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How to start a travel blog – 6 best sites
TRAVEL BLOG PLATFORMS TEST. Obviously, since seeing the world appears to be today’s most popular way of personal expression for a modern mindful human being, there are loads of travel blog services to chose from. Which ones are good? The Traveling Reporter has scanned the market for blogs in the travel category – here are our reviews of the web’s most popular services. The good and the bad about each site are pinpointed below.
In general, a good advice is for you to try to figure out what kind of blog and what features you want. As an example: Do you want a simple service for posting mainly from internet cafés, or advanced mobile blogging options? Do you rate personalization options high? Do you want to be able to earn money from your blog? Are you prepared to put in lots of time in your blogging, or do you want to just turn the key and go?
The six platforms below offer all these options. But barely no one has them all.
What is especially likable with Travelblog.org is that it is not part of a huge corporation, like Tripadvisor, but instead run by a network of travel suckers and independent editors. The page is extremely simple and easy to understand, good for any kind of travel. There are discussion forums, travel pictures and destination facts. You can browse both blogs and bloggers by clicking through the alphabet, and the site also features hostel search and a travel insurance service. The Travelblog.org randomly shows off its bloggers for those who want to browse. You can also click yourself around on a blogger’s map.
On the downside is that the layout of the site can be argued not being the world’s funniest, even though Travelblog markets itself in part with the phrase “It looks fantastic”. There is a search function, powered by Google, but it is rather rough and the travel pictures seem to have just been thrown in without structure and order. While it is easy to use, the site lacks features such as having an app connected to it for wireless blogging.
+ Easy to use, free
– A bit too basic
Travelpod is in a way the opposite of Travelblog.org – packed with tech and featuring a modern theme, the Travelpod blog service enables its bloggers to post their storis from either Iphones, Ipads or through an advanced dashboard where travelers also can put in their itinerary and calculate travel distance. Blogger can earn ‘badges’ as they increase their number of destinations, or write reviews.
On individual blog post level, the design is tasteful and flashy, with each blog page featuring a map and a bar that shows how the journey is progressing. A column on the right side is packed with features. Pictures and comments are further down. On the whole, this is a good travel blog service. But while it is packed with widgets and technology, some may argue that it lacks in personality. The blog service is free in itself, but for the options of turning off ads and making the blog private, which cost $39.95 a year.
+ Good features, free (except for two features)
– Nothing really, but maybe lack of personality
Run by Google, Blogger is one of the web’s most widely used blogging portals, not just for travel bloggers. If personalization is your thing, you should consider going for a big, broad service like Blogger.com because of the possibilities regarding customization of themes, colors, headlines and the likes. With a wide array of themes to pick from, and the option of creating your own, options are endless. (WordPress.com is another similar, slightly more advanced service – the Traveling Reporter, for example, is run on WordPress.) With a platform such as Blogger (or WordPress), you can easily go one or two steps further and add features like advertising, RSS feeds, advanced maps and picture sliders. Options are endless. You can also post from your smartphone while on the road.
The downside with these common blog portals is that they tend to be extremely time consuming. The problem with the wide range of options for customization is that your project of creating a simple blog, if that is what you want, turns into a never-ending story of, not writing posts, but changing colors, trying out new plugins and tinkering with details.
+ Endless possibilities, free, option of advertising
– Too many options if you want a simple blog
On the road shares quite a lot with Travelpod when it comes to features. Describing itself as an online travel diary, it carries a range of options for trip updates, geotagging, itinerary planner, multiple publishing options, drag & drop feature, and has apps for Iphone and Android. Best of all, you are able to customize your blog in a number of ways, regarding colors and themes.
The founder and CEO, Michal Bláha, describes himself as a “Czech tech veteran”, and has run the site since 2007, according to Onteroad’s own information. Apparently a business man too, he charges money for some of the site’s options. When you log onto Ontheroad and click to begin planning a new trip, you are given the choice of going Regular or Premium. A Premium account, which costs $2.45 per trip, opens up a wider range of options regarding personalization and picture sliders than a Regular. (There are a number of other travel blog sites with Premium options too, such as mytripjournal.com.)
+ Lots of features, nice design
– Some options cost money
This is a classic, free travel blog, a lot like Travelblog.org. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, but it could be argued that the Traveljournal has a better design than the former. It is not especially feature-rich and the user interface is not the funniest we’ve seen. But it is robust, simple and works great. Also, Traveljournals.net puts its users and their travel pictures in the first row – while others use their entry pages to brag about all their fine features, this online journal simply shows the work of its users, which is really the whole point of a travel blog.
You can easily browse between continents, countries and on maps to find bloggers and their pictures and stories. Traveljournals.net hasn’t much to offer regarding travel guides, hostel booking and such, but if you are looking for a simple blogging service, this might be just the one.
+ Simple, lots of pics and stories
– Not too many fancy options
This is one of our clear favorites. Extremely well designed, feature rich and with an adjoining Iphone app for mobile blogging, Offexploring seems to have most of what you could possibly need in a travel blog. As many others, it carries a message function, trip planner, photo albums and similar functions. The itinerary planner is not especially advanced, compared to some of its competitors, though it works fine. But Offexploring also offers the possibility of ordering printed books of your blogs and travel pictures. There are other ways of doing that, of course, but it is a nice option to have available incorporated in the blog itself.
On individual blog post level, visitors can brows between profile, blog, pictures, videos and the messaging function for each blog. It hasn’t the option of customization of the theme, but it looks quite good as it is.
+ Good features, great design, free
– Not possible to change themes
Which travel blog is best? Comment!
More good stuff
Here are a few bonus sites for travel bloggers:
Everything-everywhere is the story of Gary Arndt, who sold his house a few years back and claims to have been traveling around the world ever since. A speaker for hire at conferences and companies, Gary is a living proof that it is possible to earn a living from a lifestyle based on traveling, if not from travel blog advertising. Other bloggers and travelers can be sure to find inspiration here.
Run by freelance travel writer Andy, 501places has interesting travel stories from all over. The blog itself, run on WordPress, is clean and easy to read.
Gretchen Wilson-Kalav, out of Dakota, Illinois, runs a neat site with a broad approach to the idea of travel blogging. You can’t really sign up for a blog here, but instead find articles, interviews and inspiration in the general field of creating and running a blog, including how to make money from it. Travelblogs.com also carries a list of actual live travel blogs and bloggers, a selection by which others can find their own inspiration.