Award Winners 2024

18th Annual Solas Awards Winners

Announced March 1, 2024

Grand Prize for Best Travel Story of the Year

Gold ($1000)
You Can’t Get There from Here by Sue Parman

Silver ($750)
The Lessons of Drnc by Lance Mason

Bronze ($500)
To the Thai Woman Who Touched Me by Pier Nirandara


Category Award Winners

Adventure Travel
The best story of high adventure, danger, or physical challenge
Gold: Escaping Firecrackers in the Desert by Lisa VanderVeen
Silver: A Mother and Daughter Meet Halfway in Wrangell, Alaska by Holly Robinson
Bronze: One Man’s Quest to Save a 117-Year-Old Storm-Battered Lighthouse by Anna Fiorentino

Animal Encounter
The best account of meeting snakes, elephants, rhinos, gorillas, birds, or other creatures
Gold: Among the Sheep by Darcy Fryer
Silver: Eye of the Whale by Martha Ezell
Bronze: Kea Call by Mellisa Pascale

Bad Trip
The best account of when things go wrong, or the shadow side of a culture or individual
Gold: Manhauling from the Right Side of the Brain by Karen Joyce
Silver: The Safety Boat by Lisa VanderVeen
Bronze: Mayday at the Bottom of the World by Jane Stevens

Cruise Story
The best account of a trip on the water in any vessel, from the smallest kayak to the largest ship
Gold: O Barco by Cathleen Miller
Silver: Island Hopping in Greece on a Small Yacht Cruise by Tim Leffel
Bronze: Aswan 1980 by Ann Joachim

Culture and Ideas
The best story or essay about how art, history, currents events, fashion, or music affected a traveler or a trip
Gold: The Tides of War by Mike Bernhardt
Silver: Seeking Gauguin by David Robinson
Bronze: Selling the Seas by Pier Nirandara

Destination Story
The best story about a place that captures its essence and reveals its attractions, making the reader want to go there
Gold: Coming of Age in Borneo by Laine Gonzalez
Silver: Little Paris by Taylor Jennings
Bronze: Mongolian Disco by MJ Pramik

Doing Good or the Kindness of Strangers
The most inspiring tale of aid, comfort, philanthropy, or caring for others in faraway places, or of being the recipient of a stranger’s largesse
Gold: Rain, Mud and Beauty by Jeyn Jack
Silver: The Gift of Hospitality by Rhonda Wiley-Jones
Bronze: Surviving Away From Home by Louis Li

Elder Travel 
The best story from a traveler 65 years of age or older
Gold: Too Old, But What the Hell by Norma Pontrelli
Silver: Our Great Tree by Mary Littrell
Bronze: Haunting Eyes by Karen Thurston

Family Travel
The best story about traveling with family of all generations, including grandparents, parents, children, cousins, siblings or journeying to discover roots
Gold: The Art of Crossing the Street by Emma Morrell
Silver: Strawberry Stories from Hay Cove by John Scrimgeour
Bronze: On the Path of Ancestors by Masha Nordbye

Funny Travel
The funniest account of a misadventure or an essay about how the world can make us laugh at ourselves and those around us
Gold: Cruising by Sandra Korey
Silver: At Home in an Irish Castle by Gillian Kendall
Bronze: Attack of the Tiny Monsters by Karen Thurston

Love Story
The best account of love or romance on the road
Gold: Russian Easter by Tania Romanov
Silver: Embracing Freedom Through Foreign Love by Sahar Elhallak
Bronze: Taking the Heat by Isidra Mencos

Men’s Travel 
The best account by a man of a testosterone-fueled encounter or experience on the road
Gold: In the Lair of the Red Dragon by Lance Mason
Silver: Unboxed by Matthew Crompton
Bronze: The Time of the Painters by Craig Collins

Most Unforgettable Character 
The story that best captures how one individual or group of people affected a traveler in a meaningful way
Gold: Meeting Baba Yaga by Elizabeth Van Zandt
Silver: Dinners with Kosti by Amanda Summer
Bronze: We Are Generation Keepers by Michele Bigley

Travel and the Environment
The best story about ecology, development, or environmental issues as they affect travel
Gold: The Sardine Run: Diving into privilege and accessibility in South Africa’s “Blue Serengeti” by Pier Nirandara
Silver: Is Regenerative Travel the Future of Tourism? by Michele Bigley
Bronze: Mining the Earth by MJ Pramik

Travel and Food
The best story where food or drink plays a role in introducing the traveler to a foreign culture or new friends
Gold: Mother’s Ruin by Tiffany Hawk
Silver: The Vino Pharmacy by Marcy Gordon
Bronze: Chocotherapy by Laurie McAndish King

Travel and Healing
The best story about visits with shamans, healers, holy men and women, or holy sites in search of a cure for illness or psychological malady
Gold: Coming Home Again by Dianne Cheseldine
Silver: Drinking Grandmother’s Tea by Charish Badzinski
Bronze: Alone in Bhutan by Abeer Hoque

Travel Memoir
The best story that draws heavily on the writer’s past to make a point or reveal the lessons of a lifetime
Gold: They Saw Me Standing There by Martha Ezell
Silver: A New Story from Old Africa by James Dorsey
Bronze: Sweat Inequity by James Baker

Travel and Shopping 
The best account of a shopping, bargaining, or haggling experience in a market, bazaar, outlet, or mall, anywhere in the world
Gold: Bali Shadows by Anne Sigmon
Silver: The Original by Cyndi Goddard
Bronze: When in Roam—Hluhluwe by Pamdiana Jones

Travel and Sports
The best account of a sports activity while traveling, such as climbing, rafting, sailing, trekking, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, skiing, baseball, Frisbee, polo, basketball
Gold: Skiing on the Surface of the North Idaho Panhandle by Tim Leffel
Silver: Crouching Tigerfish, Hidden Hippos by Andrew Tarica
Bronze: A Tempest of Dread at the End of the World by Ellen Murray

Travel and Transformation
The best story about the inner journey or pilgrimage, whether religious, mystical, psychological, or emotional
Gold: Boya by Heather Phillips
Silver: To the Edge of the World by Andrew Tarica
Bronze: Hammams and Cavebears in France by Andrea Riordan

Women’s Travel
The best account by a woman of an encounter or experience on the road
Gold: Turn Left at the Pigeons by Lisa VanderVeen
Silver: Capri’s Song of the Sea by Susan Van Allen
Bronze: Toiletry Bag by Jennifer Elle Lewis

Honorable Mention
The Last Train to the Writing Life by Robert Anderson
A Reckoning for America by Rosemary Davis
In Search of Campanile by Kimberley Lovato
No Pasa Nada by Jonathan Rice

Travelers' Tales