How to Win Free Travel (Hint: You’ll Have to Get Creative)

Like free travel? Of course you do. There are a few contests you should enter, especially if you are a seasoned business traveler or a bubbly sociable traveler. Like most online contests, they will require social media savvy and some old-fashioned popularity contest-winning charm, but hey, you could win free travel!

-Jauntaroo’s Best Job Around the World: The vacation matchmaker site is looking for a “Chief World Explorer” to travel the world for one year (or at least a few exciting destinations like Berlin and the Maldives), with all expenses paid. You’ll be representing Jauntaroo and creating social content, and earning a $100k salary for your trouble. There’s also a “voluntourism” component, promoting the site’s partner charities and “travel with a cause” motto. To enter, upload a 60-second video detailing why you should win by September 15 and get your friends to like it, as only the final five will make it to the interview.

-“American Way” Road Warrior: Already been around the world, with an expertly-packed carry-on and the efficiency of George Clooney in “Up in the Air”? If you’re a true “road warrior” you know that “American Way” is the in-flight magazine of American Airlines, and they have an annual contest to award the ultimate business traveler. The grand prize includes a half million AAdvantage miles and a trip to Curacao, plus a slew of other prizes befitting a frequent flier, such as noise-canceling headphones. Fill out the application (sample question: what makes you a true road warrior?) by August 31, and the five finalists will be posted online for the public to vote on the top three winners.

Like a more honest day’s travel work? Check out a few unusual travel jobs.

Student Travel Writing Contest Offers $500 For Best Essay Of Student Life Abroad

Travel Writing ContestAre you a student who is aspiring to be a travel writer? Now’s your chance to strut your stuff and perhaps win $500.

Transitions Abroad has announced their 2013 Travel Writing Contest. It’s billed as “the only student travel writing contest to cover studying, working, interning, volunteering and living abroad.”

The contest is open to all “currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate students, students who have graduated within the past year, and students currently on leave from school.” The judges want to see essays of 1,000-2,000 words that offer solid advice for adjusting to student life overseas. Check out their guidelines carefully before putting pen to paper.

First prize is $500; second prize is $150; third prize is $100; and runners-up get $50. All get published in “Transitions Abroad” print and webzine. Deadline is April 15.

It’s always a good idea to check out what won in the past. Last year’s winner was “A Foreigner in the Middle Kingdom: Living, Working, and Studying in China.” My personal favorite was the practical and insightful “A High School Summer in Egypt Studying Arabic: Practical Advice and Tips.”

Thanks to the excellent online writing newsletter Writing World for bringing this to my attention. Check out their site for tons of free advice of value to aspiring and experienced writers.

[Photo courtesy Sarah Rose]

Travel Contest Offers The Chance To Check Off Your Bucket List In One Fell Swoop

Everyone has a travel bucket list. Mine includes going on safari in Kenya, scuba diving in the Maldives and watching the championship game at the World Cup.

Now imagine if you had the chance to check off your bucket list in one fell swoop. That’s what global travel resource My Destination is promising with its new Biggest, Baddest Bucket List contest.

In partnership with Viator, Travelex and Hotels.com, My Destination will send one winner on a round-the-world journey to six continents in six months, with expenses paid up to $50,000. The winner will also receive $50,000 cash upon his or her return.

However, it won’t just be hostels and Heinekens. The winner will also have to write blog posts, take photos and film short videos on their journey, for publication on the My Destination website.

To enter, prospective journeymen must tackle two challenges:

  • Write a 200- to 500-word blog post about your best travel experience, with three accompanying photographs.
  • Produce an original three-minute video showing the sights and sounds of a destination that you love. Points for creativity.

Once your submission is in, you’ll have to rally your friends and family to vote on your entry. The five entries with the most public support, along with five selected by My Destination, will make a “Top 10” shortlist. Those 10 entries will then be put to a public vote, and the top three will be interviewed and evaluated by the My Destination co-founders, travel blogger Norman the Nomad and Ben Southall, winner of Tourism Queensland’s “Best Job In The World” contest.

If it sounds like a ploy to generate social media buzz for a new travel company … well, it is. But it’s also an opportunity to dip your toes into the wonderful world of travel writing, as well as a chance to go on what sounds like the trip of a lifetime. Deadline for entries is March 31.

