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Out of thousands of applicants, 6 lucky entrants to the Doubletree by Hilton DTour competition were chosen to represent and promote the brand on an all expenses paid trip around their chosen continent. 5 of the 6 chosen DTourists have now completed their tours, having respectively traveled across Australia, Asia, Europe, The Middle East, Africa and the United States. Excitement is mounting as I count down the 4 weeks left before my tour (the final tour) around Central and South America.

And what better way to prepare for what’s in store than to interview one of the previous DTourists? Jen Lawthrop recently traveled to the Middle East and Africa on behalf of Doubletree, and talks about what it was like to travel while on assignment, and what it was like to be in South Africa on the day Nelson Mandela died.

Tell us a bit about you and your blog?

I started my blog three years ago when I departed on an adventure across South East Asia. It started as a blog about my travel adventures and my dating adventures as I dated my way around the continent. Now it focuses on mostly travel, alongside pieces about freelance life and making the most of every spare moment for new adventures.

Quad biking through the Middle East.

Quad biking through the Middle East. Making the most of every spare moment for new adventures.

Where were you sent during your Dtour?

My Dtour took me across the Middle East and Africa, to the UAE, The Seychelles, Zanzibar, Tanzania and South Africa. It was a whirlwind tour over three weeks, seeing some of the most spectacular sites and meeting loads of friendly people at the hotels and places I visited.

What were the highlights of the tour?

Too many to list everything, I have never jammed so much into such a short space of time. Water skiing, diving, cruises, new foods, gorgeous beaches.

My top highlights included being in Cape Town when Nelson Mandela died. The atmosphere was incredible and I had the privilege to sink my feet into the sands on some of the most picture perfect beaches I have ever seen.


Cape Town December 2013.

What kind of technology/equipment did you find essential during your tour?

My Iphone was where I ended up taking most of my photos, I find it captures the moment quicker and easier and it is easy to edit photos before posting them onto social media.

I also used my camera and GoPro a lot for filming. I am still learning about filming and have loads of footage yet to edit, but it was great fun to try out new angles and adventure filming with the go pro, on water, underwater, jumping off mountains – the possibilities are endless.

Being sent abroad on assignment sounds like a dream, but it’s still a job.  Was it difficult managing business and leisure?

Yes it was really difficult, I was busy all day every day taking part in so many activities (a dream in itself) and often the evenings were full too with delicious dinners. I found the best time was late in the evening to catch up on blogs or writing on my phone as I go during the day.

I can’t complain though, in the grand scheme of things it really was a dream job, a few late nights and deadlines still made it all so worth it!

Blogging from Zanzibar!

Blogging from Zanzibar!

What is some advice you would give to those balancing travelling and writing/blogging?

My new trick I learnt on my Dtour was to write blog posts as I go during the day. I found that my posts really came to life as I was writing about things as they happened, really able to describe the feelings, the moment so much better than when I write about the experience a few days or weeks later.

There is no need to be writing while you’re in midair doing a skydive or photographing a wild giraffe, but when you are travelling between activities or having a quick break in a coffee shop you can pull out your phone and jot down a few notes or write a post there and then. You will be surprised how easily it flows.

What do you love the most about travelling?

What a question! Often I enjoy the planning and travel to a place as much if not more than when I actually get there. I can be seen with a massive grin on my face when sat on a train, plane, bus dreaming of the adventures ahead, the people I will meet, the moments I will have and the sites I see.

Dreaming of

There’s a big wide world out there to explore!

What inspired you to start travelling?

I spent a year at highschool in the USA for my gap year. My friends thought I was crazy to spend an extra year at school before university, but living in a foreign country where I initially knew no one and being able to travel at weekends and in holidays to new parts of the country was such an incredible experience.

By the end of the year I was hooked, and from then on spent every spare penny on travel. My dad has also been to some incredible places, growing up listening to him talk of his time living in the Antarctic for two years has placed the Antarctic firmly at the top of my bucket list.

Biggest cultural shock you have experienced while travelling?

