1. January/February Freelance Assignments

    Thank you to all who applied for our January/February round of weekend-getaway freelance writing assignments. There were so many high-quality pitches this time—more than ever before—that it was quite difficult (bordering on agonizing!) to narrow it down to just one person per region. Without further ado, here they are:

    Northern California (Lake Tahoe) Brigid Fuller
    Pacific Northwest (Willamette Valley) Spencer Foxworth
    NYC/Boston (Vermont) Rob Liguori
    South Florida (Miami) Stephanie Dunn
    Southern California (Santa Barbara) Tien Nguyen

    A bit about our selection process: We first do a preliminary reading of all of the submissions. At this time, we select a group for a second reading. Then we pick of favorites from among this batch and “trazzlerize” them (that is, we make them Trazzler trips or send them to get photos). These trips rise to the top of the list of submissions and the editors give them another reading (or two or three…) to narrow things down further. In the end, about 10-20% of the submissions become Trazzler trips and make it to this final round. While we aren’t able to provide a lot of feedback on individual trips (we wish we could, but we’re a small team and are perpetually swamped), we have written extensively about our editorial criteria and philosophy:

    http://www.trazzler.com/about/writing-guide
    http://www.trazzler.com/about/writing-nuts-and-bolts
    http://blog.trazzler.com/2009/08/trazzler-nycgo-summer-contest.html

    This last link, in particular, goes into a lot of detail about why most trips don’t make it to the final round. If this is the case, keep trying!—many of our freelancers and contest winners have entered multiple times before winning. We love it when a writer “gets” our (admittedly quirky) editorial style and focus—even if it takes a couple of tries.

    Which brings us to this month’s assignments… We’ll be doing another huge round of 20 weekend-getaway writing adventures—we’ll announce it here and on our Facebook and Twitter accounts in the next few days, so please stay tuned…

  2. September/October Freelance Writing Assignments + New November Assignments

    We’ve been busily reading all of the excellent submissions for our first (we hope of many) weekend-getaway freelance writing assignments. There were so many high-quality pitches, in the end, it was quite difficult (bordering on agonizing!) to narrow it down to just one person per region. Here are the final six:

    A bit about our selection process: We first do a preliminary reading of all of the submissions. At this time, we select a group for a second reading. Then we pick of favorites from among this batch and “trazzlerize” them (that is, we make them Trazzler trips or send them to get photos). These trips rise to the top of the list of submissions and the editors give them another reading (or two or three…) to narrow things down further. In the end, about 10-20% of the submissions become Trazzler trips and make it to this final round. While we aren’t able to provide a lot of feedback on individual trips (we wish we could, but we’re a small team and are perpetually swamped), we have written extensively about our editorial criteria and philosophy:

    http://www.trazzler.com/about/writing-guide
    http://www.trazzler.com/about/writing-nuts-and-bolts
    http://blog.trazzler.com/2009/08/trazzler-nycgo-summer-contest.html

    This last link, in particular, goes into a lot of detail about why most trips don’t make it to the final round. If this is the case, keep trying!—many of our freelancers and contest winners have entered multiple times before winning. We love it when a writer “gets” our (admittedly quirky) editorial style and focus—even if it takes a couple of tries.Which brings us to this month’s assignments… We’ll be doing another round of $1250 weekend-getaway writing adventures:Any writers who applied for the last assignment and had a submission that was promoted to “Trazzler Trip” status will automatically be considered for the same region this month (though feel free to add more information to your bio or additional submissions if you think it might be helpful).

    Winter is perhaps the best season to escape the reality and routine of everyday life—we can’t wait to read about these beautiful spots.

    Thank you again to all who took the time to submit a trip or participate last month. Please keep writing!

  3. Work of Art Contest Winners and July Freelancers


    Hello Trazzlers—
    What a busy couple of months it has been!

    We’ve been holding back on sending out our newsletter this month, because we have a big announcement to make about our next contest in mid-July… in the meantime, I wanted to announce our contest winners and July freelancers here.

    Work of Art Contest Winners:

    Kendra Hoover, Julie Hammonds, David Chachere, Kimberly Wadsworth, Anne-Sophie Redisch, Sami, Hrvoje Karalic, Gladys Glover, Yoshi Salaverry, and Beth Green.

