Journey of a Lifetime – a travel grant

I received an email, inviting talented travellers to participate in this travel grant organised by the Royal Geographical Society (UK) and BBC radio 4.

The catch is you have to fly to London should you be shortlisted for an interview. The Deadline is on Friday 26 September 2008. The chosen applicant would get £4,000 for their dream journey and a chance to make a radio documentary of it.

Great opportunity for those who would love to get their hands on some travel funding on their next dream trip. Go for it!

Journey of a Lifetime – A Grant

For those with a genuine curiosity about the world around them, the Journey of a Lifetime is a grant of £4,000 for an original and inspiring journey anywhere in the world. The winner will receive training in radio broadcasting from the BBC and will record their experiences for a BBC Radio 4 documentary.

The aim of the award is to inspire an interest in the people and places of the world
and to discover new radio broadcasting talent.

About the award

The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), in partnership with BBC Radio 4, offers you the chance to make a journey of a lifetime and to tell the world about it in a memorable piece of radio documentary-making. Each year the RGS-IBG and the BBC support the best idea for an original, exciting, and exceptional journey. It is important that the project takes you somewhere fresh, different and original. Therefore it is a good idea to bear in mind where the previous winners have been (Egypt in 2006, Kenya in 2007). For further details please see our website.

Your journey needs really to matter to you: we need to feel your passion and enthusiasm and Radio 4 listeners need to be fascinated. The BBC already broadcasts a lot of documentaries about faraway places. When developing your idea, make sure it is the sort of thing journalists rarely have the time to cover. Most reporters can only afford the time and money to make short visits to meet important people and do not get immersed in the local society.

The programme you will be making needs to tell your story – and that of the journey and the place you will be visiting – in a graphic and attractive way.

Think of all the audio potential in the idea – not just indigenous music and sounds, but how you are going to find interesting sounds within the substance of the journey (by keeping an audiodiary, for example). Radio is very good on atmospherics and imaginative pictures, but you need to think about what your journey and your destination offer to create those pictures.

In terms of where you choose to go –anywhere you can think of is potentially an interesting destination.

Eligibility guidelines

  • You will be travelling between February and July 2009
  • Applicants must be aged 18 or over
  • BBC, RGS-IBC staff and their close relatives are not eligible to apply for grants
  • The BBC will retain editorial control over any programme it may make. It cannot guarantee that any programme it may make will be broadcasted.
  • Interviews will be held, in London. You must be able to attend these interviews in person
  • Applications from small teams rather than solo travellers are accepted, but please make it clear in your application if this is the case
  • The award is for independent travel. We will NOT consider any journey joining a commercial expedition or pre-paid tour, including organised charity fundraising tours

Application process

Applications may be submitted electronically in word format, by mail, or by fax by 26 September 2008.

Initial Proposal

Applying to the Journey of a Lifetime Award is easy. We are only looking for the ‘pitch’ of your
idea at this stage- the core idea that makes this your Journey of a Lifetime. Your pitch should be
no longer than 550 words and should provide;

  1. A Two line summary- A very brief description of your planned journey. Think of this as what Journey of a Lifetime £4,000 and a BBC Radio 4 documentary for an inspiring and original journey would appear as your headline in the Radio Times.
  2. A 250-300 word description of the journey in more detail. You do not have to include everything listed here, but it may help you to consider;
  • Why is this a journey of a lifetime
  • Why will this make a good radio broadcast – Why is this of interest to the audience
  • How will you achieve the journey – What will you get out of it
  • What will the audience get out of it
  • Why you and not somebody else
  • How did you hear about the award

Please remember to keep this brief. At this stage we are not looking for detailed route plans and

Applications should be submitted by email, mail, or fax to the grants officer at the society by 26
September 2008. From the initial proposals, up to ten projects will be shortlisted by a panel of
judges. Those selected will be asked to prepare a detailed proposal.

Detailed Proposal
Applications should be submitted electronically in word format, by mail, or by fax and must contain the following information:

  • Title and short abstract (max 100 words)
  • Full contact details
  • A description of your journey. This might include your motivation for the journey, a description of the aspects of the journey that would make interesting radio, your aspirations following the journey and your previous travel experience. (1,000 words)
  • A breakdown of the budget for the different aspects of the journey.
  • An outline timetable for the journey.
  • A risk assessment and safety management plan (max 300 words).
  • Please include the latitude and longitude of your destination (These are used by the RGS-IBG to geocode information about our grants programme in GIS)
  • Please indicate how you heard about the Journey of a Lifetime Award.


  • Interviews will be held at the RGS-IBG in December 2008.
  • After the interviews two of the applicants will be asked to attend a training day at the BBC. A final decision regarding the winner will be made following this training day. This training day is part of the evaluation.


  • Within a month of your return you should submit a 1000 word report detailing your journey and including three to five digital images that capture the spirit of the project.
  • The award winner may be asked to present a lecture on the project work at the RGS-IBG at a mutually convenient date
  • The Society’s support should be acknowledged in all publications and outputs. Copies of any such publications and outputs should be submitted to the Society
  • Award details may be published in the Society’s publications and on the website
  • The RGS-IBG requires that the projects it funds be conducted in an ethical and responsible manner and that recipients fulfil all their institution’s health and safety requirements and ethical approvals.
  • Full details of the Society’s ethical guidelines for research can be found at

Note: Digital photographs should be in JPEG or TIFF format and at a quality of 300 dpi or more in A5 size.

Contact/ Applications
Grants Officer
Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)
1 Kensington Gore
T: (0) 20 7591 3073
F: (0) 20 7591 3031

The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) offers many other grants for different areas of geographical research at different career stages.
Full details of all grants can be found at

Please note: an application may only be made for one grant per project, with the exception of the Henrietta Hutton Research Grants and the Gilchrist Fieldwork Award.


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