The Tale of Two Destinations

The Tale of Two Destinations

August 24, 2015

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.)

P.S. We’ve always got Hawaii! YAY!


  1. I really love this new format and I hope it will catch on with your other readers as well! I obviously really enjoy your travel narratives, but it is also great to get a more personal glimpse on your lives (as opposed to your travels, if that even makes sense!) every once in a while and I think that this is also going to help to see your travel posts in the bigger scheme of things. Please keep it going! 🙂

    1. Thanks Melanie! So far it looks to be a popular post so we’ll see where this goes. I am excited to have this new outlet too, I feel like I have much more to share.

  2. Agree with Melanie. Great new format.

    There is something to be said for going with your gut, in all aspects of life. Your gut is what led you to a life of travel, so let it steer you where it wants, including saying no when you need to.

    Wishing you a world of enjoyment for Hawaii!

  3. I believe I commented on the original facebook post with positive encouragement, but I’ll continue it here. I think this “real time” feed will be a really cool addition for those of us who are following your travels!

    I’m also really curious about this opportunity that you turned down. Based on my experiences in West Africa, not knowing where the request came from, the “bizarre” email exchanges and inability to find information online is 100% normal. It does sound like the trip is not for you, but it’s likely a legitimate trip. Let us know when someone else has written about it?

    I also wanted to ask why you’re not going to send these posts to your email list? I personally only visit your blog when I receive an email from you, I want to read these posts, but I doubt I’ll remember to click over to see them if they don’t come to my inbox. So at least for me I’d like these to be treated the same as blog posts.

    1. I agree. I want to see these posts in my inbox too. 🙂 I’ll totally forget to click over after reading inital emailed post.

      I think you chose the wise choice with Hawaii. Your Hawaiian posts were awesome and I look forward to more.

      1. Thanks Tricia for the feedback. We will reconsider how to handle this. But for now I hope you’re with us on our Facebook page – we will post them all there!

    2. Yes Kara, I checked around with a few people who have traveled in west Africa and they said the same thing – that this was normal. Like I said, I do think it’s a legitimate trip, but overall I just think they would be asking us to cover something that isn’t quite in our interests. I find it really hard to write about something when that is the case, so wouldn’t want to do them a disservice either because we are not the right “fit”. Again, I could be totally wrong on this, and I hope the other bloggers have a tremendous time!

      The reason we’re keeping this out of our current email stream is that it is so different, and we don’t want to steer away from the linear story we are telling in our travel posts. We will re-evalute this in the future, or maybe even start a new stream. Hope you also follow us on Facebook, we will post everything there for now!

  4. I love it! Thank you for sharing what those interactions can look like. Good for you guys for sticking to your gut and honoring your value of traveling for you first. Excited to read more “real time” and following your adventures!

  5. I love this new stream – I think everyone wants to get a glimpse of the interior dialogue, the personal process you guys go through – not just the end results. Given your hesitation to go to this African country that is trying to begin promoting itself for tourism, I surmise that it may be Somalia. I’d hesitate too at this point. With no government at this time, it’s a bit like the wild west I would think.

  6. I follow many blogs but yours was one of the first and still continues to be one of my favourites. I enjoy your style of writing and am excited when I see a new post. Keep cranking out words in whatever format and I will read them!

  7. I love the new format as well and look forward to reading more of what goes on “behind the curtain.” I too constantly jot notes/thoughts down on my IPhone with the intention to blog about it later, but half the time it doesn’t happen. I respect and appreciate that the two of you remain freelancers and know when to go with your gut feeling. It’s one of the reasons why our blog and adventures are and will likely remain at the “hobby level,” since we plan to choose where we want to go and do what we want to do.

    1. It’s a tough line to tow sometimes between hobby and “professional” blog. I wouldn’t consider us hobby but also love our freedom to travel and write as we please with no expectations. Thankfully, we have other lines of income so that we don’t have to depend on the blog, and that helps too.

  8. If you aren’t sure about it then it’s probably for the best that you turned it down. Lanai and Molokai will be amazing! I will be in Kauai when you are there, my fourth Hawaiian island. Molokai is definitely on the cards for my next Hawaii trip, whenever that may be

  9. Agreeing with the above, hot stuff. I love this. I’m planning on adding a little more behind-the-scenes on the blog as well, but darn this is a clever format indeed! And very nicely written.

  10. I love the real-time addition! Great idea! And I think you guys were super smart to go for Hawaii and take a pass on the second one. You have to trust your gut. Also, HAWAII!! I can’t wait to read about it. I’ve never been there, even though my mom spends the winters there (escaping from Saskatchewan – can’t blame her, right?) but it looks absolutely fantastic. The dive shop manager where I’m working right now is from Hawaii, and his stories have me itching to go!

  11. Yay! Thank you so much for opening this space for us, your readers, and for yourself, it sounds.

    I commend you and Pete for taking on only those projects in which you believe. It proves your authenticity and credibility.

    I’m glad you’ve decided to include these in you emails. I look forward to learning more from this blog section!

  12. What wonderful options to choose from! Looking forward to your Hawaii posts as I haven’t been to either of those islands, but feel like I’m due for another trip to Hawaii soon!

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