#winning Australia

The Unnecessarily Elaborate Story of How I’m Going to Australia

Image Source: JohnnyJet.com

Image Source: JohnnyJet.com

I won a trip to Queensland, Australia.  Check the date; it isn’t April 1.  I still can barely believe it and it’s been a solid 7 months of processing this information.

Back in June I made the decision to try to jump back into travel blogging.  It had been a year since I returned from my European backpacking adventure.  I perused through some old posts and reminisced about the joy of traveling & the fulfillment from writing about it.  The flame was rekindled when I published a couple posts.  During my lunch breaks I began collecting the blogs of career travel writers.  I ate their content like chocolate and felt sick with admiration & slightly jealous of their jetsetter lifestyle.  I’d return to my stable, stationary cubicle and continue with my 8 hour workday at my computer screen.

On one particular lunch break, I escaped from the frigid air conditioned office and soaked up the sun on the office patio.  As I browsed through a series of travel sites, a “Top 10 Travel Blogs of 2013” article caught my attention.  An appealing site was “JohnnyJet.com” – what a clever name!  At first brush, I was turned off by this “blog” – it seemed more like a busy commerce website than the typical format of personal travel tales (I’m a novice, remember?).  Just as my finger extended to tap the back button, the line “Travel Blogger Contest” jumped off the page.

Oh, blogger contest? Really!? I’m a travel blogger! Kinda…

As I read the contest about the trip contest to Queensland, my heart began to swell.  Yes, I can do this!  I can enter!  I can fulfill my dreams and travel the world!  The remainder of the work day tested my discipline.  Though I stayed committed to my work tasks, my imagination was swimming in the Coral Sea.  A blaze awakened within and I was ready to put my writing to the test.

Over the course of the next few days, I designed a Queensland itinerary that could only be achieved in a month, chopped it down, crafted all my words, recrafted them, edited them, felt really excited about my writing, then really stupid.  My confidence soared then faltered.  Finally the deadline arrived, I pressed publish, emailed my submission and tweeted the post with the official #5DaysinQueensland hashtag.  I did it, and it felt okay.

During the writing process, I exercised the power of positive thinking:  Self-fulfilling prophecy; willing it to happen.  After I pressed submit, I decided to read all the other entries.  As I was writing, I made a point to not size up the competition.  I didn’t want to feel discouraged and I didn’t want the voices & ideas of others to pollute the direction of an entry that was purely “mine.”

Which was a good thing, because I began to feel discouraged and thought myself an “amateur” in comparison to these seasoned bloggers- most of whom appeared well-traveled, well-written, and well-established in this overpopulated world of travel blogging.  Deep in my heart, I still willed a win to happen, but did my best to nonchalantly shrug it off, considering it an “experience” and a way to get myself “out there.” This was my entry.

The day before the winner reveal, all the entrants were gathered in the lecture hall of my university for the announcement of the winner.  Two other bloggers had won the competition and I came in a close third.  This was just a dream.  I woke up disappointed, took it as a sign, and approached the next couple days of waiting with the expectation that another established, deserving travel blogger would win.

The reveal was delayed.  This was a good thing as I began to accept and move on from the idea of traveling to Australia.  There’s no disappointment when there’s no expectation.

I was texting my amiga Lara about planning a weekend trip to Toronto to attend a friend’s wedding.  We were texting back and forth for some time.  A double buzz was a text message, a single buzz, email.  Those double buzzes kept lighting my phone, as we excitedly conversed about staying in a hostel again, escaping the country, trying poutine & wondering what the wedding would be like.  Queensland blogger contest?  What contest?

Double buzz.  There was no text from Lara. Odd.  I rolled my eyes at the phantom sounds my phone was making.  A couple minutes went by.  Why the heck does my phone like to make random notifications?!?  I decided to check other outlets that could have decided to send a notification. Facebook?  No.  Twitter?  No.  Calendar appointment?  No.  Oh, email!  Two new emails downloaded.

It’s like driving a car calmly and suddenly the vehicle in front of you SLAMS on their breaks.  It’s unexpected & surprising.  I felt a rush of adrenaline and forgot to breathe.  There were two emails… one from Tourism & Events Queensland (TEQ), the other, Johnny Jet.

My brain’s initial reaction was Oh hey!  They’re announcing the winner!  I wonder if it’s the blogger from my dream.  That’d be psychic.

Before I could even open the email, I saw the preview text.  Both had the words “Congratulations” in the first line.  That’s when my body shut down its lung functions and I had to consciously focus on my inhales and exhales.  No.  No way.

Inhale, exhale. Oh. My. Holy. Toledo. I did it.  I won the blogger contest.  I’m going to Queensland, Australia.

Once I controlled my bodily functions (yes, my eyes started producing some weird thing called tears, and my lungs were strained & I almost released my bladder in shock), I galloped out of the office, plopped in my car, reread the emails ten times and called my parents.  They were excited, but both pulled me back to reality with the question, “You sure this isn’t a scam?”  Crap.

So instead of immediately accepting the trip, I waited.  I reread the terms & conditions.  I produced a list of questions.  I scheduled a call with a representative at TEQ.  She relieved all my fears, answered my questions and reassured that yes, this was the real deal.

The catch?  I’ll have to write blog posts for the TEQ blog and my blog.  Well, it’ll be my pleasure!

I accepted the trip.  I am outrageously thrilled and grateful for this opportunity. At this time, my countdown has finally reached double digits, with only 98 days to go.

P.S…. Don’t ask me why I decided to wait 7 months after I won the trip to officially share the news… I suppose I didn’t want to share it with the world until I had those plane tickets & hotel accommodations booked in my name. ;)

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