1. This week’s writing and photo contest winners

    Congratulations to the winners of our contests last week (and a special thanks to everyone who suggested their favorite indie coffee spots):

    COFFEE CONTEST

    Writing Grand Prize: Ryan Murphy
    Entry:Espresso 77 in Queens, NY
    Writing Grand Prize: Joshua Phelps
    Entry:Café Sacher in Vienna, Austria, Austria

    Photography Grand Prize: Jaime
    Entry: Crucial Coffee Cafe in St Augustine, FL
    Photography Grand Prize: A Lawson
    Entry: IKE Box Cafe in Salem, OR

    Photography Honorable Mentions:
    Joshua Phelps (Entry), Ryan Murphy (Entry), Tom Bentley (Entry)

    Writing Honorable Mentions:
    nicole hs kaufmann (Entry), David Graham (Entry), Allie Marini (Entry), Keely Herrick (Entry), Allie Marini (Entry), RAP (Entry), Debbie Rice (Entry), Joshua Phelps (Entry), Johnpatrick Marr (Entry), Gheanna (Entry), Ryan Murphy (Entry), Heather R. (Entry), Liz Burnham (Entry)

    WEEKLY WORLDWIDE CONTEST

    Writing 1st Place: Tory Braden
    Entry: Pang La Elephant Rehabilitation Center in Ngao, Lampang, Thailand


    Photography 1st Place: Karin-Marijke Vis
    Entry: Historic Inner City of Paramaribo in Paramaribo, Par’bo, Suriname

    Photography Honorable Mentions:
    Tory Braden (Entry), Deja (Entry), A Lawson (Entry), Jaime (Entry), Tory Braden (Entry), Liz Burnham (Entry), Flora Moreno de Thompson (Entry), Sergio Paulino (Entry), Karin-Marijke Vis (Entry), Amy Wall Lerman (Entry), Camilla Mann (Entry)

    Writing Honorable Mentions:
    Ryan Murphy (Entry), Flora Moreno de Thompson (Entry), Tory Braden (Entry), Liz Burnham (Entry), Karin-Marijke Vis (Entry), P Y Huff (Entry), Deja (Entry), Mike Harper (Entry)

  2. Writing Contests: East Coast Sandwiches and West Coast State Parks + Deep Thoughts

    Thanks to all who downloaded our iPhone app! We’re now working like crazy on the next big thing. It’s going to be much more participative every step of the way. Here’s what we’re thinking:

    • The check-in market is cornered. The world doesn’t need another Foursquare clone.
    • Unedited reviews: Sometimes useful, often faked or spammy, almost always demoralizing to wade through. See TripAdvisor or Yelp’s four stars and a rant.
    • Guidebooks/newspaper travel sections: Based on an antiquated, elitist model that relies on a handful of people (often just passing through or relaying  hearsay) to cover a huge geographic space. Prone to obsolescence, inaccuracies, shilling, and sameness.

    We want to collect the experiences that drive people to check places out and report back on them. To put it succinctly:

          People + Places + Love

    A place will only appear on Trazzler if: 

    • our editors scouted it out and loved it.
    • a person scouted it out and loved it and our editors agreed.
    • a person scouted it out and loved it—our editors disagreed, but smart people convinced them they were wrong.
    • an expert (like a tourism bureau or local blogger) suggested it and our editors agreed.

    Frankly, most places won’t make the cut. Instead of listing every place in the big wide world and waiting for people to check in, we want you to send you on assignment to check places out. Instead of interacting with a chosen few, our editors work with everyone, devising creative contests that feature places we care about—and reward the people who love a place enough to capture its essence in photos or words.

    Here are two contests that are happening right now (soon there will be more all over the world that you can enter right from your phone or Trazzler.com):

    East Coast Local Institutions: Sandwich Edition: Writing Assignment—$250 Contract + a Free Philly Hoagie Getaway
    West Coast Endangered Places Contest: California State Park Edition—Writing Assignment: $500 Contract

    Deadline for entry: November 30.

  3. 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…

  4. J.R.R. Tolkien drank here: Literary watering holes


    While a visit to the home of a famous literary figure offers a peek at an eerie, lifeless space suspended in time, seeking out the public places where a writer wrote, drank and caroused tends to be a messier proposition. Life marches on in bars and cafes. Regimes fall. Neighborhoods change. New people take over. If you are lucky enough to find the place still in operation, you can never be sure what to expect.

