Travel Blogs Worth Reading: 2013 Edition

This was hard. Over the last month I’ve collected the nominees and added them to my RSS reader, slowly sifting through the blogs I liked, loved and well, honestly there were a few that just confused me. For example what does a vegetarian food blog have to do with travel? I mean sure, yeah, there’s a recipe for kimchi, but that’s not really the same as, say, going to Korea and eating kimchi, right? I had to draw the line somewhere!

Last year, I made two categories: one for the best new travel blogs, and the best overall. At the time I felt like new blogs needed a little extra help and while someone six months into blogging isn’t going to be able to compete with a six-year veteran (or so I thought),  I would take their potential into account and give folks credit for the great adventure they were ABOUT to have.

This year, it’s totally different. From newbies like Roads and Kingdoms, which is written by NY Times and Time Magazine writers to Mozzarella Mama by an Associated Press journalist in Italy to Honey Trek, who seemingly came out of no where and are writing these epic posts like this one of them hiking the Annapurnas — it just seems like the field is filled with really professional and inspiring blogs.

Anyway, I have a certain thing I’m looking for, so these are the blogs that fit that thing. I like strong photography driven sites, I like story, I like professional writing, but I want to know the person writing it too. I’m completely turned off by service-type articles, anything like “how to get cheap shoelaces” or whatever kind of kills it for me. Cut the fluff, give me the good stuff. Do something a little different. Be quirky or strange, but be good. Don’t hold back.

It’s a pretty short list, but these were my favorites.

Best Overall

best_of_2013_arestlesstransplant

With so many people writing about around-the-world travel, specifically the one-year-abroad-quick-let’s-see-everything kind of trips, I really like this site because it’s about travel, but it’s not about travel. You know? He’s so un-self aware it’s sort of breathtaking. It’s written by Foster Huntington, who you may have run into online if you ever saw The Burning House project (which went viral a while back and now has a book). For the past two years he’s been traveling around the west coast in his van. He tells stories, takes pictures, runs the #vanlife hashtag on Twitter and even has a tumblr for user submitted van-ity shots. If you love a good old-fashioned road trip, then this is it: A Restless Transplant

best_of_2013_fearfuladventurer

I knew Torre last year, and I’ve always been a big fan of her writing. This year she’s been writing more about her personal travels, which has been equal doses of hilarious and horrifying to follow. She’s almost worse at motor biking around Thailand than us (we fell off our bike three times on the way to Pai). This is a good time to start following her, because her book is coming out this spring (Love with a Chance of Drowning about her adventures sailing around the world with “a guy she met in a bar”) and personally I can’t wait to see what happens next: Fearful Adventurer

best_of_2013_girlunstoppable

This is a travel blog with an unlikely focus: Namibia. I think at this point we can fairly well imagine what it would be like to live in the countryside of Italy (thank you Under a Tuscan Sun) or in France (thanks, like a million books) or to even live on a Thai beach (Oh, Leonardo DiCaprio in The Beach, the role that launched a thousand full-moon parties) but Ekua’s blog is completely fresh and new. Like this post of the Namib Desert — stunning photography but also, something you’ve never seen before. Wherever she ends up, I want more of that: Girl Unstoppable

best_of_2013_sendingpostcards

A good photo essay is an art, something Alex & Mina sum up as, “the often mundane, seldom peculiar, and sometimes extraordinary details”. The photography is just amazing, their design is totally stripped down to let you get as much photo-goodness as you can, and they know how to tell a story without words. Okay there are some words. Mostly photos though, just like their name implies: Sending Postcards

best_of_2013_somanyplaces

Kim was on the list last year as one of the best new blogs, and this year she was one of the most frequently nominated blogs. I still wasn’t going to put her on the list (I really did want to pick all brand new blogs this year) but I was completely sucked into her writing for the Rickshaw Run she’s doing in India now and the realities of being three women in India, sleeping in tiny villages, which essentially means a cot in some stranger’s shack, and what that’s like. Kim can write. She can tell stories. And you don’t feel this cloying “Look at me, I’m being a writer!” thing happening either — she’s a natural: So Many Places

best_of_2013_whileoutriding

Cass started in Alaska in 2009 and has been slowly traveling around North and South America. It’s one of those blogs that you almost want to pick a place to start, somewhere back in his archives and just read forward from there. Here’s a random post from June of last year. Beautiful photography, great outdoor travel writing, it’s really like a very long book you’d pick up called, “Three years of biking around the Americas” because you love the idea of that, even if you’d never end up going. It’s classic Outside magazine style travel narratives: While Out Riding

