In 2002, William Safire acknowledged the word "blog" in his New York Times Magazine column, "On Language." In 2004, the word "blog" was Merriam-Webster's #1 word of the year. The noun, short for weblog, was defined by the dictionary as a "site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer." Yes, blogs, and the art of writing one -- blogging -- have officially entered our lexicon. But truth be told, the world of travel blogs is vast territory, and we look forward to continuing to explore cyberspace in search of more quirky and informative online travel journals. Who knows? We might even start our own blog at Frommers.com.
In the meantime, here are a few of the blogs that we currently read (okay, truth really be told, a couple of these might not exactly be blogs, but we couldn't resist adding them for their blog-like feel and useful travel tips). If you have a favorite travel blog, we'd love to hear about it on our Message Boards. And we'd also love to hear about what you'd like to see on a possible future Frommer's blog.
- As one of the younger siblings in the social misfit Gawker blog family, Gridskipper (www.gridskipper.com) serves up tasty bites of info culled from across the Internet, specifically for today's urban traveler. Updated five days a week by a revolving roster of snarky, in-the-know writers and editors, the site reports on hot hotels, restaurants du jour, naughty nightclubs, and other fleeting scenes popular with trendoid jetsetters. But it's not all about those places that are behind the velvet rope or out of our typical reader's price range: Gridskipper does an admirable job of rounding up honest-to-gawd deals, posting pieces on more practical matters (like who has the best hotdog in Chicago), and letting everyone in on oddball trends and activities around the world. It's a fun, breezy read that manages to be high-falootin' and low-brow all in the same breath. -- David Lytle
- Travel Post (http://blog.travelpost.com) doesn't have the hipster appeal and flashy design of Gridskipper, but it does the "random news and tips" thing in a way that's funny and gossipy without being too snarky. Lorraine Sanders has been maintaining the blog since May 2005, and she posts 5 to 10 items a day, most under 200 words, on topics ranging from the new Ramones Museum in Berlin to the latest Wi-Fi gadgets to kid-friendly boutique hotels. She also highlights stories from similar sites like Gadling.com (see below), the amusingly over-the-top luxury blog Luxist.com, and yes, Gridskipper, proving what a small, incestuous world the blogosphere is. Note that the parent site, TravelPost.com allows you to post hotel reviews (and read others' appraisals), and it has one of the better "create your own blog" features out there, which allows you to share maps, itineraries, and stories with friends and family, all for free. -- Stephen Bassman
- On this easily navigable site (www.travelblog.org) with a wide selection of travel journals, stories, and photos from travelers around the world, you can learn out about other travelers' experiences in innumerable destinations. Due to the large number of bloggers (many of whom are backpackers), you may not always be greeted with consistently high-quality writing, but entries are enthusiastic and tend to include pictures, which can be a great way to glean a sense of place. It's also particularly helpful for learning about fellow travelers' experiences in destinations that have undergone major changes, such as post-Tsunami Thailand. -- Marc Nadeau
- This site bills (www.bootsnall.com) itself as "the ultimate resource for the independent traveler." Indeed, among other things, it contains dozens of blogs, online booking resources, and discussion threads about such topics as malaria medication and the Trans-Siberian Express. The blogs themselves are categorized by region -- almost any place you can imagine is represented -- and are written by BootsnAll members (membership is free). There's even one blog about travel gear, and another about travel photography. BootsnAll is most useful for especially itinerant souls. -- Matthew Brown
National Parks Traveler
- First, let me admit, I'm biased. Kurt Repanshek, father of this blog (www.nationalparkstraveler.com), is a Frommer's author -- and I work with him. But he's good! The blog's subtitle sums it up: "Commentary, news, and life in America's national parks." His are surrogate eyes and ears that keep track of what's happening in U.S. national parks. A recent headline: "Pombo Committee Thinking of Selling Off Parks." Yikes! In addition, Repanshek pulls juicy articles from all over the country and posts them here. He also plays the part of travel advisor in his sections: "Gear I Like" and "Fireside Reads." I read what he writes, and I trust what he says. -- Naomi Black
- I often turn to Worldhum.com for their travel literature reviews and have found some wonderful airline deals through Airfarewatchdog.com. But when it comes to recommending a site that offers a discriminating mix of great travel literature and travel advice, my choice was easy: Gadling.com.
Think of Gadling as one-stop shopping for travelers wary of slogging through the dizzying array of travel-related info on the Internet (though Gadling does an excellent job of pointing readers towards other blogs that should be read). What it excels at, mostly, are postings on current travel events, from a Ben Hur Chariot reenactment in Jordan to a food festival in the Caribbean, and recommendations of particularly stellar travel-related articles and radio broadcasts.