    It’s true that many of the world’s great literary haunts have been reduced to a tourist-trap cliché — just consider the countless European bars with dubious “Hemingway drank here” signs propped up outside. Some venerable salons were disbanded and commandeered for decades for some other use (like the communist occupation of Kafka’s coffeehouses in Prague). Others managed to stay afloat but couldn’t keep the intellectual spark alive or the market forces at bay. It’s enough to make a sentimental literature nerd somewhat despondent. Nostalgia aside, reading about these temples of debauchery and creativity and then making a pilgrimage to their present-day incarnations is sure to reveal a fascinating intersection of history, homage, mythology, memory and marketing.

    And then there are the places that haven’t given up the ghost: like the creaking boozer on the edge of Hampstead Heath where Keats morbidly pondered his nightingale; the Oxford pub where J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis plotted their modern-day take on mythology; or the Madrid coffeehouse where starving postwar writers ran up tabs and sipped free soda water while plotting their next act of literary subversion. Time has passed, writers have changed, but the gathering places still feel relevant.

    Here are 13 that run the gamut. Papa Hemingway only appears once, so it’s obviously an incomplete list. Have you ever gone on a literary bender? In 50 or 100 years, where will the hallowed writer hangouts from the early 2000s be? Tell us

    Megan Cytron

    Here’s the list:
    Eating a highwayman’s feast at a historic pub in Hampstead, London
    Raging with dead poets in the West Village, New York City
    Imbibing with the spirits of sotted Spanish writers in Madrid
    Drinking in the history of al-Fishawy coffee shop in Cairo
    Quaffing ale With J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis in Oxford, England
    Downing bourbons with Gatsby’s ghost in Louisville, Ky.
    Hanging out with Henrik Ibsen in Oslo, Norway
    Downing a pint at the Old Country’s oldest pub in Dublin

    More:
    http://www.trazzler.com/trips/cafe-savoy-in-prague-5-hlavn-msto-praha-cz
    http://www.trazzler.com/trips/le-mouton-blanc-in-paris
    http://www.trazzler.com/trips/bowery-poetry-club-in-new-york-ny
    http://www.trazzler.com/trips/ye-olde-cheshire-cheese-in-city-of-london-greater-london-ec4a-3-gb
    http://www.trazzler.com/trips/harrys-bar-bellini-in-venice-italy

  5. November/December Freelance Assignments

    We have another round of freelance writing assignments up for grabs this month. Some are ending next week, so get your submissions in soon. Read more here:

    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!

  6. 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!

  7. On the Road Writing Contest Winners

    Congratulations to all of the winners of our On the Road Writing Contest and a big thanks to our sponsor, Fairmont Hotels, and all who took the time to enter and vote.

    The final editorial prize winners are:
    Editors’ Choice Grand Prize: Susan Offer Szafir
    Editors’ Choice Runners-Up Prizes: Peter Herring and Alexis Bohan Peschiera

    The editorial prize semifinalists are listed here. Great job to all—we loved reading about your roadside finds—please keep writing!

    The People’s Choice winners are:
    Indrani Ghose, Christine Medina, David Joshua Jennings, Carolyn Turner, Sandra Dee Carr, Carly Mary Cady, Daniel Scharch, Nicole Bigelow, Kate Baggott, Dejon Flow Simons.

    We can’t wait to hear all about our winners’ stays at Fairmont’s beautiful hotels and read about their adventures on Trazzler.

    Our Smart Travel Writing Contest is well underway—get your entry in now.

  8. City Flavor Writing Contest Winners

    Editors’ Choice Grand Prize Winners
    A riverside love nest, a neighborhood of books, a dusty subtropical sweet spot, a place where jazz hands can roam free, and a gallery where tiny taxidermy is a medium for angst-y artistic expression… each of our winners grasped the idea of what a Trazzler Trip is all about—and transported us to these wildly different corners of the world (in less than 160 words, no less).

    Foodie Temples: Sarah Barker
    Cutting the Dust With Sugar Cane Juice in Homestead, Florida

    Love: Tess Link
    Shacking Up on the Banks of a River in Ojai, California

    LGBT Icons: James Mulcahy
    Rocking Out to Rodgers and Hammerstein in New York, NY

    Neighborhood Spots: Nick Rowlands
    Rummaging Around Nooks and Crannies in Azbakiya Book Market, Cairo

    Only in SF: Traci Hui
    Feeling Nihilistic With Dead Mouse Hamlet in San Francisco, CA

    The writers of our Grand-Prize trips win a free trip to San Francisco: five nights at a Joie de Vivre Hotel, free round-trip airfare within the continental US, and a $700 contract to write 15 trips about their Only-in-San-Francisco experience.

