My Favorite Passports with Purpose Prizes for 2012

So far this Passports with Purpose season you’ve seen the prize I’m hosting – an evening for two at Seattle’s Triple Door – and you may have seen the post I wrote over on the TBEX blog about some of the more astoundingly awesome prizes available. In this post, I’m going to share with you my personal list of favorite prizes. I realize that this may mean you’ll bid on some of them when you wouldn’t have done so before, thereby lowering my chances of winning, but I sort of think that with the stunning array of prizes available you’ll end up being drawn to different prizes than I am. I mean, there’s more than enough to go around, right? At least that’s what I’m hoping.

(Also, I’ll confess that since PwP started, I’ve won something every single year. I know. I can’t believe it, either. So, I figure that run of luck has to expire at some point, and if it’s this year then I’m happy to point out some kick-ass prizes you may not have seen otherwise.)

The best part of this is that although the prizes are awesome, this is about much more than prizes. This year, PwP’s goal is to raise $100,000 for to build two community wells in rural Haiti. Take a sip of that clean water you got directly from the tap in your kitchen, without having to leave your house or question whether drinking it might make you sick, and ponder just what clean water means to people who don’t have it. Then head over to the Passports with Purpose donation page and contribute. Every $10 donation enters you into a drawing for the prizes of your choice.

photo courtesy of

Here are the prizes that are making me salivate this year, and for which I’ll be donating. I dare you to browse through the full list of prize options and not find something that speaks to you.

Passports with Purpose: My Favorite Prizes

  • GPS Unit – When the husband and I are on road trips, he drives and I navigate. This is the way it’s always been, and I’m supremely handy with a map. Still, on those occasions when we’ve upgraded to a rental car with GPS, it’s been a bummer to drop the car off and kiss that sweet nav system goodbye. Sure, there was the time in Italy where the disembodied voice kept trying to convince us to drive against oncoming trip up the highway on-ramp, but nobody’s perfect. There are two GPS units on the PwP list this year – a Garmin Nuvi from Frisco Kids and a Magellen eXplorist from Travel Gear for Women – and I’m coveting both of them.
  • GoPro Camera – All those GoPro ads I’ve seen with extreme kayakers wearing the camera on their helmets as they go over a waterfall did not make me want a GoPro camera. I am – how shall we say – never going to go over a waterfall in a kayak. Ever. The newest GoPro ad I’ve seen, however, seemed to be the most honest depiction of how most people would likely use it, and made me think, I must have one. The Solo Traveler and Mother of All Trips teamed up to offer a GoPro in the PwP fundraiser, so you should probably warn my cats now.

  • Carry-On Backpack – Yeah, I’ve got a bajillion bags. But I don’t have a Tom Bihn bag, and I keep hearing how downright amazing they are. This one on the Boarding Area blog looks like it’s got a thousand pockets for everything from laptops to water bottles to clothing, both backpack straps and a shoulder strap that hide away, and it’s carry-on sized. Heck, if I ever find the perfect carry-on bag I might get rid of all the others. (But I make no promises.)
  • Two Nights in Seattle – I’m always looking for excuses to spend more time in Seattle, not least because of the gaggle of friends I have in the city. And since the founders of PwP are part of that gaggle, there’s always a great selection of Seattle prizes up for grabs. This one from my TBEX colleague Mary Jo is the one I’ve got my eye on this year – two nights in the “Space Needle Suite” at a luxury hotel in downtown Seattle? Umm, yeah, I’d like that. Very much.
  • Horseback Riding Trip in Arizona – So, we’ve been over the fact that I’m the original Cowgirl Jessie (ahem), but I can count the number of times I’ve been horseback riding since high school on one hand. I opted for a horseback safari one day during my South Africa trip last year, and although I was feelin’ it in every bone and muscle in my body for at least a day after, it felt surprisingly wonderful to be on a horse again. They gave me the slightly feisty one, they said, and praised my ability to keep him in line. Sure, they were probably just buttering me up, but I’ll take it. Which is why I’d love to spend three days at a “luxury dude ranch” in Arizona, to spend three days listening to the squeak of leather on leather with the movement of the saddle. (There are few sounds that will send me straight back to childhood faster than that one, I tellya.) Oh, and if you’d prefer to bring the whole family horseback riding, then check out this amazing one-week stay at the Lone Mountain Ranch in Montana for a family of five.
  • Two Nights in New Orleans – Two years ago, the PwP prize I won was a stay at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans, so I’m biased about this prize. I love that Vera manages to offer it every year, and I love knowing that someone else is getting to enjoy that gorgeous old hotel and its famous Carousel Bar, right in the heart of the French Quarter, where music seems to seep out of the sidewalks… So, I won’t be bidding on this prize this year, but I totally think you should. A visit to New Orleans is good for the soul, people.
  • A Week in Provence – Yep, I’m dreaming a bit bigger with this one, but it’s hard not to drool over this incredible package from Provence Post. It includes a week-long stay at a villa in St. Remy de Provence, plus meals at five different spectacular restaurants (two of which have Michelin stars), four separate guided tours (one of which is a half-day wine tasting adventure), and two one-hour massages. I mean, come on. Okay, y’know what? Nevermind. Forget I said anything about this one. I want it.

