe the vast amount of tweets, messages and emails I’ve been getting congratulating me and expressing their joy and excitement for me! It’s really sweet! It’s been two weeks since the official announcement of winners was made and I still get congratulatory messages. It’s surreal! Everything is happening so fast and there’s not much time to plan so I’ve been so busy! I’ve sort of lost track of blogging, but I’ll get back to the swing of things soon!

What tips can you give for your exchange partner? What can he/she explore in your city/country?

  1. Keep an open and adventurous mind!
  2. Have fun, but keep your guard up because it’s not always safe around, especially in the Manila area.
  3. Filipinos, in generally, love foreigners and so Filipinos will LOVE you!
  4. Filipinos are really welcoming and nice, so don’t be alarmed if you’re treated instantly like family…
  5. Much like any city, be wary of your surroundings. Don’t flash expensive products such as your iPhone or iPods because they pose a pickpocketing thread. Carry small change instead of large bills. And be careful of being scammed, sometimes cab drivers will scam you into paying more money than you should. The meter shouldn’t lie, no matter how much traffic or whatever reason they give. The meter is what you follow.
  6. The weather can get pretty bipolar, it’s scorching hot one day and raining the next, so bring lightweight clothing and a jacket for the rain. June is the start of our rainy season.

Things to explore in the city/country:

  1. The food, especially the most famous street food and my favorite, Taho, because Tina is a sweet tooth!
  2. Maybe try Balut if you’re feeling really adventurous. Alright, alright… You can skip the duck/chick, but eat the rest. It’s really not that bad, because the yellow part is basically just egg yolk. If you don’t know what Balut is, you can Google for a photo, I’ll skip posting a photo here in case you guys are easily grossed out…
  3. Bargain shopping at Greenhills or Divisoria (although I wouldn’t recommend Divisoria if you’re going alone. Not even I go alone.)
  4. Explore Old Manila with Carlos Celdran, you honestly cannot go wrong! 

Where should he/she go? Or what should they do?

  1. Spend at least two to three days at one of our famous beaches! Cebu, Boracay, Palawan! Nothing spells ultimate relaxation like crystal clear water, white sand, and the sound of the waves hitting the shore. Just thinking about it makes me want to go to the beach right now.
  2. Visit the Chocolate Hills. Our Department of Tourism recently came up with the slogan: “My Humps. More Fun in The Philippines” for the Chocolate Hills! I have a good chuckle every time I see that advertisement… I’m easily amused.
  3. Old Manila, China Town, places with architecture and stuff you don’t normally see/find in Europe!

What do you find most rewarding about being a blogger?

I find that being able to connect to total strangers and somehow affect their lives in a positive way is the most humbling and rewarding thing, especially when it goes both ways. I have a great relationship with my readers and they have helped me grow so much over the years, as much as I hope I have helped them as well. It’s a wonderful support system.

As a blogger or as a writer, I have a voice, an influence, and knowing I can use this talent for good assures me that in this life where I’m constantly trying to find solid ground as to who I am or what my sole purpose is, at least I know I’ve done something right.

Visit Camie’s blog here.

Travel With Your Taste Buds (Part Two)

We have several keen foodies among our 16 winners, so we can’t wait to see what food they choose to sample on their blog exchange. Here, we have chosen a few desserts from around the world – and we’d love for you to guess where in the world they are from! Do you recognize any, or can you name any of them?

103-150-Nanaimo-Bars-1500x1000058 low fructose sugar cookiesMehan's Kitchen 037


Bloggers – are there any you would like to try out? 

* please note – these images do not belong to us, and are purely for reference purposes only. They are believed to be in the public domain – however if you feel it infringes your copyright, let us know and we will remove as soon as we can.

Our BBE Winners

So, now you’ve met all 16 of our fantastic winners. We thought we would put them all in one post together (in case you’ve missed reading one or two of the interviews). They are all busy preparing for their trip – so in case you haven’t checked out their blogs yet, you can do so below!

Remember, you will be able to keep up with all of the following bloggers posts (in one place) on our main site (bigblogexchange.org). We will be displaying each bloggers RSS feed on the ‘wall’ section – so make sure you take a look. Remember – they will be blogging over on their exchange partners site!

Chee (from Malaysia) – visit her blog here.



Jeremy Fowler (from Canada) – visit his blog here.

Jeremy Fowler

Rosario (from Argentina) – visit her blog here.

blue • heaven

Katherine (from New Zealand) – visit her blog here.

