Expat Sat: The 2012 Narrative Travel Writing Contest

Welcome to Expat Sat, the culturally kooky, map nonspecific, sometimes bewildering, always fascinating intersection of expat life and writing. And where every Saturday, I offer tips for writing, publishing, and thriving to expat writers around the globe.

TransitionsAbroad.com’s annual travel writing competition opens for submissions on July 15 (2011). Another great writing opportunity for expat writers! (Note: All information below is taken from TransitionsAbroad.com.)


Given the huge downturn in the global economy since 2008 which has resulted in a marked decrease in opportunities to work in your home country, many have turned to volunteering as a way to see the world, often inexpensively, as well as to altruistically help others handle their own economic plight. Transitions Abroad has long been a big believer in contributing to the host community either financially, through works, service, or through respectful interaction with the natives in which all learn from each other. Please describe an experience(s) you have had in which your volunteer work or service, or even voluntourism, has had a positive impact on the natives (as far as you know), as well as contributing to your inner development as an empathic global citizen. In some cases, volunteer service abroad also may help you find work at home in the aftermath. We are open to a combination of narrative and practical writing, including a sidebar which provides others with the information they need to follow your footsteps or pursue their own path. We recognize that at some level all travelers or volunteers all ultimately “outsiders” in some way, but we believe that through empathy the gap between people and cultures around the world can be closed, just as music is a universal language which often brings people together.

We are not looking for destination pieces which describe in flowery “amazing” terms your experience, nor are we looking for travelogues or blog-like posts which are too overly personal and self-involved to necessarily resonate with others on their own paths of discovery. We are looking for inspirational pieces which will lead others to experience the sense of engagement as a global citizen.

How to Enter

  • Submit an original and previously unpublished essay from 1,000 to 5,000 words. Supporting photos in .jpg or .gif format are welcome to illustrate the experience and are considered part of the essay submission. Please do not embed the photos for the travel essay in the .doc files.
  • To enter the Contest, attach your essay in Microsoft Word format or copy and paste it into an e-mail as a last resort. Please include your the essay title, full name, complete postal address and phone number in both the email and Word document and add a brief bio if you so choose. Please type “2012 Narrative Travel Writing Essay Entry” in the subject description of the e-mail and send the e-mail to narrativewritingcontest@transitionsabroad.com.
  • Accompanying photos which enhance the narrative are highly preferred. Photojournalistic essays or accompanying videos will also be considered, and humor is appreciated where appropriate.
  • Please include an optional bio of 1-3 sentences which reference your websites, blogs, books, and contact information in the body of the submission.


The contest is open to professional, freelance and aspiring travel writers from any location around the globe and of any nationality.


Transitions Abroad Publishing, Inc. will require first-time Worldwide Electronic rights for all submissions which are accepted as contest winners and for publication. In addition, Transitions Abroad Publishing, Inc. will reserve the right to reprint the story in a future publication. The writer may republish the unedited submission as desired six months after initial publication on TransitionsAbroad.com.


  • The first-place winning entry will receive $500 (USD).
  • The second-place winning entry will receive $150 (USD).
  • The third-place winning entry will receive $100 (USD).
  • Any other articles selected as runner-ups will receive a $50 payment.


  • The contest begins July 15, 2011.
  • All entries must be received by January 5, 2012.
  • Winners will be notified by phone, mail, or e-mail by January 15, 2012 for publication by March 10th due to the time required for all writers spanning the globe to send in Agreements and payment to be cashed.


Editors of TransitionsAbroad.com will judge entries based upon the following criteria:

  • Sensitivity to the people and culture being described
  • Ability to engage the reader
  • Literary quality
  • Rich photographic/video illustrations

The Kicker

None that I can see.

The Upside

Money, money, money!


Read past winning entries. Then start writing.


For full terms and conditions, click here.


Image: Michal Marcol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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