TripAdvisor, TravelSupermarket, Hotels.com… when did seeing the world become so prescriptive? These days it seems we can barely book a flight without being bombarded with hundreds of alternatives from across the internet, let alone work out where we want that plane to take us.
Luckily there are some genuinely passionate travel fanatics out there, in the guise of travel bloggers and web editors, bringing us insightful content and restoring our faith in the spirit of wanderlust. Here are the travel blogs we’d bookmark…
If you’ve ever wondered how to squeeze holidays around the demands of your job, then you need to take a leaf out of Oneika’s book. A full-time teacher (though currently on sabbatical), she’s managed to find the time to explore six continents and nearly 70 countries in the space of just 10 years – yet, at the age of 21, she’d only ventured as far as the USA and Caribbean from her native Canada. Oneika, who’s taught in several different countries, is living proof that you can inject adventure into your working life and you can really make the most of your holidays, too. She doesn’t gloss over the fact that not everything is plain sailing – the Red Light district left her feeling particularly uneasy – but Oneika always gets under the skin of the place she’s writing about. Arriving in the war-torn Bosnian town of Mostar, she saw the decades-old bomb damage first, then the beauty and the life beyond it – the landscape, the people, the crafts. Reading her blog makes you feel like you’re right there with her.
Have a dig around the blogosphere and you’ll soon realise that there are a hell of a lot of travel blogging couples out there, but none more stylish than Savi and Vid of Bruised Passports, a husband and wife duo based in London who have visited an impressive 37 countries. She writes the posts, he takes the photos, and together they’ve created a site that is as good to look at as it is to read. They’ve got insight on surviving the famous La Tomatina festival, finding offbeat things to do in Dubai, and roaming the abandoned railway tracks of La Petite Ceinture hidden away in the centre of Paris. Importantly, Bruised Passports also considers what you should pack in your suitcase before you even leave the house. Not sure what to wear in a more conservative country, or wondering what would work as a beach cover-up in Lanzarote? Savi’s got both of those ticked off for you with her colourful outfits, as captured by Vid. You’ll have that pre-holiday shopping list nailed in no time.
Think of Jaillan Yehia, the woman behind Savoir There, as your fashionable consultant on the coolest places around the world, picking out stylish haunts and cultural experiences that will have you expanding your bucket list and really absorbing a destination. She’s enjoyed making the perfect Tiramisu at a Tuscan cookery school, getting a cute kawaii manicure in South Korea and marvelling at the sight of Patagonia’s Perito Moreno glacier. What’s more, Jai can track down the best place to have a soy latte from Cyprus to Cape Town without missing a beat. A journalist by trade, which helps her to get the best out of interviewees for her ‘Women of the World’ section of the site, Jaillan also provides a bespoke ‘Travel Prescription Service’ for clients, aiming to take the stress and confusion out of planning your perfect trip. When you start reading her blog, you’ll soon realise that she’s well versed in everything from staycations to long-haul Asian adventures, so you couldn’t be in better hands.
One of the most popular travel bloggers of the moment, Adventurous Kate writes honestly and poignantly about the places she visits – for example, a recent post on Cambodia saw her coming to terms with how much the country had changed since she was last there, and she wasn’t afraid to admit that it hadn’t changed for the better. Kate’s also constantly giving advice to her readers and helping them to plan their own trips. Her journey truly began when she quit her job and took off to Southeast Asia aged 26 for six months, and the blog’s specialism became solo travel as those months turned into years. However, she’s currently on a world tour with her fiancée (who’s a fellow blogger), and has picked up loyal readers along the way who have loved seeing how her life has changed with each new place she’s spent time in. Ultimately, Kate’s also very honest about how she funds each trip and how you can save up to do the same, so that once-in-a-lifetime voyage you’ve been dreaming of suddenly seems more attainable.
Travel Sites to Inspire You…
Imagine pairing in-depth destination guides with personal stories to inspire you, narrowed down to your core travel motivations, from romance to thrill-seeking… that’s where Fathom comes in. Founded by Pavia Rosati and Jeralyn Gerba back in 2011, the site has gone from strength to strength in the last couple of years, garnering praise from the New York Times and Goop, amongst others, and recently teaming up with Kate Spade to produce chic city guides. One of Fathom’s biggest draws is the ‘Postcards’ section, featuring a selection of readers’ stories from across the globe, such as the rather brilliant piece, ‘I spent Fashion Week in a convent’; there are also regular questionnaire posts where inspirational travellers are grilled for their insider knowledge. If you hadn’t already worked out why you want to get out in the world and what you want to see first, Fathom will be invaluable.
This site is bursting with inspiration but has a refreshing self-awareness that many of its competitors are lacking – where else would you find an article entitled ‘How to teach English abroad and not be a neo-colonialist’ or ‘How to document your travels without looking like a narcissist’? Readers come to Matador Network when they want to know about the reality of other cultures and they need more than a heavily Photoshopped gallery of beaches to keep their attention. They’re not afraid to see the grittier side of a city or look beyond the stereotypes and clichés perpetuated by holiday brochures. Essentially the site is overflowing with enviably cool travel articles and videos spanning the globe, but it’s also a place for budding writers, filmmakers and photographers to hone their craft. The MatadorU program offers top-notch training to help the next generation of wanderers turn their enthusiasm for exploration into a career. When its writers make travel look so engaging, who wouldn’t want to join them?
The brilliantly eclectic Wanderlust and Lipstick inspires women to get out into the world, whether they’re planning to take on a trek through the mountains, a foodie tour or a slow-paced trip with relaxation and rejuvenation in mind. Founder and editor Beth Whitman’s impressive travel CV is enough to make even the most intrepid explorer feel like a beginner (Seattle to Panama on a motorcycle, anyone?), but her genuine enthusiasm, and that of her network of regular bloggers hosted on the site, is infectious. Each blogger focuses on their own reasons for travelling, whether that’s volunteering (Kelli, who writes Gone Workabout) or to bring their favourite books to life (Angie of Wanderlit), and you anticipate their next posts, carrying on the thread of their journeys. Alongside the blogs there’s a reliable tips section, getting you prepared for the more practical elements of planning your own adventures. It should also be noted that, whilst women are undeniably the target audience, there’s nothing to say men are fiercely excluded here – in fact, the site has two male bloggers, who write the Wanderdudes section, reviewing the latest gadgets and equipment.
One for the girl who wishes TripAdvisor was a bit more like a magazine, Trip Tease is full of glossy user-generated content that puts a holiday Facebook album full of beach selfies firmly in the shade. Signing up for an account places you in a community of like-minded people who want to know just what makes that trendy bar in Paris, or that little hotel in Marrakech, so cool – it’s your job to tell them about the experience, accompanied by vibrant photos. You can browse the editor’s picks to get a flavour of what’s trending, or simply search for a destination and get the lowdown on what sights you really should be spending your time and money visiting, based on personal insight from your peers, and then put together an enviable wish list to refer to when you finally book that plane ticket. Trip Tease is also available to download as an app, so you can use it while travelling or keep compiling that wish list during your daily commute. There’s also plenty of scope to add new destinations; strangely enough, nobody has felt the need to put Bognor Regis on the map just yet, though…