We Won a Trip Around the World

Lynda and Rae won a contest that allows them to travel the world for an entire year! And they are sharing their experiences with International Student Voice Magazine.

For the next year, Lynda, 29, and her daughter Rae, 8, will be blogging as they travel the world living in four different countries. They will be blogging about their experiences so you can follow them!

But first, how does someone WIN a chance to travel the world for an entire year?!

Lynda and Rae explain in their first blog post.

We Won a Trip Around the World…and I’m Freaking Out.

As I look at the huge piles of stuff on my floor, everything starts to merge into one giant pile of stuff.  I’m trying to remember which was the “keep” pile and which was the “give away” pile. Moving is always a task, isn’t it? It can be fun and exciting! But, still – it’s such. a. task. This recent task, however, is quite the beast. My 8-year-old daughter and I are going to be moving out of our home and into the unknown. We’re traveling the world together for one year. The world meaning four different countries – Czech Republic, Thailand, South Africa, and Panama. Ok, so…maybe not the ENTIRE world, but you get the idea.

So, this is sort of unprecedented, right? I’ve gotten responses from people that can be easily summed up into this: “OHMYGOD, OHMYGOD, OHMYGOD THAT’S AMAZING! Wait! How, what, huh?!”. And, trust me, I know how you feel, because I feel the same way. But, like, tenfold and then some. But, let me backtrack a bit.

How did we win this contest?

Well, I’m going to blame my mom. Yup. This is totally my mom’s doing.

March 13th. Before this date, I decided to join a little group that I discovered on Facebook called “Wandering Moms”. It was so cool and very inspirational. It consists of moms from all over the globe who want to give their children the world by providing them with enriching travel experiences. All of the moms share their travel tips and tricks, travel deals, etc. I briefly remember one of the founding ladies of the group, Libryia, mention that she has an organization called My Wander Year. So, I hopped on over to the website to see what it was all about. The first thing I see is, “We are cultivating a community of 30 – 50 individuals who will travel the globe for one year. We will learn new things, gather new experiences, and make lifelong connections.” Nice, nice. I do more digging around to look up the cost. The price is seriously a steal for everything that’s provided – round trip airfare, apartments in each country, wifi, monthly guided excursions, sim cards, work space, and more – but, I personally knew that this wasn’t something I could realistically afford or take a gamble on. So, I walked away from the site a bit disappointed.
So, where was I?  Right. March 13th. My mom calls me in the afternoon to frantically tell me that, “the My Wander people are doing some type of live video announcement tonight at 8pm.”

I ask, “What kind of announcement?”

“I don’t know. But, it seemed really important.”

“Haha, okay mom.”

I think after hanging up I laughed and rolled my eyes a little. Because I’m still my mother’s child. But, she seemed so excited by it so I made a mental note to just watch whatever this announcement was. So, at 8pm, there I was, watching this live video announcement. The announcement was that My Wander Year decided to hold a contest to sponsor a single mom to come on the trip with them for the entire year.

March 20th. The deadline to enter into the contest. Among the requirements to enter was that we had to create a 90 second video that explained “who you and your child(ren) will be after returning from this journey. Now, 90 seconds is not long at all. However, I knew that I had to do something to stand out from the crowd. The wheels started spinning in my head and the video I wanted to create was going to take some work. Work…and a lot of time. For a week, in addition to the usual, busy, evening routine, I went about the task of creating this video: filming snippets of our lives with my smartphone, writing a script, recording voice overs, downloading music, downloading audio/video editing apps, googling how to actually use said apps, getting frustrated, taking breaks from the frustration, and then coming back to it. You get the picture. On March 20th, I uploaded our video to YouTube to complete the final portion of the contest entry. I was very proud of the work that we did. But, all I could do after entering was wait. So I waited, But I didn’t wait long because there was another announcement 3 days later.

March 23rd. My Wander Year announces that they decided to extend the contest until March 31st.

March 23rd – March 31st. FREAK. OUT.

March 31st. The contest ends (again) and then the real waiting began. So, I just…waited. And waited and waited. I waited until April 21st.

April 21st. I get an e-mail from the My Wander Year Team informing me that we were chosen as one of four finalists, and that the winner would be announced on Sunday, May 8th – Mother’s Day. The winner would be chosen based on a combination of internal judging and online votes from the public.

