Brucini started seriously travelling after attempting to move to Queenstown, New Zealand, in 1996.Inspired by drunkenly meeting a world of travelers on a Kiwi Experience bus, he changed his plans and roamed the world for a year. ...Find out more!
If you are going to be travelling away from home for more than a few weeks, you may have thought about having your own personal travel blog. There’s no better way to keep a record of your adventures and to show your family and friends exactly what they are missing out on.
Most travellers choose integrated travel specific blogging hosts. Although there are many such sites, the more popular travel websites of this type include Travelpod, Travelblog, Bugbitten, Travbuddy, Bootsnall and it is these which I will focus on in this post. On a travellers’ blog site you will be offered free blog hosting and a range of convenient traveller services and tools. The attraction is having all these services/tools organised on one site and integrated with your blog to make your trip planning easier and your internet time better spent.
- Features that may or may not be offered on these type of sites are:
- Create a free blog
- Meet other travellers via their profiles / blogs
- traveller question and answer forums
- product / hostel / services consumer reviews
- photo galleries / storage
- location mapping
- RSS subscription
- Accommodation booking links / system
- destination advice /guides
- Synchronisation of blog with Facebook
- Send e-postcards of your photos
There are differences, of course, between the aesthetics of the blog page layout (text, images, mapping, look and feel) of different blog providers that might influence your overall choice.
Consider these questions also to clarify what is important to you and your needs before you select your travel blogging site.
Questions to ask before choosing a travel blog provider:
- Can you synchronise your blog to Facebook?
Travelpod and Bugbitten are the leaders here. Convenient Facebook applications are available from these companies so your blog and travel map will automatically update onto your Facebook profile so your friends/family can see what you are up to without checking on your blog separately or RSS feeding for quick updates. Naturally you could RSS feed your blog via Friendfeed to your Facebook profile as well if the blog does not have a Facebook widget.
- How are links from the blog site to extra products and services promoted?
Travelpod has some excellent general site features that others don’t (video uploads) but it offers suggested product links (hostels, cars, hotels, flights, tours, travel insurance) based on google ads and sponsored links. Travbuddy and Bugbitten lead the way with consumer generated reviews which is far more authoritative. What’s more these sites have much clearer systems for selecting the exact hostel or service you might be interested in rather than by uninformed advertising.
- Who already uses the site?
I’m not talking numbers of people here, I’m interested in the demographic and the things they are writing about. It’s relatively easy to pick up from the site content, for example, that users prefer staying in hotels and going to good restaurants, in the same way another is more pluralistic with a budget mentality. Find a site and discussions where you feel comfortable and understood just as if you really were travelling with the people who contribute to the sites.
- Is there an active traveller forum discussing the places you are going?
There’s nothing worse than signing up to a blog and services and posting a question to the forum and no one answers. This would obviously suggest there isn’t much of a community and therefore news and destination info on that site might not be as fresh and up to date as could be on other sites. Most forums are accessible without signing up (except Bootsnall) and you can observe the speed of responses from members to others questions.
- Is there personalised trip mapping?
Visually showing people who otherwise might not be so geographically savvy where exactly in the World you have been is a big part of the story you are telling and bragging about. Looking back on your map with criss-crossing travel lines is also satisfying even if the journey was the most important thing. Travelblog and Bootsnall do not have interactive mapping.
- Hostel booking system on site?
Imagine you’ve read the destination guide, looked at the forum and read reviews of hostels, and now you want to make a booking quickly and seamlessly after updating your blog. Bootsnall integrates the Hostelworld affiliate booking system within the Bootsnall site framework making booking very easy. Travbuddy redirects you via the clunky GTA Hotels booking system. Bugbitten links you directly to the specific hostel’s website to make a booking taking you away from the travel blog site. The other sites don’t offer any specific service.
- Want to express your blog with your own look and feel?
Travel blogs do not offer much flexibility to change the look and feel. If this is so important to you then consider using generic and popular blogging programs like blogger or wordpress. You can then choose a page template design that better suits your personality. The generic blogging programs may require a little bit more thinking and time on your hands to customise, but for many that’s part of the satisfaction of expressing yourself as you like and especially so because travel is so personal. You will have to toggle to other sites for forums, hostel booking, destination guides, photo storage etc if you are using a generic blog system.
Which travel blog site system do you use or have used and what were/are your experiences with it?