Journey of a Lifetime Award

Royal Geographical Society

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Grant amount: £5,000

Anticipated deadline: Nov 12, 2020

Applicant type: Individuals

Funding uses: Conference

Location of project: Anywhere in the world

Location of residency: Anywhere in the world

Age restriction: At least 18 years of age

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For those with a passion for radio and storytelling, and a genuine curiosity about the world around them, the Journey of a Lifetime Award offers £5,000 to make an original and inspiring journey anywhere in the world. The recipient of the award will receive training in radio broadcasting from the BBC, support from a BBC documentary producer, and will record their journey for a BBC Radio 4 programme.

Established in 2001, the Journey of a Lifetime Award is a collaboration between the Society and the BBC, and is generously supported through a private donation. The award aims to support informed travel and learning, through experience rather than scientific research, and to discover new radio talent. The outcome of each of journey is a BBC Radio 4 travel documentary.

About the Award

The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), in partnership with BBC Radio 4, offers you the chance to make a journey of a lifetime and to tell the world about it in a memorable piece of radio documentary-making

Each year the RGS-IBG and the BBC support the best idea for an original, exciting, and exceptional journey. It is important that the project takes you somewhere fresh, different and original. Therefore it is a good idea to bear in mind where the previous winners have been (Egypt in 2006, Kenya in 2007, Mexico in 2008, Carteret Islands in 2009, Dubai and India in 2010, Mali in 2011, Argentina in 2012, Sierra Leone & Liberia in 2013, Mongolia in 2014 and Pitcairn Island in 2015). 

Your journey needs really to matter to you: we need to feel your passion and enthusiasm and Radio 4 listeners need to be fascinated. The BBC already broadcasts a lot of documentaries about faraway places. When developing your idea, make sure it is the sort of thing journalists rarely have the time to cover. Most reporters can only afford the time and money to make short visits to meet important people and do not get immersed in the local society.

The programme you will be making needs to tell your story – and that of the journey and the place you will be visiting – in a graphic and attractive way. Think of all the audio potential in the idea – not just indigenous music and sounds, but how you are going to find interesting sounds within the substance of the journey (by keeping an audio-diary, for example). Radio is very good on atmospherics and imaginative pictures, but you need to think about what your journey and your destination offer to create those pictures. In terms of where you choose to go –anywhere you can think of is potentially an interesting destination. 

The BBC will retain editorial control over any programme it may make. It cannot guarantee that any programme it may make will be broadcast.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • You will be travelling between February and July 2017.
  • Applicants must be aged 18 or over.
  • Interviews will be held in London. You must be able to attend the interview in person.
  • The award is for independent travel. 
    • Applications from small teams as well as solo travellers are accepted, but please make this clear in your application.
  • The RGS-IBG requires that the projects it funds be conducted in an ethical and responsible manner.


  • Our preference is for applicants with no or limited broadcast experience.


  • Those currently employed by the BBC, independent production companies commissioned by the BBC, and RGS-IBG staff and their close relatives are not eligible to apply for Society grants.
  • We will NOT consider any journey joining a commercial expedition or pre-paid tour, including organised charity fundraising tours.
  • We do not envisage the award as an additional source of funding for an existing project.