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The 3 Videos I Made For A Travel Contest I Lost But Helped Win Another Trip

Despite being a digital marketer myself, I’m usually the kinds who looks down upon online contests, much less participate in them. I especially begrudge the ones where the sole criterion of judging the winner is based on the “likes and comments” they get! But then along came Grab Your Dream, a travel contest by popular tour company Cox and Kings which had multiple categories and winners would win free international trips. Now who doesn't like to win free trips! I'd won one in college for being a good student and gone to Singapore, Malaysia and Sri Lanka and I could swear the kick of traveling for or nearly free is something else! However, I would’ve passed it off as another travel contest with fake winners, if not for my friend Divya who was the winner of the season 1 of the same contest and had won an all expense paid to Egypt just the previous year.

And for once, this was one contest that didn’t simply ask you to share their photo or shamelessly ask for likes, but show them some real traveling chops by presenting the stuff you had done and why you deserved to win the grand prize. So I threw my hat in the ring and decided to enter in the "pair" category with my then boyfriend and now husband.

Video # 1 - A collage of our travels together as a couple The competitive side of me possessed me and I got cracking! I knew I had enough travel credentials both solo and as one half of a pair to win this content. So over a course of three weeks, with multiple discussions with my partner, I created the first video, if a little ama a collage of some of our travels together over the last year and a half.

Video # 2 - A collage of our solo international travelers Not satisfied with just one video, we wanted to show them, that apart from just within India, and travelling as a couple, we’ve done bunch of cool stuff individually and around the world. So with that thought, I made another video, cheekily titled “Around the world in 80 frames with <our names>". This video showed us in our solo traveler glory including frames like me at the cherry blossoms from my Japan trip, him at Abu Simbel on his Egypt trip, two of us carefree girls from my Thailand trip, and a lot more to flex our travels.

We were stoked, rubbing our hands in anticipation but also biting our nails throughout to see what the other entries were like, while being also constantly quite entertained by the whole experience of working on our content, checking out other entries and all the million conversations and sometimes arguments that transpired, around the contest that ultimately helped us bond even more.

Video # 3 - A short travel documentary style video shot on location

The contest was extended and the battle was heating up. We knew we had to up the ante, so the next weekend, as we’d been planning to for weeks, contest or not, decided to go to this village called Nazirabad, about 80 kms away from Hyderabad to explore the elusive, but charming community called the “Lambadis” or more famously the Banjaras -- India’s original gypsies -- and document the whole experience and submit as a video entry.

So, despite both of us being under a bout of flu, took a local KSRTC bus, and then an auto and then a tractor and reached the village. I had no prior experience in shooting video, much less make a travel documentary but persist I did and here’s what came of it. The video will do a much better job of narrating the experience, but I’m so glad we got to do something like this, if on the pretext of a contest entry.

But what's funny and rather poetic justice is that while we were waiting to to hear back from the contest organizers about the next step, I randomly participated in another contest randomly. It was a Mastercard contest on Facebook and one had to comment about why they make a great travel story or something on those lines. So I wrote a nice write up and shared one of the three videos I'd made for the GYD contest. And lo! After about a week, they declared my comment as one of the 3 winners and gifted me a $200 travel credit to use on Cleartrip! (Ah the good ol days of real online contests and real winners who were not bots or the organizers' own friends.)

With this travel voucher, we booked our return flights to Cambodia and a couple of hotels in Siem Reap and we were off. Throughout our Cambodia trip, we also shot pictures to still produce more content for the OG GYD contest which was still still on and turns out we were shortlisted for the final round, a face to face interview in Mumbai.

After our return from Cambodia, we flew to Mumbai and submitted our final content and had a 2 minute "interview" with the organizers.

travel contest for a free trip

After 15 days, it turned out, we didn't make it. I wouldn't lie I was bummed - I'd put two months of effort on this contest, created three videos from scratch, spent countless hours preparing, tracking the entries, not to mention all the money we spent to fly to Mumbai etc and leave alone winning, the organizer didn't even reimburse for those! But well, thanks to the contest, we stirred into action, created all this content out of virtually scraps of photos we had for posterity, honed and developed my video making skills, and well as luck would have it, ended up winning another $200 trip anyway!


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 I (Monica) am a lifelong traveler, (40 countries), sustainability and veganism advocate, and a marketer by profession. I'm old school in that I still like to blog and document rather than shoot and post.

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