Apr 04

Grantourismo Travel Blogging Competition: April

We’re pleased to announce the second contest of our yearlong series of monthly Grantourismo travel blogging competitions. Once again, we’re inviting you to create an inspiring blog post, consisting of 500 words maximum* of evocative travel writing and one compelling photograph*.

Each month a different Grantourismo blog category will be announced and your blog post must fit into that category. The category for April is On The Road. These posts cover the experience of travelling and being on the move, observations from the road, and reflections upon ‘the journey’. See our post The Road to Essaouira as an example. This month, there’s a further requirement: to coincide with our exciting announcement of a new partner, Rail Europe, who will be providing us with European train tickets for the rest of our Grantourismo project, your post must be about, or reflect upon, a train journey you’ve taken. Your story and photograph must be your own, must be original, and should derive from a firsthand travel experience.

If the post touches on some of our other themes, and motivates people to explore more authentic and enriching ways to travel, get beneath the skin of a place when they travel, learn to live like locals, and travel more slowly and more sustainably, then that’s great too.

FIRST PRIZES This month we have two first prizes, one for entrants who are UK residents, and one for entrants who live anywhere else in the world:

1. UK ENTRANTS: One pair of InterRail passes, worth over UK£1,000, courtesy of Rail Europe, valid for 1 month of travel in 29 European countries.

2. WORLD ENTRANTS: A stay at a HomeAway Holiday-Rentals property of your choice anywhere in the world valued at UK£500 (US$750) and a Context tour voucher worth US$100.

SECOND PRIZE a Viator tour voucher worth £100/US$150.

THIRD PRIZE an annual subscription to AFAR magazine.

The winning entries will be featured on our Grantourismo blog, HomeAway UK’s Facebook page, and we’ll tweet your success on Twitter.

To be eligible to enter

Entry submission is by posting your blog and linking it to us, and communication is by Twitter, which means:
1. You must have your own blog or website, be a contributor to a group blogging site, or post regularly to a travel site such as www.matadortravel.com, www.bootsnall.com, www.travellerspoint.com, www.travelpod.com, etc.
2. You need to subscribe to Grantourismo via email/RSS, join our community on Google Friend Connect (sign up from http://grantourismotravels.com/ not from this post’s URL as it will not work); and fan HomeAway Holiday Rental’s Grantourismo Facebook page to enter.
3. You need to follow @Gran_tourismo and @HomeAwayUK on Twitter, then alert us via Twitter that you’re following us for the #GrantourismoComp and we will follow you back.

How to enter

1. Upload your original entry to your blog or travel journal site before end of 26 April. (Between now and then we’ll visit your site to read your posts and we will tweet about the posts that meet our criteria.)
2. Identify at the beginning/end of the post that “This post has been entered into the Grantourismo-HomeAway travel writing competition” and link to this specific post (so your entry appears in the Trackbacks at the end of this post) and http://www.homeaway.co.uk/; tag the post with ‘Grantourismo’ and ‘HomeAway Holiday Rentals’.
3. Leave the link to your post, along with your name, and which country you reside in, down in the Comments below – this will serve as your submission. If there is no obvious way for us to contact you on your blog, then please leave your email address, contact us by email, or DM us on Twitter with it. This is necessary so we can let you know if you’ve won!
4. Tweet us on Twitter @gran_tourismo & @HomeAwayUK to tell us your post is up – use #GrantourismoComp in your tweet.
5. Encourage your blog readers and followers on Twitter to give you feedback and re-tweet your entry post. We’re keen to hear their thoughts.

Winning Entries

1. We will notify winners by Twitter or email by 30 April.
2. Winners will be required to email us their photograph and blog post.
3. The winning entry will be posted on or soon after 1 May.
Please also read the fine print below. If you have any questions, pop them in the Comments below.