Kapcha The World, International Travel, Photography, Culture and Food Blog

Natalia (from Brazil) – visit her blog here.

360meridianos - Destinos exóticos, mochileiros, viagem de volta ao mundo, intercâmbio.

Audur (from Iceland) – blogs here.

I heart Reykjavík - your first stop on your journey to Reykjavík - I heart Reykjavík

Ali (from Israel) – visit her blog here.


Didi (from South Africa) – visit her blog here.

My Adventures & Learnings in Sweden (and beyond). The diary of a South African YIPPIE! - Take a journey of planting, cultivating and harvesting life's treasures with me…

Liesbet (from Belgium) – visit her blog here.

Liesbet à Paris

Claire (from France) – visit her blog here.

The Green Geekette - Blog Montréal - Beauté, Bio, Voyages, Geek

Sara (from Spain) – visit her blog here.

MindfulTravel bySara

Tina (from Germany) – visit her blog here.

Lunch For One - Essen, Backen und around the world

Andy (from USA) – visit his blog here.

Home - Backpacking Diplomacy

Kisty (from Singapore) – visit her blog here.

The Style Mermaid

Camie (from Philippines) – visit her blog here.

{ Wild - Spirit }


Sophie (from UK) – visit her blog here.

Challenge Sophie


Travel With Your Taste Buds!

So, now you’ve all got to meet our fabulous bloggers – we thought we would explore a few different topics that inspire travel in different people. Several of our bloggers have expressed that they love to travel with their taste buds, and love sampling different world cuisines – so we thought we’d ask you whether you do the same?

Which cuisines will our bloggers be sampling? Can you guess where each dish is from? 


SONY DSCusa_food_hotdog_3chopsx2pastiesOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA



* please note, these photos do not belong to us and we do not take credit for them. They are used purely for reference purposes.

Meet Ali Karp – Winners Interviews!

Have you visited our Israeli blogger Ali Karp’s website The Sweeping Swallow yet? If not, you can do so by clicking here. Everyone was so inspired and impressed by the number of places she has travelled to and how she immerses herself in local culture. We decided to send over a few questions so that we could get to know her a little better and find out her thoughts about her impending trip to Iceland. And, here – are her answers.

Firstly, for those who haven’t read your blog before – can you explain to us a little about what your blog is about?

I am a Collector of People. It was a friend, very dear to me, who called it. And he is right, I do collect people and their stories. I am at the cusp of some things uncertain and often times uncontrollable in the times which lie ahead of me. My world, like yours, rocks to find a settling place among all the change. It is in these moments, where I try to be still and listen to my instincts. They are there for a reason, and mine are telling me to keep on collecting. My collecting involves capturing my travels through photography and writing. I focus on documenting the experiences which ‘speak to me’, as well as those which challenge me to the core. With it, I hope to be a beacon of positive influence, helping to wield people’s attention to the lives outside of their own. I understand that this can be both a blessing and a burden. But perhaps that is why a compassionate ear is one of my simplest of gifts to give. I hope, I think, I believe, in babysteps and ripple effects. The people I speak of, the places in which they live, the cultures which they engage in – I can only try do them justice through my words and photographs: The trails and tales of the unknown traveller.

Why did you first decide to set it up?

My most recent travels took me to the most rural parts of South Africa, where electricity and water supplies were scarce, as was education and basic housing – What does not challenge you, doesn’t change you. I was commissioned to review, document and photograph 7 different stops throughout South Africa, where the lodgings were all Fair Trade accredited and together formed the Fair Trade 21 Day Travel Pass –  voted one of the top 25 most ethical travel experiences in the world. On my return, I was to help these backpackers and lodgings with their promotional material. It was decided that I put together a blog documenting my personal experiences which I acquired on this travel route. This blog is not about reviewing the places I visit, but rather describing the experiences which captured my attention, as well as my heart in the moment. I did this in the hopes that whoever reads my blog posts would be enticed to go out and experience these moments for themselves.


How long have you been blogging for? 

Since February 2013 (just over 3 months)

How are you preparing your for your trip?

Because of my late admission as a winner, it has been quite an emotional rollercoaster! I was very overwhelmed. After Iceland I intend to continue further with my travels, and therefore from one end of the world (Iceland) I will be making my way down under to Australia. I have been sorting out passport details, buying supplies, most importantly reading Auður Ösp’s blog for travel tips on Iceland!! 🙂 I have also been working extra hours to earn as much money as I can for the months ahead. And how could I forget – deep breaths!

