AWARDS


I am honored to have won many accolades for my writing over the years. But I am most proud of my four Lowell Thomas Awards, which are considered the Pulitzers of travel writing. My fellow Lowell Thomas awardees include luminaries such as Rick Steves, author and TV/radio travel show host; Andrew McCarthy, freelance writer, actor and director; and Beth J. Harpaz, travel editor of The Associated Press.

2018

Gold Lowell Thomas Award, Best Short Travel Article,
“Testing your lungs in Colorado’s fresh air”

Judges’ comments: “Their weariness is so palpable that my own limbs begin to tremble,” Melanie Radzicki McManus writes, then records the other hiker’s comments to a companion: ‘The next time we do this, we’ll be smarter about it … but this is the last time we’re doing it.’” With a vivid, gripping style, McManus puts the reader there with her, experiencing the steepness of the 2,000-foot climb, the burning with each breath and the strain with each step. There’s a sense of connection visitors make with Manitou Incline’s past and its present, putting the entire experience into context immediately.

2nd Place: Best Travel Article Featuring Central States Meeting Sites, SATW Central States Chapter,
“No cars allowed: Michigan’s Mackinac is an island of bicycles”
Judges’ comments: Of the varied looks at Mackinac Island, this bicycle tour through the whimsical island village made it sound most appealing. It was hard to not want to be on a bike cruising through the island.

2nd Place: Best Travel How-To/Consumer Reporting Article, SATW Central States Chapter,
“No cars allowed: Michigan’s Mackinac is an island of bicycles”

Judges’ comments: A whimsical trip to Mackinac Island on bike sounds like the kind of fun one might only have in Key West otherwise. Great idea for a story and very well-written and informative.

3rd Place: Best Travel How-To/Consumer Reporting Article, SATW Central States Chapter,
“How New Zealand Became the Home of Extreme Sports”

Judges’ comments: Adventure junkies are always looking for new things and this article offers plenty of that. Informative and descriptive.

3rd Place: Best Magazine Travel Article – International Destinations, SATW Central States Chapter,
“Taking on a Tiger”

Judges’ comments: The writer really brings readers along on the trip through China in a way that is personal and also revealing.

 

2017

1st Place: Best Newspaper Article – U.S./Canada, SATW Central States Chapter,
“Isle Royale promises moose, wolves and wilderness”

Judges’ comments: Excellent storytelling that gave a strong sense of place; well-described scenes that transport the reader into the location; strong narrative that brought reader to moments of tension on trip followed by surprise.

3rd Place: Best Newspaper Article – U.S./Canada, SATW Central States Chapter,
“Sledding at Great Sand Dunes National Park”

2016

Gold Lowell Thomas Award, Best Short Travel Article,
“Island Disputes”

Judges’ comments: This story does a fantastic job weaving information into a light, fun, readable narrative. Readers learn about disputed territories and the politics that still haunt some, such as this tiny rocky island off the coast of Maine that is claimed by both Canada and the U.S. Melanie Radzicki McManus makes her audience want to go on this same adventure by boat to see puffins on the island, even though her outing ultimately ended in failure.

 

1st Place: Best Newspaper Article, SATW Central States Chapter,
“D.C. shines in the off-season”

3rd Place: Best Magazine Article, SATW Central States Chapter,
“Island Disputes”

2015

Lowell Thomas Travel Writer of the Year Grand Award, Honorable Mention
This award is given based on a portfolio of your work.

Judges’ comments: “Melanie Radzicki McManus surprises readers with stories about places they’ve never heard of. Who knew there’s a museum memorializing a former Japanese internment camp in McGehee, Arkansas? More impressive, though, is how she inspires readers with her outlandish physical feats. At age 52, becoming only the fourth woman to “thru-hike” the 1,100-mile Ice Age Trail across Wisconsin, she set a fast-packing record by running it in 36 days (35 if you subtract the day she had to log 0 miles to treat a foot infection). Her reporting entertains
but almost makes us feel guilty for taking the time to sit down and read it.”

 

2013

1st Place: Best Newspaper Article – International Destinations, SATW Central States Chapter,
“New Zealand’s walk on the wild side”

3rd Place: Best Travel App, SATW Central States Chapter,
“Vía de la Plata”

3rd Place: Best Travel How-To/Consumer Reporting Article, SATW Central States Chapter,
“A Guide to Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail”

Honorable Mention: Best Travel Article in a Digital Medium, SATW Central States Chapter,
“Hiking Spain’s Camino to Santiago de Compostela”

Honorable Mention: Best Travel How-To/Consumer Reporting Article, SATW Central States Chapter,
“10 Great Camping Spots for Star-Gazing”

2012

1st Place: Best Travel How-To/Consumer Reporting Article, SATW Central States Chapter,
“10 Ways to Keep Your Kids from Driving You Crazy on a Road Trip”

2nd Place: Best Travel App, SATW Central States Chapter,
“Wisconsin Dells”

3rd Place: Best Travel App, SATW Central States Chapter,
“Vía de la Plata”

Honorable Mention: Best Travel How-To/Consumer Reporting Article, SATW Central States Chapter,
“How to Avoid Travel Fees”

2011

Gold Lowell Thomas Award, Best Environmental Tourism Award,
“On the backs of giants”

Judges’ comments: Melanie Radzicki McManus does an excellent job of telling the big story by getting the reader to care about the small story. “She had me at the first wave of her trunk” is the introduction to Khuan, a 19-year-old pregnant elephant at Patara Elephant Farm in Thailand. McManus tells about the care of elephants at the compound by a richly detailed account of caring for Khuan for a day.

2010

1st Place: Best Newspaper Article on U.S./Canada, SATW Central States Chapter

2nd Place: Best Background, Analytical or Interpretive Story, Milwaukee Press Club Awards for Excellence in Journalism,
“Invasive Species”

2009

2nd Place: Best Newspaper Article on U.S./Canada, SATW Central States Chapter,
“Where time stands still”

SATW = Society of American Travel Writers

 

 

WRITING


Read about all of the places I've traveled (and hiked!), from the U.S., Spain and Italy to Israel, China, New Zealand and beyond.

SPEAKING


Need an engaging, enthusiastic speaker? I'm your person for talks about hiking, women in the outdoors, solo travel and more.

PHOTOGRAPHY


Check out my photos from popular and remote locales. They're for sale, too.

TRAIL JOURNALS


Planning a hike on trails I've conquered? Read my daily diaries to help you prepare.

©2018 Melanie McManus – All Rights Reserved

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