[Photo Credit: My Destination]

Photo Gallery: Why Are These Moroccan Goats Climbing Trees?

goat in treeArgan oil has been a beauty buzzword for the last several years. Pressed from the nuts of the Moroccan argan tree, this light, golden oil has significant anti-inflammatory properties, and is found in countless hair and skin care products. Argan oil is also considered a specialty/health food product, due to its clean, nutty flavor and high levels of linoleic acid and nutrients (seriously, try it in your next vinaigrette or drizzled on soup).

What most people don’t realize is how the oil is harvested. For anyone who’s spent time traveling in rural northern Morocco, the sight of goats in argan trees, like so many magpies, isn’t uncommon. According to the Daily Mail, however, the native Tamri goats are actually part of what’s become a highly profitable cottage industry.

The animals feast upon the argan berries, and the fruit and pulp are absorbed into their digestive tracts. Berber women then collect their droppings, and remove the remaining nuts, from which the oil is then extracted. Think of it as the kopi luwak of the beauty industry.

Unfortunately, the global demand for argan oil is so great, the tree population is thought to be half of what it was 50 years ago, reports the Daily Mail. Conservationists are now pleading with herders to keep their goats out of the trees, so the berries can fall to the ground and reseed.

Despite the environmental complications, there’s just something about goats in trees that’s irresistible. Check out the gallery for a whimsical tour of Morocco’s acrobatic, aerial caprines.

[Photo credit: Flickr user greenzowie”>greenzowie]

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Enter To Win A Culinary Voyage On The ‘Top Chef’ Cruise!

Have you ever wondered what the dishes on Bravo’s “Top Chef” actually taste like? Here’s your chance to give them a try. Gadling is giving away a chance go out to sea with some of the show’s favorite judges and contestants on a five-day, four-night cruise through Key West, Florida and Cozumel, Mexico, aboard the Celebrity Constellation from April 11-15.

Cruises will be able to come face to face with “Top Chef” judges Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons, plus Hubert Keller and Tim Love from “Top Chef Masters.” A panel of a dozen celebrity chef’testants will compete in quickfire cooking demonstrations and challenges, including:

  • Richard Blais, finalist on “Top Chef: Chicago” (season four) and winner of “Top Chef All Stars” (season eight)
  • Jennifer Carroll, competitor on “Top Chef: Las Vegas” (season six) and “Top Chef All Stars” (season eight)
  • Tiffany Derry, fan favorite on “Top Chef: DC” (season seven) and “Top Chef All Stars” (season eight)
  • Chris Hanmer, winner of “Top Chef: Just Desserts” (season two)
  • Mike Isabella, competitor on “Top Chef: Las Vegas” (season six) and finalist on “Top Chef All Stars” (season eight)
  • Spike Mendelsohn, finalist on “Top Chef: Chicago” (season four) and competitor on “Top Chef All Stars” (season eight)
  • Yigit Pura, winner of “Top Chef: Just Desserts” (season one)
  • Paul Qui, winner of “Top Chef: Texas” (season nine)
  • Hosea Rosenberg, winner of “Top Chef: New York” (season five)
  • Angelo Sosa, finalist on “Top Chef: DC” (season seven) and competitor on “Top Chef All Stars” (season eight)
  • Casey Thompson, competitor on “Top Chef: Miami” (season three)
  • Fabio Viviani, competitor on “Top Chef: New York” (season five) and “Top Chef All Stars” (season eight)

Several of the competitors – Richard Blais, Jennifer Carroll and Spike Mendelsohn – will also be featured on the upcoming “Life After Top Chef,” in which cameras follow beloved former competitors outside the “Top Chef” kitchen.

While aboard the ship, guests will be able to sample food from Top Chefs, take part in a Q&A with the hosts and contestants, watch cooking demonstrations and challenges, and more Top Chef-related activities. There will also be a one-hour cocktail party and all of the world-class entertainment that comes standard on Celebrity ships.

The Top Chef: The Cruise prize includes an ocean view stateroom for two people. All meals, snacks, coffee, tea and juices are included, plus complimentary 24-hour room service. Ship amenities also include two pools, a whirlpool, fitness center, casino, library and duty-free shopping. Retail value of the cruise is $2,796, which includes port taxes, fees and gratuities. Prize does not include transportation to/from Miami.

To enter, simply leave a comment below telling us your favorite “Top Chef” contestant. We’ll randomly select one winner from the entries and award him or her the prize. The contest runs through 5 p.m. ET on Friday, November 2, and is open to U.S. residents 18 and over. See the full contest rules here.

Fans of the show will also want to tune in to “Top Chef: Seattle,” the tenth season of the show that premieres Wednesday, November 7 at 10/9c.