15th Birthday Blogger Challenge

Featured November 10
15th Birthday Blogger Challenge

IF YOU'VE BEEN keeping your eye on our Facebook page over the past few weeks (more than 35,000 of you have) you'll already know that a battle of the bloggers has broken out across the network.

Four top travel bloggers were selected to take part in our 15 Hour Blogger Challenge, which saw them dropped into a mystery city and given £100 and 15 hours to discover as much of the city as possible. We caught up with them while they were still packing their bags to find out what makes them tick, but go to www.facebook.com/easyJet and you can see the videos of their adventures right now. Don't forget to vote for your favourite blogger - tell us who you want to win and you could bag yourself a free holiday to the winner's city.

Kashyap Bhattacharya

How did you start blogging?
A year and a half ago I'd left my job as a business development executive for an ethical events company and was at a bit of a loose end. Travelling had always been my passion and my wife said I should start a blog. I think it was a way to shut me up: "Write about all your experiences, because you're constantly telling people about them!"

What's your favourite place on our network?
Madrid in Spain stands out the most for me. It's a city that has this inexhaustible energy - even at five in the morning you can walk into a bar and be surrounded by people from all walks of life. The day ends when you want it to.

What's your top travel tip?
Sometimes you've got to trust your instincts. You've got to put away the guidebook, follow the smells of the good food or see where the crowds are heading and try to discover the place for yourself. You've just got to lose yourself, and that's going to be my philosophy for this challenge.

Paul Smith

How did you start blogging?
In March last year I set off on a trip relying purely on the help of strangers on Twitter. I set myself some rules - I couldn't pay for transport or accommodation, and I couldn't plan more than three days ahead. I documented my journey on my blog, and within 29 days I'd reached Stewart Island, off the coast of New Zealand.

How are you preparing for the challenge?
The good thing about the way I travel is that I don't have to prepare too much. I'll be happy to just turn up to wherever I'm going with a bag over my shoulder. Should I need anything, I have 11,000 people at my fingertips who can hopefully help me!

What do you think the Facebook community will be looking for in a winner?
Travel snobs say that tourist traps are too busy and that you shouldn't go there, but they're popular for a reason. I'll hopefully be able to show people popular sites, plus surprise them with a side to the city that they didn't know about.

Matt Preston

How did you start blogging?
I went travelling and wanted to have a site that my friends and family could read. But then I realised friends and family were the least likely to actually read it and I was writing for the rest of the world instead!

What would be your ideal destination?
I'd love to go to the Baltic states - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Countries like France and Italy are so well known that it's easy to get a bit blasé, but I don't know much about the Baltic states.

What will you spend your £100 on?
Probably some decent food at some point. And I'd like to have something to bring back that's from that city - I like to find quirky little bookshops and independent places.

What's your top travel tip?
Don't plan too much. It's good to have the security of a few ideas, but don't have a very strict itinerary because the more you can make it up as you go along, the more quirky little adventures you're likely to have.

Karen Bryan

How did you start blogging?
In 2006 I had an email from a student who was doing a dissertation about travel businesses using blogs. At that time I thought a blog was a teenage geek's diary, but I did a bit of research and I realised they're a great way for search engines to find information. Within a few days I had a blog set up and that's when things really started to take off.

How are you preparing for the challenge?
I know it's all about social media, and people will be asking their Twitter followers for tips, but I'm not sure I'll have time to ask everyone and follow their tips. You could spend all day just looking at your phone and trying to get Wi-Fi! I'd like to talk to locals and ask them for ideas.

What do you think the Facebook community will be looking for from their winner?
Maybe it will be somebody who can pack in a lot of things, but maybe it will be somebody who can give a more authentic, relaxed feel rather than frantically running around. I'm just going to be myself!

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