Best New Blogs


best_of_2013_bridgesandballoons

Victoria and Steve just started traveling last year, made their way from South America to their current location, just up the road from me in Mexico. She’s a writer, he’s a film maker, and between them they have a way of writing and capturing the world that’s stylized and emotive (See: An Ode to Couchsurfing or Bolivia Salt Flats). The very promising: Bridges and Balloons

best_of_2013_honeytrek

Mike and Ann got married in 2011 and at the end of the year decided to take a 500 day trek around the world for their honeymoon. Which is disappointing, because at some point that means they’ll go home. And not post safari photos or write-ups on Mozambique. It’s probably the best round-the-world travelogue style blog I’ve seen — ever. Tons and tons of fantastic photos, entertaining stories, so really, maybe 500 days isn’t long enough: Honey Trek

 

best_of_2013_mappingwords

Ever wanted to teach English overseas? Sarah is doing that — she is an up-and-coming writer, just completed the Glimpse Correspondent program, has a BFA in art education and she teaches English in South Korea. Her stories are very much grounded in where she is… like when she hiked the Jagged Ridge Trail on Saryang-do, two tiny islands located in South Gyeongsang Province — you’re getting a much closer view of what it might be like to live overseas, it’s something you only see when the person is there long enough to go deeper and also cares about the details and getting them right. She’s also writing some heavy narratives (like Perceived as a Prostitute on the Streets of Seoul). Seriously good: Mapping Words

best_of_2013_mozarellamamma

Patricia Thomas is an AP reporter who has been living and raising two children (with her Italian husband) in Italy for over 16 years. She’s working on a book about her experiences, which I’m sure will be lovely, but I’m kind of enjoying the bite-sized excerpts she’s feeding us online. I have to admit, I often skip straight to the parts about her kids, like this (Spitting Image) is one of my favorites about being corrected by her culturally Italian child to be more “elegant”. She’s also a great reporter, so stories about a wine mystery fit right in. And when she says, “Ah, just give me a violet vespa,” I feel like, damn I know this woman: Mozzarella Mamma

best_of_2013_roadsandkingdoms

Roads and Kingdoms doesn’t QUITE fit in here, except that it’s amazing. It’s a multi-author blog, it’s written like a travel magazine, but it’s so good that I had to include it. It’s still a blog, but make no mistake, they are putting out content that rivals anything you’d find out there, from Nat Geo to NY Times to Travel & Leisure. I think their travel + food stories are sublime: Roads and Kingdoms

best_of_2013_sarahsomewhere

Sarah started traveling in 2012, and she writes some wonderfully honest and unaffected stories (see: My Meltdown Moment). She decided to travel to find herself and to build a new life and she’s doing that. For me, the most interesting part is watching her grow… just in the short time she’s been blogging you can see it, in her writing, her photography, her story telling, the way she moves through the world. If you wonder if travel can change you, I think the answer is yes: Sarah Somewhere

104 Comments

  1. Wow! I am so honored to be on your list, Christine! I’ll definitely be checking out the other blogs as well. Thanks again!

  2. Christine, it is such a thrill to be included on your list again. I am jumping up and down over here! It’s an honor to share the list with so many talented writers (and to get that proverbial head-nod from you, talented writer yourself). Thank you so much!!

  3. Awesome list! I have been looking for good travel blogs to follow on. This is exactly something I want! Thanks for sharing!!!

  4. What a great list – i have added all of these to my googlereader – nice to have some new stuff to read.

    tristan

  5. Beccy Hall

    Great blog post! Lovely to discover new quality reading, thanks. Check out my FB page, linked to my travel blog Alternative guide to living abroad :)

  6. Excellent list – I’ve spotted the So Many Places travel blog because of the Rickshaw Run, and also try to read Bridges & Balloons when I can. They’re enjoyable and can’t wait to check out the others.

  7. Thank you SO much for your kind words Christine, such an honor to be included here and I cannot wait to check out the other blogs I’m not already following. They all look amazing, which is why I have to pick my jaw up off the floor now… THANK YOU!

  8. Thanks so much for putting together this list. A well written, well designed travel blog is a beautiful thing and there are a few new ones here I am excited to check out moving forward! Cheers.

  9. Thanks for the new reading material- I only follow about 2 of these now!

  10. Thanks Christine. So many people don’t realize how hard it is to write a blog, to keep it fresh and entertaining. To find GREAT ones is a treat. Thanks for compiling a great list. They are all very deserving to be on a ‘best of’ list! I can’t wait to feast my eyes on those I haven’t seen before.

