What's a good travel blog?

Jump to story list

First published 14th July, 2007

Search on Google for "travel blog" and you'll get around 313 million results -- probably more than you need when all you want to do is post a few stories and holiday-snaps. Given I'm not quite ready to review 300 million blog results, I divided that total by around one hundred million and took a look at three travel blog products that stand out from the crowd.

TravelPod, Travelblog and Travellerspoint each produce a free blogging platform aimed squarely at independent travellers. As each has its own nuances and quirks I signed up for each and posted a few entries from an old trip I did through the Mekong Delta -- here's my report.

Of blogs and mobile phones As I blogged away I couldn't help but compare the three services to mobile phones -- TravelPod was like a Palm Treo, with its slick interface, near-endless functionality and steep, often frustratingly confusing (for me anyway) learning curve. Travelblog is akin to my banged up Nokia 6100 -- not the prettiest phone on the block, but instantly familiar, totally easy to use and well, kind of homely. Travellerspoint, the new kid on the block, is the iPhone. Of course my Travelfish expense account doesn't quite stretch to actually buying an iPhone, but if it did, I'm sure I'd love it almost as much as I loved the Travellerspoint -- incredibly easy to use with an up and down attractive interface.

Putting the similes aside, as age always comes before beauty, let's start with TravelPod.

One of the travel blogging originals, Travelpod first appeared on the internet landscape in 1997 and maintains a vast range of travel blogs from world travellers. Recently purchased by travel-mega-portal, TripAdvisor, Travelpod looks to be adding a steady stream of new features for its members and won numerous awards and accolades before the purchase.

There's discussion boards, photo albums, Facebook tools and trip-placement on Google maps to name but a few. Best of all it's free -- albeit advertisement supported -- for all but the most power-hungry of power-users.

It's not an exaggeration to say that the TravelPod platform is heaving with features, but this wealth of options often left me feeling a little confused. While by post number two I had it all figured out, the interface just didn't feel as intuitive as it should have been. There's lots of instructions and pop-ups to wade through, but once you've figured it out, it's a no brainer -- especially if all you want to do is run a simple blog with a couple of happy snaps. One disappointment was not to see any clear notes asking people to only upload material they wrote/owned.

As with most travel-blogging platforms, TravelPod comes with Google Maps integrated, so if you want to plot your trip on a map, you can. I found the maps to be very slow loading -- perhaps testament to Travelpod's huge user base.

Unfortunately, it's when it comes to reading TravelPod blogs, that the real issue arises. It's an advertising-supported medium, and there's nothing wrong with that, but I found the adverts (mostly Google Adsense or TripAdvisor house ads) to be very obtrusive -- especially for the individual entries, where there is a sizeable adblock before your text, then a large house advert for Tripadvisor followed by another block of GoogleAds. If you're bothered by this level of advertising then I'd suggest either upgrading to the "Enhanced account" for US$39.95 per annum which disables adverts on the blog, or consider another platform -- of the three platforms I tested, TravelPod had by far the most visable level of advertising.

Aside from the advertising, there's some seemingly needless clickthroughs required to get to an actual post. From my "TravelPod homepage" it's two clicks (and two page views and associated ads) to get to an entry, when it could have just been on my homepage.

As already mentioned, the features are considerable. Video and photo uploads, RSS, Facebook and a 60,000+ member forum for starters along with some neat navigation features, that for example let you see other blogs about the same destinations. Once you've ironed out the actual posting process, these features go a long way towards compensating for the high number of ads.

Founded in 2002 by Ali Watters, TravelBlog doesn't have the slick interface that Travelpod does -- it looks, and feels somewhat home built -- but in a positive manner. It's the kind of site where an email to "support" probably goes straight to Ali himself, and I liked that. The community feels like a community -- not a corporation. Touchy feely stuff aside, TravelBlog is fast -- very fast -- and even better, it's especially easy to use.

This ease of use runs throughout the application -- from a sign-up process so simple you could blink and miss it, through to a remarkable ease of posting new and editing existing entries. Sure the interface could do with a bit of a style makeover, but it's unpretentious and it works very well. Hats off to them for the prominent notice asking posters to only add text or photos for which they hold copyright, is in the public domain, or is fair use -- this is something both the Travelpod and Travellerspoint products could do far better.

The posting interface lacks the WYSIWYG finish of Travelpod, relying instead on a form of UBB tags for HTML, perhaps a little confusing for a complete newbie, but anyone with a little message board experience under their belt will get the hang of it quickly. Likewise the image upload is a simple form dialog with the images sorted in a list to the right. You don't seem to be able to share images across posts, so if you want to use one photo on multiple posts you need to upload it a couple of times, which was a bit of an inconvenience, but certainly not insurmountable. More problematic was an image gallery feature, which I simply couldn't figure out how to use.

Their map implementation also uses Google Maps and yet again it is a good, very fast implementation, though it's not as sophisticated as some solutions as each map is displayed independently -- I couldn't find any itinerary linking from place to place.