    It’s always agonizing to choose just one winner per theme, so we awarded 15 Editors’ Choice Runners-Up prizes (15 $250 contracts to write ten short Trazzler trips):

    Lisa Michele Burns, Maureen Duncan, Joanna Eng, GladysG, Lily Grace, Megan Kung, Apryl Lundsten, Doug Mack, Gail Nelson-Bonebrake, Mag Ritt, Diana Springfield, Ben Shattuck, Sam Sherman, Tuatara, and Laura Woodman.

    People’s Choice Grand-Prize Winners
    Foodie Temples: Mary Bonomo
    LGBT Icons: Kayla Albert
    Neighborhood Spots: Edna Zhou
    Only in SF: Rebecca Feinberg
    Love in the City: Kim Repp

    Our People’s Choice winners win a free trip for two to San Francisco including round-trip airfare for two (within the continental US), 5 nights at a Joie de Vivre Hotel, and $700 in spending money to make a bit of Only-in-San-Francisco magic.

    We can’t wait to hear all about our winners’ trips. As I write, our Island Contest winners, Adrienne Wilson and Heather McNeill are exploring Hawaii—one beach and shave-ice shack at a time—we’ll be tweeting about their adventures next week.

    —Megan

  9. #NYCGO Writing Contest Winners


    Hello Trazzlers—
    Happy first day of fall! Thank you to all who participated in our #NYCGO Oasis Contest by writing trips or voting for your favorites. Many of you are new to Trazzler—welcome!
    >Read the entries

    Why Trazzler is Different
    So many other travel sites are essentially reworded reference material with logistical information, tourist bureau propaganda, or an unedited, overwhelming morass of useful and useless information. Trazzlers meander through a world of trips—hand-picked, concise, compellingly written slices of life that pull the reader into a real experience: a hotel stay, walk, adventure, spa, restaurant, ice cream stand, pony ride… really anywhere that travel can take you. The more you use the site, the better our recommendations get.

    Now, on to the big announcement…

    #NYCGO Summer Writing Contest: Oasis
    Winner: Stephen Bramucci, Laguna Beach, California
    Winning Trip: Walking in the Footsteps of Pirates in Ambodifototra, Madagascar

    Grand Prize: $10,000 contract to be a two-week writer-in-residence in New York City and write 30 Trazzler trips covering the five boroughs of NYC. Hotel accommodations (14 nights) provided by AKA luxury hotel residences. Round-trip airfare provided by JetBlue.

    An island is a reverse-oasis for those who live at sea. Stephen invites us to imagine the world of the 17th- and 18th-century pirates who terrorized the trade routes and occasionally took a break by setting foot on dry land. All of the judges agreed that this trip was well-crafted and loaded with intriguing details. In just 140 words, Stephen was able to conjure up the weight of the past at the resting place of these rogues—a peaceful cemetery overlooking the sea.

    9 Runners Up: Courtney Scott, Alex Dweezy Dwyer, Sandra Foster Lovas, Paul Justin Cox III, Kate Sommers, Marie Elena Martinez, Stephanie Fine Sasse, Paul Koning, and Traci Hui
    Prizes: $250 freelance contracts to write 10 Trazzler trips

    One of our objectives at Trazzler is to create a writing medium that captures the subjective and diverse nature of travel. We think the top ten trips illustrate how smart, adventurous travelers can experience the world in different ways. About the social-media savvy and creativity of all ten finalists (and those who came so close)—you far surpassed our expectations—thank you for making the contest such a success.

    4 Editors’ Choice Award Winners: Craig Bridger, Ethan Gelber, Thalia Kwok, and Karen Dion
    Prizes: $500 freelance contracts to write 15 Trazzler trips

    It was no easy task to narrow it down to just four trips—a teahouse, a moderately seedy Class A baseball game, the world’s oldest sand dunes, and a nonexistent and poorly signed micronation. Each an oasis in its own way, these trips stuck with us, even after reading hundreds and hundreds of entries. For these awards, we didn’t take the wishlisting votes into account at all—we realize that not everyone is a social-media expert and we always want to find a way to reward writers who embrace the idea of Trazzler.