We were one of the top 4 finalists in a contest. And not just any contest. A contest for a trip AROUND THE WORLD! It was a weekday and I saw the e-mail right before leaving the house to go to work. That day is a bit fuzzy, but if I remember it correctly, this is an approximate representation of my drive in to work:


April 21st – April 30th. A mad race to the finish line commences. And BOY, did it commence. In the form of voting. That voting period was absolutely insane. I knew I had to think outside of the box because the competition was so fierce. Like, crazy fierce. Our video was good, but so were the others. Outside of reaching out to family and friends on social media, I contacted my daughter’s school district and dance studio and asked them to spread the word. I also reached out to as many media people/platforms I could think of:

Good Morning America
Washington Post
Local newspapers and news stations

No one really took the bait, but I didn’t quit. We made flyers with a QR code that people could scan with their smartphones which would then lead them directly to the website to vote for us. And we would leave them in random places. We left them everywhere.
I even went so far as to reach out to a best-selling author who happened to write…err…steamy adult novels. And she posted the e-mail that I sent her on her social media page. So, that was something, right?

My desperation knew no bounds. I wanted to win, but more than anything, I truly felt as though I needed to win. WE needed to win. It would have been heartbreaking to come so close to winning something this monumental but falling short. We, of course, would have been thankful just for the opportunity to be finalists. But, still. We both worked so hard on the video. So. Hard.

During the voting process, I hardly slept. I also want to take a moment to show my appreciation to everyone that came out of nowhere to rally behind us. Friends and teachers from high school who I hadn’t seen in years, old neighbors, family friends that knew me from when I was little, people who didn’t even know me but were told to just vote for us by my friends and family.

After a very long week of a rollercoaster of voting results – going from first place, to second place, to last place, to 2nd place, to first, to second, and back again – voting finally ended. The only thing I wanted to do after voting ended at 11:59:59pm on April 30th, was sleep. And. I. Slept.

May 1st – May 7th. The Wait. The waiting definitely wasn’t as hard as the video-making and voting period. But, it was still difficult. I didn’t know the outcome of anything but was trying to stay optimistic and just thankful to even be in that position. I WAS thankful; but, man, that wait! I was on pins and needles and STILL barely sleeping because I’m just anxious to know the results.

May 8th. I get an e-mail from Libryia asking if she can skype with me to ask me a few more questions about my application and to verify some information before they make a final decision. Now, listen. You already know the ending to this story. So, in hindsight, I suppose that e-mail should have been an obvious ruse to me. A dupe. A scam. A sham. Trickery in its purest form. But, I didn’t catch on and I eagerly responded to the e-mail like, “OMGOMG Yes, anything you want. Ask me anything, ask me all the questions. I will happily and eagerly respond to whatever. As long as it speeds up the WAITIIIING! Eeeeeeek.” Maybe I didn’t literally say that, but it probably came across that way. Can you blame me? So, we skype. Initially there were technical difficulties. My sound wasn’t working. I was screaming internally. I was shaking. Like, what. On. EARTH. Else. Could. She. Want. To. know?! So, things start working and she asks questions while I have mind blanks and ramble. And half way through my rambling, she interrupts me and tells me that we won the contest.

I scream.

I scream for Rae to come over and scream at her that we won. She’s in shock, but super excited because this is all we had been eating, sleeping, breathing, and thinking about for weeks. And the unknowing was finally over. More importantly, all of our hard work paid off and we won.

So, again, how did we win? The answer to that question is so broad. I will proudly point my finger in my mom’s direction, because, she unknowingly informed me of the contest. But, there are so many other people to whom I owe gratitude. Thanks to my mom for randomly calling me and telling me to watch the live video announcement. Thanks to all of my friends, family, and people who didn’t even know us for voting for our video.

Thanks to Libryia and her My Wander Year organization for even thinking of such a dream idea. My Wander Year turned a program that is already phenomenal and unorthodox in its own right into something even grander and more inclusive than I could have ever imagined. To my knowledge, a traveling program like this has never been as accessible or accommodating to people with children. And thanks to her, she has done something truly incredible, inspirational, and innovative.

And, finally, a thank you to the other moms who participated in the contest. They took a huge chance on something big and I truly don’t think that should go unnoticed. We all took a risk on this wild idea of a contest for ourselves and our children because we want to give them everything in this life. That drive and determination will never go away and their kids will see that and grow to be just as strong, adventurous, and thankful. Plain and simple: all of those ladies who entered into the contest are rock stars.

Thank you – times infinite. I will never stop being thankful for this crazy opportunity that has been provided for my daughter and I. I look forward to traveling the world with her. I look forward to experiencing and learning new things with her. We’re excited to share this journey with everyone and I am positive that this experience will stay with us forever.

The winning video:

You can follow Lynda and Rae with ISV Magazine as they travel the world! 

sunshine and rae

You can always stop by their blog https://sunshineandrae.com/blog/

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