A massive thanks to everyone who took the time to write something for the Skyscanner writing competition.
We had over 100 entries and the quality was very high which made it exceptionally difficult to whittle them down to a final winner and two runners up.
Mandy Huggins, with ‘Dancing in the Cuban Dark’
What the judges said:
"I really enjoyed this piece, which showed insight, sensitivity, humour and an understanding of the destination. I liked the way Mandy explored the idea of making friends with local people in Cuba, recognising the difficulty in bridging the cultural and language divide and highlighting the fun we can have trying. Like all good travel pieces, it managed at the same time to be very personal and universal." – Mark Hodson
“Mandy Huggins' tale is a gentle and emotive story that is told from the garden of a single Cuban house, proving you don't need adventure and derring-do to make good travel writing. Through her writing we learn about the landscape, food, culture and history of the country in the account of one evening.” – Ginny Light
Jenny Woolf with ‘Florida Road Trip’
"This was an ambitious and original take on a travel article, but Jenny succeeded in making it work. The writing style is wonderfully cinematic: evocative and full of gritty detail and convincing dialogue. For most writers the hardest sentence to write is the first - Jenny's arresting opening lines grab you by the throat and force you to find out what's going on." – Mark Hodson
“The Florida road trip feature by Jenny Woolf is a good yarn, and pleasingly off-the-beaten track for such a well-written-about destination. I particularly enjoyed the intricacies of her descriptions, from the boiled peanuts on the roadside to the percussion of background noise that accompanies her descriptions.” – Ginny Light
Michael Harrison with ‘On a shoestring in Peru’
What the judges said:
"Articles about why backpacking is better than luxury travel are usually a turn off. Such pieces tend to be boringly polemical and lack the kind of colour and narrative required to make them enjoyable reads. However, Michael's article is packed with detail, particularly his evocative descriptions of Peruvian food, and he displays a neat turn of phrase and a quirky sense of humour." – Mark Hodson
"Michael Harrison's 'On a shoestring in Peru' has a punchy start and humorous, honest tone. Nevertheless, we are still treated to some colourful descriptions of the food and culture from a seasoned backpacker." – Ginny Light
"I was genuinely impressed by the high standard of entries, some of which would not have looked out of place in the travel sections of national newspapers. In general, I thought the positive articles were more successful.
Many entrants were tempted by the 'My Travel Nightmare' category, but this is a notoriously difficult subject to turn into a successful travel piece, and I don't think anyone really managed to pull this off. As a general rule, I would advise budding writers to look at the positives and hope to inspire. That's what editors are looking for." – Mark Hodson.
About the Judges
Ginny Light is the assistant Times Online travel editor.
Sam Baldwin is the travel editor for Skyscanner and founder of SnowSphere.com. He has also written for the Guardian, The Times, The Scotsman and various magazines and websites.