Travel Writing Scholarship 2015: The Winners



Writers, wordsmiths and aspiring scribes, again you presented us with the monumental task of reading and judging some truly evocative, entertaining and inspiring essays.

As many of you know, each year we try to shake things up a bit and this year we presented you with an entirely new kind of brief - to write about a Travel Discovery (more commonly known as the 'hidden gem'), a specific place or experience from your travels that you think others would enjoy and replicate based on your inside knowledge.

We were looking for entries that contained both a story and a singular Travel Discovery - the information along with the narrative. While we were introduced to some awesome places in the judging process, many of you missed the point of the brief entirely - and presented us with a well-crafted story only. And no matter how good your writing skills are, if you can't follow the brief, you can't do the job.

On the whole this year, we were very impressed with your writing skills and your essays and encourage each of you to keep honing your craft - and stay tuned for more opportunities from us in the future!

Every year we struggle to decide on who we feel might benefit the most from the assignment and from our mentor's time and experience. This is incredibly difficult because it involves finding the right balance between writing ability, intent and trying to interpret where someone hopes their writing will take them in life. This is after all, not a writing competition, but a scholarship opportunity. There are many of you that we would happily send off to be mentored by John Vlahides, but in the end, we could only choose three.

So, without further delay, please join us in commending this year's winners and the shortlisted entrants. Evelyn, Sarah and Neel will be joining Lonely Planet author John Vlahides in a 3-day travel writing workshop in San Francisco followed by solo 10-day writing assignments across the U.S.

The Winners

Evelyn Hollow (UK) - Ex Nihilo(UK)

Judge's comments:

Evelyn's entry had a very strong opening and gave readers a clear window on her life, who she is, and why we should listen to her. She’s got real raw talent and managed to convey both the events of her story, and how these had a lasting personal affect.

Neel Dhanesha (USA) - The Monastery(Switzerland)

Judge's comments:

Neel began with a good question that made us want to keep reading - are we in Switzerland or France? – just the kind of question that makes for good travel writing. Though the piece could be improved with some more linguistic color, it clearly conveyed an unusual story, and painted a lovely picture of an unexpected discovery.

Sarah O'Donnell (UK) - Pride and Prejudice(Germany)

Judge's comments:

Sarah's writing was concise and direct, and pulled us right into the story. The work succeeded because it didn't try to do too much. The narrative was cohesive and clear. We also liked that her travel discovery was not only about a place, but also about an inward journey.

The Shortlist

Adelheid Sudibyo - La Piojera (The Flea House) (Chile)

Alex Marrow - Taking the Plunge (Russian Federation)

Anna Watson - Broadway Market beckons (UK)

Caroline Crocker - The Boiling Crab (Australia)

Caroline Lowden - Who needs atmosphere? (Spain)

Christian Barnett - The Pot Still, Hope Street, Glasgow (UK)

Jane Symonds - The Terrace, Sultan Pub, Sultanahmet, Istanbul (Turkey)

Josh Cowls - The Beat Quarter, San Francisco (USA)

Kerry Andrew - Pieces and Players (USA)

Lindsay Groves - Legends Corner (USA)

Lisa Kuhn - Angel & Vilma's Route 66 Gift Shop (USA)

Michele DeBella - Chasing the Second Line in New Orleans (USA)

Olivia Yu - Sunrise Breakfast Overlooking London (UK)

Sam Langford - Striking gold (Hungary)

Shereen Tucker - The cashpoint in the rainforest (Belize)

Stacy Sobieski - Hostel Celica, Ljubljana (Slovenia)

Steven Neish - Scărișoara Cave (Romania)

Tegan Molloy - Queen of Sugar Hill (USA)

Tina Murty - The Haunted St. James Hotel (USA)

Thomas Dowson - Going Where Man May Never Go Again (France)

Wade Shields - Ghosts Like Movies, Too (USA)

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  • Veronika said

    Well done to the finalists :)

  • Melissa said

    Well done to you all, good luck :)

  • jane canapini said

    Guilty as charged (of not following the brief) The information should have been in my entry for how to meet my bushmen of Tanzania. Shame on me, but congratulations to all the short-listed entrants!

