This (Strange!) Year in Travel Writing — 2020 in Review

by Nathan James Thomas

Cover photo: Intrepid Times Editor Nathan James Thomas on a rooftop in Jaipur, India, December 2019 – Just Before it All Began!

This was the year when everything stopped. And yet this community, somehow, managed to keep going. Despite the extraordinary challenges, throughout 2020 Intrepid Times continued to publish as frequently as ever, and our community has grown at an unprecedented rate. 

This community has met the changes of this year with open eyes, seeing everything with a traveler’s perspective. When we couldn’t journey outside, we ventured inside, reconnecting with past travel experiences and getting in touch with the unknown significance of journeys we had experienced before.

So, let’s take a moment to reflect on just how far (figuratively, if not always literally) we have journeyed this year.

In 2020, the Intrepid Times community has…

Published a Narrative Travel Story Every Single Week

Our supply of thoughtful, well-written and sincere travel stories from this community of writers and travelers never once ran dry. Some writers reflected on past journeys. Others described their experiences of traveling during the pandemic, risking everything to reconnect with loved ones, rediscovering a strange new kind of travel, or overcoming their fears to take a trip that simply could not wait. We published stories from Sri Lanka, Canada, Tokyo, Senegal, and many places in between, allowing readers to travel through story if not in real life, and keep their sense of adventurousness alive and well.

Released The Book, “Fearless Footsteps” Published Worldwide by Exisle Publishing

Resulting from a 2019 Intrepid Times writing competition that invited participants to reflect on a time when they overcame fear to see the world, the publication of this book was delayed and delayed as the pandemic forced the temporary closure of the publishing industry. But when it finally came out in November of 2020, Fearless Footsteps had found its moment! The book was covered in mainstream media from New Zealand and Australia to the United Kingdom, and is currently in the hands of readers and contributors worldwide.

Mentored Future Travel Writers as Part of the “Your First Published Article” Scholarship

From Snow Pants and Short-Sleeves by Sarah Kelly

As the pandemic sunk its claws into travel, Intrepid Times reached out to the writing community and invited hitherto unpublished writers to apply to be mentored personally by the Intrepid Times editorial team. Hundreds of talented writers of all ages participated in this process, and five scholarship winners were eventually selected. Most of their articles have already been published, and you can certainly expect to see more from these authors soon!

Held Two Travel Writing Competitions (One Currently Still Open!)

First, we asked writers to explore a “Chance Encounter”—a time they met an interesting stranger, had a profound interaction, or otherwise made a meaningful connection while overseas. The winning story, “Coffee in Kigali,” is a gripping and chilling narrative that explores an unexpected perspective on the Rwandan Genocide.  Right now, our final travel writing competition of the year, “Reunions,” greets these strange holiday times by inviting readers to reflect on a time when they reconnected with a person, a place, or a part of themselves. Submissions remain open until December 31.

Founded the Intrepid Times Private Writer’s Club

It’s always been our mission to keep travel writing alive, no matter what. With the increasing popularity of this publication despite this strange year, we have opened the door to a small group of writers and aspiring writers to receive training and mentorship from the Intrepid Times team. Members receive a monthly masterclass on a difference aspect of travel writing, as well as personal feedback from Intrepid Times editors. The goal is both to help writers discover their voice and confidence, and also to show members new opportunities to see their work published both online and in-print. At the time of writing, registration is still open to new members.

And that’s a wrap! We are so proud of the fact that this community, despite it all, has held onto the importance of travel and the enduring value of telling stories about the world. We are here for you every step of the way, and we are so excited about what 2021 will bring! In the meantime, you are welcome to join us as part of the Writer’s Club, submit your writing to “Reunions,” and help spread the world about your favorite articles.

We will resume publishing in January 2021.

Until then, travel safe and happy writing!

Nathan Thomas, Jennifer Roberts, and the Intrepid Times team

Our summer Travel Writing Workshops are coming up! Join us live online and learn how to uncover your best travel stories. Highly recommended for new and emerging travel writers.

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