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The Writer Travel Essay Contest

We are excited to continue to host travel writing contests (see above) as a part of the continued celebration of 40 years of Transitions Abroad Publishing's existence as a trailblazing magazine, a publisher of books on work, study, travel and living abroad, and now a unique web guide and web magazine.

The contests reflect the fundamental editorial described in our mission statement, which includes cultural immersion and educational travel as well as work, voluntunteering, and living abroad.

The different contests, with more to come in the future, together allow for narrative, practical, and inspirational writing on subjects including travel, work, volunteering, study, and living abroad.

Since its founding by Dr. Clay Hubbs in 1977, Transitions Abroad has been recognized as a trailblazer in publishing travel articles, ranging from expert advice to useful tips to insightful first-hand participant reports from contributors and columnists around the globe. Winners of the contest provide much-needed information and inspirational ideas to millions of visitors of all ages not available elsewhere.

Please enter your submissions to our influential travel website, whose contests linked about all offer:

  • $500 cash prize for the first place winner
  • $150 for the second place winner
  • $100 for the third place winner
  • $50 for all runner-up winners

Winning articles will be featured on our website and via social media.

Authors who have won have often become regular contributors, enhanced their travel writing portfolios, and often go on to publish further as writers and editors. In fact, Transitions Abroad has a long history of publishing travel writers who either are already known or go on to become successful authors and publishers. We are committed to spotting new freelance talent as well as providing an outlet for professional writers. 

There are no submission fees for any of the travel writing contests.

Our judges read every story carefully and only ask that when writing you follow our contest guidelines carefully in turn.

We are also open to any suggestions related to themes as well as ideas for contests in the future.

GTTP Travel Writing Competition

Being able to communicate well in writing is important in any career in today’s global economy.

The essay competition reinforces the GTTP’s emphasis on encouraging research and communications skills of young people we hope to attract to our industry.

The theme of the essay competition is “Discover My Country,” and it offers an opportunity for students to think about what visitors might find interesting in their communities.

If you decide to enter the GTTP Travel Writing Contest, you might find it helpful to read some of the comments that judges made about prior entries. The comments below are taken from comments that the different judges made about the essays. If you read them carefully, you will learn some basic ‘rules’ about good travel writing:

    • Photos and captions add to the story. The story addresses most of the key points but needs more specifics to make readers want to visit this place and tell them how to do it.
    • Story should get to the point sooner about the activities the place offers – five paragraphs is too late; the reader needs to be told right away what the story is about and why he/she should read it.
    • Describe the natural surroundings (paint a picture with words – don’t rely on the photos).
    • The final two paragraphs are mostly a general conclusion and do not add to the story. Better to use those words to provide specifics mentioned above.
    • In photo captions, provide specifics of what the photos show (where is it) so readers can find the spots if they want instead of generic information.
    • The story starts with a good description of the attraction and its location (many of the stories did not tell readers where the sites are located). But when the raises a question, it should answer it immediately. Travel writing should paint a picture, so more important than the names of the streets in the first paragraph is a description of the setting and condition.
    • Define phrases that readers outside the area might not know, such as “traditional healer.”
    • Captions and photo credits are not provided, and neither is a bibliography – all required in the contest guidelines.
    • The story contains some good information and descriptions, but the writer substitutes “surprises” for “secrets.” Experiences that are new for the writer are not necessarily little-known or overlooked by the public – if they are both, the story does not support that point.
    • Two attention-getting photos are included, but the hand-written captions are too brief — they should provide enough information for readers to understand what they are looking at.
    • Writing in the first person is a good way to engage the reader, but you cannot include everything you do in the story – it has to have relevance for the reader. For example, include that you bought a souvenir only if the souvenir is relevant or interesting to the reader (in this case, you didn’t tell us what souvenir you bought, so it’s not relevant).
    • The ending (last three paragraphs) is anticlimactic. Don’t write a conclusion – end with a description of the a part of the trip or the entire experience, and let the reader conclude that this was a place worth visiting or trip worth taking.
    • Bibliography was not included.
    • Avoid writing in “second person” – if readers disagree or don’t relate, you could lose them. Better to write Travel stories in first person.
    • Photos lack captions and credits, and story lacks a bibliography – both requirements of the contest.
    • Writers should never say, “So just take my word on it” – provide the information and let the readers decide whether the place is worth visiting.
    • I was disappointed by the punctuation and grammar. The writer should pay more attention to full stops, semicolons, and repetitive words.
    • Good, creative attempt at telling reader about a “secret” – a little-known walking path to a popular tourist attraction. Two significant problems — the story assumes that the reader knows what the tourist attraction is, and it does not tell readers enough specific information about the walking path.
    • Be specific – tell the distance and the travel time. How much time does it take to make the trip by tram, bus or minibus?
    • Original highlights were lacking. It didn’t intrigue or excite.
    • Define or describe names of places – don’t assume the reader is familiar with them (since this is a Travel story, a tourist probably would be unfamiliar with local landmarks).
    • Avoid asking questions of readers – when they don’t know the answers, they may give up reading further. When the story does ask questions, the writer MUST provide the answers.
    • Avoid editorializing and generalizing – “Take the time to … and you will be rewarded.” When the story describes the destination and/or experience in detail, it should lead the reader to that conclusion without the writer stating it. After reading your story, the reader should want to take the time.
    • Submission failed to include a bibliography, which is a requirement of the contest guidelines.
    • This was my favorite because the writer chose something really out of the ordinary and explained it very well, with description, science, and research.
  • Typical of many of us who submit papers before they are properly proofed and corrected, there are, in addition to the more complicated errors, those errors that can and should be found and corrected.

Before you submit your entry, read these judges’ comments again and see if they apply to your writing!

Download the entry form.