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):


    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)


    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. New Writing and Photography Contest

    New Weekly Worldwide Writing and Photography Contest

    Writing 1st Place: $50 Contract
    Photography 1st Place: $50 Contract
    Deadline: April 4, 2012

    Our editors add new places around the world every week. Want to cover a place that isn’t on our list? Send a suggestion to suggestions@trazzler.com. Find a place near you.

  3. Weekly Worldwide Writing and Photography Contest Winners—3/28/2012


    Congratulations to our Weekly Worldwide Contest winners! 

    Writing 1st Place: Audrey Henderson
    Entry: Inland Steel Building in Chicago, IL

    Photography 1st Place: Ryan Murphy
    Entry: Santa Monica Beach State Park in Santa Monica, CA

    Photography Honorable Mentions:
    Laura Star (Entry), Ray (Entry), Terri Corley (Entry), Ann (Entry), Ryan McAlpine (Entry), mikal (Entry), Davis Nika (Entry), Tom Bentley (Entry), Sluggy Smith (Entry), Giancarlo Liguori (Entry), Joshua Phelps (Entry), Diane Harvey-White (Entry)

    Writing Honorable Mentions:
    Cheryl D’souza (Entry), Amanda Espinosa Freerksen (Entry), Audrey Henderson (Entry), Devoni (Entry), Lauren Thompson (Entry), Rebecca (Entry), Liz Burnham (Entry), michael burgan (Entry), Tom Bentley (Entry), Robin Devaux (Entry), Joshua Phelps (Entry), michael burgan (Entry), Ryan Murphy (Entry)

  4. This Week: New Weekly Worldwide Writing and Photography Contest—$100 Prizes


    This week, bigger prizes!

    • Writing 1st Place:$100 Contract
    • Photography 1st Place:$100 Contract
    • Deadline: March 21, 2012

    Find an assignment near you. As always, if you have a place you would like to cover that isn’t on our list, send it to suggestions@trazzler.com and we’ll get back to you in 24 hours or less. Good luck!

  5. Winners of the Weekly Worldwide Writing and Photography Contest—

    Photo credit: Elizabeth

    Weekly Worldwide Contest Winner—2/29/2012

    Photography Honorable Mentions:Camilla Mann (Entry), elizabeth (Entry), P Y Huff (Entry), Liz Burnham (Entry),Joshua Phelps (Entry), Chelsea Johnson (Entry)Writing Honorable Mentions:Kristen Gustafson Hamlin (Entry), Rachel Webb (Entry), Katie Presley (Entry), Tanja Cilia (Entry), Keely Herrick (Entry), Elizabeth Bennett (Entry), Camilla Mann (Entry),Chuck Lenatti (Entry), Kristina Baines (Entry)

    We are now excitedly judging last week’s Spring Gardens and Weekly Worldwide Contests, which ended today and will announce the winners next Wednesday. Loving all of the happy flower photos—thanks to all who submitted! Check out this week’s new Hiking Contest and Weekly Worldwide.

  6. New Writing Contests This Week: Mendocino Hiking and Weekly Worldwide

    Hiking in Mendocino Contest


    • Writing 1st Place: $50 Writing Contract; 2-Night Hotel Stay in Mendocino
    • Photography 1st Place: $50 Photography Contract; 2-Night Hotel Stay in Mendocino

    Go to Hiking in Mendocino Contest »

    Weekly Worldwide Contest


    • Writing 1st Place: $50 Contract
    • Photography 1st Place: $50 Contract

    Go to Weekly Worldwide Contest »

    As always, if there’s a place you would like to write or photograph for either contest that’s not on our list, just send it to suggestions@trazzler.com and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours.

  7. Writing and Photography Contest Roundup—2/2/2012

    We just posted the winners of our Winter Parks and Weekly Worldwide writing and photography contests. Thanks so much to everyone who entered, we really enjoyed seeing and reading about your cold-weather explorations (even the hardcore snow kiting and ice climbing—brr). If our furry oracle is correct, we’ll be looking forward to at least six more weeks of the underappreciated, ethereal quiet beauty of parks in the winter.

    This week we’re running another Weekly Worldwide Contest with many new places added. You can see what’s close to you and enter here:
    • Writing 1st Place: $50 Contract
    • Photography 1st Place: $50 Contract
    • Deadline: February 8, 2012

    In the meantime, we’re busily judging the California Wine Contest and last week’s Weekly Worldwide and will make an announcement by 2/8/12.  Thanks so much for the great turnout!

  8. Chicago Juxtapositions Writing Context Redux

    Congratulations to all of the winners of our Juxtapositions Writing Contest and a big thanks to our sponsor, the City of Chicago, and all who took the time to enter and vote.

    Editors’ Choice Grand Prize:
    Falling Into a Book Lover’s Rabbit Hole in Detroit, Michigan

    Editors’ Choice Runners-Up Prizes:
    Going Pagan for Holy Week in Andalusia, Spain
    Discovering a Rocky Oasis in Las Vegas, NV

    The People’s Choice winners are:

  9. 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!

  10. An Adventure Awaits in Bend, Oregon…

    Hey Trazzlers,

    We’re excited about our latest regional travel writing contest: 365 Days of Adventure in Bend. Surrounded by mountains and forests, this former mill town turned adventure playground in Central Oregon is an ideal base to explore the outdoors. In the winter months, you can ski and snowboard on Mount Bachelor, and during the summer, you can fish, hike, cycle, raft, and swim, when this mountain town is blessed with sunshine.

    So, if you are a resident, a seasonal visitor, or someone who visited once and simply loved the town, consider submitting a trip for this contest. Maybe there’s a brewery or park you love, or perhaps you look forward to one of Bend’s annual events, like the 4th of July Pet Parade or Balloons Over Bend.

    For the Bend Writing Contest, our sponsor, Visit Bend, has rounded up some great prizes, particularly for active travelers and nature enthusiasts:

    Grand Prize: A Bend Adventure for Two

    Lodging for two at Mount Bachelor Village Resort in a condo along the Deschutes River; a $500 gift card for a shopping spree at Merrell, the official outfitter of Bend adventures; and dining at the award-winning restaurant Cork.

    Eager to enter? Check out the runners up prizes and details on our contest page. We look forward to reading your entries. Happy writing!

    —Cheri Lucas

  11. Regional Contests: Louisville and Stowe

    No matter where you go in the world, you are sure to find spots that capture the essence of the local culture—those favorite places that exemplify your hometown, or hotspots in a city you can’t help but return to again and again. We are excited to announce two regional contests: the Louisville Writing Contest and the Stowe Writing Contest. For these, we invite residents and visitors of these regions to submit short trips about their favorite spots and activities, including mom-and-pop shops, parks, festivals, underground spots, foodie destinations, unique shops, neighborhood hangouts, historical sites, local institutions, and romantic places.

    Among the prizes for these contests are hotel stays at 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville and the Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa in Stowe, dining and gift certificates, and other goodies. Visit the Louisville and Stowe contest pages for rules, prizes, and information about our sponsors. We look forward to reading your entries!

  12. Trazzler #NYCGO Summer Contest Semifinals

    After two weeks of nonstop reading, we are excited to announce our #NYCGO Oasis Contest Semifinalists: http://www.trazzler.com/contests/nyc/semifinals

    Judging writing contests is never easy—we often have to eliminate entries that are very well-written, but don’t adhere to the contest rules or don’t quite belong on Trazzler. Our trips are different from what you will find on other travel sites. From the start, we decided to put certain limitations on the form and style of our writing to make the experience of skipping from one place to the next more enjoyable. As a writer, I also strongly believe that limitations lead to spontaneity and spark creativity.

    We often get asked why one entry is chosen over another. As I was reading the entries for this contest, I took these notes (from the mundane to the philosophical—and admittedly a bit jumbled):

