“The College Football Travel Tour? That sounds AWESOME! I would love to do something like that.”
These are the two reactions I get when I tell people about my College Football Travel Tour. While I love the second reaction, this tour is so much more than just football.
Last year, I put together two of my biggest passions, college football and travel. In October, I hit the road to explore college towns and life on campus through the world of college football.
The College Football Travel Tour was born. This year, the 2012 College Football Travel Tour will kick off in September with one of the biggest travel opportunities of my life.
Honestly, I never imagined this would happen.
When I was a kid, my dream was to play major league baseball. I held onto that dream until I finished high school. While I was good with the glove and had a strong arm, I wasn’t a good hitter. At 5’10 145 pounds, I wasn’t going to make it as a baseball player.
When I was 9 years old, I attended my first college football game with my dad. I went to many games at the University of South Carolina and loved it. It was more than just a game.
Even as a kid, I was connected with something bigger – the culture, passion, and atmosphere. I didn’t realize it then but college football inspired me to travel.
In college, I visited the country of Estonia. That trip changed the way I viewed the world. Can travel change your life? That’s a question that can be debated. However, my first trip to Estonia definitely influenced me as I’ve been traveling ever since.
After graduating from college, I got a job in the real world. I’ve spent years making a living but never really living life.
Travel helped me find my freedom, learn more about myself, and escape from life. For years, there’s always been something missing in my life. I wasn’t living with purpose and passion.
The College Football Travel Tour – from an idea to college campuses
When I went to the University of Washington last year, I had one of those experiences. As I continued the College Football Travel Tour at the University of South Carolina and the Naval Academy, I had more of those mountain top experiences.
I started the College Football Travel Tour because it was about the things I love and who I am. This was something I wanted to do for me but I hoped other people shared my passion too.
However, this wasn’t easy. The first school I tried to visit, the door was slammed in my face. I persevered and went to the next school. Other doors began to open for me.
ESPN football writer Travis Haney got me connected with Clemson football writer Larry Williams through the Gamecocks and Tigers football rivalry book they had written. Through Larry, I met Jay Phillips and Michael Haney who worked at my hometown sports radio station 107.5 The Game in Columbia, SC. In January, I had my first radio interview for the College Football Travel Tour.
I continued to meet other people and had incredible experiences in Annapolis and Seattle – musicians, former football players, students, and more. In January 2012, I got some interest in my tour on the travel side.
This may be the biggest travel opportunity of my life.
Expedia and the College Football Travel Tour
Over the course of the next couple of months, we exchanged emails and phone calls as I shared my passion, experiences, and ideas for the College Football Travel Tour.
As much as I loved the series, I wasn’t sure if others shared my enthusiasm despite the open doors and experiences I’ve had.
Sarah shared Expedia’s desire to partner with travel bloggers to share unique travel stories and ideas with the travel community. When she heard my idea, she was intrigued by something unique and different.
Over the course of the next few months, we discussed ideas, content, promotion, giveaways, and numerous other ways we could make this project a success. Suddenly, this sports and travel series that had given me such inspiration and purpose was now becoming much bigger.
Excited by the opportunity to share my passion with others, we reached an agreement to take the College Football national (and even global) in 2012.
During the TBEX travel conference this June in Keystone Colorado, Expedia VP and GM Joe Megibow announced my College Football Travel Tour to over 700 people as part of Expedia’s travel blogger campaign.
Here’s the video of Expedia’s vision and the story of the College Football Travel Tour.
On the road with the 2012 College Football Travel Tour
This year, the College Football Travel Tour will cover 8 college football games. There will be giveaways, tweet ups, promotions, and lots of stories, photos, and posts about travel and college football.
As we get closer to the season, I will share more about each game so you can learn more about the schools, towns, teams, and activities leading up to the games. You can even sign up for the newsletter to get the inside scoop, stories, and updates that you won’t find on the blog.
As people talk with me about this opportunity with Expedia, I am humbled, scared, and cautious. I am extremely excited to have this opportunity and honored that people care about this project.
If I am honest, my greatest fear is failure. Failure to connect people with the real meaning of this series. I’m afraid that I won’t share my passion and enthusiasm with people in ways that would inspire or make them care. Failure to bring this series to people that will enjoy it the most. Unable to cover all the stories, the people, the places, and activities that need to be shared.
I want people to understand that this series transcends football and travel. My best stories and experiences on the College Football Travel Tour are about the people I’ve met. This isn’t about a game – it’s connecting with the culture, passion, and people throughout towns and cities in the US.
Now is my opportunity. This is my College Football Travel Tour story. And the journey is just beginning.
Follow the stories and read more about the schools and stories on the College Football Travel Tour. Will you join me on the road?
Thank you! Thanks to Brett Domue of Our Tasty Travels for sharing the video of Joe Megibow at TBEX. Thanks to Sarah Keeling, Joe Megibow, and the staff at Expedia for taking a chance on me. Thanks to Travis Haney, Larry Williams, Jay Phillips, and Michael Haney for opening doors and giving this small time, college football fan and travel blogger new opportunities. Thanks to the fans, alumni, staff, students, and people at the University of Washington and city of Seattle, University of South Carolina and city of Columbia, and the Naval Academy and city of Annapolis for sharing your passion, stories, lives, and encouragement. Thanks to Visit Annapolis for making me a part of your community. Thanks to readers for their support and encouragement. And thanks to my family for their support. Without them, this idea would never be possible.