Vientiane: Then and Now by Barbara Amalberti

For days I had being sitting under the banana trees, in the lush garden of the small guesthouse, looking at the other side of the Mekong, where the elusive and forbidden country of Laos lay. I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation at the next table. Three young men, speaking with a variety of accents, were […]

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A Leaf on the Wind by Joel Hindson

“Méiyŏu.” The two syllables dropped like dead weights onto the ticket counter and my heart sank. My Chinese was rudimentary at best, but I had by then learnt the various meanings of ‘méiyŏu’: don’t have; cannot; not possible; end of the line, buddy; I don’t know, so stop bothering me. It usually was accompanied by […]

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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 […]

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Travel Writing Competition — Semifinalists

We’re excited to announce the titles of the 30 semifinalists in the 2015 I Must Be Off! travel essay contest. If the title of your entry appears on this list, you’re still in the running to win. At this point, we can’t announce the names of the writers since the judge, Catherine Sweeney, is still […]

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Newgrange on a Soggy Irish Day

The windows of the shuttle bus are steamed up with the morning breath of tourists. There’s a mildewy cloud around the guy sitting across from us. He probably left his rain jacket wadded up in his backpack. It’s more than drizzling outside, not the best day for sightseeing. Despite the weather, there’s excited chatter everywhere […]

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Announcing the Third Annual I Must Be Off! Travel Essay Contest!

It’s that time of year again: time to type up those travel articles, travel anecdotes and travel reflections. If it’s about travel, we want to read it. We want to read about that place that changed you.We want to read about the experiences you can’t wait to share with other travelers. Whether your work is […]

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At Home in Dublin

Disclaimer: I cut the tip off my left Birdie finger while cooking breakfast on Sunday morning in Dublin, so it’s all wrapped up now and creating a very “stiff” typing experience for me. Don’t rag me on the typos. Apart from dicing a digit with the onions, Dublin is great fun. Our TV now works, […]

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The I Must Be Off! Travel Essay Contest 2014 — Results

First, thank you to everyone who entered. We had lots of entries this year, and lots of different interpretations of the travel essay. Congratulations to the following writers. And a special thanks to this year’s judge, Robin Graham. First Place “Oh, Calcutta” by Paola Fornari   Second Place “The Scarlet Mile” by Gillian Brown   […]

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A Rainy Day in Ljubljana

The Ljubljanica River running through Ljubljana, SloveniaI hear you. Ljubljana? Is that even a word? What’s with those Js? you ask. Now, don’t starting whining about not being able to pronounce it. It’s pronounced just like it looks–as long as you know the Js are pronounced like Ys. But just between you, me and the […]

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Expat Author Interview with Hannah Thompson-Yates

Hannah Thompson-YatesHannah Thompson-Yates, a travel writer and English teacher from Birmingham in England, currently lives in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. In 2012, Thompson-Yates was one of the first-place winners in the I Must Be Off! Travel Essay Contest. _________________ IMBO: Hannah, welcome to I Must Be Off! and congratulations again on your winning entry in […]

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