Gadling is updated daily, and regular features include everything from photos of the day -- I've been introduced to some wonderful photographers through this section -- to travel tips on Life List destinations, to podcast interviews with travel writers. You heard me right; gadling.com is one of the first travel sites to experiment with podcasts, in keeping with the site's aim to make travel research as easy and engaging as possible. And most recently, Gadling made the techno geek in me even happier, by posting a link to yet another exciting new blog: www.geekytraveller.com. -- Jennifer Reilly
Rolf Pott's Vagabonding and Jen Leo's Written Road
- Maybe it's the wanna-be-spy in me, but the best part of discovering a good blog is the sense that you're reading insider information. If a blog's any good, it will make you feel like you're reading your coolest friend's diary. Of course, most of our real-life acquaintances don't have the time or money to travel all the time, so who else can we turn to for unique, up-to-date travel advice besides a blogger? Point being: I like to hear an author's voice in a blog -- after all, that's what makes a blog truly different from an edited magazine article, newspaper column, or guide book. So, I've chosen two travel writers' journals, who do in fact spend much of their lives traveling and blogging about their experiences. If you can imagine a smart, fun, travel-expert buddy who tells you stories about where they're going and what they're doing, seeing, or hearing about on the ground, then you've got a feel for these two blogs.
Award-winning travel writer Rolf Pott's blog (http://vagablogging.net) is smart, funny, and original, and his connected website (www.rolfpotts.com) of stories and photos is a wealth of inspiration and ideas to get you going on your next trip. Plus, Potts mentions up-and-coming travel writers and posts timely news about travel destinations. Potts' is arguably the best, and most consistent, individual travel writer/blogger on the web.
Runner-up "best blog" award in my browser goes to Jen Leo, who targets her posts on Writtenroad (www.writtenroad.com) to travel writers, which translates into some good insider travel publishing info. For non-scribes, she also presents an impressive collection of travel resources and select links to her own favorite blogs. Though a bit too self-indulgent and promotional, Leo's anecdotes are funny and sometimes insightful. -- Jennifer Anmuth
- It's 3am. You have to leave for the airport in 2 hours. You're sitting on your suitcase, desperately trying to zip it, all the while thinking how, with just a little more cramming, wedging, and shoving, you really could fit in your favorite snow boots. Yet, you know somewhere in the back of your packing-panicked mind, that you won't wear said boots, nor 50% of all the other crap in your bag. You're not alone. Just about every person I know who travels is packing-challenged.
To the rescue is Doug Dyment's Onebag.com, dedicated to the fine and elusive art of packing practically and efficiently. Offering solutions not only on what to pack, but how to pack it, Dyment covers topics like "buddy packing" and "bundle wrapping." He also recommends products, such as shoe bags and organizer pouches that make packing easier. He espouses the virtues of packing light (the website name says it all), citing security, economy, and mobility as the top reasons. Dyment's enthusiasm for smart packing is inspiring. His somewhat strangely disarming devotion to his subject matter -- his website is a labor of love, that's all -- makes you want to pack smarter. He tells you all you will ever need (or want) to know about expert packing. About the only thing he doesn't do is show up at your door and pack your bag himself.
So, the next time you're stuffing your bag until its zipper's about to pop, check out Dyment's site. You'll certainly give a bit more thought to bringing those snowboots. -- Cate Latting
- If, like me, you use Priceline to bid on hotel rooms, rental cars, or plane tickets, Biddingfortravel.com is an invaluable resource. I find it most useful for its hotel information, which is sorted by geographic region. Not only do many Priceline bidders post actual winning bids (very useful in formulating a successful bid strategy of your own -- I once got a night at a luxury hotel in Vancouver at more than 60% off the rack rate thanks to information gleaned from the site), but you can also request bidding assistance from the bulletin board's management. BiddingForTravel also keeps a running tally of hotels that Priceline uses in each bidding region, so you can narrow down the list of hotels you might end up getting. Travelers also post helpful reviews of the various hotels they've found through Priceline. On the downside, the site focuses only on Priceline, so if you also use rival Hotwire, you're out of luck (though you can head to www.betterbidding.com, a very congenial if less comprehensive bulletin board for info on both bidding services). Tip: Be sure to read the BiddingForTravel FAQs before you post anything -- the board's management has a deserved reputation for being somewhat anal retentive and can get snippy if you deviate from approved procedures. -- Naomi Kraus