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Contest Watch: $100K for a Year Off, Maui Vaca, Australia, More

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With school in session and the autumn holidays just around the corner, this month’s Contest Watch is all about escaping obligation. Ikea wants you to take a whole year off to pursue philanthropic work, but for those just looking to avoid a mother-in-law, Turks + Caicos has a better alternative to Thanksgiving dinner—the islands' Conch Festival!

So start entering—before you get seated at the kid’s table.

Ikea’s Life Improvement Sabbatical Contest
Now – November 8th
The Swedish furniture company is giving one winner the opportunity to take a year off to pursue their passions (volunteering, starting a non-profit)—a prize worth $100,000. Entrants must submit their proposal to www.thelifeimprovementproject.com. Five finalists will be chosen by a panel of judges, and announced on December 13, 2010. The winner will be determined by public vote, and announced on January 31, 2011. The winner is not required to take a leave of absence from work but, come on, why wouldn’t you?

Napili Kai Beach Resort’s 50th Anniversary Contest
Now – December 31st
In honor of its 50th anniversary, Maui’s Napili Kai Beach Resort is giving a way a one-week trip for two to Hawaii. Entrants must register at www.NapiliKai.com for the end-of-year random drawing. The grand prize includes seven nights in an Oceanview Studio, roundtrip airfare on Hawaiian Airlines, a seven-day car rental, private oceanfront dinner for two at the resort, two roundtrip tickets on Expeditions ferry to the island of Lanai, two tickets to the Grammy Award-winning slack key guitar concert series at Napili Kai, and a slack key CD—bring it back as a consolation prize for your runner-up best friend.

Bausch + Lomb’s Inspire Your Eyes Contest
Now – September 30th
In an effort to promote the new Biotrue™ contact solution, the eye-care company launched a Facebook contest giving away a trip to a visually stunning locale. Entrants must visit www.facebook.com/biotrue and write about the U.S. location that most inspires their eyes (for help, visit America’s Best Coastal Views or World’s Most Amazing Views). The winner gets a trip for two to their choice of one of ten gorgeous locations including the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, Smoky Mountains National Park, Golden Gate Bridge, Glacier National Park, Garden of the Gods, Glacier Bay National Park, and more. Choosing the destination may be the hardest part of winning!

Tourism Australia’s There’s Nothing Like Australia Campaign
Now – October 13th
So you weren’t in the audience when Oprah gave everyone a trip to Australia? Not to worry, Australia Tourism has another chance to get you down under. Visit http://www.nothinglikeaustralia.com/us/entry-form.htm to upload a photo and describe a unique Australian experience “there’s nothing like…” in 25 words or less. The grand prize winner gets a custom itinerary worth around $10,000. Two runners-up each receive a Flip Video MinoHD Camcorder.

T&Cs' Central Reservation Service’s Annual Turks and Caicos Conch Festival Giveaway
Now – November 1st
Why carve a dry turkey when you could be a judge at the Conch Festival in Turks and Caicos? Sign up for the Turks and Caicos Reservations monthly newsletter to be entered in the drawing. The winner receives $1,000 airfare credit, five-night accommodations at the West Bay Club, and a (optional) slot as a judge in the Conch Festival. Way better than the judging eyes of Aunt Mabel at family dinner.

Charlotte Savino is the online listings editor at Travel + Leisure

Photo courtesy of iStock

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