expedia find yours

Find Your Freedom {& An Aruba Contest!}

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DON'T MISS OUR CONTEST ANNOUNCEMENT---for a trip & travel voucher---BELOW!

As many of you probably know, I've been fortunate enough {read: I'm still in shock and awe} to partner with Expedia.com for the past few months. Along with nine other travel bloggers, my latest project is a co-leading a Twitter Photo Contest {details below}, a continuation of my solo Expedia video {highlighting a life-changing travel moment in Mexico} that recently kick-started one of Expedia's largest-ever campaigns: Find Yours.

About Find Yours Instead of focusing bikini-clad blonds sipping umbrella drinks on the beach and blue-eyed hunks carving figure eights on glaciers in Vail, my former advertising account exec self is o-v-e-r-j-o-y-e-d that Expedia is the first travel company to do away with the expected, and take the road less traveled {pun intended} speaking to the heart and soul of globetrotting. There's ALWAYS a reason we travel, find yours...

Expedia Find Yours Twitter Photo Contest ----> 2 Chances To Win WHAT YOU CAN WIN 1/ Four nights at the Bacati & Tara Beach Resort in Aruba. {This grand prize will be awarded to any tweet including the #expediafindyours hashtag and one of the participating bloggers' keyword hashtags, mine is #freedom} 2/ An $250 Expedia Voucher. {The Trip Styler prize awarded to a participating tweet with a photo and the #expediafindyours and #freedom hashtags}

HOW TO ENTER 1/ First things first; make sure you're following Expedia on Twitter 2/ Tweet a photo with the hashtags #freedom #expediafindyours from July 11 - 31, 2012. Note that your tweet MUST include a photo, as well as the #freedom and #expediafindyours hashtags to be automatically entered to win.  Full details here. Example Tweet: #Freedom on a ladder in Peru #expediafindyours @tripstyler - ow.ly/i/LfMh 3/ AND, please include @tripstyler in your tweet so I can retweet your travel photos!

Find Your Freedom Once you see the prizes and simplicity of entering my joint-venture Twitter photo contest with Expedia {above}, I know you may skip this paragraph in a moment of travel euphoria, but I'll pen it anyway. As one of 10 travel bloggers participating in Find Yours Twitter Photo Contest, we each had the choice of a word we'd use to associate with our tweets. I chose #freedom for two reasons. First---> for me, find your freedom is not just a word, it's a lifestyle. Second---> sometimes words can't describe the emotions associated with the freedom standing on a mountaintop in Nepal, watching a flock of flamingoes fly overhead in Bonaire, catching a wave in Oahu, or even eating a McOddity in who knows where. A picture's worth 1000 words, so from today until July 31st, tweet one or 1000 photos---whether it's your own photo or someone else's---that describe finding your freedom. Reminder, there are two prizes up for grabs.

Finding My Freedom About six years ago my husband and I took an inventory of our values knowing they are the foundation for every decision, action and reaction. We learned that one of our personal and shared values was freedom, and since then, we have been very purposeful about living this out, carefully weighing it and along with our other values every time we make a decision. Cue the violins: I would not be where I am today {which *I think* is a good place} if it weren't for freedom. This is why I chose it as the #expdiafindyours word for me and you.

Expedia's Find Yours Videos {I dare you NOT to get misty in the eyes} Expedia's Find Yours Anthem, crowdsourced from real stories online.

My Find Your Calling Story.

Dave & Deb's Find Your Harmony Story.

[photos by @tripstyler used for an expedia twitter program in which I'm participating]

My "Find Yours" Background

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On Monday I told you about my "secret" {but now the cat's out of the bag} trip to San Felipe, Mexico three weeks ago with Expedia for the "Find Your Calling" video shoot. Though 99.9% of my days were spent filming in and around the medical clinic I helped build, I got a chance to snap some photos between takes. Since San Felipe is a bit off the traveler's radar in comparison to Cabo and Cancun, here's bit of background on the town and my journey there...

I've been to San Felipe three times. My Mexi "first" was 18 years ago, followed by a second trip one year later and a third trip 10 years ago. Each journey centered around helping with the development of the medical clinic. And in case you think the experience was cushy, let me assure you it was not. As you can see below, the beach is quite lovely; however, there were no daily sunning sessions après work.

The first and second times I went, the clinic was in its infancy. As a result, we slept like canned sardines in sleeping bags on the floor of an old mobile home trailer beside the site. In the morning, we'd throw our "foamies" to the side and eat cereal in the same spot. Twenty of us shared one bathroom. Looking back, I'm not sure how. Despite the trailer's tattered and sand-stained carpet, basic kitchen and bathroom with rotting linoleum, it was more cushy than the way most locals lived. We had daily food, a roof over our heads and four connecting walls---still a luxury by 90% of the world's standards.

My two spring break visits were in grade 10 and 11. I returned for my third visit when I first started working in the corporate world, but this time as a leader to the teens on the trip. Given that seven or eight years had gone by since my first two visits, the clinic was now a bigger operation, capable of handling more patients with more sophisticated medical equipment.

Fast-forward to present day. When I got the email from Expedia saying they wanted to take me back to San Felipe to film for their "Find Yours" campaign, I was a crying mess.  I couldn't believe that a} the world's largest online travel company would be interested in my story and b} I would have a chance to share a life-changing moment that occurred on a mountaintop 18 years ago.

I learned MANY lessons on that first trip to Mexico, but the one that sticks in my mind the most is when you take yourself outside of your comfort zone, you learn the most. This is not always comfortable, but it can change the course of your life---for the better.

Thanks for sharing my journey. Here are a few photos of my trip to San Felipe with Expedia...

{Getting there}

{The colorful airport}

{San Felipe's arches welcoming visitors}

{5:30am sunrise}

{Our new, half-built hotel from the beach}

{The clinic today}

{The clinic's neighborhood}

{The view of the mountain from the clinic}

{The view from the top of the mountain}

{Lunch: just-caught fresh fish tacos}


In case you didn't see the video on Monday... Can't view this video?

[Photos by @tripstyler]