The North American Travel Journalists Association has annual awards for writers, photographers, and destination marketing organizations. The North American Travel Journalists Association awards recognize high quality journalism in a large array of categories, from luxury to budget travel, from print to podcast. The North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) is one of the more long-standing yet blogger-friendly organizations around; founded in 1991, NATJA is actually the second largest associations of its kind, with tourism professionals, travel writers and editors and photographers making up the bulk of its membership. In recent years NATJA has made serious attempts to modernize and keep up with the ever-changing nature of travel journalism, what with its early recognition of nascent online travel writing, i.e. blogging.
The Vacation Gals won several NATJA travel blogging awards this year. The awards were announced last week, and we find ourselves in good company. Our friends Gary Arndt, Tim Leffel, Karen Berger, Traci Suppa, Lola Akinmade, Shelly Rivoli, Chris Christensen and Jen Leo all won awards as well. Congratulations!
We won two first place, or “Gold” awards, for two family travel pieces. One Gold award from NATJA is for “Bodies the Exhibition NYC,” a somewhat cautionary tale about the importance of thoroughly researching a family travel activity and its appropriateness for one’s own children prior to experiencing it. I blithely took my kids to see Bodies the Exhibition in NYC after deciding that the line for the ferry to the Statue of Liberty was too long; one of my daughters really enjoyed herself, but the other was not emotionally prepared for the sight of so many preserved human bodies out on display.
The other first place Gold award that The Vacation Gals received in this year’s North American Travel Journalists Association awards was in the category of Leisure Activity, but it detailed a family camping trip. “Family Camping at Ventura Ranch KOA Campground” is a tale of my hardy family roughing in in the wilds of southern California for a weekend…just kidding. We staying in one of KOA’s Glamour Cabins for a camping experience non plus ultra. Hey, that’s how we roll!
The Vacation Gals’ third NATJA award for travel writing this year is a second place, Silver award in the Cultural travel category, for “Hawaii History and Culture: Princess Ka’iulani.” This piece describes the magic of discovery, found even at a busy Waikiki intersection. Watching, and participating in, a celebration of the birthday of Princess Ka’iulani made the intrusive ruckus of downtown Waikiki seem to melt away.
We won a third place, Bronze award in NATJA’s Travel Trade Article category as well. “Pets in Airplanes — Open Question about the Airline Industry” relays a frustrating experience by a fur allergy sufferer on Jet Blue Airlines, when a cat escaped and ran around the airplane cabin. The question remains unresolved; who should receive priority, a paying passenger with severe pet allergies, or other (paying) passengers who don’t want to put their cats and small dogs in the pet cargo?
The Vacation Gals were also double finalists in the Sports and Recreation category of the North American Travel Journalists Association awards: “Grotto Canyon Ice Hiking, Banff National Park” and “Snorkeling with Whale Sharks near Cancun, Mexico” describe two exciting outdoor adventures, one in freezing cold Canada and the other in warm and sunny Mexico. Check out those amazing photos of the whale sharks, by the way; what incredible animals.
It’s an embarrassment of riches for The Vacation Gals, but we’re not complaining. Writing well, yet writing often, is a constant challenge for many travel bloggers. Having our work recognized by the North American Travel Journalists awards is gratifying, humbling, and absolutely wonderful. Thank you, NATJA.