    Work of Art Contest Entries

    This month, we are returning to some of our favorite writers to get another batch of trips, hiring contest contenders who caught our eye, commissioning sponsored trips for specific destinations, and digging back many months to hire writers who have been on our list of potential freelancers for quite a while.

    July freelancers:

    Nicholas Rowlands | Shara Johnson | Troy Nahumko | Robert Ellsworth | Clair Whitmer | Fayette Fox | Mollie Day | Summer Whitford | Yiannis Ifantides | Irina Vodonos | Galen Leeds | Billy Gonzalez | Rich Carriero | Donald Mammoser | Angela Allan | Christopher Johnston | Annie B Shapero | Daniel Djang | Muon Van | Greg Thomas | Paul Koning | Ashwin Sodhi | Christine Cantera |

    Trazzler’s user base is growing rapidly and our budget for freelancing will continue to increase in tandem with the site. We know that none of our growth would be possible without the contribution of our community team, freelance writers, and contributors. Trazzler is a lean—and decidedly uncorporate—operation. Although the last year has been a bit of a financial obstacle course, our commitment has always been to dedicate a high percentage of our budget (currently 26% compared to an average of 13% in traditional media) to hiring those writers who embrace the idea of Trazzler and have a one-of-a-kind contribution to make.

    Writers: You can help us find the right assignment for you by updating your Trazzler bio (under settings) and adding your area of expertise and the countries, regions, states, or cities that you would like to write about. More and more, we hope to be able to offer contracts to write a block of trips about a specific regional or topical beat. We realize that many of you who submitted excellent samples might slip through the cracks if we don’t know all of the places you can write about. We will be offering many more contracts over the coming months and are always going back through all of the writers who submitted trips to find the best ones for each assignment, so please stick with us!

    Also coming very soon: writers will be able to see when a trip has been read by an editor. We will also be using this blog to post details about specific writing gigs as they become available, so you can have a chance to let us know that you are interested (Twitter @trazzler is a good way to get our attention). We have really been overwhelmed (in the best of all possible ways) by the quality of the writing that we have received and we are determined to improve our responsiveness and communication.

    —Megan

    P.S. Check back in on July 14 for our big summer contest announcement.

  4. Out with the old and in with the new…

    As quite a few astute trazzlers have pointed out, we’re running woefully behind on sending out our mid-January newsletter, which means we haven’t been able to announce the winners of our December contest. Our excuse: we’ve been working furiously to launch some big improvements to the site. (You can try them now by going to Trazzler.com and clicking the “facebook connect” button. If you have an existing trazzler.com account, be sure to sync it. Let us know what you think.)

    So, to keep the contest wheels in motion, we’ll announce last month’s winners and next month’s contest here on the blog. We’d like to make this a monthly blog post, so we get a chance to talk more in depth about our favorites—you can also check in any time @trazzler on Twitter).

    New January/February Contest—On the Beaten Path
    http://www.trazzler.com/trips/tags/on-the-beaten-path
    End date: February 25, 12pm EST; 5pm GMT
    Prize: a $250 contract to write 10 trips

    This month, we’re offering the challenge of writing about places that are in the middle of the proverbial “beaten path.” Those attractions or places of touristic pilgrimage that may often be overrun with out-of-towners, but are still entirely worth the visit. We have a hunch that trazzlers will have a smart take on how best to experience these temples of tourism. Whether that means zooming in on a very specific aspect of the place, writing from a purely subjective slant, giving up local secrets, appealing to a particular audience’s interests, or delving deeper into the reason(s) why the place draws us to it like moths to the flame.

    With just a bit of context and focus (be it historical, cultural, aesthetic, etc.), the meaning of these places can surge to the forefront, while the throngs retreat into the background. I’ll be writing about some of my favorite on-the-beaten-path (and quite misunderstood) attractions in Madrid—the Guernica painting by Picasso, the Retiro park, Goya’s Black Paintings at the Prado, the Palacio Real, Botín Restaurant, the Cava Baja tapas street, Plaza de Santa Ana, etc.).