It was probably when visiting Nepal at the beginning of my travels across Asia. It was my first time visiting a developing country and though I had some idea what to experience my mouth just dropped as we drove from the taxi to our hotel.

The smells, the cows and goats in the roads, the rubbish, but best of all the people, all smiling, so welcoming and probably still the friendliest people I have met.

Eating dinner on the floor in Nepal with the friendliest people I have ever met.

Eating dinner on the floor in Nepal with the friendliest people I have ever met.

Funniest or most embarrassing travel moment?

Haha, well there was this one time, in Leh, North India… where I fell in a cowpat! Yup!

It was 6am and I had only a couple of hours sleep. I was running to catch a tour group to the beautiful Pangong Lake and slipped in a cowpat in the middle of the road. I have never seen my friends laugh so hard! I was covered in poo, ripped my trousers and still have a scar on my knee as evidence of this embarrassing moment.

Three things you can’t travel without?

My travel pillow, I can sleep anywhere if I have my small travel pillow.

My Iphone to share all my experiences on social media with friends and followers.

A large but light scarf. It is amazing how many uses I found  for my travel scarf when travelling across Asia, to cover my head or shoulders, to keep warm, as a sarong, as a towel, a blanket, wet to cool me down… the list goes on.

Which destinations are at the top of your bucket list?

As I mentioned earlier The Antarctic will always be at the top, until I go. Other than that it changes almost daily, I am really keen to visit Cuba this year and maybe Iran. I also want to see more of Eastern Europe. It is so easy from the UK to get cheap flights to much of Europe and I need to start making the most of this again.

Why should people travel?

To live, to learn, to love. I could write an essay on this but will keep it simple!

How many Doubletree Cookies did you eat while on tour?

Not enough, but loads. Probably about 10 at each stop so 40ish!? Oh my what a greedy pig I am. But they are sooo good!


Couldn’t get enough of those Doubletree cookies!

My Doubletree DTour kicks off May 5 2014. Stay tuned for updates from Costa Rica, Panama & Peru!

Jen is a freelance travel blogger and media consultant. Jen is happiest on a plane, train or boat to her next destination and always looks for new crazy adventures wherever she goes, rarely saying no to anything. Her next adventures will be taking her skiing in Europe and visiting her second home of America.

Follow Jen on her Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Google +.


  1. What a dream (and a lot of hard work) for you both. I stayed at the DoubleTree a few weeks ago in Zagreb and I are 3 of those cookies – I agree they are so so so tasty.

    • I may have purchased and demolished a full tin of those cookies during our stay in Savannah last year :D I need to remind myself not to eat them before I take photos and video!!

  2. That’s a really good tip about blogging or at least jotting down a few notes while you’re out & about doing stuff. Quite often I’ll sit down to write about something, and even though I was totally amped about it at the time, by the time I actually get round to doing a post on it the excitement has kinda gone. So makes perfect sense to capture it in the moment – definitely going to give that a go.

    • I know the feeling as well – I’m going to try this trip to take a voice recorder with me so I can capture my thoughts and excitement right there and then without having to write anything down. Will see how it goes!

      Definitely let me know if you come up with any different strategies which work well :)

  3. You really know how to have fun!

    • We try anyway! Thanks for stopping by :)

  4. I would choose Middle East and Africa as well!

    • Pretty great destinations!

  5. Sounds like an amazing experience! Hope you have fun on yours as well, Meg!

    • Thanks Jenna! Seriously can’t wait – watch this space for updates :)

  6. Running a blog while traveling is always difficult…we always want to play! But good advice, much of the time I write a few weeks (or even months) after I’ve been somewhere taking away a lot of the details from the trip. Keep enjoying the dream job & great interview! :-)

    • Definitely a balance to be struck between work and play! This will be our first trip since having dived into full time blogging so will see how it goes! Going to be keeping a TONNE of notes so worst case I can still capture the moment even if writing a few months later :)

  7. Man those Double Tree cookies are so good! I ate a fair few during our stay in the USA in 2008! Jen your D Tour sounds just incredible! I’ll be hoping over to your blog to read more!

    • They’re so good! I fear I may return having gained a tonne of cookie weight lol :D

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