Travel Essay Contest -- The Finalists

First, I want to say thank you to all the talented writers who participated in the 2015 I Must Be Off! Travel Essay Contest. I feel as if I've been around the world 300 times with you all, and I'm sure this year's judge, Catherine Sweeney, feels the same way. This year's round-up of travel writing has been adventurous, humorous, informative, initimate and--most of all--global. Writers from 43 countries and from every continent (except the writer-poor Antarctica) entered the competition.

While the highest percentage of writers came from the USA, large numbers of entries poured in from Nigeria, India, Mexico, the UK, Canada and Spain. It was also great to see travel writing from countries as far-flung as Azerbaijan, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. Sadly, there was not one entry from New Zealand or Iceland, but Ghana, Korea and Argentina were all well represented. And there was something interesting in all of them.

If your entry did not make it into the semifinal or final round of the competition, please don't be discouraged. There is always next year! A writer myself who submits a lot, I appreciate the opportunity to revise when I get a rejection.

I'd also like to thank this year's judge, Catherine Sweeney, whose excitement for the entries has been infectious. Her passion for travel and her talent for writing about her life of travel inspire me. Be sure to check out Traveling with Sweeney when you have a chance.

So, without further ado (and probably because you've already scrolled down to see them) we are excited to announce the Top 10, all of whom will be published at I Must Be Off! in August. The winners--which have already been decided by Catherine Sweeney--will be announced on September 30, at which time a Readers' Choice award based on the number of unique hits* and comments** will also be announced. 

The Finalists

Barbara Amalberti -- "Vientiane: Then and Now"
Gabriella Brand -- "Burning my Boots in Coba Fisterra"
Gillian Brown -- "Crossing the Gibb"
Chris Galvin -- "Discovering Hến Rice in Central Việt Nam"
Pamela Hensley -- "An Island in the Baltic Sea"
Joel Hindson -- "A Leaf on the Wind"
David Joseph -- "Sweet Homes"
Sofia Lavista -- "Feathered Nights"
Maricarmen Ferrant -- "A Vision Called Tutotepec"
Stacey Venzel -- "On a Terrace in Peru"

Good luck to everyone!
I must be off,

*Weighted by how long the entry has been live on the site.
**Positive or negative doesn't matter. Only the total number of comments will count. So if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.

Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), an episodic adult cartoon about a man struggling with expectations. Allen's writing has appeared in Indiana Review, Night Train, Quiddity, SmokeLong Quarterly: the Best of the First Ten Years anthology, Prime Number Magazine, Literary Orphans, Contrary, [PANK] blog, Necessary Fiction, Word Riot, Bootsnall Travel, Chicken Soup for the Soul and over 100 other good places. A finalist at Glimmer Train in 2011 and the winner of the Ginosko Literary Journal's Flash Fiction Award in 2015, Allen has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize twice.    


  1. Thrilled to be shortlisted! Congratulations to the nine other writers. Thanks, Chris and Catherine!

  2. I loved Barbara's story "Then and Now". It had a lovely sense of nostalgia and left me wondering about the years in between.

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