A couple of months ago, I heard DoubleTree by Hilton was asking for travel video submissions to their new online community, DTour. I jumped at the chance to participate. First off, I had already made a bunch of travel videos in my spare time and posted them on YouTube. Secondly, Kristen and I love Hilton hotels and DoubleTree will always have a special place in our hearts: we stayed at the Doubletree in Charlottesville, VA, the night before our wedding (in separate rooms, for tradition's sake). Oh, and there was some vague mention of a prize, to boot.
Here is one of the videos I submitted, from our trip to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam:
A month or so later, I found out that I was a finalist in a contest much bigger than I had expected. I could become one of six DTourists, to win a free trip to one of six continents, stay in DoubleTree hotels, make videos, post photos, and blog the whole way. To be considered, I had to answer a questionnaire and make a minute-long video, describing why I'd make a great DTourist. Here's my video submission:
A couple of weeks after that, while we were traveling in Puerto Rico with my whole family, I got on a phone call with DoubleTree, and they said I'd won! We were at lunch in Old San Juan, so we ordered champagne and celebrated! (See picture above.)
It wasn't until two weeks later that I found out where I'd be going. The big reveal happened during a live Google Hangout with all six winners, aka DTourists, the DoubleTree team and Julia Dimon. When they announced my trip would be to Australia, I was totally floored!
I'm super excited about setting foot in the Southern Hemisphere, but most of all I can't wait to see the wildlife. Kangaroos, koalas, wombats, platypuses, echidnas... this nation/island/continent sounds amazing.
Here's what I know about the trip so far: it's free, it's for 19 days in late January, and it will include stays in DoubleTree and Hilton hotels in Darwin, Alice Springs, Brisbane and (hopefully) Sydney. Plus, they've got a surfing lesson lined up for me in surfer's heaven - on the Gold Coast! The rest is up to me. I'm just beginning to do my research...
But, we all know that some of the best travel tips aren't published in books, they come from friends. So, if you have been to Australia, what are your favorite things to do there? Where should I go, who should I meet, and what should I eat? Please comment below. G'day, mate!
Disclosure: I am traveling to Australia as a DTourist on behalf of DoubleTree by Hilton.