As you probably know, the Big Blog Exchange is all about ‘changing the world, using the power of blogs’. How do you think you and your exchange can help change the world? 

One of the main issues I have come to understand in this world is a lack of tolerance amongst us people. We are afraid of the unknown, often resulting in us becoming stuck or almost stagnant within our comfort zones. Being a beacon or an ambassador for tolerance is one way in which I believe we can encourage and promote positive change in this world. I approach this opportunity with an open mind as well as an open heart. As much as I take from this experience in Iceland (and my travels after), I also want to be able to give (and share) back my experiences with the people I encounter a long the way.


How do you plan to record your trip? Are you going to be blogging through video, pictures, written words or all three?

I plan on recording the trip primarily through my writing and photography. I am open to try out recording videos and engaging with multimedia – however – I am interested in introducing different forms of literature (poems, photojournalism, stories etc…)

Are you excited at the prospect of swapping blogs? 

I am excited about swapping blogs, Auður Ösp’s blog is so appealing to the reader – I hope that my work is able to do her current standard justice! 🙂

Is this your first time travelling or have you travelled before? 

This is definitely not the first time I have travelled. I was born and raised in Israel, later immigrating to South Africa. My travelling has taken me to Turkey, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Mauritius, Namibia and Lesotho 🙂

Have you heard about Hostelling International before, or is this your first experience with us (have you said HI to the world yet)? Are you excited? 

I had heard of Hostelling International before I embarked on the Fair Trade 21 Day Travel Pass, and have read many of HI’s posts over the past few months since my heart has taken to travel writing. I am excited as well as overwhelmed. I can feel my nerves at the idea of travelling the world for an indefinite period of time, however I am open and welcoming of change.


Are your readers excited about your trip? Have you been blogging in the run up to the exchange?

I am announcing to my readers about my trip to Iceland and Australia this week. All my Visa’s were confirmed yesterday – on Monday the 13th of May, so now that I know that everything is in order and is for definite – it is time to reveal my plans to those who are willing to read about them!

What tips can you give for your exchange partner? What can he/she explore in your city/country? 

Israel is a country which has been a country which has been questioned and contended with for its entire existence. Auður Ösp, I wish you a magnificent trip. I hope that you embark on this journey with the idea in mind of embracing difference, entertaining change, and accepting a challenge! There is so much history in my country, as well as so much history which is in the process of being made. The people are passionate, the culture is spicy, (and often so is the food!).

Where should he/she go? Or what should they do? 

Definitely go see and try to understand how the different cultures live together in one country. Go to the markets – you will find yourself taking the most beautiful photographs. Visit the Old City (Jerusalem), float around the Dead Sea, have a splash in the Kineret (Sea of Galilee) – just watch out for the rip tides! If you are looking to visit a Kibbutz, there is one about 2 hours from my home town (Haifa) known as Tiberius which is up in the North, they often have nice parties there on the weekend. AND ABOVE ALL ELSE: visit the beaches, the water is incredibly warm!


What do you find most rewarding about being a blogger?

This is a hard question. Above all, it is the process of reflection that I engage in as a blogger which I find the most rewarding. Often, it is about understanding the experience for myself, and what it has meant to me. I learn so much about the world around me, that often I find myself realising (like in my previous trip through South Africa) that my brain has undergone so many 180′ flips with regards to the world around me and how I perceive it. This allows me to grow. I learn so much about other people, and most of all I learn a lot about myself. I feel like a better person. All the more richer, well-rounded, grounded and accepting than I ever would’ve been otherwise.



Meet Katherine – Winners Interviews!

In her own words, our lovely New Zealand Blogger Katherine explains a little about herself, in preparation for her trip to Argentina! Check out her blog here

Hi I’m Katherine, I’m a kiwi born in Wellington, who grew up in the UK just outside of London, and now lives in Melbourne, Australia. I love to travel and have been doing so since I was about 2 years old. I definitely see myself as a bit of a nomad and always seem to have a case of the itchy feet so am always looking for that next adventure, whether it be local or international.


My blog is called Kapcha The World (www.kapcha.co.nz), which I started almost 2 years ago now. It’s a travel, photography and culture blog I use to record all the fabulous and exciting places I travel to and all the amazing and interesting people I meet. I have been writing for many years though and always get involved in writing opportunities when I’m living abroad like expat newspapers, or local magazines.

