The Tom Parkinson Travel Bursary

In  one of his Rough Planet Blogs, “You’re never really writing what you want to”, Tom humorously complained that he never got to write  for himself, an aim confirmed in his 2006 UCAS interview,  “In the long term, like most journos, I’d really like to write a ‘proper’ book or two”. For some time the family and Lonely Planet discussed the possibility of a scheme to fund aspiring travel writers, and created a charitable trust to take such a plan forward. Multiple changes of ownership of Lonely Planet and evolving family circumstances frustrated this plan, and we were delighted to reach agreement with Jesus College Cambridge to  make the Trust funds the basis of a College scheme for travel writing grants for undergraduates and alumni.

The Tom Parkinson Travel Writing Bursary will be the first College award for graduates, under its  new scheme for providing career support and mentoring. We are immensely  grateful to Sonita Alleyne Master of Jesus College, and to the College Development Office staff, for making this possible. Three awards were made to recent graduates in 2022-3, as well as three student travel grants. Links to the writing submitted or published by the recipients will be added to this page as the scheme progresses.


Sylvie Lewis has written A Day in the Life of Dublin Town, recording her experiences on Bloomsday, Dublin’s annual commemoration of James Joyce’s Ulysses, funded by a travel grant.

Leah Yeger (graduated 2019) is the first bursary recipient to publish, with Boundaries of Belonging: Traversing Jordan’s Borders and Beyond, the opening piece in a series on the Middle East (now made much more topical by recent events).

Sophie Beckingham (graduated 2019) planned an overland trip from London to Kazakhstan, with fellow Jesuan, Rose, taking in lots of galleries and museums along the way. They made it all the way to Azerbaijan but returned home before getting to Kazakhstan as planned. Read her travel blog and see the map of the journey here.

Lavinia (an Anglo-Italian student of Astrophysics) travelled to Cuba and Panama, and has written about both trips on her travel blog site

Sierra Lan-George-Summana (final year student of Anglo Saxon, Norse and Celtic) travelled to Yangshuo in China to teach at a summer school, and has shared her thoughts here.