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Essay Contest Vacation

Fall 2015

Gratitude Travel Writing Contest #9

We are looking for an article about gratitude.
Where do you feel thankful?

Oprah Winfrey tells the story of how Dr. Maya Angelou told her to “Be a Rainbow in Someone Else’s Cloud.” She said be a blessing to someone. “The rainbow is coming even if can not see it yet.” When have you needed someone and they have been your rainbow? Have you been someone else’s? Often we need the kindness of strangers while traveling through our lives.

I learned about this story from Oprah & Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation Experience, Manifesting Grace through Gratitude. I highly recommend their series. I look forward to receiving your entries about how grace can become a verb in your life. Please share your story of travel, grace, gratitude and brightening someone’s day.

DATE: Enter from Sept 11, 2015 to November 26, 2015. (open until Dec 10)

THEME: Gratitude: Where do you feel Thankful

**Over 1600 writers from 75 countries have participated in contests since Jan 2013. **

DEADLINE: Enter by midnight PST on November 26, 2015 (Happy Thanksgiving! I am so grateful for your stories–this contest will stay open until Dec 10!)

To Enter: Submit your entry here

PRIZES: 1st Prize – $500 usd cash 2nd Prize – $100 usd cash 3rd Prize – $50 usd cash

Winners will be selected by our judges and We Said Go Travel Team. Cash prizes will be paid through PayPal in United States Dollars. All winning entries will be promoted on We Said Go Travel.

RULES: Publication is dependent on proper use of English language and grammar, appropriateness of theme topic, and being family friendly (G rated). If your post is written in a language other than English, please also send an English translation. Travelers of all ages and from all countries are encouraged to participate. Each individual may send up to 5 entries that are 500-800 words with 1 photo. Your article must be an original and previously unpublished piece. All posts, which meet the requirements, will be published on this site, WeSaidGoTravel.com.

JUDGING: Richard Bangs, AnneLise Sorensen and the We Said Go Travel Team

Richard Bangs, the father of modern adventure travel, is a pioneer in travel that makes a difference, travel with a purpose. He has spent 30 years as an explorer and communicator, and along the way led first descents of 35 rivers around the globe, he is currently producing and hosting the new PBS series, Richard Bangs: Adventure Without End

AnneLise Sorensen is a travel writer, editor, photographer, and TV/radio host who has penned – and wine-tasted – her way across four continents, reporting for multiple media outlets, including New York Magazine, MSN, Time Out, Yahoo Travel, Rough Guides, Gourmet, and Galavante. AnneLise regularly appears as a travel expert on NBC and CNN and she teaches popular travel writing classes and workshops at Mediabistro and travel events and shows.

Submit your entry

Other contests, resources and classes

Looking for more contests, classes and resources: Click here

We Said Go Travel International Travel Writing Contests

  • Free Entry
  • Cash Prizes ($500usd First Prize)
  • Professional Judges
  • All acceptable entries will be published.
  • Three Contests a Year:
    • Inspiration (January 2-Feb 14),
    • Independence (May -July 4)
    • Gratitude (September 11-Thanksgiving)

To Enter the current contest: Click here

Frequently Asked Questions: Click here

For our annual Student Travel Writing Contest with cash scholarships, please think about the following questions and requirements:

  • What you were looking for when you were planning to study, intern, volunteer, travel, work, or live abroad as a student?

  • Follow the general guidelines below as a basis for your article or mini-guide, since the more questions you address, the more likely your essay will help to inform and inspire other prospective students in their ventures abroad.

  • Feel free to take your own angle, having reviewed some of the past winner's articles, but still keep the future student going abroad squarely in mind while providing links to useful resources.

  • Do not submit highly personal narratives in this contest, since the essays are meant to be practical guides for others, though selected illustrative anecdotes can be helpful while adding color to your essay.
  • Where did you go to school before your work/study/internship/travel/living/volunteering abroad?

  • What motivated you to go abroad?

  • What subjects or activities were your primary interests abroad?

  • How did you select your program or activity abroad? Did you use search engines, word of mouth, databases, unedited reviews, social media, forums, or other communication modes? Emphasize essential practical information such as how you researched and selected a program or arranged your independent study, volunteer service, travel, job, or internship.

  • If you selected and write about one program or independent activity in which you participated, please provide a list of similar programs or alternative opportunities you researched for the reader from which they might choose.

  • Where did you go abroad, why, and when?

  • In which program(s) did you end up participating? Was it an organized program, direct attendance at an academic institution abroad, or independent study?

  • Once you were abroad, what did you wish you had known before you left?

  • Were there any unexpected events, challenges, or realizations while you were abroad?

  • Did you encounter what you felt was racism, sexism, or any other form of aggression during your time abroad? How did you react and what did you learn or do you wish to share about the experience?

  • What was the best part of your experience abroad?

  • Describe with some specificity and even with anecdotes what you did in your studies, internship, work, volunteering, travel, living to provide a clear sense of your experience. What you did will most certainly be of interest to others.