My first major travels were when I was 19 years old and I spent the year backpacking on my own through 13 countries in Asia and Australasia. I travelled on my own but I never felt lonely, as I met so many wonderful people along the way. I think meeting people, especially locals, is the most important thing about travelling. It enables you to leave the tourist label behind and experience local life first hand.


When I travel I tend to avoid tour groups and instead opt for more cultural or local opportunities like cooking or dance classes, local photography groups, or simply taking a walk around the town or city and chatting to people and finding out about the city or landscape around me. Although I have never worked with Hostelling International before, I did stay in quite a few Hostelling International/YHA hostels during this trip. The people who worked there were always friendly and happy to help when I invariably had 50 million questions to ask about places. My experience was great and I would highly recommend them.


For the Big Blog Exchange, I’m really excited to be swapping with Rosario from Argentina. I’ve never been to South America before so I am looking forward to be heading somewhere new. I’ve hired out just about every book from the library on Argentina and have even started listening to Latin America Spanish tapes in preparation for my trip.


Argentina is such a huge country and I know I cant’ see everything in the time that we have there but the highlights on my list would have to be Buenos Aires, Iguazu Waterfalls, Cordoba, Colonia del Sacremento and the gaucho town San Antonio de Areco. Other than experiencing Argentinian life, and learning to tango, I think the thing I am most looking forward to is sampling the beef – apparently it’s the best in the world, and then following it with some amazing local red wine. Rosario’s blog is great and I’m looking forward to swapping with her. I especially love the video she created for the BBE of her home city, Buenos Aires. I can’t wait to follow in her footsteps.


Quiero comer, beber y bailar tango en mi viaje por Argentina.

Rosario is off to my home country of New Zealand. It’s a beautiful little country that has so much to see. My recommendations would definitely be to see the Bay of Islands (for its beaches and natural beauty), Waitomo Caves (glow worms and rafting), Hobbiton (the home of the Lord of the Rings Hobbits) and Wellington (culture, food, art, shopping) in the North Island. In the South Island (my favourite island), I would recommend the West Coast, especially the drive between Greymouth and Westport (I think it’s the best in the world), Karamea, and Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, Abel Tasman National Park, the Marlborough Sounds (including the wineries), Kaikoura (whale watching) and Queenstown for some adrenalin, skiing and great nights out.

My favourite way to record my trips is definitely using photography (I always have a camera on me) and social media channels like Instagram (http://instagram.com/kapcha), Facebook (www.facebook.com/kapchatheworld) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/kapcha). I find this is a great way to document where you are and what you are doing whilst on the road and then following it up with longer blog posts when I am home. I have been posting lots on my social media channels about the Big Blog Exchange and through that got lots of votes and congratulations when I won. I have a loyal group of followers on my blog who are excited to hear about, and a little jealous of, my trip to Argentina. I’ve had many offers to fit in or carry my suitcase, and as much as I would love to be able to bring them all along with me, I’m excited to be heading out alone, to get out of my comfort zone and discover all that I can about Argentina.


The Big Blog Exchange is all about ‘changing the world, using the power of blogs’. I think that blogs are a great resource and I love how many there are out there now to read and get inspiration, information and ideas from. Travel creates opportunities for learning about the world and different ways of life. It can open dialogues between nations which helps to eliminate preconceived perceptions of the world we live in, and create an environment that is more accepting and open to people from other nationalities.

I hope that through The Big Blog Exchange, the 15 bloggers and I, are able to broaden our horizons and perspectives of the world and not only learn about new countries and cultures, but become more knowledgeable and welcoming to not only our exchange country, but all the bloggers and readers from around the world and the different ideas and values that they may have. I hope that through my travels, I inspire people to travel, to learn, to be more accepting, and to step out of their comfort zones and experience a different way of life. I encourage people to immerse themselves in the culture and vibe of a country, to meet the locals and above all else enjoy themselves. It’s the most important thing about travelling after all.

Argentina, estoy ansiosa por verte pronto!

Celebrating The Americas!

The jury really had their work cut out choosing just four bloggers from the Americas region. Every single blog was so strong, creative and amazing in it’s own way!

Here are the top 25!

