Tips for Winning Travel Contests Part 2 | Mistakes to Avoid

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Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only. I assume no responsibility or liability for any action you choose to take or not take because of this post. Aside from winning one charity raffle all contests I’ve entered have been free to enter. If you have to “pay to enter” or buy something do some research. Check that the contest is legitimate and not a scam. A legit contest should always have the option of entering without a purchase.

This is the final installment in the Tips for Winning Travel Contests series. Read Tips for Winning Travel Contests Part 1 – Which Contests to Enter here.

In the first part of this series, I wrote about the contests I’ve won, which has been a good few. I also mentioned how it’s crucial to enter contests. Even if you don’t think you’ll win it’s usually worth it to enter.

Well, it’s actually not that straightforward. There are actually several contests I won’t enter. There are a few mistakes you should avoid making when entering travel contests.

The Mistake – Falling for Contest Scams

This mistake is at the top because it is the most important rule. You don’t want to fall for contest scams. At best it’ll be a waste of your time. At the worst, it could cost you a lot of money, and even your personal information/identity. Unfortunately, there are contest scammers out there. These scams might look legitimate at first, but they’re not. They’re trying to get you to part with your money. They may want personal information (like your credit card number). This could make you a victim of identity theft. Here are some things to help you decide if a contest is legitimate or not.

  • Is the company/brand hosting the contest a legitimate company? Is it one you’ve heard of before? Have they been around a while? That’s not to say a new company/brand can’t host a travel contest. A company/brand that comes out of nowhere and has a contest with some too good to be true prize is a red flag. Do some more research.
  • Are the prize sponsors legitimate companies? Are the companies ones you’re familiar with or have heard of yourself? Have they been around for awhile? If a contest prize is from a company/brand you’ve never heard of, then do more research. It could be a scam.
  • Are they asking for money, bank, or credit card details? If they are then this is a scam. There are charity raffles where you can donate money in exchange for a raffle ticket. This raffle could have travel prizes. I did this a few years ago with Passports with Purpose (a former yearly travel charity fundraiser). I made a few $20 entries and won a $500 travel voucher. There is a difference between a charity raffle/fundraiser and a scam. The charity will be registered in the country it’s in. Depending on your country’s laws you should be able to get a tax-deductible receipt for your donation. If it’s not a registered charity raffle, then you are not required to pay anything for a contest entry. Even with a contest where it says you need to buy something there should be a way to enter without one. This was the case for the trip I won to New Orleans.
  • Are they asking for too much information? Asking for your name, contact email and/phone, and a home address is legitimate. They may need you to confirm that you’re the age of majority. This is particularly true if the contest involves alcohol. You may need to enter a skill testing question to prove you’re a person and not a robot. They should not ask for your ID, passport, bank/personal finance information for an entry. You may need to provide passport information to claim a prize that involves international travel. You shouldn’t need your passport to enter a contest.
  • Is something else off? Are you getting a weird, gut feeling not to enter? Did you “win” a contest you don’t recall entering? I always think it’s best to trust your intuition. If something seems weird, then don’t enter, or at least do some more research first.

These are a few things to look out for in regards to possible contest scams. While it’s geared to American readers the About Contest page is an excellent resource for contest scams. If you think a contest is fraud contact your local police department. Help other people by putting the scam to an end.

I won a gift voucher, which I used for flights and hotels in Las Vegas.

I won a gift voucher, which I used for flights and hotels in Las Vegas.

The Mistake – Entering with an Automatic Form

Most travel contests I enter are online, and the entry forms are pretty easy to complete. Most need some necessary information like your name and contact details. It can be a bit annoying to retype the same information over and over. You may want to use an auto-fill program to make entering your contests easy. I’d caution against using autofill. Often using automatic entry programs are usually against contest rules. If you use these programs (if they’re not allowed) you’re voiding your entry and wasting your time.

The Mistake – Entering Popularity Contests

You’ve probably seen these contests, where you have to get people to vote for your photo/video/tweet/writing, etc. These contests are a pain to enter and annoying to see because you’ll often see people overwhelming their friends, family and complete strangers with “Vote for Me!” pleads on social media. I never liked popularity contests in High School, and they’re just as annoying to me now.

Now that’s not to say you can’t enter popularity or voting contests, just be aware of how many you’re entering. Don’t always spam your friends/family/coworkers/that guy you met at a college party once ten years ago/random strangers with pleads of “vote for me to win.”

The Mistake – Not Knowing Your Talents/Skills

There are some contests where they pick a winner based on a skill or talent. It helps to know what your skills are and where you should spend your time entering contests. As an example, I’m not a filmmaker, so I’ll skip over contests where you have to make a video essay to win. It doesn’t make sense for me to spend time entering a contest with a skill or talent I don’t have. Now writing contests I will enter, and I have won a few travel writing contests before.

Think of it this way, am I okay with spending my time on creating this entry even if I don’t win? If the contest is for a skill or talent I have or one I’d like to spend time developing then I’ll enter a skill-based contest. Even if I don’t win the time I spend honing and developing a skill (like writing) is worth it.

The Mistake – Entering Complicated Contests

Filling out a form and sharing a contest on social media is one thing, but I only have so much time. If a contest is complicated to enter then I won’t enter it (unless the prize is fantastic and worth the extra effort). One time I saw a contest where you had to fill out an entry form and refer a friend. Only if your friend referred another friend did your original entry count. It was like the pyramid scheme of contests. Not worth it. Entering and winning contests is fun, but you still need to live your life.

A few years back one of the travel contests I entered had me win a hotel voucher that I used for a stay in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. This wasn't my hotel. It's the BC Legislature.