  11. Thanks so much for including us on the list and writing such kind words. It’s an honour to be included among such excellent company. Thank you! I can’t wait to read the ones that are new to me. And hopefully we’ll be able to meet someday soon seen as we’re living so close to each other.

  12. If I had to make a list it would be pretty similar, but there are a couple here I don’t know, so am very grateful for the heads up! Never tire of good, new reading material! Now am really looking forward to tucking myself in with the computer tonight to get to know the new ones :=)

  13. Only a few I was already familiar with, Roads and Kingdoms and Bridges and Balloons have been favs, but I am eager to check out these new bloggers Christine, especially since you were able to cull it down from the dozens you mentioned were great. :)

  14. Looks like a great list! Glanced through it very quickly and sending postcards is really good. Will check out all the blogs very soon. Thanks! :)

  15. Christine…wow. To be included in such a prestigious list is an honor. And your shout out in the intro just about made our month! We are so glad you enjoy our story, photography and writing style….it means a lot that someone as in-the-know as you is a fan. We look forward to sharing the next 150 days of our journey with you…and with this kind of encouragement and a world that just seems to get bigger and better, we just have have to extend to 600 days.

  16. Thanks so much for the kind words and for including us! I’m flattered!

  17. What a great list – and I am now following all of them as I love seeing what other travelers are up to!

  18. Thanks so much for featuring my blog! I know a few of these blogs already, can’t wait to dive into the rest.

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  21. Aww Man, missed the post about nominations. We would have loved a chance to be in this list. Following quite a few of these blogs already and good to see some new ones worth watching. Great detail in this post!

  22. James Steere

    Honeytrek is so interesting … Mike & Anne are certainly not “paint by numbers” travelers ! I check in every day after my morning espresso.

  23. I love While Out Riding and so happy to see it on your list. I met Cass near the beginning of my two-year travel sabbatical. I believe it was in Leon, Nicaragua. Great guy, and I love his photography.

  24. As someone who is living in the middle east and doing a lot of traveling, I LOVE THIS LIST!!! Such a great compilation of people. Thanks!! Can I blame you no longer doing anything besides reading travel blogs…? :)

  25. Fantastic inspiration! My wife added all of these to her reader which, in addition to almost fearless, of course, will most certainly keep us entertained and dreaming when we’re not on the road.

  26. What a wonderful list. I could spend all day (and sometimes do) reading through great blogs like these. One day we hope to make it into the ranks ourselves. Thanks for sharing these finds!

  27. This has such great info..Thanks! but now I am going to be glued to the computer for hours looking up all of the blogs. Hopefully we will be in the ranks with ours one day. Thanks for sharing.

  28. Thank you kindly for including me on your list!

    I hope these bicycle travels will encourage others to give it a whirl! It’s not as hard as it looks. Honest (-:

  29. Great selection Christine – love your preference for that really personal style of writing about travel :-)

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  31. Thanks Christine, enjoying your writing. Personally still trying to find the balance of writing, relationships and home schooling. A bit like juggling and keeping all the balls up in the air at once.

  32. I was so honoured to be on this list last year, and am just as excited to discover some of these new blogs this year! Always great to find some new reading material :)

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  37. Would love if you could check out my blog!! I found so much inspiration from the ones you posted and looking to get mine out there as well! Thanks :)

  38. I like the girl unstoppable. Its just an amazing travel blog, and the way of writing is also superb.

  39. Great list! I like Girl Unstoppable! I missed being new to 2011 by 2 months. I established mine at the end of November 2010. This is a great list. Thanks for publishing…

  40. Wow nice pictures , but I like riding , I
    guess because in that picture I recall remains me my childhood. Nice post,

  41. travelfury

    I must congratulate you! A very impressive list, indeed

  42. I admire the effort it takes to put together a list like this. There seems to be so many travel blogs that it’s a hard thing to just get stuck into without spending considerable time doing it.

  43. What a wonderful collection! I really admire you bringing out this list every year. I’ve been searching for travel blogs with strong storytelling, engaging writing and photography, qualities I find missing in most blogs that tend to churn out the same old travel tips and resources.
    New in the travel blogging scene myself, it’s wonderful to see the much-needed support you provide to up-and-coming travel writers and photographers. I’m not sure if you have nominations open for 2015, but if you do I would like to nominate my journal of literary travel writing and photography: http://www.paperboats.net

  44. Thank you so much for directing me to so many new (to me), wonderful travel blogs. And for ruining my Monday by making me stay up way too late browsing along on these sites – they’re addictive to a new travel writer.

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