1 3
Little Chief Honeybee
2 4
Jeremy Fowler
3 9
4 18
5 21
6 22
Viajando com Eles
7 23
Rotas & Destinos de Viagens
8 28
Mochilando Por Aí
9 29
10 30
Fetch & Femme
11 33
Preciso Viajar
12 34
Extra Pack Of Peanuts
13 35
Backpacking Diplomacy
14 51
Partiu intercâmbio
15 52
Samara Enroute
16 62
Vontade de Viajar
17 65
18 68
19 69
Marina Nebro: Arts and Culture
20 70
Frolic Hunter
21 73
Destination Roadscape
22 77
Traveling Triplets
23 84
Stupid Ugly Foreigner
24 89
Ultimate Sports Talk
25 95
Federico Bongiorno – Positive Viajes

Do you have a favourite blogger from this region?

Meet Tina – Winners Interviews!

Our lovely German winner Tina, has kindly put together a mini ‘biography’ so that we can get to know her a little more before she heads off to the Philippines on her exchange! You can read her blog here.

Lunch For One - About Me

Tina about her Blog

‘Lunch For One’ is like a window into my kitchen, sharing my love for food, baking and cooking. I love to try out new dishes & ingredients (brussel sprouts or goatcheese for example) and exploring the world thru the cooking. The kitchen is pretty small, and there is just a  door open up to the living room. So even if my blog is a classic food blog I try to let my readers taking a look through the keyhole into my private live and whenever I travel how I explore new regions and food.

I started ‘Lunch For One’ three years ago (and can’t believe I’m still loving it), after family and friends started to ask me for my recipes. And I have to admit that I never thought of writing not in german, since its my native tongue, even if that means less readers & publicity.

And even after I struggled at some point last year with keeping up the blogging (and cooking & taking pictures) my readers got me to remember why I love blogging so much. Meeting people, fellow bloggers or readers, and leaving an impact – so everytime I’m able to help with my blog someone to try something new out it leaves a smile on my face.


Tina about Big Blog Exchange Project

The one thing I was fascinated about the whole project was the aspect to swap blogs. And I’m so glad I will be swapping with Cemie, as I love her blog and can’t wait to share my experience with her readers and the world.

Hopefully I will be able to blog a lot, and sharing it on twitter, facebook & instragam.

Since ‘Lunch For One’ is more focus on food and a small blog I never thought of winning so I never mention anything about it at all. But now everyone is looking forward to see how Camie & I will take on this Challenge.

Tina about Travelling

Lucky I don’t need a visa or any vaccinations since I’m probably having all that’s possible to get (blame the trip to India last year). Since I don’t know yet which parts of the Philippines I will visit, I try to not look too much into it already. But as soon as I know I will be researching a lot on the web, and hopefully everyone out can give me hints what not to miss.

ButI have to admit that I look forward to explore the beaches! Not really a “two weeks relaxing on the beach” person, but after some stressfull months at the office I hope to get a day or two just to explore the amazing beaches. But of course aswell the food (I love Mangos!), and maybe even be able to use the hostels kitchen to try out a few of the unknown vegetables for a new dish.

Living in the middle of Europe is the perfect place of travelling a lot, and luckily I was able to do just that during the last couple of years.

A big role in be able to travel was always for me to stay on a budget, which does include the use of a kitchen – and if its only for breakfast. So hostels have always played a huge role into my travels starting with a school trip when I was around 14, and fortunate (knocks on the wood) I never had any bad experiences with it.

Lunch For One - Essen, Backen und around the world

Tina about Germany

There is so much to see in my country. Starting with the beaches & islands up north with the famous “Wattmeer”, our trendy capital Berlin with the impact of our past still to spot, the landscape along the rhine, castles & the alps in the south.

Personal I want to recommend Camie a few food spots.  Like an evening out in a Munich Biergarten, bringing along your own food & just to order a “Mass” of the pure german beer. Then there is currywurst in Berlin to try, the classic afternoon “coffee & tea”, a trip to the bakery in the morning for breakfast with Brezel or the classic “Schrippe” how rolls are called in Berlin.

Celebrating Africa & Middle East!

Again, we had some amazing bloggers from this region! We loved every single one! We wish we could send you all on the Big Blog Exchange!

Top 25

1 8
The most beautifu places in the world.
2 16
Just Kicking It
3 24
The Sweeping Swallow
4 56
MzansiGirl – sharing the Mzansi love
5 61
6 79
7 87
Journey Around the world
8 88
Muay Guy
9 100
Wiscellaneous – my happenings & mishappenings
10 102
Lanalou Style
11 103
Cape Town Collectables
12 105
Cupcakes and Sailors
13 110
Good Thai-mes
14 120
The Brew Mistress
15 127
16 128
17 129
Durban Is Yours
18 133
The Green Table
19 146
My South Africa
20 162
Christian Avenue
21 180
22 201
Drop Your Drink
23 216
Wedding Anthem
24 236
Tourism Tattler
25 255

Did you have a favourite blogger from this region? Were you part of this region, what did you think of the project as a whole?