    • Trip was created prior to the contest start date
    • Self promotion—writing about your own business.
    • Too long (Our limit was 160 words—we gave a little leeway, but many trips were much longer.)
    • Misspellings, typos, lack of proper syntax, missing punctuation, missing spaces, abbreviation, or lack of capitalization
    • Written in verse, not narrative, or otherwise not in keeping with the Trazzler trip page form
    • Not about an experience that others can have or a place that others can visit (We had some very well written trips in this category.)
    • Choice of place is too broad (We don’t publish trips on entire cities, our focus is much narrower.)
    • No discernible place, more about a state of mind than a physical place or discrete experience
    • Too personal—more about the person who wrote it than the place itself
    • Too abstract or nebulous—no concrete information about the place (Trips about sunsets and sunrises are especially prone to this one.)
    • Stylistically or lexically repetitive (in 65-120 words, repeated words or ideas stick out like a sore thumb)
    • Syntactically repetitive; repetitive sentence structure (trips in which every sentence starts the same way: go here, do this, then do another thing, etc.)
    • Too many cliched adjectives or verbal crutches… stunning, breathtaking, amazing, incredible, etc… (It’s best to do away with these words and evoke the idea of them in your description of the place.)
    • Platitudes: X is the place to be. There’s something for everyone in X. You can’t miss X. X is the best. X is a definite can’t-miss, etc.
    • Metawriting—writing about the act of writing (This is perfectly fine in a blog, but it doesn’t work in the context of our site, where we want each trip to be a microcosm.)
    • Many exclamation points
    • Not in keeping with the “oasis” contest theme
    • Not travel writing; not appropriate for a travel site (Though I have to confess, we loved reading some of these slices of life and sociological sketches.)
    • Too tied to one moment in time; not a reproducible experience
    • Well-written, but the specifics or concrete details about the place slip through the cracks, making it hard to understand the significance of the experience without having been there.

    I hope this is helpful. We have more information on our writing philosophy here:

    Writing Guide
    Anatomy of a Trip

    Keep writing!


  13. 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/)

    Tim Chester: London Insider

    Katie Hammel: Luxury on the Cheap

    Cheri Lucas: Driven by Obsessions (cherilucas.com)

    Phillip Orchard: Poignant Places (philliporchard.com)

    Barbara Weibel: Seasoned Globetrotter (holeinthedonut.com)

    Kara Williams: Mountain Mama (karaswilliams.com/)

    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

    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)
    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
    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

  14. 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

    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:


    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.


  15. Trazzler writers: you get it, you really, really get it

    We knew there was a huge, untapped creative force out there, but we’ve just been blown away by the quality of the submissions that we are receiving (both from prospective writers/freelancers and regular users). Are we on to something here? We think so.

    A lot of writers have wondered what our plans are. Are we really going to hire people to write trips? The answer is a resounding “yes”—in fact we already have. Most of the trips on the site were written by professional writers and we intend to always dedicate a high percentage of our budget to community leaders, content managers, and freelancers.

    But we will also always have a special place in our (metaphorical, editorial) heart for users who trazzle and swap trips with friends and contribute for the sheer joy of writing and sharing their travel wisdom. In the coming months we will develop ways to reward you, as well, through prizes and contests.

    We’re just getting started, so the more users we get, the more we can build up the kind of permanent funding that would allow us to hire a constant, steady stream of contributors (subtext: please tell your friends, family, enemies, mechanic, dental hygenist, etc. about Trazzler.com).

    So you can get a feel for what we like, I wanted to share a few of our favorites from the last batch of stellar submissions.

    We loved motospike’s SE Asia trips. The mom in me is especially glad he braved “Death Highway” and lived to write about it.

    Best international trip
    Scarfing Spicy Pad Thai on Khaosan Road, Bangkok (motospike)

    And on the local front, we have a special weakness for people sharing their favorite spots close to home…

    Best local trip
    Jumping in the Lake with Man’s Best Friends in Austin, Texas (laura)

    And we also were quite taken by the quality of many of the photos submitted…

    Best photos
    Living Like the Garifuna in Cayos Cochinos, Honduras (changeling)
    Motorcycling the Death Highway in Vietnam (motospike)

    And, finally, we love writers who take a risk and write about something that 95% of the general public would probably never consider doing. This personal, quirky stuff so often falls through the cracks in traditional travel writing. There’s just not space for it. We’ve got plenty of room here.

    Best “you’ll never find it in a guidebook” trip
    Craning at Containers Piled High on Terminal Island, California (lars)

    So come right in and write for that 5% who love to do the same stuff that you do (I’ve got a trip about driving through a steel mill in Cleveland coming soon—I have a feeling Lars would dig it).

    More soon…