Dream Travel Blogger Job: Get $10,000 to eat your way across Asia

Travel junkies, food lovers and fellow travel bloggers, listen up. We’ve found another dream job – or shall we say “dream temporary gig” that will allow to eat your way across Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, China and Japan and get paid $10,000 for the pleasure.

Pei Wei Asian Diner (a sister restaurant company to P.F. Chang’s) recently launched a search for an international correspondent to travel across Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, China and Japan with their Executive Chef and blog about the experience. Added bonus – a $10,000 salary for the two to three week culinary tour.

We know, we know, you’re already saying “sign me up,” but work will be involved. You’ll be asked to blog, take photos, and post videos about the journey and to eat everything from street foot to five-star cuisine. You’ll trek to remote villages, explore world-renowned cities, and meet everyone from rural farmers to famous chefs.

To be the winner, Pei Wei says you need to have “a talent for writing, a boundless appetite, a willingness to experiment with the unknown, an eye for the unforgettable image and the ability to capture it, comfort both on-camera and behind the lens, a spontaneous spirit but a grounded work ethic, and a passion for Asian cuisine.”

Sound right up your alley? (We know it does.) To enter, register on the Pei Wei site, and upload a photo, bio, and sample blog post. You may also submit up to four additional posts, five more photos, and one YouTube link. Entries will be accepted between now and December 20, 2010, and the winner will be announced during the week of January 17.

The trip will take place in late February 2011.

Travel photographs: which reality would you rather see?

I got a good chuckle out of a story on Business Insider yesterday, “Here’s Why You Should Never Trust the Photos Hotels Post Online.” The accompanying slide show offers shots of a dozen hotels side by side, so you can see what’s marketing hype and what is severe reality. In a way, it’s shocking, but cynics out there are likely to concede that they aren’t surprised by the stark contrast in the photos.

So, this creates a real problem for travel bloggers. We go out with the goal of producing solid content, and that includes making it visually appealing. On the other hand, not all of us (me, specifically) are terribly handy with a camera. The result is a tough choice: do I go with the beautiful and give a property the chance to put its best foot forward, or do I expose them to the horrible risk associated with my caffeine- and nicotine-induced shakes? I guess a third option is to mix in both and identify clearly who’s responsible for what, but that could look awkward, too.

I’m genuinely curious: what do you think? Do you value the aesthetically pleasing, knowing that it’s designed to be exactly that? Or, do you prefer the harsh truth, even if that truth is colored by a gap in photographic skills? Leave a comment below to let us know. Thanks!

[photo by e53 via Flickr]

TSA investigator has butterfingers

Loose lips sink ships, right?

A TSA that has been reactive since the beginning of December – thanks to leaks of both its operating manual and a sensitive security memo – is now sporting another black eye. It seems that one of the investigators who delivered a subpoena to the home of travel blogger Steven Frischling couldn’t keep track of his notebook. According to a post by blogger Mary Kirby on Flightglobal.com, this federal employee accidentally left his notebook in a public place.

Is it any wonder the TSA is plagued with leaks?

The TSA didn’t respond to Kirby’s request for comment, and she cites an anonymous source as providing her the info, so there’s obviously more waiting to be told.

Passports with Purpose raises $13,000 to build school in Cambodia

One of the most difficult parts of travel is visiting a less-developed country, seeing a need, and wishing there was something you can do to help fill it. So four travel bloggers from the Seattle area got together and decided to raise some money and put it to use on a particular project. This year, that project is building a school in Cambodia, and they’ve been joined by over 50 additional travel writers, bloggers and travel websites in raising the funds.

The effort, dubbed “Passports with Purpose” started with a goal to raise $13,000 by December 21. But they weren’t just asking for donations out of the goodness of your heart – those who contribute will be entered to win in drawings for some pretty cool prizes like Flip cameras, Shutterfly gift cards, travel gear, and even free stays at hotels around the world. Each entry costs $10 and you can enter to win the drawing for the prize of your choice. Each prize will be valued at $75 or more.

As of yesterday, the group met their $13,000 goal, but rather than stop there they’ve decided to go even bigger. Now they’ll try to raise an additional $13,000 to staff the school with a nurse, install a water filer, and plant a vegetable garden.

The deadline to donate and win a prize closes December 21 and winners will be announced on January 5. All proceeds from the entries will go directly to American Assistance for Cambodia, an independent nonprofit organization formed in 1993, which works with the Cambodian government to build school in rural villages.

Dates for 2010 Travel Blog Exchange Announced

Last July, travel writers and bloggers from all over the world came together in Chicago for TBEX, the Travel Blog Exchange. It was a day to meet people in the industry, to learn from other writers and bloggers, and most of all, to start a conversation about the business of travel blogging.

Topics covered at the inaugural event included “Creating a a Lively and Successful Travel Blog”, which was led by Bootsnall’s Sean Keener, Nomadic Matt, Micheal Yessis from Worldhum, and Gadling’s own Heather Poole (who did a stellar job explaining how she keeps her own blog stocked with informative and entertaining posts). There was a session on working with PR people, one on podcasting and video (featuring Chris Martin from the Indie Travel Podcast and Chris Elliott from National Geographic and MSNBC) and a panel on the difference between travel journalism and blogging, led by Conde Nast’s Wendy Perrin and Jen Leo from the LA Times. Between sessions there was plenty of time for networking.

I had the chance to attend the 2009 event and was glad I did. I learned a lot, got to meet several people whose blogs I have been following, and made some valuable connections. As soon as the event was over, I signed up to be alerted with news about the 2010 Travel Blog Exchange.

Today, the dates and locations for next year’s TBEX were announced. This year’s event will be held June 26 and 27, 2010, and sounds like it’s going to be even bigger and better than last year. It will be held in New York City, is an extra day long, and will offer more in-depth session for niche discussions. Plus, Gadling is going to be one of the sponsors.

Speakers have not been confirmed yet, but based on the experts assembled last year, I’ve no doubt that next year’s attendees will be treated to an all-star panel. Early Bird registration (before January 1, 2010) is just $40. After that, it’s only $80, making this one of the cheaper blogger conferences available and well worth the money. You can sign up now to attend in person, or stay tuned to the TBEX page for information on watching the event via live stream.