    Just put the tag “on the beaten path” in your trips and they will show up here:
    http://www.trazzler.com/trips/tags/on-the-beaten-path

    December Contest—Cold Recap
    http://www.trazzler.com/trips/tags/cold
    So how do trazzlers cope with the cold? Steamy baths, hot springs, warm beverages, hard alcohol, plenty of pints, semi-illicit drugs, woolly blankets, winter sports, long walks, copious body heat, physical exertion, migration, hibernation… we are happy to report that there wasn’t a snuggie in the bunch. (Viewed from across the Atlantic, I have to say that this slanket/snuggie thing is pretty incomprehensible…)

    This month’s submissions ranged from laugh-out-loud funny to poetic to tragic (many cold places are melting away before our very eyes). Across the board, the quality of the writing was exceptional, which made choosing a winner quite difficult… So we ended up with four winners. Each of these writers gave us shivers in the physical and literary sense (and two strangely managed to do so on the Equator—no mean feat). The fact that all four happen to be in far-flung places is a coincidence… We love local trips just as much as exotic ones. We just felt that these particular trips best plotted a sensory map of exactly what it feels like to be in these cold, cold places (and still made us want to go).

    December’s Winners:

    Greg Thomas
    #3864 Bellyflopping Into the Icy Songhua River in Harbin, China
    #14441 Freezing Your Butt Off for Fun in Harbin, China
    Sideshows are a tough genre, but Greg did a stellar job of sketching out the humor, humanity, and absurdity of this ice-diving extravaganza. Harbin looks like quite a nexus of interesting cultural phenomena.

    Paul Koning
    #10255 Bundling Up on the Equator in Kenya
    This trip took us to a cold, tropical place in the hours just before sunrise. Paul lived in Kenya and has written a series of excellent trips about the natural and cultural beauty of this country.

    Tai Kuncio
    #8658 Scaling to the Highest Point From the Center of the Earth in Ecuador
    We loved learning about this place, which is not only freezing cold and far above the clouds, but also the farthest point from the center of the earth.

    Jeff Jenkins
    http://jeffmapped.blogspot.com/
    #8274 Wooling Away Cold, Willing Down Tea in Laguna Colorada, Bolivia
    We don’t often publish trips written in the first person, but this one transported us straight to that barren landscape with its thin air, palette of reds, coca leaves, stinky wool blankets, and stark concrete-block walls.

    Here are some of our other favorites:

    #6072 Swimming in a Caldera in Deception Bay, Antarctica
    #6474 Falling Downhill at Winter Park Ski Resort in Colorado
    #10975 Flight-Seeing Around the Alaska Range in Talkeetna, Alaska
    #11883 Sipping Hot Chocolate at Perito Moreno in El Calafate, Argentina
    #3359 Plucking Cold, Flowing Noodles from a Bamboo Trough in Fukui, Japan
    #13778 Shivering at a Magnificent Snow Festival in Hokkaido, Japan
    #13675 Exploring Dizzying Heights From a Bird’s Eye View in New Zealand
    #12200 Eskimo-Kissing at the Coolest Bar Around in Rome, Italy

    And have a look at the trips that we commissioned from our previous contest winners:

    Gareth Thornton (Urban Enigma Contest Winner)
    Dublin, Ireland
    http://www.trazzler.com/trips/users/gazthornton

    Amanda Scotese (Urban Enigma Contest Winner)
    Chicago, Illinois, USA
    http://www.trazzler.com/trips/users/ascotese

    Tina Jett (Mom and Pop Contest Winner)
    Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
    http://www.trazzler.com/trips/users/jett

    That’s it for now. Look for an announcement very soon on the new features that are launching on the site. In the meantime, you can take a sneak peek and let us know what you think on twitter (@trazzler) or Get Satisfaction.


    —Megan

  5. November Newsletter

    Hello Trazzlers—
    Today was one of those perfect (though far too fleeting) fall days in Madrid with a deep blue sky, shafts of yellow light, falling leaves, and long afternoon shadows. Where have you been lately? Have you been traveling to any places on your Trazzler Wishlist? Have you added any new weekend trips for this winter?

    This week we started sending out our weekly Trip recommendations. How did we do? We’re still working on the logic behind how we choose these trips for each user, so we’d love to get some feedback on how we can make it better.

    Hiring News
    More of our initial funding came through this month so we were finally able to get started hiring another batch of freelancers (writers: we apologize for the delay). Every one of these writers submitted trips that expanded our idea of what Trazzler can be. Over the next month, you’ll be able to check out their new trips at: http://www.trazzler.com/trips/tags/freelancer.

