If you’ve ever fantasized about that perfect backpacker’s vacation (a few weeks spent traveling across the country, altering plans constantly, catching a train with seconds to spare, making last-minute accommodation arrangements or just bedding down at a local bus-stop) only to be discouraged by the shrill voice of practicality (where’s the money coming from? How to chalk a good itinerary without getting a tour operator involved?), do check out this “online reality contest" on the Ok Tata Bye Bye website. Applications are being invited until May 30 and the winner gets Rs 50,000 to travel for 15 days to seven destinations around India (there is a choice of destinations/routes). This distressingly lucky person will also be provided an Internet-enabled laptop and a digital camera to record his/her experiences along the way and post regular updates about the trip on a blog that is being specially created for the purpose.
Sidharth Rao of marketing/consulting firm Webchutney, one of the co-sponsors, tells me that the long-term idea behind the contest is the creation of a dedicated online travel community. “What we’re hoping to establish eventually is the equivalent of a Wikipedia for travel in India, with help from travel-enthusiastic bloggers,” he says. Whether or not that comes to fruition, this contest is certainly open here and now, so take a look. And buy a new haversack while you're at it.