25 March 2008

What I love in a Travel Blog

So the Travvies are here again - nominations have just opened for the 2008 voting for your favourite Travel blogs. There are several different categories and you can nominate up to three blogs for each, so plenty of opportunity to spread the love around. But hurry - you only have until 6 April to make your nominations. Then a panel of judges will choose shortlist and then you'll get another chance to vote on the finalists.

As I like to give a little recognition where it's due, I'll be making sure my favourites are among the nominees. I'm not naming any names right now but you can get an obvious clue from my list in the sidebar. Also I want to give a little thought to what makes a great travel blog for me. Here are my personal and highly subjective thoughts on the matter;

Live your life in colour
I lead a pretty normal life and I like a little colour to brighten up my day. If your blog doesn't have at least one good photo to draw me in, then your writing had better be pretty amazing to keep my interest. I especially love a photo that makes a joke or underlines the point you are making. There's a nice example of using the photographs to underline the point of the story in this article on travel photography from Wild about Travel + Writing.

Up close and Personal
Like most people I'm curious about how the other half live. I like a travel blog that allows me to peep into your world. Maryam - through your blog I'm drinking champage in the Marrakech medina and agonising over which Moroccan tile to choose. You probably do the school run and the laundry just like me - you may read this wearing your scruffiest track-suit with no make up for all I know. But when I finally pay a visit to the Peacock Pavilions it'll feel like meeting an old friend. Only I'll be in the the queue with all the others who also feel like your best friend because we glimpse your life through your blog.

Take me there with you
When I read a great travel blog it makes me long to be there; to feel the wind on my face, the scent of the spring flowers, the laughter of children, the taste of the yellow crab curry. I'm afraid that golf course in Florida doesn't do it for me. In the grey English winter I want a bit of escapism, to feel my senses tingle and to long to be where you are. Here's one about the spring in Turkey from Cool travel that gave me that feeling.

A blog with a conscience
I like a travel blog that encourages me to travel lightly and with a small footprint (carbon or otherwise). One that reminds me that an exchange with the local should be a two way affair and that we should travel responsibly in our world. This post from Pret a Voyager on visiting a South African Township is a nice example.

Make me laugh, Make me cry
Maybe not every day, but just sometimes, its nice to find a post that tugs at the emotions and makes me think - maybe even shed a tear or two. Isn't that what makes us feel alive? Here's one from Beijing Notebook about all the migrant workers who travel home to see their loved ones over Chinese New Year.

Men are from Mars, Women from Venus
Why is it that most of the travel blogs I enjoy are written by women? Is it that more expat women have the time to blog while their other halves are slaving away earning the family living. Or that women do the sort of personal, creative blog that I enjoy, while the travel blogs I come across by men seem more factual or interested in the mechanics of travel. A couple of exceptions are Primitive Travel and Matt Bites, although both written by guys with an interest in the creative things in life.

A wealth of useful information
The best travel blogs manage to combine all of the benefits above and still give you some great tips and information to plan your trips - the fun places to go and the stories behind them, the favourite trattoria, the unspoilt beach. I want to know all these secrets from a person who's been there and can give me the inside track. For my Rome trip, At Home in Rome covered this ground - I'm definitiely planning to do the Tour del Gelato with my son, using Shelley's recommendations.

So what makes the perfect travel blog for you? Do let me know if there's a travel blog you think fits my wish list and may have passed me by.

Many thanks for the photos on Flickr to viajar 24, robw, nordlicht62, crystalspman, pedro_qtc,


Prêt à Voyager said...

I do love travel blogs! Thanks for the shout out :)


Teacher Girl said...

You've captured so beautifully what I find compelling about good travel blogs. It's all in the details. (And the golf in Florida doesn't do it for me either).

Erin said...

sure- definately you can use the blue hearts! let me know when you make the post!

Kim Wildman said...

Thanks so much for the mention Heather - I'm glad you enjoyed my piece on photography.

I definitely agree with you on what makes a good travel blog - let's get voting!


laradunston said...

Hi Heather

Thanks also for the mention! Much appreciated. I do agree with you on all of the above. Different travel blogs explore, inform, educate, evoke and inspire in different ways, and I have a few I visit as regularly as I can because they do those things, but whatever they do, most of all what I want from them is that they do it with passion and there is a connection there between the blogger and content, as there is say, on Maryam's blog, Anne's, Xander's, and your own. What I really dislike are the blogs - and web 'zines/pseudo sites where there's no connection between the writer and content/place. I hate those blogs where they just regurgitate other content from the web with a one sentence opinion that's often baseless, thoughtless and without connection. What's the point?

- Suzie from Beijing - said...

Dear Heather,
thank you for your kind words and for mentioning and nominating Beijing Notebook.
Greetings from China


Hi Heather,

Great post about travel blogs -- you've mentioned a number of my favorites and also some new ones that I'll have to check out.

And thanks so very much for nominating Write to Travel for a Travvie in the Best Informative/Practical Travel Blog category. Feel truly honored...

Cheers from New Zealand,

Xander said...

Thanks for mentioning Primitive Culture- especially in the company of such fine travel blogs! I have to admit, I too tend to read women's blogs more than men's. I think it has something to do with the fact that where women tend to describe experiences more, men's travel blogs seems like they're always trying to assert themselves as experts about everything they see and eat on their trips. Not to make too many generalizations... -X

Janet said...

I really like your blog. You have beautiful pictures. It just makes me wish I could travel more guess this is my way of traveling right along with you.