Terms and Conditions
1. Grantourismo monthly competitions are open to anyone aged 18 years or over except anyone professionally associated with this competition or the sponsors.
2. All information detailing how to enter the competitions forms part of these terms and conditions. It is a condition of entry that all rules are accepted as final and that the competitor agrees to abide by these rules. Submission of an entry will be taken to mean acceptance of these terms and conditions.
3. Submissions must be original, should not have been published before, and should not infringe any copyrights.
4. Winners will be chosen by a judging panel consisting of HomeAway Holiday-Rentals staff; Scott McNeeley, Editor of the Viator blog; representatives from Rail Europe, Context and AFAR; and Lara Dunston and Terence Carter. Judges decisions are final. The criteria used will include ability to meet the brief above* (i.e. if you write more than 500 words or provide more than 1 photo your entry will be disqualified), creativity, originality, quality of writing and photography, ability to engage an audience, and ability to inspire.
5. PRIZE CONDITIONS: HomeAway Holiday-Rentals is offering a prize of £500/US$750 towards a stay in one of their properties listed on the HomeAway Holiday-Rentals website. The stay must be a minimum of 2 nights, although can be longer. The winner must use http://www.homeaway.co.uk/ to book the property. HomeAway Holiday-Rentals will release the funds to the property owner and transfer the remainder to the winner to be used toward the trip. The stay must be within 12 months of winning the prize. Rail Europe passes must be booked during 2010 and used before March 2011. Winners must have been resident in the UK for six months. Rail Europe requires passport details and residential address to issue the passes. Travel insurance is not provided by Rail Europe and any seat reservations will need to be paid for by the winners.
6. Winners will be required to write a post about their experience of their prizes on their blogs, link back to Grantourismo, HomeAway Holiday-Rentals, and the sponsor(s) of their prize(s), and tweet about the post, using #GrantourismoComp.
7. Other tours and prizes must also be used within 12 months of notification.
8. While copyright of all submissions to the Competition remains with the entrants, winning entrant grants worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual licence to Grantourismo, HomeAway Holiday-Rentals and the sponsors to feature the winning entries on their websites, blogs, or in any publications or promotional materials connected to this Competition.


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  1. Ant

    Great stuff — can I just clarify something: I’m a UK resident, but I’m on the road. Which prize could I win? I’ll be in the UK next March for a few weeks but the passes will expire before I could use them, so do we have to state which prize we’re gunning for? I’d prefer the rail passes (no offence HomeAway, your places look awesome!)

    Either way, looking forward to connecting with more travel writers through this month’s competition.

    1. lara dunston

      Great to see such enthusiasm! And great questions! We’ll clarify text above, asking people to declare where they’re from.

      If you’re from the UK but you’re currently living overseas – so you split your time between two places (or more) – then you could in fact be eligible for either prizes.

      However, the passes *MUST* be used by March 2010, so you may want to opt for the other – you’re currently based out of NZ or Oz right?

  2. Ant

    OK, great. Yes currently live in NZ, but will be leaving in March 2011 to live elsewhere (no idea where yet, but hopefully not the UK).

    I should point out to other British entrants that no, these passes cannot be used for your daily commute to London! As far as I know, they’re only valid outside of your country of residence.

  3. Daniel

    Thanks for the submission call—I think we’ve satisfied all the criteria for this this month’s entry! Here is the required info!

    1. Daniel from Two Go Round-The-World
    2. ‘To Luang Prabang by Rail and Road’
    3. Canada

    1. lara dunston

      Hi Daniel – thanks for your entry! I’ll go check out your entry now. Good luck!

    2. Lara Dunston

      Daniel, that’s a truly beautiful entry – you’ve really set the bar high!

  4. Madeline

    Fun contest guys with good prizes :)
    I had fun writing mine, hope you enjoy reading it.
    Here’s my post: http://bit.ly/9KypR5

    From Madeline at Italy Beyond the Obvious.
    I live in the USA.

    1. Lara Dunston

      Madeline – molto grazie for your entry – another great piece of writing – thank you! Best of luck!

  5. Jocy

    Here’s a question: Is it limited to one blog entry per person? I kind of love slow travel, so I have two short posts in mind.

    1. lara dunston

      Jocy, you can enter as many times as you want, but perhaps you want to save one entry for another month. Take a look at our categories on the right side and see if you think one might fit?

  6. Eileen Thai

    Hi Lara,
    Have been following your blog since I came across it on Matador Travel. Really enjoy it!

    I wrote Reflections: It’s not the destination, it’s the journey on Helium.com. I was wondering if I could use that as my entry. It’s about traveling by boat. Thanks.

    1. lara dunston

      Hi Eileen – sorry, it must be a train journey, as our main sponsor is Rail Europe this month, and your post should be written for the competition. You haven’t caught a train journey recently?

  7. Amelia

    I’ve finished my entry. Fun contest, enjoying everyone’s entries! I’m from the U.S. and here is my entry:
    The 18 hour journey – http://storiesfor.us/?p=717

    1. lara dunston

      Spasiba for your post, Amelia! I’m half-Russian but have only done one train journey in Russia, from Moscow to St Petersberg, with Terence and my Mum. It was loads of fun, but yours sounded fantastic! I definitely want to return and do more! Good luck!

