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Monday, April 30, 2012

The Brown Palace Hotel

The Brown Palace Hotel is on the United States' National Register of Historic Places
Image Source:  Wikipedia

The Brown Palace Hotel is a palace after my own heart.  #swoon 

Not only is the award-winning historically significant Brown Palace Hotel hosting ten girls from Smart Girl for the Denver Passport Party this June, but it has both community CARES and Green initiatives in place, plus ten lucky Passport Party girls and 5 travel blogger volunteers will get a private tour of an historical luxury hotel that has rolled out the red carpet for every U.S. president since Teddy Roosevelt* in 1905! 

Right in the heart of downtown Denver, the Brown Palace Hotel opened its doors in 1892 and in June of 2012, they will open their doors for The Passport Party Project.  Boy oh boy, if those walls could talk! 

What a treat...  #cantwait


*with the exception of Calvin Coolidge
Disclosure: The Brown Palace Hotel is sponsoring the meeting space and light lunch for the Denver Passport Party and I'm going to be staying at The Brown Palace Hotel before I hit the road to Keystone, Colorado for TBEX.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Passport Party Project First: Bags by eBags Mobile Office Giveaway

Win me!

eBags SOHO Leather Mobile Office
 Suggested Retail Value: $149.99

When Bags by eBags signed on to become the Official Luggage Sponsor of The Passport Party Project, I was - needless to say - ecstatic.  To be able to provide luggage for some of the girls (and all of the Expedia® contest winners!) with their very own high quality luggage makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.  I love this kinda stuff.  =)

So when Bags by eBags offered to reward Passport Party Project advocates by way of a some super fun giveaways, I was even more psyched (if that's possible).  Even Passport Party Project volunteer Chelle Roberts of BrownGirlsFly (pictured right) won a trio of super cool packing cubes from Bags by eBags at the Miami Passport Party a few weeks ago.  #score

So.  Instead of my flapping my jaws, I'd like to invite you to participate in The Passport Party Project's very first Bags by eBags Mobile Office Giveaway.  The rules are simple and the contest is fun, so get ready to pull out that camera or do some photo searching if you want to win this beautiful bag (by eBags).

Bonne Chance!

The Official Rules:
Open to U.S. Residents only. This giveaway begins April 26, 2012 and ends at 11:59PM PST on May 25, 2012; one winner who has successfully completed the Required Entry below will be picked at random and will be notified by email. Winner has 48 hours to claim prize otherwise another winner will be selected.

Required Entry:
Every Travel Tuesday and Thoughtful Thursday (beginning at anytime on April 27, 2012), visit The Passport Party Project site and search for the Photo Clues on the Passport Party Project sidebar.  Based on those Photo Clues, follow the instructions and upload the required photo to a Photo Gallery you create on Facebook, Flickr or any other photo site and name it "Bags by eBags Photo Gallery"  At the end of the contest, you should have at least 9 photos in your Bags by eBags Photo Gallery

***Before the contest closes (11:59PM PST on May 25, 2012), leave a comment on this post telling me "I want to win the mobile office from Bags by eBags!" along with the link to your completed Photo Gallery.  

All entries will be checked for accuracy and only those that are successfully completed will be entered into the random drawing.

(And no, if you're on Tracey's Twitter feedTracey's Facebook page or The Passport Party Project's Facebook page, no clues or aid will be given.  No exceptions.  *Sinister smile*)

Good luck!


This post is sponsored by Bags by eBags...
Official Luggage Sponsor of The Passport Party Project.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Recognition Rocks

Cocobay, Antigua / April 21, 2012
Image credit: @OneBrownGirl
I just got back from Antigua today; stopped by Cafe de la Presse for lunch (and dessert) on my way home from the airport; stopped by my store to pick up the mail; and then stopped by the post office to pick up a package I wasn't expecting.


From The US Bureau of Consular Affairs...

For your effective use of social media
to promote and encourage participation
in Passport Day in the USA 2012.

Signed by
Brenda S. Sprague
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Passport Services
Bureau of Consular Affairs
March 10, 2012

Thank you...

US Bureau of Consular Affairs

for recognizing me in this way.

I'm so honored.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Look What We Got!

Sisters Viviana & Victoria show off their very first passports!
Austin Passport Party

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Miami Passport Party

The Miami Passport Party Project
Pictured:  Passport Party Project founder Tracey Friley and the Honey Bugs
from Honey Shine Mentoring Program

Jewel Figueras of Jewel's Fab Life
Jewel is accompanied by Casey (in pink) from luggage sponsor Bags by eBags

You might be surprised to learn how difficult it is to give away a free passport.  When I was looking for non-profit girls groups to gather 10 girls from their respective communities for each city The Passport Party Project would visit, I was shocked at the number of skeptics I encountered.  Hardly anyone believed me when I said I didn't want anything in return.  I just want to be a part of giving girls a world view, I kept repeating. How hard could that be?

