Travel Writing Competitions

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Entering competitions is a useful way to practise writing to a deadline, theme and word count.
Judges have different preferences for style and content, some expect a strong narrative, others want precise and evocative description.
Not all winning pieces are good. Judging by committee can lead to mediocrity, and some winning entries can be quite pedestrian. It has even been known for organisers to run competitions as a way to fill up their website with free content. Which might explain why, on occasion, winners seem to have been drawn out of a hat on a Friday afternoon. So don’t take the results too seriously, and have some fun. Go on, make the judges sit up and notice you.

Have a look at the calendar for deadlines. The box can be found in the right-hand column, or below if you are reading this on a phone. The dates in red are deadlines, click on one for competition details.

Here are some of the best contests out there.

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‘Just Back’ weekly travel writing competition

The standard of writing in this weekly competition from the Daily Telegraph is astonishing. In under 500 words you must describe a holiday experience which will catch the attention of the newspaper’s travel team. There’s a £200 prize every week in the currency of your choice and at the end of the year a chance to win the grand prize of £1,000.

Bradt/Independent on Sunday annual travel writing competition

One of the best, this annual competition (open to UK residents only) from Bradt Travel Guides and The Independent on Sunday newspaper is judged by specialists in the travel industry. Every year it produces assured and engaging writing.

Rough Guides travel writing competition in conjunction with gapyear.com

But don’t worry, you don’t have to be a gap yah kid, the competition’s open to any age. The winner has a chance to write for a professional outfit and £2000 to spend on travel.

Transitions Abroad annual travel writing contests

Transititons Abroad focuses on volunteering and interaction with local communities, running competitions for ex-pat travel, narrative travel writing and student travel. Keep checking the website for the latest contest announcements. Writers are encouraged to add photos to their entries. $500 first prize for each competition. The quality of writing is consistently high.

Nowhere Magazine literary travel writing competition

Esoteric US travel website/magazine, Nowhere, holds seasonal travel writing competitions. But this isn’t any old writing contest. Original description, ‘telling’ not ‘showing’ and solid structure are a given. This is a competition for literary writers. You have to pay an entry fee, but the organisers are genuine and the standard is high.

Wanderlust Magazine

If you join the myWanderlust forum you’ll find regular writing (and photography) competitions and opportunities to express yourself. And a chance to get your name in print in this prestigious travel magazine.

Go Walkabout travel writing competition

Keep an eye on the website for occasional writing competitions

National Geographic Traveller travel writing competition

This annual competition is always an important date in the competition diary. In 2014 the wordcount was reduced to 200, but I’m pleased to report it’s gone back up to 400 in 2015.

We Said Go Travel travel writing competition

Seasonal writing competitions from this sprawling US travel blog. Cash prizes of $500 for the winner, to $50 for runners up.

Click here to find out how to win travel writing competitions

Get involved

Winning competitions can be hard, and there is always an element of luck. But there are other ways to find out if your writing cuts the mustard, and to win prizes. Try uploading stories, experiences and tips to  the more reputable websites.
In the Your Travels section of The Daily Telegraph you will find prizes for Readers’ Tips and Travel Views of the Week.

Travel Guardian asks for Readers’ Tips every week. Half a dozen or so pieces are printed in the newspaper on Saturday. Sign into Guardian Witness to upload your tips and be in with the chance of winning a prize. Sadly, the Guardian have told me they will no longer be running the travel writing competition.

I like Wanderlust Magazine‘s website as it has an active forum where readers and staff share stories, pics and opinions. To receive feedback from the professionals is precious, and knowing that Lyn Hughes and her editorial team regularly trawl myWanderlust is an incentive to try your best.

To increase your chances of winning a travel writing competition, consider becoming a member of the Itinerant Writers Club. We have nine Daily Telegraph wins between us. We’ve also had wins, been finalists or highly commended in the following writing contests: Bradt, The Guardian, We Said Go Travel, Wanderlust, Go Walkabout, The Good Life France, Pure, Daily Mail, BGTW, MCoS, Transitions Abroad, Sheldrake Press, Walkopedia and more. We’d love to read your stories.

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Organisers, if you would like your competition to be featured on this page please contact me.
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5 Responses

  1. Julia Hammond
    Julia Hammond 21/06/2014 at 23:42 |

    I heard that the BGTW competition might be ceasing (2014 being the last) as they have had entries from published writers. Let’s hope something else takes its place.

  2. anthony bain
    anthony bain 24/01/2013 at 18:58 |

    Great article…will you be emailing reminders during 2013?

    many thanks!

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