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My Surprise Invitation To The White House

Visiting White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, DC

Last year I hitchhiked to the White House from Oregon. It was one of my favorite travel adventures. Well now it seems I’m going back.

The hitchhiking trip was a personal challenge I tackled to inspire others to learn from experience. The world is a big friendly place for the most part, but the only way to learn this is to get out there and see for yourself.

So it seems fitting that I’m heading back to Washington next week to help The White House promote study abroad programs — inspiring young people to embark on and learn from their own travel experiences.

The invitation came as a surprise though.

Blogging has a stigma attached to it. Tell someone you’re a professional blogger and most people assume you’re a lazy unemployed dreamer. In fact just the other day I watched a hilarious TV commercial that makes fun of bloggers.

Professionals work for big companies in an office with a salary & benefits. Blogging? Blogging is just a cute hobby you do in your underwear in exchange for free stuff. Thankfully this outdated mentality is changing.

White House Invitation

When I first received the email, I honestly thought it was a scam. The White House wants me to swing by for a visit? Yeah right, sure.

But then other travel bloggers started talking about their invitations. After more research and follow-up messages, we all learned it was legit. Wow. This is big. At least for me.

An invitation to the White House!

But why? Well, the administration wants to talk about the benefits of cross-cultural educational exchange and boosting international student mobility. Increasing awareness among young people about educational, cultural and professional exchange opportunities abroad.

No matter what your political views are, it’s an honor to be invited to The White House — and I’m looking forward to sharing details about these cultural exchange programs with you.

White House, Washington DC

My Last Trip to The White House…

Promoting Cultural Exchange

I firmly believe that long-term travel is the ultimate learning experience. It’s taught me patience, empathy, confidence, humility, and opened my mind to new possibilities. It’s also taught me just how much I don’t know.

Unfortunately less than 10 percent of students in the United States choose to study abroad, either because they don’t know about it or think it’s unaffordable. This needs to change!

There are some things you’ll never learn from school alone. I honestly think many of the world’s problems wouldn’t be so severe if more of us spent some extended time abroad actually talking with people of different backgrounds & cultures. Learning from each other.

Spring break in Cancun isn’t meaningful travel, it’s a vacation.

Any initiative that supports study & work abroad programs is something I’m happy to share, in fact many send emails asking how they can travel more in college or high school.

Travel Blogger Summit

On December 9th the White House is hosting a group of “the most influential travel bloggers & digital media outlets” to promote educational & cultural exchanges to a young audience. I’m delighted to have been included in this group, many of whom are friends.

Along with meeting administration officials about the program, we’ll also tour the White House itself. I’m guessing we won’t meet the President, but it will still be a memorable & interesting experience.

Blogging is a powerful medium these days.

More people get information & ideas online than ever before. The bloggers in this group really appreciate a gesture of this magnitude. While I consider myself an entertainer more than a journalist, I try to share useful travel information with readers on a regular basis.

On a personal note, over 100,000 amazing people read each month — it’s taken 4 years of hard work with plenty of challenges, including dealing with stereotypes attached to blogging for a living.

So it feels wonderful when large organizations take notice and treat bloggers as professionals. Especially when it’s the United States government.

Who says you can’t be professional AND work in your underwear?

Follow Along!

You can follow my adventure in Washington DC next week in real time on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with the hashtag #WHTravelBloggers.

Ever been to Washington DC before? Any tips?


Wednesday 17th of December 2014

Wow this is great. Congrats, it looked like a great time from what I read on twitter. I just started travel blogging this year. How does one make the list for invites next year:)

Matthew Karsten

Thursday 18th of December 2014

Very cool experience, and I hope together we can spread the message of the benefits of studying abroad! Most of us at the summit have been bloggers for many years, I'd say keep sharing your passion for travel Kim, and learn as much about blogging as you can.

David Ouellette

Tuesday 16th of December 2014

No way Matt, this is awesome! What an honor for you, not only to be invited to the White House, but to be an ambassador for blogging as more than something we "do in our underwear for free stuff."

Matthew Karsten

Thursday 18th of December 2014

I thought so too David. Very excited to participate in the summit.

Glamourous Traveller

Tuesday 9th of December 2014

Congrats Matt! Love reading your website and looking forward to the write up on your experience there.

Also hoping you don't hitchhike this time =)

Lucinda Belden

Monday 8th of December 2014

Congratulations Matt. I enjoyed the hitchhiking series! What an honor and a great way to contribute to culture and youth across the world.

Wafa Hozien

Monday 8th of December 2014

Congrats! Take a selfie with Obama! That would be priceless, maybe you can see the royals -- they are in NYC for three days. Thank you for sharing your insights, you have been a jewel, you deserve this and so much more.

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