Win a free trip to Costa Rica from Nomadic Matt and Gap Adventures

Globetrotting blogger Nomadic Matt took his very first international trip to Costa Rica with Gap Adventures back in 2003. Ever since then, he’s been traveling the world, blogging about his adventures and teaching others how to make money from their own blogs. Now he’s paying his success forward, and awarding one of his lucky readers a free two-week trip to Costa Rica with Gap Adventures.

The winner will go on the Gap Adventures Costa Rica Explorer Tour that departs on March 28. The trip includes stops in Tortuguero, at Arenal Volcano, Monteverde and Manual Antonio National Park. Most breakfasts and a few lunches and dinners are included, but the winner will be responsible for other meals and activities not included on the tour. Airfare is covered in the prize, and the winner does not need to be from the United States.

The winner does have a few responsibilities though, other than just going on a pretty sweet (and almost totally free) trip. You will need to blog about your adventures both on the trip and afterwards, reflecting on the experiences had and the lessons learned. But don’t worry, Matt will be there to help you out with a blog set-up and tutorial. You will need a computer, digital camera or video camera though, and for that, you’re on your own.

So how do you win? You can check out the full list of instructions on Nomadic Matt’s website, but the gist is that you’ll need to write a 500-word blog post or create a 90-second video explaining why you want the trip and what you hope to get out of it. The top 50 entries will be voted on by the public, narrowed down to a field of ten, and then chosen by Matt and a panel.

You must enter by February 14th, and you need to be 18 year of age or older to win.

More travel deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

The folks over at the LA Times have rounded up a few more great travel deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And what better way to recoup from this most hellish of shopping weekends than by looking forward to a discounted vacation?

Shell’s Vacation Hospitality’s Black Friday Sale runs today with discounts of up to 50% off at 26 of its resorts located in Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada, New Hampshire, Texas, Wisconsin, California, Mexico and Canada. Sample deals include a $79 per night room in Napa Valley, $84 per night on the Big Island of Hawaii, and $64 per night in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. There are some blackout dates around the holidays and the rooms must be prepaid and are nonrefundable.

Gap Adventures’ sale runs from Black Friday to Cyber Monday and offers 20% savings on selected tours. 12 days in Laos can be had for $999 per person, 8 days in Thailand is just $479, and 20 days in India is only $1099. Over 25 tours are discounted, and include locations in South and Central America, Asia, Africa and Europe. Prices don’t include airfare and are only valid on select departures in December, January, April and May.

Sonesta, a resort company that operates two properties on St. Maarten, is also offering 50% off for bookings made through Monday. The discount is valid for stays from December 18 to March 31. Stays over Christmas and New Year’s require a 5-night minimum, but at just $138 (down from the usual $275), the total price is much more affordable.

Monarch Migration: A Collaboration

Before I headed out with my son this past Saturday on our own excursion to experience the life of a monarch butterfly firsthand, I was writing a post with about where to go to see monarchs in action and monarch migration. This is the time of year that they are starting to gear up for their journey south. As Sarah, the director of the Blendon Woods MetroPark in Columbus, Ohio, and an expert on monarchs told me, monarchs either will travel south or they will reproduce. Those that reproduce live for about 30 days. Reproducing poops them out. Those that make the journey to Mexico, or places in between, live for about 9 months.

Here are places that celebrate monarchs. If you see a monarch in your own travels, look to see if there is a band on it. There are programs where monarchs are tagged so their journey can be traced and documented.

At the website Monarch Watch, a University of Kansas community-wide (think as big as the world) research and conservation project, you can find out all kinds of info about the monarchs and their migration. On September 8 there is an open house and a tagging event on the 15th. There is also a link to a forum where you can learn about monarch habitats and how to create your own.

Here’s another project, digital monarch watch, where people can document real-time monarch migration.

If you are in Texas, here’s information about where to track monarchs. For everyone else, there’s a good description of the migration process.

California is one place monarchs pass through. Here are two places I found where you can see monarchs in October.Pismo Beach, California. Monarchs will start showing up here again in November (although it could be earlier) Pacific Grove, California (This site says they arrive in October)

The photo is thanks to icyshard who took this shot of monarchs mating at Coronado Butterfly Preserve in Ellwood, California.

If you want to go on a monarch tour in Mexico, check out Gap Adventures.

If you have a monarch migration event where you live, let us know and provide a link if possible.