  • Sven Davison said

    Congratulations finalists and best of luck!

  • Cecilia Della Croce said

    pity I didn't make the short list this year, will try again next time

  • Deborah Guy said

    Congratulations to the Shortlist candidates. Make the best of your travels and writing opportunity. Sorry that I won't be sharing it with you.

  • Anon said

    You would imagine that, after all the confusion that was in place for the difference between journal names and what the actual assignment was from the get-go, World Nomads would have taken into consideration that maybe they weren't clear with the prompt. If it was such a problem to take note of before announcing the shortlist winners, then maybe the fault was with the contest copy and not with the applicants themselves.

  • Frank said

    I'm dying to know which 3 John will pick!!! When do we find out?

  • Anon said

    Nice stories!
    Seems that was really inspiring writing between the 25th and 27th May

  • Ebrima Jallow said

    Congrats to all those shortlisted

  • Debbie Rainer said

    I have only read a handful, but their shortlisting was very well deserved. I will forever delude myself that I made the 'shortlist for the shortlist' and will definitely try again. Having kept all of August free in anticipation of the prize that was surely mine, I guess I'd better start planning another trip and journal entry. And if anyone is prepared to give me some feedback, so much the better ...

  • J said

    Well done to the shortlisted! However, I think it's clear that there was a problem with the brief and example if so many people did it incorrectly.

  • Veronika said

    I think it's really bad style to be complaining about not winning or about unclear directions. Obviosulsy, these ones got it and they wrote beautiful pieces and diserve their spots :) (I am just a tiny bit jealous, haha) The rest of us will just have to try again next year. I wish the final 3 happy writing on their travels :)

  • NotSoFunnyWhen said

    Congrats to all those shortlisted! Well deserved! I think the brief was clear, I think the example they used may have confused folks, but there was plenty of time to write in with questions and they were VERY diligent and with great patience.

    I look forward to trying again next year! (Maybe even the photography & foodie scholarships as well!)

  • J said

    completely agree no one should be complaining about not winning. The shortlisted all did a great job and I look forward to seeing who the final 3 are! I just think it's interesting that the team actually commented above in the announcement how so many people got it 'wrong'. I think that is due to the example given, personally. There must have been a lot of people who misunderstood it if it was necessary to comment. It seems a shame but, again, congrats to the shortlisted- you all did a great job!

  • Kerryl said

    Amazing stories, congratulations to the shortlisted writers! I particularly loved Striking Gold, Ex Nihilo, and Pieces and Players. Good luck to all of you, and better luck next time to the rest of us! Looking forward to following the winners' words on your upcoming USA adventures!

  • Jennifer said

    Very worthy shortlisters! Congratulations to you all.

  • Adrian said

    Congratulations to the winners, you all did a great job! I'm disappointed, but that wont stop me going on my proposed USA trip anyway.

  • tina said

    So excited for all of the winners! I can't imagine how thrilled you must be. Big kudos to you. I hope your adventures are brilliant. And an additional shout out to Pieces and Players author, Kerry: I personally think your piece slayed them all and figured you would have been on that trip, but instead you will be able to write about whatever else you wish, which I'm certain will be grand.

  • Ms said

    Congratulations to all the winners and shortlist candidates! We can learn a lot from their writing styles and give another shot next year.

  • Lisa said

    Congratulations to the winners, everyone who made the short list and everyone who submitted there articles. No doubt we all learned something from this. I am really incredibly thrilled to have made the short list. Thanks to World Nomads and Lonely Planet for this experience!

  • Stacy Sobieski said

    What an honor to have made the shortlist! Thanks so much, guys! And to all the winners: enjoy the US!

  • Blue said

    Where can we read what they wrote on the trip? Weren't they going on writing assignments?

    Hi Blue, yes they have written some amazing travel stories in the USA! This year we'll be compiling these stories into a USA travel guide. We'll announce the launch of the guide in our Nomads Newsletter, sign up here to receive the newsletter if you're not already on our mailing list: (right hand side column)


    - Pari, World Nomads

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