Got some free time to criss-cross the country?
Unbeknownst to most, Amtrak hosts a residency program offering writers (and now) creative professionals free round-trip travel on a long-distance train to see a slice of Americana that most people don't experience. Luckily, normal people are totally included and invited to apply, as long as its documented on some type of social media outlet.
Because as the Amtrak tagline surmises, who quits the world to travel the world? (That, we're totally in sync with.)
If any past residencies are any indication, the winners are given a sleeper car—or roomette—on two long-distance trains of their (and Amtrak's) choice. In a move that makes complete financial sense, roomette availability is based on how undersold inventory is.
Currently, the residency is open to applications. Though the website states that residents will be chosen on November 15, 2018, a deeper look into the full terms and conditions reveal that the actual application period is between December 1, 2018 to January 31, 2019.
(A request for clarification has been sent off to Amtrak; we'll update it once we hear back. There's no reason to believe the actual T&C are wrong!)
Amtrak initially started hosting writers back in 2014, though it seems like the actual program is evaluated on a year-to-year basis. This year evidently sees Amtrak jumping more on the #socialmedia and influencer trend.
An older, more out-of-date on the Amtrak page reveals that in past residencies, 115 semi-finalists were selected out of 600 applications. (That's roughly a 20% chance of being chosen as a semi-finalist; of course, the odds are going to vary drastically.)