Meet Claire – Winners Interviews!

Have you met our French green geekette Claire yet? Claire will be jetting off to Brazil in June – how exciting! Here’s a little about her (and here is her blog) :

Firstly, for those who haven’t read your blog before – can you explain to us a little about what your blog is about?

When I launched it, my blog was mainly about green – such as natural beauty products – and geek stuffs, which explains why I choosed my blog to be named as “The Green Geekette”. But as my style evolved, so did my content and now my blog talks about lots of things, including travel especially since I live in Canada.


Why did you first decide to set it up?

I always loved to write. Not to the extent of being a novelist but I used to be good at school in literature. Actually, I was really studious during all my university years and spend all my time to study so that’s why when I started to work, I felt the need to find something else to fill my spare time! So I decided to launch my blog in order to share my discoveries, and this is how was born my alter ego “The Green Geekette”.

How long have you been blogging for?

The Green Geekette is my first and only blog, came to life by a beautiful day of February 2010. So I am blogging for more than 3 years!

How are you preparing your for your trip?

I first ask my boss some vacations (because as we only have 2 weeks of vacation per year in Canada, it’s kind of hard to have 10 days in one shot ^^). Then I started to read a lot of blogs and websites about Brazil, and bought a Brazilian conversation guide to learn how to speak Portuguese  As I don’t need visa, my only administrative formality was to get vaccinated for yellow fever and some others stuffs for which I was not “up to date”.


What are you most looking forward to?

As I’m really a “water girl” I can’t wait to discover natural beauties of Brazil such as Iguazú Falls or doing snorkeling In Bonito. Actually I never went to South America, so I’m really excited to the idea of discover some beautiful landscapes that I never had the opportunity to see.


As you probably know, the Big Blog Exchange is all about ‘changing the world, using the power of blogs’. How do you think you and your exchange can help change the world?

I truly believe that it’s up to us to change the world, and above all that small changes can make everything happen, especially when you have the force to step out of your comfort zone by meeting new people and discover different cultures than yours.

I took the decision to leave my French life a year ago with no regrets because I wanted so badly to try something new and today I’m deeply convinced that this has been my best decision ever. According to me, everyone should go to a foreign country for at least one year because this really is an experience that makes you grow.

Understanding how people live far away from our country is really the best way to be more respectful and aware of what is our world. Because we only have one, so we have to share it, even with our differences.

How do you plan to record your trip? Are you going to be blogging through video, pictures, written words or all three?

I’m planning to record my trip with as many medias as I can, including written words of course but also with pictures and videos!


Are you excited at the prospect of swapping blogs?

Because this adventure wouldn’t be the same if we weren’t swapping blogs, yes I’m so excited! I love the idea of being part of something bigger, not just to travel for travel (even if I love it) but also to share my culture with someone else, especially another blogger.

Is this your first time travelling or have you travelled before?

Before Canada I almost never travelled outside Europe so it’s kind of my first “big” travel so far in the world. Furthermore, I never travelled alone either so it’s a little frightening… but I’m really really  excited!


Have you heard about Hostelling International before, or is this your first experience with us (have you said HI to the world yet)? Are you excited?

Yes I heard a lot about Hostelling International, but until now I never went to one the HI hostels for my accommodation because I was often travelling with my whole family. But for my future travels (including Brazil of course) it would definitely be a solution to spare money and to meet great people!

Are your readers excited about your trip? Have you been blogging in the run up to the exchange?

It was such a big surprise for me to see that my readers, after voting for me were so happy for me that I won this contest. I received a lot of congratulations, asking me to come back from this beautiful travel with lots of photos, as well as some piece of advices.

What tips can you give for your exchange partner? What can he/she explore in your city/country?

In France, be prepared to eat and to drink a lot! Actually I don’t drink wine so I will be a terrific councilor in terms of what to drink, but from what I heard you drink some “Champagne” if you go near Reims, some “Vouvray” in the Loire Valley, some “Rosé” in the South… But above all, the more cheese you can taste, the more you will know what France is! (ok maybe I’m a little too bit cheese addict ^^) But according to me, you definitively should try raclette or tartiflette…

Where should he/she go? Or what should they do?

