Lonely Planet Writer

The world's greatest travel stories... yours!

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LONELY PLANET/WALL STREET JOURNAL CONTEST
Ever want to be published in the Wall Street Journal? You can be. Lonely Planet has teamed up with WSJ to search out the world’s greatest travel stories – and print the best in WSJ's Travel Report this May.

What to do? Think about the travel moment that changed you, places where you met a future spouse, made a big goof, or did that thing you’re finally willing to share. It can be near or far, short or long: from 100 words to 1000 per submission.

Make your submission here or email it to TravelStories [at] WSJ [dot] com. Submissions are accepted throughout March. The best ones will appear in WSJ’s print/online report in May, and you’ll receive a WSJ luggage tag and your pick of Lonely Planet’s new full-color Discover series to destinations like Italy, France, Great Britain, Spain, Ireland, Australia, Japan and Thailand.

Great travel stories happen anywhere. Researching Lonely Planet books, I’ve traveled to Transylvania Alps, Andean and Mekong villages, and Mayan pyramids. But it was in the middle of ‘are we there yet?’ America, where I learned one of my most valuable travel lessons: ask things.

Crossing Kansas, you’ll see ‘skyscraper of the plains’ (aka grain elevators) announcing towns long before you reach them. While on a zig-zagging curly-fry route along the Sunflower State’s ‘blue highways’ a decade ago, I finally stopped at a grain elevator outside Dodge City to see if I could get a 'tour.'

A beefy guy with Terminator sunglasses and a jumpsuit stood arms-at-side, watching me tentatively park in his gravel lot. I got out of my car and asked about seeing inside, halfway resigned to drive on in dejection, when he quickly waved me in. ‘Why not?’

I squeezed into a one-man elevator with Glen, a Texas ex-pat, and headed up to the building’s dark walkway above a dozen or so silos. Glen’s like folks in most places, proud of his work and happy to share a bit of it. If you ask. He told me about 'harvest yields' and ‘croppers’ (still not sure what he meant) as we stepped over rusted conveyor belts and peeked through windows looking out onto the Kansan plains. He pointed down into the empty silos – ‘at harvest these can overflow’ – then wagged his finger – ‘it’s dangerous work, one guy lost an arm.’

I don’t know how many grain elevators I passed before I asked to go in one, but I won’t pass one again without thinking of Glen.

What are your favorite tales from the road?
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