The Tale of Two Destinations
For greater than 90% of our travel, we pay for it out of our own pockets. The other part of the time, we accept invitations by destinations or brands to travel at their cost and write about it for you. Sometimes we are even paid beyond that, but always with the understanding that we will write about the good AND bad, no matter what. Although the bad is pretty rare – considering that travel is fundamentally awesome to begin with, plus we are always careful to choose our excursions based on our interests in the first place.
We turn down a lot. That 90% figure could probably be 50% or less if we wanted it to be, but we don’t. We mostly prefer the freedom to roam (or sit still and do nothing) as we please, with no obligation to write about every experience. And also because some of the offers we get are just so not “us” that it defies logic that we were even contacted in the first place.
Like a shopping tour to Dallas. Or a luxury Caribbean cruise complete with untenable requirements for us and our blog. And even once, an invitation on a “boomer” tour in eastern America. C’mon people, we may be about to cross over the proverbial hill, but we ain’t there yet.
And then, in the span of a couple of weeks, we had two quite compelling offers. One was a very simple “yes” (once we figured out our schedule), and the other a “well damn, that is intriguing,” but came with an abundance of red flags.
Here are their stories…
The simple yes – Molokai and Lanai
There are so many reasons for us to jump on an opportunity to visit more Hawaiian islands, especially considering how much we adored Maui and how well our stories were received on the blog and across social media. (Never mind that we’ve been pleasantly assaulting ourselves with winter this year and this would be a nice break!) We’ve also previously worked with the woman who organizes press trips to these islands and would love the opportunity to work with her again. She gets it, and she understands us. We won’t be thrown from activity to activity but instead will have an itinerary tailored to our interests and with lots of time to explore on our own. She knows how to encourage the best out of us.
So, yay! Off to Molokai and then Lanai in early October.
The intriguing but huh?
Fresh off our trip through Namibia, we got an invite back to that part of the planet (to a country we will leave unnamed).
First red flag: it came from a hotmail account.
Which should, under most circumstances, trigger an immediate click of the delete key, but the sender was articulate and sincere, and I was intrigued. This is NOT a country frequented often by tourists, and all of the natural treasures that come up with a simple Google search had us salivating.
But I could find no website for the group he claimed to represent and searches on his name and that of his boss came up nil. I requested proof (he bizarrely sent a selfie and a story about a British guy he helped the other day), and decided to send an email to the country’s Canadian consulate for an opinion.
A representative responded quickly who verified several of his claims, but raised all kinds of other red flags. But then our contact sent some real proof: a certified letter from his boss covering some of the terms we had discussed already.
Our final determination, after much back and forth, was this: it’s a legit offer that could result in a very remarkable trip, but also was more likely to be at least a bit of a disaster. I believe the intention to be good, but I had a vision of how exactly it would play out: an exhaustive itinerary being shuttled around from place to place with little time for ourselves. We’d be shown all the shiny pretty things but get to experience little.
And in the end, I don’t think we are the right fit for them. They want to focus on just one city, part of it would be to cover sustainable fishing (I think? Their desires are still only clear-ish to me), and they are looking for promotion of one specific hotel. None of which is a particularly good fit for us, and I don’t want a company or tourism board shelling out thousands if it ultimately is not something we would endeavour to do on our own.
After all the back and forth, no was a tough answer to give. Especially when this was the return: “Dalene I will not give up on you guys so easily, your blog is the reason that [my boss] decided to embrace this project, to invite international bloggers to promote tourism.”
We’ve since learned of several blogging friends who are taking up this offer and we will watch with great interest. But as with every decision we make, if it doesn’t feel quite right to even one of us, then both of us will take a pass. (Hope we’re eventually not disappointed about our decision.)