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/65534628″>Big Blog Exchange – From France to Brazil</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/thegreengeekette”>The Green Geekette</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

What do you find most rewarding about being a blogger?

If there was only one thing: to meet other people. Actually, my blog have allowed me to meet various people for the last 3 years, and I’m proud to say that some of them became really close friends. So it would definitively be hard for me to live without this virtual part of my life… I need this place where I can share my dreams, I need those people who interact with me, I need this feeling to be part of a community. 😉

Meet Sophie Roberts – Winners Interviews!

Have you met one of our wildcard winners Sophie yet? The jury was fascinated by her love of challenges and her abilty to take on any task. We hope she enjoys the challenges that the BBE will set her when she heads off to Singapore! Check out her blog here.

Firstly, for those who haven’t read your blog before – can you explain to us a little about what your blog is about?

Challenge Sophie is about taking on new challenges and achieve goals. It’s about helping ourselves be the best we can be and pushing boundaries to get there. I love a challenge!  For the past 7 years I’ve been exploring my physical and mental boundaries through adventure, sport and business. This blog follows my progress in the aim to encourage others to challenge themselves, or join forces with me!

My motto is ‘One life, Live it and never give up’.


Why did you first decide to set it up?

I quit my job in December 2012 and left the security of everything that comes with that behind. I had no plan, I just knew I wanted to explore new opportunities and create a story that was worth it for me. The night before I walked into work and handed in my notice, I spoke to a friend that said “A ship in a harbour is safe but that’s not what the ship was built for. Go Sailing”.  We all know that when we push ourselves to do something different, whether that is going travelling on your own for the first time, getting fit and entering your first race , learning a new skill or language, or quitting your job… we achieve great things so why do we not push ourselves more often? Living within your comfort zone is safe and comfortable. Living in the unknown is unfamiliar and unsettling. My blog follows my journey as I learn to accept the unknowns and even hunt them down!

How long have you been blogging for?

4 months!

How are you preparing your for your trip?

I’m getting married 2 weeks before the trip starts, I’m also training for my first Ironman Race which involves a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and then running a marathon so I’m trying my best to separate my time between different commitments. But generally, just getting really excited.


What are you most looking forward to?

Making the most of every second that I’m there.

As you probably know, the Big Blog Exchange is all about ‘changing the world, using the power of blogs’. How do you think you and your exchange can help change the world?

By encouraging people to take on new challenges and see what they can achieve. I’ve seen it change lives before, it definitely has mine. I would love to help people take the first step by doing challenges with them so that would be fantastic.


How do you plan to record your trip? Are you going to be blogging through video, pictures, written words or all three?

Definitely all three!

Are you excited at the prospect of swapping blogs?

Of course!  All though I don’t know too much about style and maybe Kisty wouldn’t be too keen to do my ironman training so hope it doesn’t involve swapping too much.

Is this your first time travelling or have you travelled before?

I have been lucky enough to travel before. Love, love , love it.

Have you heard about Hostelling International before, or is this your first experience with us (have you said HI to the world yet)? Are you excited?

I’m sure you can tell I’m very excited. I haven’t stayed with Hostelling International before so I can’t wait. All new experiences.


Are your readers excited about your trip? Have you been blogging in the run up to the exchange?

Everyone is very proud of me being selected as one of the wildcards for this competition.  It’s a huge metaphorical ‘tick’ for me because it shows that quiting my job and taking on new challenges was the right decision even if I have missed the security at times.


What tips can you give for your exchange partner? What can he/she explore in your city/country?

Wow, London. It’s summer so you will have to have Pimms and strawberries. Go to all the markets, vintage shops. Immerse yourself in London’s culture and don’t be overwhelmed by how big it is. Take loads of photos and meet as many English people as you can and tell them why you are here, they will love it.


What do you find most rewarding about being a blogger?

The fact that people read what I write!  You do something you love, because you love it and other people get something from it. Couldn’t be better. Thank you for this experience.

Surprise – Bloggers T-Shirts!

You may have seen on Twitter that we sent all of our 16 winners surprise packages this week – and in them, were Big Blog Exchange t-shirts. Although they may have been a little big (we only had them in one large size), we hope that all of the bloggers enjoyed their surprise and that they helped get into the BBE spirit! Bloggers are free to customize them as they wish – and wear them on their adventures!

Photo by kistybelle • Instagram

Jeremy Fowler- Cool Cool Cool!

