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How To Win The National Geographic Traveller Writer Competition

March 21, 2016

The annual National Geographic Traveller Writer competition prints the winning piece in the magazine as well as sending the writer on a 17-day safari.

Budding travel writers can show their passion for travel by competing in the annual National Geographic Traveller’s writing competition. If you’d like to get your foot in the door and establish your name in the travel writing industry, then this could be just the break you’ve been waiting for. Not only will the winner get the chance to go on a 17-day safari in Madagascar which will be led by two Bradt Travel Guide authors, but the winning piece of writing will be published in the National Geographic Traveller magazine and website.

How do you ensure victory of this coveted prize? Follow some of these excellent travel writing tips.

Travel With A Purpose

Whether your ultimate goal is to win this competition or to embark upon a career in travel writing, it’s important to realise that there is a difference between putting pen to paper after a leisurely break and travelling with the specific purpose of writing. The latter is how you will make it in the travel writing industry. Before you arrive at your destination, make sure that you have thoroughly researched the area, so that you know how to seek out relevant material. You should decide upon an angle or theme before your trip, so that you’re able to come up with a list of places to visit. It’s also a good idea to contact a list of people that you might like to interview.

For instance, if you want to write about the influence of classical music on the city of Salzburg, then you should come up with a list of classical concerts to attend, know where the street performers play, find out about the exhibitions at the various Mozart museums and maybe interview a member of the Salzburg orchestra. These experiences will become the building blocks of your piece of writing.

Wander Off The Beaten Track

Almost contradictorily though, you should also be aware that sometimes the best material can in fact present itself. Once you’re on the ground, go with the flow and feel free to follow a lead or visit somewhere that wasn’t on your original agenda. You should simply trust your gut and go where you feel the story is headed. This is how you will discover the true hidden gems that travel writers are geniuses at uprooting.

Notes, Notes, Notes

Whilst you’re on your travels, it goes without saying that you should take notes of everything that you experience. You could use the audio function on your smartphone to record notes and take lots of pictures which serve as a great recap. If you are travelling overseas, remember to get your photographic equipment covered with a single trip policy.

Appeal To The Senses

Great travel pieces are usually extremely descriptive. Appeal to the senses by describing everything to the reader – this means sights, smells, what the air feels like, what you can hear and the general vibe or any tensions that you sense. Try and create a shape to your writing with a natural introduction that draws the reader into the midst of the piece.

This should be followed by the main body of the text which will follow your general angle or theme and then round things off with a compelling conclusion. You won’t get it right first time, so don’t be afraid to spend a great deal of time reworking each sentence to ensure you have included the best selection of words to illustrate your experience.

If you’d like to transform your love of writing and travel into a career, then start planning your next great travel piece. The deadline for this competition is 30th April, 2016 – enter here.

Laure Reeve is the Marketing Executive at Avanti Travel Insurance, who specialise in travel insurance for those with pre-existing medical conditions, and are one of very few that have no upper age limit on their policies.

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