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 2012-2013 Viator Travel Awards: Travel Blog edition, your indispensable guide to the Top 25 Travel Blogs You Should Be Reading. Here at Viator, we love travel blogs. They’re great traveling companions and advisors, provide the traveler with loads of tips, recommendations, photographs, great writing, and fascinating insights. Travel blogs are also great places to share your experiences and adventures. Thus, we got together and narrowed down our favorite travel blogs to present to you with this year’s picks for the Top 25 Travel Blogs of the year!
Sometimes it seems like there’s a new travel blog getting started every twelve seconds, so it’s understandable that some get lost in the shuffle. The ones that stand out, though, can do so for a variety of reasons – as this list of our top 25 favorite travel blogs shows.
Some of these blogs move us with personal stories, some wow us with their stunning photographs, and some inspire us to get off the couch and see the world – and with all the blogs listed below, we think you’ll find something to enjoy in them, too.
Keep in mind that this isn’t meant to be a definitive list of the best travel blogs in the history of the universe – “best” is subjective, and we’re sure there are spectacular blogs out there that we missed, as well. So let this let be your starting point, from which you spider out in all directions until you find the travel blogs you like best. Oh, and be sure to tell us about your favorites!
Note that we focused on blogs written mostly by a single traveler or a couple, and which aren’t backed by a larger company or media outlet, so that’s why sites like Nat Geo’s Intelligent Travel blog, World Hum, Vagabondish, Fathom Away, and Culture-ist aren’t listed (even though we love them).
And now, in no particular order, here are our 25 favorite travel blogs for 2012.
Candace is a writer, photographer, and editor who combines her love of the written word with her love of travel – so much so that she took a break from her travels in order to complete a Masters in Travel Writing in London. It’s no surprise that what really shines on the blog are Candace’s travel stories – but we have to admit that one of the perks of this blog is that the writer is also an artist. Her sketches of the places she’s been are utterly delightful, and make us hanker (just a bit) for the old days when travelers carried paper notebooks and pens instead of laptops and smartphones.
Dan and Audrey are a husband-and-wife team of storytellers – they’re excellent with both the written word and photography – who have been traveling the world for more than five years. They get beyond the usual travel bloggy topics (even if they do end up in popular destinations) by focusing much of their storytelling on the people they meet, and they extol the virtues of extended travel. Spending even a little time on this blog will restore your faith in humanity – and then make you want to go explore it.
Nathan and Matt are the writers behind Roads & Kingdoms, one of the best places on the web to find beautifully written essays on travel (among other things). You can filter the site by category (music, politics, food, or travel), or you can filter by region and read from all categories. There are practical travel tips in these articles, but the pieces that really make our hearts sing are the ones that get to the heart of what makes a place special. This profile of Palermo is written with both honesty and care. You’ll know exactly what to expect when you go to Palermo after you read this essay – and that’s exactly where you’ll want to be when you’ve finished the last sentence.
Lauren is a freelance writer from Oakland, California, who is usually found either traveling solo or living in foreign countries (right now, she’s living in Vietnam). She’s a heavily-tattooed badass with a degree in creative writing, all of which shows in her exceptional writing. Whether she actually has no fear or it only seems that way is up for debate – but either way, it’s tough to believe she used to be “afraid of everything.” Thankfully for those of us who like to read about daring women, she got over that – and she consistently delivers stories on her blog (and her other writing venues) that will make you think – and make you want to hit the road, too.
Abi left her career as a doctor to pursue a life of travel and freelance writing, and her readers are the better for it. While much of her work appears elsewhere, her blog is where she posts the stories that don’t quite fit anywhere else. She says it’s a “blog about finding unusual journeys” and “travel inspiration for cynics.” She’ll tempt you with lovely photographs, insightful cultural observations, and personal travel stories – all while inviting and encouraging you to question everything. Take, for example, this post on her visit to Berlin, where the historic picture she had of East and West was filled in a bit more by people familiar with the other side.
Geraldine says she started her blog when she got laid off and began to travel more with her husband, who is frequently on the road with his job. Losing her job may have been a blessing in disguise, however, as blogging is a fabulous vehicle for Geraldine’s dry wit and unique perspective on the world. Not everything on The Everywhereist is about the couple’s trips – see her recent brain tumor and subsequent brain surgery – but the many posts about their travels combine practical tips with the appeal of (clever) snark. We’re not her only fans, either, as she was named one of TIME magazine’s top blogs of 2011, made Forbes’ 2012 list of the top 100 sites for women, and been featured as a travel expert on Oprah’s site.
Shannon has been traveling (and blogging) since 2008, and one of the things we love about her blog is how her unique perspective comes through loud and clear. She’s a food-obsessed vegetarian, so while she’s often writing about great eating experiences, it’s always through the lens of what a challenge it can be to find meat-free dishes in some parts of the world. She’s also a champion of volunteering – she volunteers frequently during her travels and advocates others do, too (she’s even got a separate site dedicated to volunteering while traveling). And if these passions weren’t enough to set her apart, Shannon recently traveled long-term with (and home-schooled) her 11-year-old niece – who has also been blogging.
Lauren is a writer with a passion for travel, so in 2007 she launched her Double Takes blog. There are a couple things we find noteworthy about it. First, she seamlessly weaves together her love of travel and her love of design – somehow, the two marry perfectly on Double Takes, with neither seeming to get short shrift, thereby introducing readers to things they may not see regularly otherwise. Second, we adore that the blog isn’t 100% about travel and yet somehow still manages to get our wanderlust going – bigtime. We could (happily) lose ourselves in the entire “Armchair Travel” section for hours.
Dylan began his blog in 2009, and over time it’s become not just an outlet for stories of his own travels but is also home to great practical travel tips for backpackers and budget travelers, too. He’s got a taste for slightly wacky (if not downright ill-advised) adventures, and we can imagine these tales making his parents squirm – but he’s got such an optimistic view of the world (and the people he meets along the way) that he makes you feel like everything is going to work out just fine. Take his list of favorite misadventures as proof.
Akila and Patrick are the bloggers behind The Road Forks. They love both travel and food, so the blog is very much about both – and because they’re handy with a camera, you shouldn’t venture too far into the blog if you’re hungry (or your stomach will be growling in a matter of seconds). Don’t believe us? Let this recap of some of their favorite meals over two years be your appetizer. They write about the destinations they visit, the foods they find along the way, and also post recipes inspired by their travels. And just for fun, they also travel with their two beloved dogs, who probably don’t appreciate world cuisine quite as much as Akila and Patrick, but who are awfully cute.
Evelyn started out by sending travel advice to other solo women travelers via fax, email, whatever she could get her hands on. Since 1997, Journeywoman has been delivering travel tips for women in its famously old-school format – Evelyn maintains that her blog is like Grandma’s house, which may not be modern but which remains a comfortable place to hang out. You’ll find advice and resources for women traveling by themselves or in groups for destinations all over the world, including what to pack and what’s okay to wear in different places. There are many irregular contributors to the site, but Evelyn’s hand is quite obviously involved in everything.
Ever wonder what it’s like to be not just a travel addict but a full-time travel writer? Kristin’s blog offers insights into both. A journalist for more than 10 years, Kristin is on the road 4-7 months out of every year, mostly on assignment, and she documents her travels as well as her other interests on her blog. There’s plenty of practical travel advice on the blog if you’re heading out to see the world (always delivered with her signature Southern sass) like this guide to Kentucky bourbon country, as well as links to find Kristin’s writing in magazines and other websites.
Jodi left her legal career in New York in 2008 to travel the world, and she’s been on the road ever since. She certainly appreciated good food growing up in the culinary wonderland of Montreal, but her travels have only intensified her understanding of the importance of – and meaning behind – what we eat. Since being diagnosed with celiac disease, Jodi’s become even more focused on food, especially helping people find great meals when they travel, no matter what their dietary needs. In fact, she’s recently written a food travel handbook. Her photos (of food and otherwise) are drool-worthy, and her writing is equally beautiful. Her blog really is a feast for multiple senses.
Beth, Jen, and Kara are the blogging trio behind this site, and there’s practical information here for girlfriend getaways, families who travel, and romantic trips. The gals’ award-winning blog is absolutely crammed with useful advice – this isn’t a collection of travel stories so much as an online travel guidebook, although there’s definitely personality behind every post. You’ll find travel tips on hotels, specific destinations, and travel gear, as well as cruise tips and a whole sister site dedicated to spa vacations. If you’re a woman traveler, you want these three vacation gals in your corner.
This is another site that’s not entirely about travel, but whose contributors have such a penchant for hitting the road that their cool finds in categories like tech, design, and entertainment often incorporate something that travelers will like, too. Some of the things they highlight will actually help you travel (a bag with a built-in battery to charge all your gizmos on the go!), some keep us dreaming big travel dreams (a toy train launched into outer space!), and some tell us about quirky stuff we can actually buy a plane ticket to see out there in the world (Iceland’s most secluded house!).
Chris is a veteran journalist and former travel editor with USA Today who now works as a freelance travel writer, and while you’ll find her work in places like Frommer’s, Budget Travel, and the San Francisco Chronicle, she also fills her blog with information about what she calls “value luxury” travel. She’s forever in search of boutique travel experiences that bargain hunters will appreciate, which she chronicles in the “destinations” section of her site. She’s also a social media consultant, and her post about using social media to find travel tips is handy for anyone who’s new to the idea of mining Facebook or Twitter before taking a vacation.
Beth and Randy have been traveling and blogging about it since 2010, she as a professional photographer and he as a professional journalist – so between them, they’ve got the needs of the blog covered. Beth’s photography really takes center stage here – it’s nearly impossible for anyone with an existing sense of wanderlust to avoid feeling those familiar “I need to buy a plane ticket, like, now” pangs when clicking through the pages of the blog. Really, pick any of their many photo essays and see if your feet don’t get itchy. In addition to their enthusiasm for travel, they also love volunteering, teaching others about photography, beer (Randy), and beans (Beth).
Alex is a twenty-something traveler who wasn’t satisfied with a two-month trip to Southeast Asia in 2009 – so after graduating from college she set out on what she calls “The Great Escape,” which has been going since June 2011. She’s an adventurous spirit with a friendly personality that really comes through on the blog, and yet she’s also got the ability to produce well-researched articles like this one asking tourists not to eat whale when they visit Iceland.
Victoria and Steve set out from London in early 2012, unsure of how long they’ll travel or were precisely they’ll end up – they just knew they wanted to see the world, and since their work is portable they’ve got no deadline to return. Their blog is full of their personal travel experiences thus far, and also contains some tips for people interested in long-term travel. The writing (Victoria) and photography (Steve) are both lovely, and we particularly enjoy their “If I Had a Superpower” interviews – a series of fun (and funny) interviews conducted with people they meet around the world.
Tim and Nat bring a culinary background (Tim is a trained chef), an eye for great photography (Nat is skilled with a camera), and love of travel together on A Cook Not Mad, on which they chronicle their food-focused travels. They say they travel with “a chef’s stomach for a compass,” and while the blog’s title is a reference to what’s considered Canada’s first cookbook (published in 1831), we can’t help but think it also looks a bit like the word “nomad” is in there, too. Which, we think, is fitting. The blog is full of travel stories and tips, with a heavy emphasis on what to eat wherever they go (such as this food tour of Budapest), as well as recipes to recreate these dishes at home.
Steph has been traveling the world (and blogging about it) for two straight years, encouraging other twenty-somethings out there who think they can’t get out and explore the world (for whatever reasons). Steph doesn’t think you need to be especially brave or lucky to go backpacking solo, and she knows you don’t need to be especially rich to travel long-term. Her blog contains plenty of practical tips to help anyone who thinks otherwise see that yes, it can be done. In fact, one of her most popular posts is about how she saved $20,000 in less than two years so she could quit her job and travel.
Sherry began traveling since 2006, when she left her “corporate cube dweller” life and turned into a long-term traveler. She’s visited more than 50 countries, hiked the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal with her septuagenarian father, is taking each of her six nieces on a trip when they turn 16, and helped start a nationwide effort to encourage people to take career breaks dedicated to traveling. Obviously, she’s a firm believer in the benefits of long-term travel – she practices what she preaches, and helps others do the same. If you’re looking for inspiration to get off the couch, you’ll find it here.
Lara and Terence are a writer-and-photographer duo who have either authored or contributed to more than 60 travel guidebooks, not to mention an untold number of travel articles. On their blog, they talk about their non-stop traveling lifestyle (they’re technically based out of Dubai, but it seems like they’re rarely there), offering destination-specific travel advice as well as practical tips that are handy no matter where you go. Particular fans of renting vacation homes rather than hotel rooms when they travel, Lara and Terence have a long list of what they look for (and, therefore, what you should look for) when you’re considering a vacation rental. It’s hard-won information, and it’s fantastic that they share it with readers.
Matt began blogging about the trips he’d take on vacations from his job, offering advice about how to get the most out of travel for other people who have full-time jobs and only take periodic holidays. More recently, he’s made the shift to a life of freelancing and so is traveling more frequently himself, but the site is still mostly dedicated to practical travel advice. He says he’s not a backpacker – he’s more interested in luxury travel or getting a good deal on boutique experiences. Matt tells stories of his trips, regularly posts round-ups on travel news, and provides travel tips for readers.
Dave and Deb, who call themselves “Canada’s adventure couple,” really got their traveling lifestyle (and travel blog) going in 2008 when they participated in the Tour d’Afrique, one of the world’s longest bicycle races (between 6,500-7,500 miles each time). Since then, they’ve traveled to pretty much every corner of the globe, sharing their personal adventures and gorgeous photos along the way.
Want more? Be sure to read more on Viator’s own Travel Blog (hey look, you’re already on it!) and our network of destination-specific Things to Do blogs. And tell us your favorite blogs in the comments!
- 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!