    Christine Cantera: Offbeat Expat (missexpatria.wordpress.com/)
    http://www.trazzler.com/trips/users/missexpatria

    Tim Chester: London Insider
    http://www.trazzler.com/trips/users/timchester

    Katie Hammel: Luxury on the Cheap
    http://www.trazzler.com/trips/users/katiehammel

    Cheri Lucas: Driven by Obsessions (cherilucas.com)
    http://www.trazzler.com/trips/users/clucas

    Phillip Orchard: Poignant Places (philliporchard.com)
    http://www.trazzler.com/trips/users/phildavid

    Barbara Weibel: Seasoned Globetrotter (holeinthedonut.com)
    http://www.trazzler.com/trips/users/barbaraw

    Kara Williams: Mountain Mama (karaswilliams.com/)
    http://www.trazzler.com/trips/users/karasw

    We remain committed to dedicating 10%-15% of our budget (significantly more than major market newspapers) to freelance and part-time writers and editors. We still have a long list of other writers whose Trazzler trips caught our eye—this is only the beginning. So, please, keep submitting those trips so we can see what you can do. We read them all.

    October’s Theme: Mom and Pops

    http://www.trazzler.com/trips/tags/mom-and-pop
    We loved the response that we got to last month’s plea to spread the word about our favorite mom-and-pops… So much so that we decided that we want to reward the very best “theme” trips that we receive each month.

    October’s Winner: Tina Jett (tinajett.com)
    http://www.trazzler.com/trips/users/jett
    Tina was already on our radar with her extremely well-loved and popular Carolina RollerGirls trip. But we thought she really embraced the local mom-and-pop genre:
    - Going Loco for Locopops in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina
    - Getting Your Chocolate Fix at Escazu in Raleigh, North Carolina
    - Becoming a Beadfreak at Ornamentea in Raleigh, North Carolina
    So we awarded her a contract to write 10 more trips this month.

    November’s Theme: Urban Enigmas
    http://www.trazzler.com/trips/tags/urban-enigma
    Award: A $250 Contract to Write 10 Trips
    This month, we want to dig into those enigmatic, secret corners of our cities and towns. Those hidden (sometimes in plain sight) places or phenomena that are mysterious, weird, unnerving, thought-provoking, inscrutable, evocative of a past long forgotten… Add the tag “urban enigma” to your trips and check out the link above to see the weird and wonderful places that others have submitted.


    Happy Trazzling,

    Megan Cytron and the Trazzler Team

  6. Can travel make us better people? Can it make the world a better place?

    We knew that travel could provide a (desperately?) needed break from day-to-day life. And that, at its very best, it has the capacity to open minds, dispel stereotypes, and even make us better human beings. (And, at its worst, make us kiss the ground when we get home.)

    But what about the places we visit? Is it possible that we can leave a place better than we found it, just by having traveled there? Our writers have found trips all over the world that do just this—without sacrificing an iota of the joy of travel.

    Rose wrote about rainforests destined to be chopped down that are now being preserved because they are more valuable as ecotourist destinations. Our freelancers, Tracy Broom and Livia McRee, submitted trips that struck a balance between ecotravel, volunteer work, and animal encounters. Phillip Orchard wrote eloquently about the humanity of finding peace and relaxation in places where tourists seldom venture.

    Preserving Rainforest/Wildlife/Local Culture:
    Zipping From Tree to Tree With Gibbons in Bokeo, Laos
    Embarking on an Ethical Elephant Trek in Hongsa, Laos

    Voluntourism
    Restoring Habitat for Wildlife in San Cristobal, Ecuador
    Bathing Elephants at a Rescue Center in Bangkok, Thailand
    Building a Kindergarten to Save Coral Reefs in Vanua Levu, Fiji
    Protecting Sea Turtles in San Miguel, Costa Rica

    Socially Conscious Travel to Unexpected Places
    Relaxing in a Women’s Prison in in Chiang Mai, Thailand
    Basking in Peace on War-less CeCe Beach in Monrovia, Liberia

    Travel experiences like these not only do good in the communities in question, they give us an opportunity to get deeper, to do something, and meet interesting and enterprising people off the well-beaten tourist path. If you contribute a trip that falls into this category, give it the tag “ethical travel” so that others can find it here:

    http://www.trazzler.com/trips/tags/ethical-travel

    But I don’t think we have to travel halfway around the world to make a difference in people’s lives and livelihoods. My next post is going to be about a fascinating person who has traveled close to home, making a herculean effort to save a beloved (and delicious) local cultural institution from homogenization and extinction… And you’ll get to read all about it here on Trazzler.

    —Megan