    About Our Sponsors
    nycgo.com—New York City’s official marketing, tourism and partnership organization—has very generously sponsored the grand prize: a $10,000 contract to write 30 Trazzler trips with free airfare and hotel for two weeks. Our grand prize winner will stay in the heart of New York City’s own urban oasis, and enjoy the attentiveness worthy a celebrity VIP at the AKA luxury hotel residences. Think insanely great location (one block off 5th Avenue and Central Park) and swanky in-suite spa services. JetBlue will be providing flight to NYC. JetBlue offers flights to more than 50 destinations, with free TV and the most legroom in coach.

    Upcoming Contests and Giveaways
    We have big plans for more writing contests this fall. For details, follow us on Twitter @trazzler or keep an eye out for our next newsletter (we send one per month). We will also be doing more travel giveaways on Twitter. (We just gave away a two-night stay at the Jupiter Hotel in Portland, Oregon.)

    Happy Trazzling…


    Megan Cytron
    Executive Editor


    P.S. If you have any questions or feedback, you can find us @trazzler on Twitter or on Get Satisfaction.

  10. July Newsletter—#NYCGO Summer Contest


    Hello Trazzlers—

    It’s been a while… We’ve been busy putting together a big contest for summer—and coming up with a dream job for the winner, who will be Trazzler’s very first “writer-in-residence.”

    #NYCGO Summer Writing Contest and Theme

      Oasis
      1. n. a fertile or green area in an arid region (as a desert).
      2. n. something that provides refuge, relief, or pleasant contrast.
      (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009.)

    Modern life can often feel like a trek through the desert. For this contest, we want you to write about a place that not only satisfies your thirst for a change of scenery, but goes beyond this, breaking the spell of everyday existence and providing the “refuge and relief” that we all crave, especially in the summer. Your oasis might be an urban park, a meal in a restaurant that you’ll replay for years, a swimming hole on a hot summer day, a romantic hideaway that you return to again and again, a museum where you lose yourself for hours… really any place of extreme beauty, culture, flavor, respite, or relaxation. » Read more

    We’re Awarding 14 Writing Contracts:
    • 1 Grand Prize: $10,000 contract to be a two-week writer-in-residence in New York City and write 30 Trazzler trips covering the five boroughs of NYC. Hotel accommodations (14 nights) provided by AKA luxury hotel residences. Round-trip airfare provided by JetBlue.
    • 9 Runners Up: $250 contracts to write 10 Trazzler trips.
    • 4 Editors’ Choice: $500 contracts to write 15 Trazzler trips.


    About this contest:
    Trazzler is a site for dreamers, so when we wanted to find a dream assignment for our first two-week travel writer-in-residence, we knew it had to be New York City. For generations, writers from around the world have flocked to New York to drink from the fountain of inspiration—where better to write a series of trips with the theme “oasis?”

    Our summer contest is going to be bit different from our past contests. For one thing, it’s bigger, a lot bigger:

    New York City’s official marketing, tourism and partnership organization—has generously sponsored the grand prize: a $10,000 contract to write 30 Trazzler trips.

    Our grand prize winner will stay in the heart of New York City’s own urban oasis, in the lap of luxury at the AKA luxury hotel residences one block off 5th Avenue and Central Park with swanky in-suite spa services.

    The flight will be provided by JetBlue. JetBlue offers flights to more than 50 destinations, with free TV, snacks, award winning service, and the most legroom in coach.


    » See rules and more contest information

    May Contest Winners—Work of Art
    Prizes awarded: Ten $250 contracts to write 10 trips

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

    We also awarded 22 freelance contracts. You can read about them in the blog entry below this one.

    Welcome Twitterers
    Thanks for following—today we topped 760,000 followers. You
    can always contact us with feedback and questions @trazzler. You can also now send a tweet about any trip by clicking the “share” button on the trip page. During Round Two of our contest, sending tweets about your favorite contest entries can help them win.

    Don’t Stay Home!
    I’m in Mexico at the moment and, like so many places weathering the past year’s economic downturn, the little guys here need your business. Whether you can swing a big adventure or want to explore your own corner of the world more, this is a great time to seek out travel deals and help others keep their businesses afloat.

