Find Your Defining Travel Moment

Life's one defining moment. It seems almost as elusive as love. What exactly is one's defining moment in life? And does it only come around once or are there multiple defining moments that await us over the course of our life? Maybe you know a little something about what I'm talking about. For the athlete, it's often winning a championship. For an actor or musician, it's winning a major award. But what about for us commoners? Those defining moments of life may not be so easy to recognize. I didn't immediately recognize, nor expect mine, yet when it happened, I knew it, and to this day, it remains one of my most vivid memories of my life.

Just like the many evenings before it, I found a spot on the Costa Rica beach of Playas del Coco to watch the sunset. There was nothing extraordinarily special or different about this evening, save the stray retriever who had trotted up behind me to grab a seat just yards away to take in the sunset himself. Yet it's often in those ordinary moments, that the extraordinary rises out of it. Few, if any sunsets, were as captivating and colorful as the one I experienced that night. I thought about the last year, from my separation and impending divorce, to my decision to launch a freelance travel writing career, to selling and giving away all of my things to travel indefinitely. It was such a climactic moment, like something from a season finale of LOST. I closed my eyes, let out a big sigh of relief,  and sat in a moment of serenity as the sun dropped behind the horizon. I did it.

What is it that I had done? I'm not exactly sure, yet I compared the feelings of that moment to what I imagine an athlete feels upon winning a championship, an actor upon winning an Oscar, and an executive upon receiving a promotion: A deep sense of fulfillment and accomplishment, mixed with gratitude. Life had a certain clarity to it that I had never experienced; not when I graduated high school or college, not when I got my first job as an adult, and not during any other similar time that's suppose to evoke momentous feelings. I didn't set out to travel long-term to "find myself". As a friend recently put it, we travel to get lost. And in getting lost, it's there, that I was most found.

That moment on Costa Rica's Playas del Coco changed me. While it differs for everyone, we've probably all had moments while traveling that we found something; something that goes much deeper than just a sought after food entree or travel souvenir; something that affects who we are and how we see the world. Maybe we find perspective, love, gratitude, bliss, or for some, balls. And it's for these, and many more reasons, that we continue to travel; to find those intangible parts of the travel experience that go beyond a photo, souvenir, or passport stamp.

And with that, it's with great pleasure that I'm telling you about one travel brand that is helping bring those intangible travel experiences to light. Expedia has launched a new campaign called "Find Yours", a new strategy that explores the experiential and meaningful parts of travel. It's based on the idea that travel is deeply personal. It's nothing innovative to many travelers, but certainly not something that's trended in the travel industry. The ad campaign will be featuring user generated stories from travelers.

Now that I've shared my story, it's your turn to share yours. Expedia's new Find Yours campaign officially launched on Monday and we're really kicking things off today. Your participation could mean a free trip. What's the catch? All you have to do is show off your favorite travel photos. Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, and blogging, you may already even be doing that. Do it over the next three weeks using the #ExpediaFindYours hashtag and you could win a voucher to use on or a four-night stay in Aruba. But there's always fine print, right? So here are the nuts and bolts:

  • The campaign is called the Expedia Find Yours Twitter Photo Contest. It kicks off today and runs through Tuesday, July 31st.
  • You have several different ways to win, including $250 travel vouchers from Expedia and a four-night stay in Aruba at Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts.
  • The most immediate way to participate is by participating in #Expchat today from 10:30 a.m. to noon PST. Be getting together your favorite travel photos of all time to share. One participant will win a $250 travel voucher to use on We'll be asking travelers to share their favorite travel memories and photos that have brought a sense of perspective, calling, strength, bliss, cojones, wonder, calm, purpose, freedom, and love.
  • 10 travel bloggers are giving away $250 travel vouchers.
  • At the end of July, Expedia will be giving away the four-night stay at Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts to one participant on Twitter. You can find out more about the prize, see the full list of participating travel blogs, and read the terms and conditions on

What is it that you've found on your most memorable trips?