Challenge Sophie

zegreengeekette on Instagram

Twitter - Search - #bigblogx

We can’t wait for the 7th June! Can you?

Meet Sara Rodriguez – Winners Interviews

Meet our lovely Spanish winner – Sara, from Mindful Travel by Sara, who will be swapping with Andy from Backpacking Diplomacy (USA). Here’s a little bit about Sara, in her own words.

MindfulTravel bySara

Firstly, for those who haven’t read your blog before – can you explain to us a little about what your blog is about?

I have always dreamed of traveling to new places, learning different cultures, and meet amazing people who thinks different than me.

Photos are the reflection of what you experience when you travel the world, either to the nearest city or the most exotic country…but clearly, the memories of these experiences, sights, smells, gazes are what really stay with you forever. So I decided to start this blog, to share my traveler dreams.  Write about my experiences around the world, tips and photos that could help other people to travel.

Why did you first decide to set it up?

In 2009 I thought about it but I didn’t have the courage to do it. In 2012, I was thinking about changing my life a bit and wanted to do something really rewarding. I love travel so I decided to start my blog.

How long have you been blogging for?

I just began a few months ago! It’s an incredible trip, love writing and share with others. Blogger community is amazing!


How are you preparing you for your trip?

I can’t stop thinking about how I’m going to write about my trip and how to share everything from tours, landscapes, culture, local people, food… I would love to spread all of it and show people how traveling can change the world.

What are you most looking forward to?

I would like to have one of the best experiences of my life. Absorb everything that America has to offer me and learn the best of local people and their culture.

As you probably know, the Big Blog Exchange is all about ‘changing the world, using the power of blogs’. How do you think you and your exchange can help change the world?

I think bloggers have the luck to share their amazing experiences to the rest of the world and show all its wonders and weaknesses. Blogs have the ability of connect people and I have the belief that all together could change the way people see the World and start thinking about it on the best positive way. Believe in it, because we can do it together.


How do you plan to record your trip? Are you going to be blogging through video, pictures, written words or all three?

I love photos, taking them and watching them. I think photos are the reflection of all around us, so I would like to share my trip mainly through pictures and written words. I’m a video blogging beginner but I will try to do some video with music too. I’m thinking about it all the time!

Are you excited at the prospect of swapping blogs?

I’m so happy and respectful at the same time. Write on another blog that is not yours is a challenge!

Is this your first time travelling or have you travelled before?

I’ve been traveling since I was a little girl. My parents inspired me the culture and the desire to travel and see the world, and now I can’t stop!


Have you heard about Hostelling International before, or is this your first experience with us (have you said HI to the world yet)? Are you excited?

Of course! Hostelling International is very well-known! When I was 18 I went to Italy by Interrail and choose Hostelling International for my accommodation. It was a great experience!

Are your readers excited about your trip? Have you been blogging in the run up to the exchange?

People who follow me is amazing, thanks to them I’m here now and without them I wouldn’t be writing this interview. So I so grateful to them. I think my readers would love to know more about the exchange and I’m writing about it this week, because this exchange is going to become once in a lifetime experience!


What tips can you give for your exchange partner? What can he/she explore in your city/country?

I think he will enjoy Spain so much! It’s an unforgettable country, full of contrasts, different cultures and history, really kind and outgoing people, amazing landscapes, beaches and tasty food.

I would just recommend him to enjoy the most of the experience that I’m sure he will!

Where should he/she go? Or what should they do?

Like I said before, Spain is full of contrasts. If you visit the north, you will find the best landscapes and colourful little villages, great beaches but humid weather, so is full of flora and fauna. Then you have the south, with its amazing cities like Seville, Cordoba or Granada, also long beaches with dunes and surfers in Cadiz. I think a must visit is Madrid and its surroundings, like Toledo and Segovia. Barcelona, Bilbao, San Sebastian, Valencia, Galicia… Spain has so much to offer and of course, so much to eat!


What do you find most rewarding about being a blogger?

I can’t say just one thing, because there are lots of rewarding feelings about being a blogger. Personally, writing about my travel experiences let me the ability to remember my emotions on every tip I made, remember images, photos, people, culture… and try to have the chance of transmitting other people the desire and excitement of travel the World.

Also is so rewarding to know that other people actually like what you read and make comments on your blog and Social Media, and you help them to plan their trips or remember their travels.

Finally, I can’t forget blogger community. People who help me every day and share all kind of comments and concerns. It’s simply amazing.

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