    Happy Trazzling…


    Megan Cytron
    Executive Editor
    http://www.trazzler.com


    P.S. If you have any questions or feedback, you can find us @trazzler on Twitter or on Get Satisfaction.

  11. Paying for Writers - A New Model

    The decline of print publications is back in the news. With the advertising market gone sour, budget problems are bad and jobs for professional writers are disappearing faster than ever.

    Oddly, print people continue to blame paltry internet revenue on the biggest, most successful internet companies that are only peripherally related to their own problems. In this week’s Time Magazine cover story a former Time editor talks about search engines, portals, and aggregators piggybacking on their content. But “Piggybacking” is a gross oversimplification of what search engines, portals, and aggregators do. Yes, search engines treat words as crawable, indexible, representable objects, but what percentage of these words come from the pros? It’s a speck.

    A better focus of print media’s attention would be topic-specific websites (travel, entertainment, health, music…) who are wooing readers away with original, albeit often poorly written copy from their user bases paired with user ratings and algorithms. In travel, readers who used to rely on well-written copy from print media for things like hotel and restaurant reviews have in short order turned to aggregated review and rating sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp.

    The question we asked ourselves is this: why can’t good writing be part of the equation? Solid editorial content can thrive in the midst of user ratings, algorithms, and the social internet. We wonder whether traditional media feels so threatened because the web has shown that many smart people on the ground can collectively create something much more meaningful than a few people in a (corporate) ivory tower.

    We’ve set out to put this idea to the test… and here are some of rules we’ve chosen to follow…

    1. Start from the premise that the quality of the content matters.

    Sounds obvious, but have you read the reviews for a hotel on TripAdvisor lately? Have you read a guidebook and realized that the writer never visited the place in question? Not all writing is equal. No trip becomes a Trazzler trip without the intervention of an editor who read it and liked it enough to publish it. We have worked hard to set up our site so that users are encouraged to only submit trips for places about which they have something substantial to say. We have been blown away by the quality of the submissions.


    2. Rely on a combination of free and paid writing.

    Create a system to reward the best contributors, not with meaningless contest prizes but with real freelance writing contracts and jobs that pay a professional rate. We could hire more writers for less money—as so many sites do—but we decided early on that we wanted to dedicate a high percentage of our budget to hiring those writers who embrace the idea of Trazzler and have a one-of-a-kind contribution to make (see #1). We will continue to do this. In fact we have a long, long list of Trazzlers that we want to work with in the future. (Are we paying out as much as we’d like? No! We haven’t raised as much money or started making as much money as we’d like. But we’re getting there, stick with us…)


    3. Surface the best writing.

    Create tiers that reward good writing and deep-six bad writing. If there are multiple submissions on the same topic, showcase the best writeup first. We believe this is good—not only for readers—but for writers as well. Who wants to write a solid, intelligent piece and have it languish in a literary sludge pit?

    Note: An interesting article to follow this with: Clay Shirky’s Why Small Payments Won’t Save Publishers.

  12. 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

  13. Trazzler trips and user trips


    Hello Trazzlers—

    Over the past weeks, we’ve received quite a few questions about the different types of trips on the site—and even more queries about who writes our trips—so I thought I’d take a minute to explain how it all comes together.

    Most of the trips on Trazzler.com were written by freelancers based all around the world. We focused on weekend destinations around big cities and dream trips all over the globe.

    Then, in September, we opened up trip publishing to writers who applied and looked to recruit a new crop of freelancers and community managers. (Speaking of which, we are on the verge of announcing another round of freelance writers… thanks for hanging in there—we finally received some of our initial funding, albeit a bit behind schedule.)

    To be honest, we weren’t quite sure what kind of response we would get and whether users would embrace our (admittedly quirky) style and slant. You most certainly did—we still can’t believe how good your submissions are and how many places in the world that never make it into traditional travel publications are popping up on Trazzler every single day.

    Back to the trips… When you sign up to write for Trazzler and submit a trip, it is by default published as a “user trip.” We then read through these trips and determine—one by one—which trips become Trazzler trips and go into the public tripstream. If necessary, we also find a photo for the trip at this time. Incidentally, when we make a trip a “Trazzler Trip,” we automatically have this writer on our radar for future freelance opportunities.

    User Trips and Trazzler Trips: a breakdown

    User trips appear in the user’s “My Trips” area and also at the bottom of the country and tag listings and search results. User trips are preceded by the username and either display the map of the location or the user’s photo.