Sensibly, your blog homepage lists summaries of your latest posts, so no needless clicking and it's simple to navigate. Like Travelpod, Travelblog is advertiser supported, but the Google-supplied adverts are kept to a bare minimum -- refreshingly some pages have no adverts at all. Every post is footed with a notification regarding copyright and usage of the text and images -- well done.

Travelblog is extremely easy to use with more of a ready-to-go home-grown yet well-loved feel to it rather than a slick corporate aura. By the time I'd finished entering my entries and having a bit of a surf around, I left liking Travelblog a lot. It has a quirky yet endearing feel to it and I think if I saw another member blogging away in a cafe I could roll over and make fast friends -- it's that kind of site.

Developed by two brothers since 2002, Travellerspoint boasts some 65,000 members and I'm sure their blogging package will see a lot more coming their way. Time and time again I've spied a feature on their site and thought wow, why didn't I think of doing that? The site is seamlessly integrated and very easy to use and their new blogging service allows their loyal user base to squeeze even more juice out of what was already one very juicy orange.

Travellerspoint has Travelpod's polished finish without its complexity and advert-heavy look, while having TravelBlog's ease of use and friendly feel -- the best of all worlds.

Sign up is easy, posting and editing even easier. If you're already familiar with a blogging tool like Wordpress, then the Travellerspoint blogs are a no-brainer. The text isn't WYSIWYG, instead, it relys on UBB style coding, but it's easy to work out and you can even add in trip maps (put together in a separate application). Also daring to be different, Travellerspoint doesn't use Google Maps but an independent Flash map system -- it wasn't as fast for me as TravelBlog, but was still considerably faster than TravelPod.

Best of all, your blog is far more like a freestanding independent blog rather than a network-style blog -- unless you were looking for it, it's difficult to tell the blog is even associated with Travellerspoint. You can also choose from a number of skins to display the blog as you wish, making it appear even more like a freestanding blog.

Even more best of all, the blogs contain virtually no advertising. There's a small link off to their accommodation booking services, but it's so unobtrusive you could blink and miss it. While that's great, it would have been good to see a more hefty note about copyright infringement in a similar manner to TravelBlog. There is a link to "Blogging best practices" from the main admin page, which does cover the issues, but a more substantial mention would have been good.

I don't mean to sound totally superficial, but the best thing about the Travellerspoint product is just How Good It Looks -- this is one very polished, professional looking package.

The above are just three of hundreds of different blogging tools available, but I really found the Travellerspoint offering to really stand out from the crowd -- an excellent product is almost all aspects. If it doesn't work for you try out Travelblog -- it ain't pretty, but it's fast and works really well. We'd only recommend Travelpod if you opted for the upgraded, advertisement-free solution.

For more information:

About the author:
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.

Read 24 comment(s)

  • Thanks for the write up on TravelPod!

    I just wanted to comment that we've long removed the annoying advertisement that this article ( very accurately ) described as obtrusive. Our members were very quick to point that out, so we yanked it right away.

    We try very hard to minimize ads on blogs and to make sure that we don't clutter our members pages.


    Luc Levesque, Founder - TravelPod.com

    Posted by Luc Levesque on 24th November, 2008

  • Luc:

    I appreciated your detailed breakdown of these three Travel Blog websites. I would like to ask that you take a moment to view the latest "blog on the block". World Travel Blogs (http://www.worldtravelblogs.com).

    While very new, this site has nearly all the features of the other sites with the personal touch you like (literally you will speak to me, the developer with any questions). The few features which are missing (like the maps) are being developed now. In addition this site offers a few features the others do not, like the ability to create personal discussion groups and interface with Twitter.

    Please give us a look and maybe you will find a new favourite to recommend.

    Thank you,

    Posted by Gene Tewksbury on 3rd March, 2009

  • Nice sum-up, It might be nice to do a 2010 update?

    There are quite some interesting new travel blogging sites out there, for example: TravelJournal.net

    And I'm sure that the ones reviewed here have new features worth a new review as well.


    Posted by Jacco on 7th August, 2010

  • Hi. I know these are great platforms but i'm starting up a wordpress-based system, and would love to see some testers run it. Right now it's still in an before-alpha stage, but if some of you would try it out and give some feedback, it'd be greatly appreciated :)

    Posted by Viktor Poulsen on 1st September, 2010

  • Not new to traveling or blogging about it, but def new to realizing there were special blogs made just for this! Decided I wanted to back-log some of my entries and didn't know which site to use. Your review was very helpful! Thanks.

    Posted by Kate on 11th May, 2011

  • Hello Dear.....
    I have travel sites for link exchange.
    with good pr also, if any body need then contact me at


    Vikas Kashyap

    Posted by Vikas Kashyap on 4th October, 2011

  • I just arrived from two weeks trip in India.

    If you do not have too much time to go around on your own, very good idea is to rent car + driver who take you around places you’d like to see. In short time holiday this is the easiest way to travel.

