Photo © Sergio E. Moya

Travel Writing Scholarship 2018

Meet the winners.


To all of you who shared stories of discovery and heartache, pain and triumph  we’d like to thank you.

We were taken on 7000 journeys, that saw us dancing in the streets of Medellín to falling into the depths of a Venetian canal. We peered into worlds that we never would have seen, and had insights into lives that we never would have known.

Every single story helped to connect us across oceans, and you didn’t make it an easy task to choose just three winners. So from all of us at World Nomads  keep searching for those stories, keep experiencing and, most importantly, keep writing.

Here are the World Nomads 2018 Travel Writing Scholarship winners…

In partnership with

Congratulations to our 3 winners

Claudia Crook (USA), Madeline Russo (USA) and Máté Földi (Hungary), we're kick-starting your travel writing career with a mentorship from professional travel writer, Tim Neville. You'll be off on a real-life assignment, exploring Argentina and writing about your adventures along the way!

Claudia uses an American holiday and one of the rituals it entails — making pumpkin pie — to craft a comment on the value of building cross-cultural bridges at a time when many in power would prefer to burn them. But toss politics aside and the narrative still clicks along effortlessly. Notice how Claudia then blends in little literary ingredients of imagery, dialog and setting, to create a lovely treat, all while minding her pacing. Her main metaphor — the pie — is a touch over-baked but overall her instincts are spot-on.

Tim Neville,

This is a powerful story that shows how we, as travelers, get to drift between worlds that are often forbidden to others. For me, this taps into some of the most meaningful travel writing you can create. The duality of the story gives Madeline a lot of material to work with. Beneath these words lies a lesson in the responsibility that writers shoulder in an effort to convey those worlds to others. There are many pitfalls a writer can fall into when doing this — and Madeline doesn’t skirt them all — but this story has strong legs that need to run.

Tim Neville,

Of all the stories I read, Máté’s is the one I look forward to discussing the most. The line-by-line writing itself may need more work than some of the others, but Máté’s is also the only story I read that has the building blocks in place for a full-length magazine feature. The quest is crystal clear and compelling. The backstory could run on for 800 words, and I wouldn’t be bored. The setting, the characters, the dialog — all of them would practically write themselves. 

Tim Neville,

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The shortlist

Congratulations to the following shortlisted applicants.

Please note:

The views expressed in these stories do not necessarily reflect the views of World Nomads, Say Hueque, Tim Neville, and the scholarship judges. They are the opinions of the writers, and we have selected them for the caliber of their writing and for the instincts that we can see behind the writing. That is, for example, how they framed their stories, the way they zeroed in on certain details, or the attention they paid to pacing.

Tim's feedback

This year’s travel writing scholarship blew me away once again thanks to the quality of the finalists’ work that graced my desk. I read your pieces over and over, laughing and cringing and feeling confident that the world of travel writing has no shortage of world class talent out there just waiting to be tapped. Crafting a story within the confines of a 2,500-character cage is far more challenging than just letting a tale unspool across as many pages as it takes. So first, congratulations to those 30 writers who managed to pull it off with aplomb. Second, a huge shout out to Norie Quintos and Charukesi Ramadurai, as well as to the World Nomads team, for helping to whittle the lot down to the best of the best.

Before I dive into the winners’ pieces I want to give a quick nod to some of the stories that I read that made an impression on me. There were many but Kelly Memphis’s “A Canal in Venice” had me right from the very first line: “Venice, the city of bridges, the city of masks, the city where I fell into a canal.” Theresa Wong’s “An Afternoon in Oberenovac” moved me for the mood she managed to stitch together while Catherine O’Hare’s “The Magic Carpets of Morocco” showed me a writer who is very capable of infusing a simple scene with vibrant, not-over-the-top language. Anthony Immergluck’s “Of Buckets and Baboons” took a terrible moment we all dread (being really ill on a bus) and spun it into something funny, dare I say. Bryony Slaymaker wrote a safari story that focuses not on lions or angry hippos but on a giraffe battle in “Size Matters.” There is no doubt you could all be very successful travel writers.

In the end, though, I had to pick just three winners. While all of these winning stories need work — that’s why I’m here! — I was particularly inspired by the instincts these writers demonstrated and the passion for travel writing they expressed in their personal essays. That’s something that comes from within, from reading, from writing, from traveling often. With a little guidance, I’m confident I can teach these writers how to better assemble all the little dots they’re already out there gathering into a career-building work of art.

Tim's Avatar
Tim Neville,
World Nomads Travel Writing Scholarship mentor and contributor to The New York Times

Due to the sheer amount of applications we receive for our scholarships, we do not provide individual feedback. If you would like to improve your writing in time for your next trip, please make sure to sign up for Tim Neville’s Art of Travel Writing Guide.