So when I was going nowhere with girls groups in Miami, I called Miss South Florida herself (that would be Jewel Figueras of Jewel's Fab Life) and she immediately pointed me to the Honey Shine Mentoring Program run by former NBA player Alonzo Mourning's wife Tracy Wilson Mourning.  I got the okay from Honey Shine's Andrea Graham and coordinated the logistics with Program Coordinator LaCriscia Fowlkes.  Thank goodness for Jewel.

To get Jewel's recap of The Miami Passport Party, please click here.

Crystal (left) & Chelle (right) of BrownGirlsFly
And yes, that's Casey again.  (She loves photos!)

But guess what?  BrownGirlsFly was in the building as well...and Passport Parties don't go down without the help of a crew of volunteers to help spread the word about travel to the next generation of travelistas.  And as an extra bonus, Chelle won a set of packing cubes from Bags by eBags!  Woot!

To get BrownGirlsFly's awesome recap of The Miami Passport Party, please click here.

Miami Passport Party Volunteers
Left to right:  Angela of Latina Mom Bloggers & Hispanicize, Jewel, Tracey,
Crystal, Chelle & Cristy of Los Tweens
 Video snippet courtesy of BrownGirlsFly

For more photos, please click here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Go Erin Go!

Passport holders in The Himalayas (left to right)
Erin (USA), Hilde (Austria), Anne (Germany), Benedicte (France), Pirjo (Finland)
When Erin Michelson reached out to me to ask to be involved when The Passport Party Project makes its way to San Francisco in March 2013, saying yes was a no-brainer.  You see, Erin (of GoErinGo) is an adventure philanthropist currently on an enviable two year Global Living and Global Giving round the world journey and was profiled in a National Geographic Traveler magazine article entitled "The New Philanthropist."  I plan to profile Erin as well when I present a session on "Travel Philanthropy" at BlogHer 12 this August.  Erin, as you can well imagine, is a woman after my own heart.  #love
Nirma Rai
Erin, just back from trekking the Himalayas, sent in a picture of herself and her trekking crew (you can send in a picture too!) so that she could be a part of The Passport Party Project even before the last party in San Francisco next year that will be the kickoff of the Expedia® contest that will gift some of the new passport holders with a trip to get their first passport stamps.  Currently in Nepal and on her way to Singapore, Erin also included a photo of Nirma Rai, "our Nepalese trekking guide, holding her photo. It’s extremely rare for a Nepali woman to have a passport and Nirma has traveled to Italy and Poland to receive advanced mountain climbing and ice climbing training. She is also one of the first Nepali women to summit Annapurna 4 (the 11th tallest mountain in the world). She’s a rock star!" 

But guess what? I think Erin is a rock star too.  =)

Saturday, April 14, 2012


I've decided to create a new Twitter hashtag called #travelbyexample inspired by several conversations I've had in the past several months and most recently on Twitter yesterday with Kenji from @PassportLife when he posed the following question:

A gap year off after high school or college to travel is a standard in Europe. In America, not so much. Why is that?

Tracey & Casey #selfportrait
(And yes, I've named my Bags by eBags suitcase.)

My response was simple:  Fear.  The longer answer had I not been in a hurry (and not had the confines of 140 characters on Twitter) would have been:  Fear...from parents (typically the funders of college) that a year off from school could result in any host of worst-case-scenarios, namely getting the travel bug and deciding to continue to travel for more than a year...hence, putting off college; deciding not to go to college at all; finding love in another country and never coming back; yada yada yada.  You get the picture.

And while I acknowledge that travel in many families is considered a luxury and not a lifestyle and while I also acknowledge that many folks are misinformed about how travel doesn't actually have to be luxurious to be enjoyed, there is definitely a pretty big segment of the American population that operates from this base of fear and lack of information.  Because as all of us travelers know, there is more to be gained by travel than not traveling at all.

The solution, IMHO, is what I tell myself when I deal with Fearful Parents that won't let their children go to OBG Adventure Camps and adults who are afraid to venture off on a solo trip, etc.:  Travel by example.  Show people that travel can be fun and safe and mind-blowing and life-changing.  Maybe, just maybe, if all of The Wanderlusts keep traveling and sharing their stories, The Fearful will get The Bug and become Wanderlusts too. 

I'm sure there are loads of other reasons I'm not considering and other solutions as well.  Anyone care to chime in?

In the meantime, get your passport and #travelbyexample.