    Trazzler trips appear in the tripstream—the procession of trips that you can move through by clicking “add to wishlist” and “skip to next.” Trazzler trips display the writer’s full name and a photo credit. They are also displayed with a photo thumbnail in the country and tag listings and search results and always rise to the top of these lists.

    We’re eager to get your feedback on this setup. What do you think?

    What is our criteria for choosing Trazzler trips? First off, we believe that when someone takes the time to write about his favorite spot or a place that she can’t get out of her mind, it is meaningful and valuable—whether we choose it as a Trazzler trip or not. We’ve read countless user trips that we sincerely hope that people will find and read, but that for one reason or another (see below) we couldn’t make Trazzler trips.

    Reasons a trip might not get published as a Trazzler Trip:

    The place/activity:
    —too similar to another Trazzler trip
    —too broad or generic
    —too conventional
    —an event or place that might not stand the test of time

    The style or writing:
    —too long (over 120-140 words)
    —too many exclamation points or superlatives
    —too many hyperbolic adjectives: amazing, incredible, breathtaking, awesome
    —rampant misspellings or questionable grammar
    —chronically mixed metaphors
    —run on sentences

    The focus:
    —smacks of shilling
    —reads like a tourist brochure—no special angle, no hook
    —includes extraneous info that is not related to the trip
    —too many reasons not to go there/too negative
    —too much first person (some is fine, too much biography make it harder to place the reader in the moment)
    —offensive, exploitative, destructive, violent, or mean-spirited

    See our writing guide and FAQ for more information and guidelines. And feel free to ignore the above guidelines if you prefer to just do your own thing and share your trips with friends, family, and fellow trazzlers.

    More soon. In the meantime, why not check out some writing that will inspire you to dive into the falling autumn leaves (and add the tag “fall” to any of your own autumnal ruminations):

    http://www.trazzler.com/trips/tags/fall

    I, for one, plan to get outside this weekend (to the Sierra de Guadarrama—I promise to write a trip), change out my city air for pine-scented mountain air, play in the snow, and enjoy my first election-free moments in a long, long time.
    —Megan





  14. Trazzler Updates and News, September/October 2008

    Hello Trazzlers—

    Welcome to our first monthly Trazzler newsletter.

    The past month has been a whirlwind for us. We opened up publishing to users and writers; recruited writers and community managers; published hundreds of outstanding user-submitted trips; worked with more pilot bloggers; and launched Trazzler on the Facebook Platform.

    The response from writers has surpassed our wildest dreams with hundreds and hundreds of trips pouring in from every corner of the globe. We’ve loved every minute of reading your beautiful, wonderful, weird, creative, poetic, and poignant trips. Every day we get more, so keep checking back, sending us feedback, and—please—keep writing.

    A Little About Who We Are
    Trazzler is not a front for a big evil corporation—we’re a mom and pop turned global. Our small team is comprised of people from San Francisco, Florida, Madrid, Paris, Slovakia, Bangalore, Australia…
    Moms, brothers, cousins, significant others, former coworkers, former significant others, and friends from kindergarten have all been tapped to pitch in. What you see on Trazzler.com is the culmination of many years of experience and countless hours of dreaming, scheming, planning, and hard work. And this is just the beginning.

    Why Trazzler is Different
    So many other travel sites are essentially reference books with logistical information, tourist bureau propaganda, or an unedited, overwhelming morass of useful and useless information. Guidebooks rely on just a handful of undercompensated writers to do it all. At Trazzler, you’ll find what slips through the cracks everywhere else—those secret places that you might only tell your friends about… those defining travel moments that reside in your memory long after you have returned home.

    Our Commitment to Writers
    The vast majority of Trazzler Trips were written by a crack group of freelancers from all over the world. We will continue to commit a significant percentage of our budget to writing and editing, because we firmly believe that the success of Trazzler hinges on quality and creativity. In the next few weeks, we’ll be hiring more writers (freelancers and community managers). We are also hatching plans to reward the best user trips. Sign up to write trips: http://trazzler.com/about/write-for-trazzler

    To Trazzle: I Trazzle, You Trazzle, He/She Trazzles…
    Each Trazzler Trip transports you to a very specific place and moment. Real human beings are behind each and every trip, carefully choosing the photo, writing the copy, and editing it. As you trazzle—clicking “skip to next” or “add to wishlist”—you decide what appeals to you and what doesn’t. Trazzler is a savvy friend who will get to know your Travel Personality over time.* Use it as “virtual teleportation” (as Biz Stone imagined when the idea was hatched), travel therapy, a game, an escapist fantasy, or—we also hope—as a tool to learn about new ways to travel to one-of-a-kind spots and an outlet for your travel ruminations.

