In 2010, I was one of four people lucky enough to be chosen by Finland's national carrier, Finnair, to fly around the world on their network for two months, blogging about the experience. We were given daily stipends, budgets fixed according to the level of experience the Finnair team wanted us to have wherever we landed and yes, they paid us for the privilege, too.
With no constraints apart from the gentle request that if we "wanted to be critical", we at least make our criticisms "constructive", the good folk at Finnair let us loose. I'm not sure they knew what to expect. We certainly didn't but the campaign, which was part of the airline's attempts to reposition itself as the quickest way between Europe and (north-eastern) Asia, was wildly successful. It brought in more than 10,000 visitors a day and 300 million new visitors to the Finnair website and that was even before the four of us had left the ground.
We really had free reign to do as we pleased and so, inevitably, we did, each of us focussing on the things that interested us most. While our itineraries were give to us, mine, which took me to Lapland, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, the US and Spain presented such a perfect opportunity to see so many of my far-flung friends, some of whom I hadn't seen for years, that I almost wondered if the team at Vantaa International hadn't checked their routes against my Facebook friends list.
It was magic, one of those actual once-in-a-lifetime gigs that I know none of us will ever forget. If you'd like to read what I got up to, my blog, presented back to front, can be read here.