    My tour arranger Balvinder was very nice, safe and reliable. His English is good and he arranged hotels and it is also possible to make your own wishes for program.

    My tour went from Delhi-Agra-Jaipur-Pushkar-Ranthambhore and back to Delhi airport where I continued to South India on my own.

    At the moment Balvinder has tours in North India but is expanding also to other areas in India.

    I first found Balvinder’s contact information on Finnish website and later I found out that my relatives have actually been in his tour couple of years ago. We made a deal by email and everything worked fine with him. I was alone and paid 715 euros for 9 nights + 10 days and this price included air cond car + driver, air cond hotels with breakfast and guide in some destinations. In addition I paid entrance fees (couple of euros per sight) and some tip for guides in Agra and Jaipur.

    More people are in your group, less you pay per person.

    Below is Balvinder’s contact information and if you would like to, you can also ask me more in address zatuma@yahoo.co.uk and see my photos from India in address http://satususanna.spaces.live.com/

    Balvinder Rayat




    Posted by kumarballi on 13th December, 2011

  • Hello Friend,

    I went through your site (http://www.travelfish.org) while surfing in Google, am very much impressed with your site's unique information.

    I work as a content writer in many travel site and love the opportunity to guest post for your readers. I would like to give you a unique article on any travel related theme. No duplication or copying of the article is done. I assure you that the article will be published only on your site.

    The best part is I won't be charging you a penny, but in return all I need is just two links within the article.

    Looking forward for a positive reply.

    Best Regards,

    Posted by Mary on 4th May, 2012

  • hi, i'm not used to read blogs and so on but i found that your blog provided really interesting and detailed information about the three sites;travelblog, travelpoint and travelpod. and i like your blog. it's easy to navigate and there's not many advertisement. keep on sharing your good information.

    Posted by julie victoire on 10th May, 2012

  • travel is good for all.you made a good journey.it's great. Petter Joe

    Posted by petter joe on 31st May, 2012

  • I know cheese and smelly people are only a metaphor for getting out of your own comfort zone but I can tell you that eating food which clogs your arteries is something we avoid no matter what Rick Steves promotes. As for people, the drunken, smelly guy who was occupying my train compartment in Germany and who only grudgingly departed at police sub-machine gunpoint did not endear him to me. The smell lingered so I moved to second class. Travel has pluses and minuses.

    Posted by vakantiehuis dordogne on 8th June, 2012

  • Cool page, those places look fab!! Makes me want a holiday

    Vakantiehuis Dordogne
    Vakantiehuizen Dordogne

    Posted by khorshed on 19th October, 2012

  • I completely agree with you. I really like this article. It contains a lot of useful information. I can set up my new idea from this post. It gives in depth information. Thanks for this valuable information for all. And of course nice review about the application.
    vakantiehuis dordogne

    Posted by vakantiehuis dordogne on 12th November, 2012

  • Hi, I really like your travel blog. It really helps me a lot whenever I want to go travelling to a certain place. Thumbs up to your blog and keep up your good work.

    Posted by dora on 14th December, 2012

  • Your Site seems pretty informative with good pictures of different places with the updated information. You would like this video as it seems to be of simliar interest , if you love travelling this video would boost you up to make a trip.
    KuoniTogether WithSOTC

    Posted by siya kumar on 22nd March, 2013

  • Good Blog. It gets me passionate to explore new places. Check out the below link it will help you plan a perfect holiday and add joy to your hectic life.
    KuoniTogether WithSOTC

    Posted by siya kumar on 17th April, 2013

  • I would also like to point www.wouworld.com really cool city tourist guide with the best selected places.

    Posted by gR on 9th July, 2013

  • Thanks so much for the research and the summary of your experience on the three travel blogs. Just what I was looking for. Now I can go back to planning that trip, knowing I have invested my time and information in a good system.

    Posted by Ferne Dalton on 31st October, 2013

  • I’ve been browsing online from more time, yet I never
    found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me.

    In my view, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content blog and article as you did,
    the internet will be much more useful than ever before.

    Posted by Treatment of Sleep Disorders on 4th March, 2014

  • I'm hoping to start my own up, and this is fantastic advice!


    Posted by Rob on 4th March, 2014

  • Very helpful review, helped me to make up my mind. Thank you.

    Posted by ib_stez on 11th December, 2014

  • useful list of blog commenting to building up a back links.thanks for sharing..

    Posted by Vttravels on 16th December, 2014

  • if you want a vacation but still confused about where please visit this web

    Posted by arsah on 4th February, 2015

  • Loves to travel trip in getting more descriptions for this is traveling journey by enjoyed............Thanks for blog

    Posted by Same Day Agra Tour By Car on 28th April, 2015

Add your comment

Feature story quicklinks

Newsletter signup

Sign up for Travelfish Burp!

Our weekly wrap on Southeast Asian travel.
Click here to see a recent newsletter.

We respect your email privacy