    Trazzler on Facebook
    In July, Trazzler was awarded a fbFund grant to take what we are doing on Trazzler.com to the Facebook platform. Last week we launched our Facebook application and would love for you to check it out and send us your thoughts. Send trips to Facebook friends, see where your friends want to go, tell your friends where you want to go, plan trips together:
    http://apps.facebook.com/trazzler/

    For the time being, your Trazzler.com Wishlist and Facebook Wishlist are separate. This will change soon as we bring your Facebook friends to Trazzler.com and sync accounts via Facebook Connect.

    This Month’s Trip Challenge: Mom and Pop
    This is a tough time for the scrappy family-owned businesses that we know and love. So this month, we would like to pay homage to our favorite mom-and-pop places by writing about them. Why not submit a few trips about your favorite local joints and let others know about them by adding the tag “mom and pop”?

    Mom and pop trips: http://trazzler.com/trips/tags/mom-and-pop

    September/October: Best New Trips
    It’s agonizing to pick just a handful. We have received hundreds and hundreds of really top-notch trips. But here are just a few that caught our eye this month:

    #9672 Jellyfishing (Without the Sting) at Jellyfish Lake in Palau http://www.trazzler.com/trips/jellyfish-lake-in-palau
    Writer: Christopher Yurkanin

    #211 Trekking to the Foot of the Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand http://www.trazzler.com/trips/franz-josef-glacier-in-new-zealand
    Writer: Barbara Weibel

    #4265 Sitting Trackside for Roller Derby in Raleigh, North Carolina http://www.trazzler.com/trips/roller-derby-in-raleigh-north-carolina
    Writer: Tina Jett

    #1006 Eating a Highwayman’s Feast at an Historic Pub in Hampstead, London http://www.trazzler.com/trips/spaniards-inn-hampstead-london
    Writer: Tim Chester


    September/October: Favorite Sentence/Metaphor

    "If Sanibel is the prom queen of Gulf Coast islands, think of Pine
    Island as her mangrove-encrusted tomboy little sister.”

    #419 Feasting on a Fresh Crab Omelet in Matlacha, Florida
    http://www.trazzler.com/trips/perfect-cup-in-matlacha-florida
    Writer: Cathy Salustri

    September/October: Favorite Photo from a Flickr Photographer
    #9865 Watching the Sunrise from the Charles Bridge in Prague
    http://trazzler.com/trips/charles-bridge-prague
    Photographer: David Smith, http://www.flickr.com/photos/smithdm3/
    Writer: Amanda


    September/October: Favorite User-Submitted Photo

    #6228 Living Like the Garifuna in Cayos Cochinos, Honduras
    http://www.trazzler.com/trips/garfuna-villiage-honduras
    Writer and Photographer: Kirsten Hubbard


    September/October: Featured Blogger

    Jim Early at the North Carolina Barbecue Society travels in his own
    backyard, spending countless hours researching the best old-school
    barbecue in his state. He’s a fascinating guy who is passionate
    about his “obsession” and is working hard to preserve this North
    Carolina tradition. I’ll be blogging about him and our other
    bloggers in a few days. In the meantime, check out his trips (more
    coming soon) and sites.

    http://www.trazzler.com/trips/users/ncbbqsociety
    http://www.ncbbqsociety.com and http://www.jimearly.com

    Where Do We Go From Here?

    * Make the website social with Facebook Connect.
    * We want to get better at personalizing your tripstream. With
    thousands of trips to choose from, we want to show you those that
    most closely match your preferences. This month, we had vegans
    getting repeatedly visually bludgeoned by a photo of salamis and
    outdoorsy types getting a pretty sleazy Vegas trip. That’s not what
    we want… The solution: make that algorithm geekier.
    * Do something clever with the places you’ve been.

    That’s it for now. Throughout the month we’ll be blogging here about
    trips, news, and Trazzler ephemera.

    Keep Trazzling!

    Megan Cytron and the Trazzler Team
    http://www.trazzler.com/trips/users/megancytron

  15. 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