NSJA Student Travel Writer Prize: Far-reaching adventures

Students who want be to travel writers should enter now, says Simon Calder

You suddenly become acutely aware of the Newtonian principles of mechanics when the ground slides away from you, your boots slither helplessly and you collapse under the weight of the heavy backpack that should be your life-support machine.

With a coefficient of friction approximating to that of Teflon on wet ice, I accelerated into what appeared to be a raging torrent. Fortunately, the river was no more than a metre deep; and even if I had been submerged and all my possessions soaked, I would have been able to dry them out. This was how my trip to the Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama began; having failed to get match-fit for the fixture against fierce insects, angry animals and malevolent humans, I was attempting to sharpen up by walking to Heathrow airport. A diversion along a riverbank just outside Hounslow, after a night of heavy rain, provided a taste of what was to come – except that when you are halfway up the Continental Divide without a clue, the option of hopping on the Piccadilly Line was not there.

You need not venture to difficult and dangerous places to write about travel. Indeed, some of the strongest pieces I have published in The Independent are fresh looks at familiar places: Paris is the most visited city in the world, but few writers have approached it from the angle of it being one of the planet's great African cities, and exploring the influences of Morocco, Mauretania and Mali. A million stories have been written about walks in Britain – so last week The Independent published one about a full-moon walk in midsummer. About 10 billion short-break stories on New York have been written, but I have read only one where the writer keeps his watch doggedly on British time – seeking out breakfast at 3am New York time.

The winner of this section will be able to convert their £500 prize into the raw material of travel writing: getting out and about, meeting people and seeking the inspiration that is the currency of great travel writing. They will also have the privilege of spending a week on work experience at The Independent – but even the journey to work could generate a story. Like writing, when walking in London becomes easy you are probably not stretching yourself enough.

The new Student Travel Writer prize is one of 13 in this year's Independent/NUS Student Journalism awards. You have until 31 July to enter. Other awards are for fashion writing, design, arts journalism, feature writing, reporting, photography, campaigning and the best website; click here or ring 020-7561 6501 for more details.

education@independent.co.uk

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: Chief Executive Officer

    Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine