Editor’s Note: This post is part of the Viator Travel Awards, an annual awards competition where we – along with our readers, travelers, and fans – select the top things to do and see in each of the major regions we serve, the top things to do in our most popular tour categories, and more.
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Welcome to the 2015 Viator Travel Awards: Travel Blog edition, your annual guide to the Top 25 Travel Blogs You Should Be Reading. We are big fans of travel blogs here at Viator. They can be valuable resources for tips, recommendations, photographs, and inspiration. They are also great places to share your own experiences and adventures.
It can sometimes seem like a new travel blog is launching every minute, which makes it hard to keep track of all the great reading that is out there! This is, of course, not a definitive list of every great travel blog currently out there. Some of our long-time favorites were left off this list in order to recognize new (to us) blogs that we wanted to also share with Viator’s readers. We hope you find a new blog or two worth following on this list, and we welcome your suggestions about your favorite travel blogs, too – whether it’s writing, photography, video, or some other form of expression.
Here, in no particular order, here are our 25 favorite travel blogs.
Please note that we focused only on blogs written mostly by a single traveler or a couple, and which aren’t backed by a larger company or media outlet. For that reason, sites like National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel blog, World Hum, Vagabondish, Fathom Away, and Culture-ist aren’t listed (even though we love them).
In 2004, when Torre DeRoche began blogging, she thought no one was reading. Fast-forward to 2013, when her memoir (initially self-published and almost immediately picked up by major publishing houses) was released and optioned for a motion picture. Torre’s easy-going style has hooked readers for years – she encourages us to face our fears, and we feel emboldened because she’s a normal person who faced her own fears. Her book is the tale of sailing across the Pacific Ocean with the man she loved (despite a “morbid fear of deep water”), and you can also check out her funny post on the useless horror-story-laden reactions we get when we tell people we’re going on crazy adventures.
Lola Akinmade-Åkerström was born in Nigeria, studied in the United States, and now lives in Stockholm. Her award-winning photography and travel writing have appeared in National Geographic Traveler, BBC, CNN, Lonely Planet, New York Times Online, San Francisco Chronicle, Travel + Leisure, and many other places – and her own site, Geotraveler’s Niche, features both her gorgeous photos and words. The blog is dividied into sections so you can choose exactly the part of the world you want to read about – Asia, Africa, Europe, etc. – or what topic interests you – writing, family travel, photography. For instance, find out why Lola thinks you should visit the Balkans in 2015 (the images alone may sway you), or get photography tips such as saving a so-so color photo by converting it to black and white.
In 2011, Foster Huntington left his New York job and moved into a camper. He drove tens of thousands of miles, surfing and camping along the way, and just this past summer he settled back in the Columbia River Gorge, where he grew up. On his blog, A Restless Transplant, he chronicles his cross-country journey and subsequent adventures in words and photos – and if you’ve got even the smallest adventurous itch to explore the great outdoors, you’ll be hooked. We loved the photos of hikes in the Columbia River Gorge (including building a seriously excellent fort for a camping overnight excursion), and following along as work progresses on the incredible tree house Foster and his friends are building in the Gorge.
Daniel Noll and Audrey Scott left the U.S. the first time to live and work in Prague. After five years of living in Prague, they packed up everything all over again and left to travel the world. That was seven years ago. They tell heartwarming and informative stories on their blog – about responsible tourism, about traveling outside your comfort zone, and about embracing the story-filled potential of every day. We loved their recent “adventure manifesto in progress,” and their travel tips are always useful with a good dose of humor – such as a long-time favorite, “How to Travel Without Hugging the Bowl: 10 Tips for Staying Healthy on the Road.”
We have always loved the notion of stopping at a beautiful vista and sitting down with a sketchbook and some watercolors to capture the scene in a way no smartphone camera ever can. For those of us who aren’t artistically inclined, however, the idea seems preposterous – until you read Candace Rose Rardon’s blog. This traveling sketch artist and writer is not just a gifted artist herself, she’s an advocate for everyone to travel with a sketchbook. Candace says slowing down to draw while you travel means you actually see more of what’s in front of you. Her illustrated love letter to Vashon Island and post about drawing connections in Caragena are perfect examples of how sketches and illustrations can take your travel stories to a completely different level.
Dalene and Pete Heck, the Canadian couple behind Hecktic Travels, have been on the road since 2009. Their writing is entertaining and insightful and they often tackle difficult topics, like when they witnessed protests by sweat factory workers in Phnom Penh or when they visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Choeung Ek Killing Fields in Cambodia. They have literally written the book on housesitting around the world and provide great advice to would-be digital nomads in How We Do It (And Why You Shouldn’t Listen to Us).
Brendan van Son’s blog just might be the craziest we followed last year as he rode a scooter from Mali to Cape Town, South Africa chronicling it all on his blog, Brendan’s Adventures. This excerpt from a recent Christmas letter pretty much sums up his year: “Through the journey I fought through a nasty crash in Cameroon, suicidal drivers in Nigeria, cases of malaria in DRC and Togo, and countless flat tires and tough roads. It really was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. To this day, I’m completely confused by how I got through it all.”
Matthew Karsten’s goal is to inspire readers with entertaining stories and beautiful photography from around the world and we think he does just that. Everyone can learn a thing or two from his collection of top travel tips and you may find yourself laughing out loud while reading some of his posts. We especially love his photo essays, like the one from his motorcycle trip through the Canadian Rockies this summer and the one about traversing the Darien Gap.
Flora Baker is a writer, poet and traveler who is on a mission to visit every continent twice before she turns 31. Currently in South America, she previously spent six months in Nepal, Thailand and India. One thing we love about Flora is that she doesn’t just travel, she immerses herself in the local culture and often gives back through volunteering. Her posts about what you need to know before volunteering with children abroad and about lessons she has learned while teaching English abroad are must-reads for anyone thinking of doing either.
Both Sophie Collard and Katherine Conlon have a fascination with the macabre (Katherine’s dissertation was about 17th century public executions), so starting a blog about visiting sites associated with the darker side of history was a natural fit. Travel Darkly was founded in 2013 to seek out cemeteries, abandoned places, dungeons, haunted buildings, battlefields, and more. The site is still fairly new, but if you’ve a morbid curiosity about all things morbid, it’s definitely one to watch. For now, you can learn about the first British casualty of World War I, buried in Belgium, or the many plague pits in London that were dug to limit the spread of the 14th century and 17th century plague outbreaks.
Jodi Ettenberg has been on the road ever since leaving her legal career in 2008. While she appreciated good food growing up, her travels have intensified her understanding of the importance of – and meaning behind – what we eat. Since being diagnosed with Celiac disease, Jodi has focused even more on food, especially helping people find great meals when they travel, no matter what their dietary needs. We loved her Celiac’s Guide to Northern India and her photo essay from the Mekong markets in Vietnam was mesmerizing. Jodi published her first book (The Food Traveler’s Handbook) in 2012 and she also runs tours at Jodi Eats Food Walks.
Toque & Canoe is written by two Canadian travelers, Jen Twyman and Kim Gray, who have been tellies stories about “real Canadian travel culture” since 2011. In just the past few years, they’ve won some awards, including being named the “Best Travel Blog” by the Canadian Tourism Commission. In addition to the work of both Jen and Kim, Toque & Canoe also features guest posts from other Canadian storytellers, as well as excellent photography. Read about Quebec City, a favorite winter vacation spot, in all its icy beauty – or hang on for the wild ride that is the Calgary Stampede. Toque & Canoe is a must-read for anyone who is planning a Canada trip or simply loves the country.
When Tasha Hacker left school, she went to the Russian Far East with the Peace Corps to teach English. She spent seven years after that traveling, teaching English when she needed money, and eventually got her MA in English education. All of that – plus a desire to avoid cubicles – led her to found a CELTA teacher training school. Tasha and her husband, Ryan Horsnail, operate the school from wherever they happen to be – which is usually on their sailboat, Hideaway, someplace warm. Their working life isn’t always glamorous, but it does allow them to participate in yacht races and drive across Australia in a camper van. How else would they have found the dog on the tuckerbox?
Jeff Bartlett is, as the name of the blog suggests, a freelance photographer and writer. His work has appeared in Viva Travel Guides, Canadian Cycling Magazine, and Matador. He says he started the blog “to satisfy my own curiosities about the art and craft behind adventure,” and The Adventure Freelancer is broken down that way – the “Art of Adventure” section is stories and photos about outdoor adventures, and the “Craft of Adventure” section is the nuts and bolts stuff that goes into a trip (route planning, outdoor skills, etc.). Enjoy Jeff’s photos of cycling the Icefield Parkway and his thoughts on training for adventure (spoiler alert: he says training is not only unnecessary, it’s impossible).
There are many things to love about Geraldine De Ruiter of The Everywhereist. We love that she’s funny and witty, often at her own expense, and that she writes like you’d expect a friend to write home about her travels. Pour a cup of coffee before reading the blog and you may feel like you’re hearing it first-hand from your award-winning blogging friend Geraldine at the cafe you guys always visit when she gets back from her latest trip. Not all of the posts are about travel, but the non-travel ones are pretty wonderful, too. Crunch along as she eats fried tarantulas in Cambodia, or find out why returning to exactly the same place she visited the last time she was in South Africa was the best idea ever.
Bethany Salvon and Randy Kalp have been traveling the world since 2011, but their Beers & Beans blog goes back to 2008 – going back to the beginning, you can watch the development of their travel plan (particularly interesting if you’ve got world-travel dreams, too). The photos are Bethany’s, and most of the writing is Randy’s, but the blog is clearly a beloved team effort. Their “Somewhere in Time” photo series enchants with a new (beautiful) photo every week (we defy you to not look up airfare to at least one new place every month just based on these pictures).
Robin Graham moved from Ireland to Tarifa, Spain in 2010. He’s a writer, photographer, and an English teacher, and the title of his blog A Lot of Wind is something of an homage to the famous winds of Tarifa that make it a haven for kite surfers. It’s also likely a self-depracating jab at his own work – but Robin’s essays are exactly what you want travel narrative to be. They’re stories in tiny capsules, moments captured and highlighted, that – put together – give you a more intriately detailed broader picture than you could get from a photograph. For instance, transporting foodstuffs across Spain opens a window on the countryside, golden light, and the important things in life. You can enjoy Robin’s photographs, too, on the galleries page.
Beth Williams visited Japan for the first time in her final year of college, where she was studying East Asian Culture and Language, and loved it so much she headed back to Asia immediately after graduation. She ended up teaching English in Hong Kong for two years, and is now back home in Chicago after a trip through Europe and Central America. She’s still writing about Asia and Asian culture, both on her own blog, Travels in Translation, and on other sites like National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel Blog and Travel + Escape. Learn what you need to know about teaching English in Hong Kong and how to do gift-giving right in Japan with omiyage.
Alexandra Baackes wasn’t always an adventurer. During a two-month trip to Southeast Asia in 2009, she worried about eating dinner alone and getting lost in the airport. Fast-forward to 2011, when she quit her job to travel full-time. She’s a freelance designer and writer, and her work has been featured in National Geographic, Woman’s Day, and Men’s Fitness. Among her passions is scuba diving and underwater photography – you can see some of her work on this recent post from diving in Santorini, and some more gorgeous underwater shots from a dive in Malta.
When Jessica Festa got her Masters degree, she figured she should get a “real job.” When that job didn’t allow for enough travel time, she went back to waitressing to maintain flexibility with her schedule. Now, she is a freelance writer who travels regularly – and doesn’t have to work a waitressing gig. Jessie on a Journey was launched in 2011, and one of Jessie’s favorite topics is why solo travel for women is life-changing and wonderful. Don’t ask her how many countries she’s been to, however, because she doesn’t know – and doesn’t care.
With a name like “With Husband in Tow,” this blog sounds like it’s all about a woman and her reluctant traveler of a husband. Not so. Amber and Eric Hoffman uprooted their lives and moved to Southeast Asia together in 2012 – and while it’s Amber who does the blogging, both of them are eager foodies who love to discover the world one plate at a time. Amber says she obsesses about all aspects of Asian food, and “could spend all day eating, if it were socially acceptable.” Check out her guide to eating dim sum in Hong Kong, or her homage to a particular favorite foodstuff on her 30 Days of Pork round-up.
Like many travelers, Liz Carlson got her first taste of the travel bug on a study abroad trip. She loved it so much that after graduating, she returned to the same country – Spain – and ended up living and teaching English there for a few years before moving to New Zealand in 2013. Liz has an excellent Spain 101 section on her blog, which is the perfect place to start if you’re planning a trip, and her post on Kiwi slang is informative as well as amusing.
Victoria Watts and Steve Kennedy set off from their London home in 2012 to travel – first to South America, then to Mexico, then Bali, then Berlin – before returning to London in late 2014. Steve is a filmmaker, Victoria teaches yoga and writes the Bridges & Balloons blog. They travel slowly, staying in one place for awhile until they feel the need to move on, and Victoria has taken the opportunities she’s presented while traveling as a chance to change something about herself she didn’t like so much. In her “Don’t Knock it Til You’ve Tried It” series, she says yes to things she would normally scoff at.
Kim Dinan and Brian Patton had good jobs and a home in Portland, Oregon, but Kim had a dream that wouldn’t go away – she wanted to write and travel. So, in 2012, the couple set off to do just that. They’re currently in Mexico, where Kim is working on a memoir, and the blog is both a collection of travel stories and advice about how you, too, can make travel a full-time gig. Her introspective stores – about the “ghost life” she would have if she hadn’t set out to travel, for instance – are some of the best things on the blog.
Sometimes travel is more fun when you have a mission. For Lisa Boice, it’s birding – but that only started because it’s her husband’s passion (hence the title of the blog). Lisa’s become an enthusiastic birder herself, relishing the opportunity to visit far-flung places in search of rare birds in the wild. Even if you’re not a birder, chances are you’ll appreciate Lisa’s take on quest-driven travel and the things she sees along the way. We like her post “Hope is a thing with feathers” for embracing the experience (even when you don’t see the Esmereldas Woodstar hummingbird).
– Viator Travel Team
Disclaimer: some of the writers behind these top blogs also contribute to the Viator blogs, but our picks were not swayed by our association with them. In fact, many of the writers began to contribute to Viator after we had found their blogs and enjoyed reading them. If you’d like to write for Viator, check out our contributors page!