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White House Summit: Go Backpacking Goes to Washington, DC

The White House

Greetings from the frigid capital of Washington, DC. I'm thrilled to share that I'm in town to attend the White House Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship on December 9, 2014.

I was invited as one of the top 100 most influential travel bloggers and digital media outlets and will be joined by others flying in from around the United States and the world.

To quote the press release, “The summit will highlight U.S. Government initiatives and discuss strategies for encouraging American students to study, volunteer, and work abroad.”

This is a topic near and dear to my heart. Ironically, it's not because I studied abroad as a student, but because I did not pursue the opportunity when I had the chance.

I was content to stay on the lovely Colgate University campus in upstate New York, not realizing the potential for adventures abroad that I was passing up at the time.

Thankfully, I made up for it with a post-college summer in Europe, a trip that inspired me to create Go Backpacking in 1999 to inspire others to travel abroad and ultimately led to my new career as a travel blogger in my thirties.

I have to admit I'm tickled to be attending from the standpoint of a U.S. citizen as much as I am in my role as a travel blogger.

To look the part, I bought a Colombian suit and shoes before leaving Medellín yesterday.

December 9th is going to be a busy day, an absolute whirlwind. For security reasons, some of the details weren't even released until late last week.

My Summit Schedule

  1. Breakfast at the W Hotel
  2. White House tour
  3. Lunch at the National Press Club, hosted by Hostelling International
  4. Briefing at The White House (technically, the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next door)
  5. Reception at the Newseum, sponsored by Turkish Airlines
  • Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Commerce, Department of Commerce
  • Denis McDonough, Chief of Staff, The White House
  • Benjamin Rhodes, Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting
  • Evan Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), Dept of State
  • Carrie Hessler-Radelet, Director, Peace Corps
  • Angel Cabrera, President, George Mason University
  • Samantha Brown, Host, Travel Channel
  • Don Wildman, Host, Travel Channel
  • Robert Reid, Digital Nomad, National Geographic

President Obama, who is here in Washington, DC right now, will not be involved in the summit, though I'm still secretly hoping he'll make an appearance.

I want to offer a special thanks to Hostelling International Washington, DC, for hosting several dozen summit attendees.

Despite the chill outside, I slept in a warm and toasty dorm room, was able to enjoy a hot shower, and fill up on a complimentary breakfast which included chocolate muffins.

How to Follow Along

Follow the #WHtravelbloggers hashtag on social media, including Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, for updates throughout the summit.

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:


Wednesday 10th of December 2014

Firstly congrats on this opportunity. Yes, I studied abroad a semester in Spain. Fantasitc opportunity to learn the culture lived with a family. Something that was definitely worth it.


Tuesday 9th of December 2014

What an honor for you all attending- I'm sure you'll make valuable contributions.


Monday 8th of December 2014

Hi Dave, I went on my own "exchange" in my college years, from the U.S. to Australia- one of the best decisions of my life! Now I'm watching as my own 16 year old daughter is planning a Rotary Exchange year beginning next fall, and I'm thrilled for her. Can't wait to hear what you learn and contribute during the summit! Have a great time! Sarah

Wafa Hozien

Monday 8th of December 2014

When you get a chance, can you let us know of the best places you have eaten in DC? It would be great to know what to eat when in the area.

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