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News & Advice

Can you write a winning travel article?

Don't miss the chance to enter this year's Independent on Sunday/Bradt travel-writing competition. The first prize is an exciting holiday for two in Colombia.

The winning travel article will also be published in The Independent on Sunday's travel pages, and the author will earn a commission from the newspaper.

We have again teamed up with Bradt Travel Guides ( bradtguides.com), which publishes pioneering guides to offbeat destinations, and guides with unique perspectives on more popular places.

The competition is open to all writers, published or unpublished. The theme this year is "Destination Unknown" and entries must contain a strong travel element. The maximum length is 800 words.

To encourage new writers, the competition also includes a prize specifically for those who have not been published before. The Independent on Sunday will publish the winning entry and offer a commission for a 900- word article based on the winner's prize holiday.

The exciting prize is a holiday for two in Colombia, generously donated by the Colombia Tourist Office – Proexport ( colombia.travel) and The Traveller ( the-traveller.co.uk), the UK's leading cultural, historical and archeological tour operator. The itinerary includes three nights' accommodation in Bogota and three nights' accommodation in Cartagena at three-star hotels. Transfers and guided tours are included. Terms and conditions of booking apply, including certain restricted periods.

The prize in the unpublished writers' category is a place on a travel-writing course in Spain, kindly provided by Travellers' Tales, the UK's premier training agency for travel writing and photography. This weekend course will be held in Cordoba in October 2009. Further details can be found at travellerstales.org.

The judges will be the editorial staff of Bradt Travel Guides, Jonathan Lorie of Travellers' Tales and Kate Simon, travel editor of The Independent on Sunday. The final winners will be selected by journalist Matthew Parris. The closing date is noon on Friday 15 May 2009. The shortlisted entrants will be invited to the prize-giving ceremony at Stanfords in London on Tuesday 14 July 2009.


1) The competition is open to all writers over 18 years old, both UK residents and non-UK residents, other than current employees, or regular contributors, or their immediate families, of Bradt Travel Guides Ltd, The Independent and The Independent on Sunday and employees of Proexport Colombia, The Traveller, Travellers' Tales and Stanfords. No purchase is necessary. 2) There are two categories in the competition: one for "published" writers and one for "unpublished" writers. "Unpublished" means never having been paid for any piece of writing which has appeared in print or on the internet. There will be a winner in each category, one of whom will be judged the overall winner. In the event of an unpublished writer being judged the overall winner then he/she will be given the holiday in Colombia and another unpublished writer will be chosen and given the place on the travelwriting course. 3) Only one entry per person. 4) The essay must be no longer than 800 words and must be submitted with single-line spacing on one side of A4 pages. We cannot return entries. 5) Entries can be posted or emailed. Posted entries must be sent to Bradt Travel Guides (Travel-Writing Competition), 23 High Street, Chalfont St Peter, Bucks SL9 9QE, UK. Emailed entries must be sent to info@bradtguides.com with the subject line "2009 Travel-writing Competition". Each entry must be sent as a Word document attachment with the tagline as a header. Your name and address together with the word "Published" or "Unpublished" should be stated in the body of the email. To preserve anonymity when judging, you must not write your name on the article and your name and address should not appear on your entry. 6) The essay must have a single identifying tag word (not your name) at the top right-hand corner of each page. For postal entries, you should also write this word on the front of a sealed envelope, together with the word either "Published" or "Unpublished" indicating the category you want to enter. Inside the envelope should be a sheet of paper with your name, address, email address and telephone number. 7) Your details may be shared with the six competition partners unless otherwise requested by you on the sheet of paper or email containing your contact details. 8) All entries must be received by noon on the closing date, Friday 15 May 2009. 9) Your entry must not have been entered in any other competition anywhere in the world, or have previously been published either in whole or in part. 10) The article must be the original work of the entrant who must be the sole copyright holder. 11) The writers of the two winning entries and eight shortlisted entrants agree, by entering the competition, that The Independent on Sunday and Bradt Travel Guides shall have the exclusive right to first publication, and non-exclusive right to distribute and syndicate the essays whether in print, electronic, online or any other medium, on any website and in any database, archive or library, on or offline, and in any media. 12) Once the winners are announced, entrants other than the winners can use their pieces in whatever way they choose. 13) The competition organisers reserve the right to withhold prizes in whole or in part if, in the sole opinion of the judges, the standard of the entries so warrants. 14) The judges' opinion is final. No correspondence will be entered into concerning the final choice of winners. 15) The commission for the article based on the prizewinner's trip to Colombia shall be subject to payment of the appropriate fee and to The Independent's standard freelance rights terms (see www.independent.co.uk) and will be published at the Editor's discretion. 16) One entrant shall win a holiday for two to Colombia. The prize includes return economy-class flights from London to Colombia; three nights' accommodation in a three-star hotel in Bogota; three nights' accommodation in a three-star hotel in Cartagena; domestic flights; transfers between the hotels and airports in Colombia. Accommodation is in a twin or double room on a bed-and-breakfast basis. The prize does not include food and drink, travel insurance, personal expenditure and incidental costs other than those stated. It is the responsibility of the prize-winner to ensure they have a valid passport and travel insurance and obtain any necessary vaccinations and visas for their trip. All elements of the prize are subject to availability and must be taken within 12 months of the winner being announced. The prize is non-transferable and there are no cash alternatives. The winner may be required to participate in publicity. 17) One entrant shall win a place on a travel-writing course in Spain, subject to availability. Transport to Spain is not included. Terms and conditions as stated on Travellers' Tales website apply. Refer to www.travellerstales.org. 18) The shortlisted entrants will be notified by phone on 16 June 2009, and the winning article published in The Independent on Sunday at a date to be confirmed.