A few years back one of the travel contests I entered had me win a hotel voucher that I used for a stay in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. This wasn’t my hotel. It’s the BC Legislature.

The Mistake – Not Knowing BEDMAS

This rule might only be for my fellow Canadians. In Canada, contests have to have a skill testing question for people to answer. This usually takes the form of math question. I was never great at math, but I do remember the rule of BEDMAS, and that helps when entering contests. That is first you do anything in Brackets. Then any exponents (which I haven’t seen in contests, but I suppose it’s possible). Next, you do any multiplication or division (whatever is first on the left). Finally, do any addition/subtraction (again whatever is first on the left). BEDMAS is an acronym to help you remember this rule.

So (15÷3)x13+7 = 72. First, you do the bracket (which gives you 5). Then you multiply that by 13 (giving you 65) and then you add 7 giving the final answer of 72.

I can’t believe I did a math problem and explained a math rule on my blog. I hate math, but to win a contest, I’ll do some math. Most skill testing questions are pretty straightforward 2+2 types of problems.

The Mistake – Entering Contests with Unrealistic Travel Expectations

There will always be travel restrictions on the prize. Depending on where you live you might have to pay taxes and fees, so you’ll have to decide if the prize is worth taking. One time I saw a contest to win a trip to Costa Rica. Sounds great, right? Well, it only included airfare from Miami. If I entered, I’d need to pay my own airfare (about $800 at the time) for a flight to Miami. This was something I couldn’t afford at the time.

The Mistake – Entering Contests You Can’t Win

This is something I’ve noticed now that I live in Ireland. There are contests here that I can’t enter because I’m not an Irish citizen. Yet there are contests with sponsors back home in Canada that I can’t enter right now. This is either because the prize is back in Canada or I’d have to be in Canada to claim the prize. This is one reason why I like entering online contests because many (not all) are open to citizens worldwide. I also like entering contests where the prize is a voucher for a hotel or airline rather than a trip itself. With a hotel voucher, you can usually use it in a variety of locations. If you win a trip/vacation somewhere, then you’ve got more restrictions on where/when you can use your prize.

The Mistake – Not Checking Your Email or Phone

When you enter a contest, the rules will tell you when and how they will be contacting the winner. I have a secondary email for contest entries. Even still I remember to check my contest email every day. If you’re contacted as a winner make sure to respond right away. They could disqualify you as a winner if you don’t respond in time. Then the contest will choose another winner. You don’t want to lose a great prize because you didn’t answer back in time.

The Mistake – Not Having a Passport

When I won a trip to New Orleans it was for 2 people, so I called a friend and asked if she wanted to come with me. Of course, she said yes, but the problem was her passport had expired. We had to show our passport for international travel (since we were flying from Canada) to claim the prize. My friend had to pay for a rush passport. It was a tight squeeze, but she managed to get it in time. If you’re entering travel contests, I’d recommend getting a valid passport ahead of time. Actually, you should always have a passport because it’s a great incentive to help you travel.

The Mistake – Only Entering Travel Contests

I’ve focused on travel contests because I love to travel. That’s not to say those are the only contests you should enter. I have a friend who loves going to the movies, and she always seems to be winning free movie tickets. If the contest is legitimate, the prize is one you want, and if you are allowed to enter then go for it.

I hope you can put some of these tips to use to help you avoid mistakes when entering travel contests. And of course, I hope you win some great prizes.

Have you won any travel contests? Are there any mistakes you’ve made when entering a contest. Let me know in the comments below. 

14 comments on “Tips for Winning Travel Contests Part 2 | Mistakes to Avoid

  1. I have stopped participating in contests mostly because I never win one, lol. After reading this, I realized what mistakes I was making. Perhaps, I will try my luck again, keeping these things in mind.

  2. This is very interesting! I have never won anything unfortunately but that’s also fair to say that I participate very few times.. your advices are right, it’s incredible how many scammers are how there!

    • The scammers are unfortunate, but I think being aware is a big part to help people avoid them. Hopefully the scammers don’t dissuade you from entering contests and hopefully winning a great prize.

  3. Your post will save many people who sometimes become prey to scam contests. I agree with you on not revealing too much information. I never participated in such contests earlier but in future if I will then follow your post fully.

    • Thanks for the comment Yukti. I hope people will start entering contests more (the legit ones of course). I hope this post can help someone win a travel prize or offset their travel contests.

  4. I never win in any contests I participated in.. Literally, not even $10. I think I’ll take your word and compare what mistakes I make then I can try my luck again!! Thanks for wonderful tips 🙂

    • Don’t be too down yourself Shibani. I entered a lot of contests before I won anything, and my first prize was an app download worth $2. Keep on entering legit contests. Hope you’ll get to win something great. Thanks for the comment.

  5. I once participated in a contest and later found out that it was a scam. I lost some 900 bucks over it. Since then I stay away from contests. Thank you for wonderful advice.

    • That’s horrible you were scammed out of so much money. I hope you reported it to the police or another authority. And I do hope you’ll try entering another contest (legit of course) at some point. Perhaps you’ll be able to make up what you lost.

  6. Thanks for the great tips here. I have never entered a travel contest before but I will take these guidelines into account. it’s scary putting out your info out there too.

  7. This was a very interesting read! I didn’t realize there were so many mistakes that could be made. This post has actually inspired me to enter more travel contest. Pinned for future reference, thanks!

  8. These posts are very informative. Every second day we get contest emails and we just delete them as most of them sound spam. We agree it so important to be aware of the contest scammers. The least we would want is to comprise with our personal details. And even we find the voting system of the contest a pain, asking for votes is definitely overwhelming for friends/family.

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