  • Do you consider your venture abroad as achieving or exceeding your goals?

  • Would you go abroad again? Would you recommend that others do the same?

  • Did you consider yourself a good ambassador while you were abroad? Did you feel you gave as much as you received from the people and culture hosting you?

  • What role did social media and online communications play in your experience abroad? In these times, when we are spending more and more of our waking life online, how did you balance such activity with cultural immersion and direct connection with locals and your host family?

  • Since you have returned (if you have), how have you been able to fit what you did and learned abroad into your life—academic, career, and otherwise?

  • Do you think that your experience changed your life spiritually, academically, and will it alter your future life, including career choices?

  • Did you go abroad with the expectation that the intercultural skills you would develop might help you in your future career—skills employers now seek?

  • Did you intend to write about your experience during and after your experience abroad, and via which media?

  • Has your experience abroad, post graduation, led to the work abroad you desire as a result, or more likely to related international work from your home country? Many jobs or careers these days involve interaction with international entities, did your experience abroad help you with your current employment responsibilities?

  • Think of yourself as a study abroad advisor and your reader as a student like yourself before you decided to study/intern/live/work abroad. Offer your best practical advice.

  • Be specific: Vague and flowery evocations of the place(s) you visited and what a wonderful time you had there are not always helpful to someone preparing for his or her trip. Good writing avoids clichés.

  • Write like a journalist seeking to tell a story attempting as much objectivity as possible to reach a wide and educated audience seeking minimal bias.

  • If you write about your experience as a student in a specific program, remember that the appropriateness of the program depends on the individual.

  • While remaining practical, please do not hesitate to offer your most inspiring experiences and advice. Describe your personal passions relating to traveling, living, and learning in the country(ies) in which you visited.

  • If you feel that anecdotes or epiphanies offer a view into the core of your experience abroad, please provide them as well as any dialog with locals that may have changed your perspective.

  • Include a box-out(s) with useful relevant information or related programs that you considered or discovered to help others in their research.

  • Note: Please provide high quality and high-resolution photographs to make your submission stand out and help convey the context of your experience in conjunction with your words.

  • Note: Optionally provide Youtube video(s), links to blog posts or multimedia of any kind that will help further evoke what you experienced abroad and will inspire others to follow in your footsteps.

Word Count

1,200-2,500 words. 2-3 or more high-resolution photos strongly preferred.

Student Writing Contest Deadline for 2018

The Contest begins January 1, 2018, and all entries must be received by October 1, 2018. 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.

Winners will be notified by email before 12:00 a.m. EST, October 15, 2018 for publication at such time as all winners have signed Agreements, received, and cashed payment.

Student Writing Contest Terms

  • There is no entry fee required for submissions.

  • Submissions that have been published during the current academic year by home academic institutions are eligible.

  • Transitions Abroad Publishing, Inc. is not responsible for late, lost, misdirected, incomplete, or illegible email or for any computer-related, online, or technical malfunctions that may occur in the submission process.

  • Submissions are considered void if illegible, incomplete, damaged, irregular, altered, counterfeit, produced in error, or obtained through fraud or theft.

  • Submissions will be considered made by an authorized account holder of the email address submitted at time of entry.

  • The 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners—along with any other runners-up accepted for publication—will be paid by Transitions Abroad Publishing, Inc. either by check or PayPal as preferred by the author.

  • All federal, state, and local taxes are the sole responsibility of the Contest winners.

  • Decisions of the judges are final.


Typed in Microsoft Word and sent by email to studentwritingcontest@TransitionsAbroad.com. Your name and your email address should be on the document and the "2018 TransitionsAbroad.com Student Writing Contest" as the subject of the email. Please let us know at webeditor@transitionsabroad.com if your submission did not get through for any reason.

Cover Sheet

Please provide your name and contact information (address, email address, telephone number), your college or university, and your year in school or year that you graduated or expect to graduate. If you traveled on your own, list the countries and dates and what you did (worked, backpacked, etc.) If you traveled with a program, list the program name and institution, and the dates. Include your current and permanent address, your current and permanent phone number, and email address if applicable. Include a short biographical note (hometown, major, etc.). This information can be in the body of the email which includes your submission.


Send electronically as an attached MS Word file which includes the submission title, your name, your email address, and the story to studentwritingcontest@TransitionsAbroad.com. If you cannot attach the submission as an MS Word file, then please try to create a Google Document and send us the shared link. The last and least desirable way to submit is to paste the article text into an email message. If you have any questions about the contest, please write to webeditor@transitionsabroad.com.

For images, which often play an important part in conveying the abroad experience, ideally you have the images stored in the Cloud on sites such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Flickr, etc. Images in the Cloud can be easily accessed by suppling a link with read rights, but if not, please feel free to attach as many relevant high resolution images as possible or let us know that you have them available. Images tell a story in and of themselves, of course, and photojournalistic approaches will be considered.

Social Media

Notification of your participation in the contest via Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus or your favorite social networking sites would be much appreciated. All winners are welcome to "brag" or "humblebrag" via social media.

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