Passports with Purpose Goes to Italy

In addition to the prizes that I would dearly love to win, I’m really proud to see so many of my fellow Italophile bloggers getting involved with PwP. If you’re contemplating a trip to Italy, here’s the selection of prizes you should bid on – any one of them would make your trip even more amazing.

  • 4 nights in Pisa “Behind the Tower” apartment – This prize has me especially proud, because not only will it sweeten any trip to Italy, it’s a joint effort by two of my cohorts in the Italy Roundtable. Gloria donated a 4-night stay at one of her apartment rentals in Pisa, and Alexandra is hosting the prize. (Last year, you may remember, Rebecca donated a week-long stay at her Umbrian guesthouse, so we’re quite a PwP-centric roundtable.) If you spend more than the requisite hour in Pisa you’ll understand why it’s such an underrated city in Italy – and this 4-night stay in a centrally-located apartment in Pisa gives you a chance to do just that.
  • Revealed Rome’s Perfect Trip to Rome – My friend Amanda at Revealed Rome has put together a collection of things that make up, as she says, the perfect trip to her adopted city of Rome. If you win her prize, you’ll get a two-night stay in a boutique hotel near the Spanish Steps, a Walks of Italy food experience tour (for up to four people) that includes a pizza-making class, a Walks of Italy tour of the Vatican (for up to four people), and personal trip-planning assistance from Amanda herself.
  • 7 Days of Italy Travel Coaching – My friend Madeline is a serious Italy travel expert. Her business is entirely about crafting customized Italy itineraries for people who don’t have time to figure out all the details but who desperately don’t want to sign up for a tour, or coaching the more do-it-yourselfers along so they can have the best possible experience and the satisfaction of helping to design the trip, too. Madeline has donated a week’s worth of coaching, during which she’ll assess your travel interests and steer you toward where you should go, how long you should stay, what kind of accommodation to look for, where you should eat, and how to get around. She knows what she’s talking about, you guys, and your trip will be unforgettable as a result.
  • $500 Voucher for Apartment Rental in Europe – Technically, this voucher for Go with Oh! apartment rentals from Ottsworld could be used in any of their cities, including Paris, Barcelona, Prague, and Berlin. But since they also have apartments in Rome, Venice, and Florence, I’m counting this as a PwP prize that will make an upcoming Italy trip even better. And I speak from personal experience when I say the Go with Oh! apartments are delightful – because this was the prize I won in last year’s fundraiser, which we used toward the Paris apartment we stayed in over my 40th birthday trip earlier this year. If you’re thinking of traveling beyond Europe in the coming year, no worries – Lola Akinmade and Wimdu are offering a $500 lodging voucher to any of their apartment rental properties worldwide and All Over the Map has a $1000 HomeAway voucher.
  • Context Travel Walking Tours – Context offers walking tours in many cities, including several in Italy. I’m a big fan – I feel smarter after I’m done with a Context tour – and there’s nothing like learning about something in situ. This prize from Katie Going Global gives you two spots each on two different tours.

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