    2. Amelia

      Thank you! It was an absolutely gorgeous trip. This post prompted me to do some searching online about the stops we made, and I saw that Samara has a beautiful new train station. I love reading about your travels; I’ve been loving traveling vicariously through you and Terence!

  8. Ant

    Round Two, ding ding… Here’s my entry: Me and My Mongol

    Despite being an English scally, I’m entering with the rest of the world, as I won’t be in Europe in time to use the InterRail tickets.

    Looking forward to meeting some news writers again, and the best of luck to fellow entrants. Also, for reasons beyond my knowledge, my WordPress isn’t allowing trackbacks.

    1. Terence Carter

      Ant, you might have trackbacks turned off for the entry. It’s under the ‘Discussion’ section when you look at your post.
      Good luck!

    2. Lara Dunston

      Ant, just read your post – it’s wonderful! Love the imagery of the ‘puppets’! Thanks for entering! Good luck!

  9. Michelle

    Hi! I just finished my post for the contest. The link is http://tothejourney.wordpress.com/2010/04/16/on-the-rail/. I’m from the U.S. You can contact me through email or Twitter (@michelleshapiro). Thanks!

    1. Lara Dunston

      Nice post, Michelle. Reminded me of a train journey we took from Singapore to Malaysia actually. Thanks for your entry! Good luck!

  10. Monisha Rajesh

    Hi there guys, loving this website and loving even more this month’s theme! Very appropriate to my project. Here’s the link to Around India in 80 Trains http://www.80trains.com/blogs/monishas-blog/ but rather annoyingly the tumblr link won’t translate my updates right now, but if you check http://80trains.tumblr.com/ you can see that I did put in your links and trackbacks etc as requested. It should be fixed by tomorrow.
    Some of these blogs are excellent, really fab ideas. Monisha, UK.

    1. Lara Dunston

      Hello Monisha – absolutely loved your entry – and your project! Wow! Can’t wait to read the book. Thanks for entering. Best of luck!

  11. Sabina Lohr

    Here is my submission http://www.solofemaletraveler.com/prague-the-czech-republic/. It’s 499 words, and I live in the U.S. Have a great week!

  12. JoAnna

    My entry is here: How the Other Half Lives

    Name: JoAnna
    Country: United States

  13. Monisha Rajesh

    Hi Lara,

    Put up my entry a couple of days ago and had no response on Twitter so not sure if you’ve got it?

    Monisha x

  14. jiffer

    Hi all,

    here is my post http://smashandsniff.blogspot.com/2010/04/indian-by-rail-going-it-alone.html. Another Indian rail story. (I absolutely loooved yours Monisha – the post and the photo!)

    (btw, I currently reside in Germany).

    Looking forward to any comments!



    1. Terence Carter

      Great entry! It’s going to be a tough month for us to judge. Quality stuff.
      Thanks so much!

  15. jessiev

    what wonderful entries!! thank you all for sharing such incredible glimpses of your lives.

  16. Jocy

    Here’s my entry about a moment in my Trans-Siberian Railroad journey: http://anchorsadrift.blogspot.com/2010/03/study-of-cramped-spaces.html

  17. Rebecca

    Hi Lara and Terence,

    I have posted my entry here and I’m a UK resident


    Thanks, Rebecca

  18. Olivia Ibarguren

    Here is my entry about a train ride from Dublin to Galway:


    I am an American writer living in Dublin, Ireland. Thank you for the opportunities your contests provide for travel writers!

  19. Katja

    Hi Lara and Terry

    What fun! My entry is here – hope you enjoy it.

    I’m a UK resident, but am living in Italy until June this year. I’d like to be entered for the InterRail passes though, please. :)

  20. Sara C.

    Hi again!

    Here’s my April entry, about a lesson learned on an Indian train:


    By the way, I’m in the USA. And just in case comments on my tumblr blog don’t enable in time, my email address is clarke dot sara at gmail

  21. Akila

    Here is our entry “On the Bamboo Train,” a unique rail journey in Cambodia. http://theroadforks.com/worldtrip/cambodia/battambang_bamboo_train
    The entry is 498 words long and I live in the US. I am looking forward to reading through all of the entries this month. We are trying to figure out why trackbacks doesn’t work from our site, but I have linked over to the competition.

  22. Lara Dunston

    Thanks for your entry, Keith! Another great one – loved the ending.

    Wow, the quality of entries are so high, so far – you’re all going to make it very tough for the judges! Thank you!

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