Love Traveling and Writing? Here's How You Could Win a 14-Day Trip to Portugal

Aveiro, Portugal (Image: Ricardo Resende,  Unsplash )

Aveiro, Portugal (Image: Ricardo Resende, Unsplash)

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “to talk of many things: of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax — of cabbages — and kings — and why the sea is boiling hot — and whether you’ll be in Portugal, to see and do the things.” Wait, that’s not how it goes. It could have been, though, if Lewis Carroll had written “The Walrus and the Carpenter” in 1871 knowing that World Nomads would be offering the chance for aspiring travel writers to win a two-week trip to Portugal some 140-odd years later.

Continuing its yearly tradition of offering travel writing scholarships to fledgling writers, World Nomads, an international travel insurance and safety services provider, is looking to send three aspiring travel writers to Portugal this summer. The lucky trio will be mentored by writer Tim Neville, whose work has been featured in the likes of The New York Times and Men’s Journal. Following a four-day workshop with Neville that begins on Aug. 13, the scholarship winners will embark on a 10-day excursion around the country with $1,000 of spending money and free accommodations.

Sound too good to be true? Well, it isn’t, but in order to earn one of the scholarships you’ve got to put your writing skills to the test. Entrants must write an essay containing 700 words or less which tells an engaging travel story centered around one of three themes: “a leap into the unknown,” “making a local connection,” or “I didn’t expect to find.”

In the past, World Nomads has also required scholarship hopefuls to submit a short write-up detailing why they should be selected, but lucky for you (and everyone else) they appear to have nixed that portion of the application this time around. Thus, other than the personal travel essay, the only other sections of the application include your personal information, which theme you’re writing about, and a portion asking you which elements of travel writing (e.g. bringing your story to life, getting published) you are most interested in learning about.

In addition to Neville, the judging panel includes Norie Quintos, an editor-at-large at National Geographic Travel Media, and Lola Akinmade Åkerström, an award-winning travel writer, author, and photographer whose work has been featured in National Geographic Traveler, The Guardian, and on Lonely Planet.

Make no mistake, however: thousands of people from all over the world apply for this scholarship each year. I would know, as I was one of them two years ago when World Nomads was looking to send three writers to eastern Europe. My essay about Wadi Rum, a Star Wars-like desert in southern Jordan, didn’t even crack the short list.

World Nomads offers some advice on how to craft your essay — include great descriptive detail without getting flowery, write a well-structured narrative, avoid clichés, and all that jazz — but for some real tips, you’d be wise to nab Neville’s free travel writing guide toward the bottom of the application brief. Once you’ve written and rewritten your masterpiece a dozen times, just be sure to submit it by the March 13 application deadline.

I may not have earned myself a scholarship a couple years ago — nor am I in a position to take a two-week trip this summer — but who knows, you might be able to make it happen. The relatively short amount of time and effort you put into crafting the perfect 700-word essay would definitely be worth it if, in a few months’ time, you find yourself exploring the sweeping coastlines and cobbled lanes of one of the oldest countries in Europe.