Top 10 Must Read Travel Blogs
I’ve been lucky enough to stumble into a fantastic new job since getting back to Sydney. After working indirectly for Telstra (Australia’s largest and most despised telecommunications company) in 2010, I blundered straight into a gig with iiNet (Australia’s second largest ISP and one of its most respected).
One of the many perks of working here (aside from the free fruit every day, cheaper products, back rubs at our desks, and lots of fun parties) is access to the internet all day – every day. I tell you – my Facebook has never been more updated and my blog is receiving a never before seen level of attention from yours truly.
Another perk of all of this free time has been the ability to catch up on my reading. After getting back from Korea my Google Reader informed me that I had somewhere in the vicinity of 400 blog posts to catch up with. Over the last week and a half I’ve managed to whittle that down to a dozen entries or so. Of course, while reading I’ve also stumbled across other blogs I’ve fallen in love with.
With Friday winding to a close and all of us about to have a few days of spare time, I thought I’d share the ten blogs that I most enjoy reading. Most of them are travel related, but you’ll find a great photography blog and even some Australian political discussion in there as well.
#10 – Heathen Scripture – Currently on a temp site
I literally discovered this blog earlier today, and had to bump another damn fine blog out of this top ten to make room for this witty bit of Australian political commentary. While I stumbled across the blog due to Facebook friends featuring this article about the recent carbon tax debate in Australia, there’s plenty of non political stuff on there as well. In fact, while the content is much more intelligent, it kind of reminds me of a high brow Maddox. There’s also poetry on here as well, and even the ‘heavier’ stuff isn’t particularly hard to access. Just be warned: profanity is a pretty regular thing.
While I like to think of myself as a passable photography and take great pride in posing thoughtfully with my Canon SX20 IS whenever I take it out, the truth is I am an absolute novice of the photography world. And that’s especially true when I compare my skills and knowledge to my old friend Jon.
I first met Jon when I was running a nerdy little games club in rural NSW. He was a few years beneath me at school but had a good sense of humor and a big frame that made him something of a lunch-time footy superstar when he got up a head of steam. Over the years our friendship has changed from occasional lunchtime hangouts to something more focussed on our own blogs and general odd online skullduggery.
If you’re interested in photography, and you should be as a traveler, I can’t urge you enough to visit Jon’s fantastic site. It’s not just product reviews and details about his own photographic experimentation. He takes stellar photos. He discusses different photographic forms and techniques. He makes recommendations and gets out there regularly to trial new pieces of equipment.
This is a guy who is incredibly passionate about the art of photography. You can see it in every post he makes and every shot he takes. I look forward to someday finding the time and money to go on a photography trip with Jon. I think my site would benefit immensely from it.
#8 – Traveling Sassy
I’ve only recently stumbled across Brooke’s quirky blog after she found Aussie on the Road courtesy of my good friend Heather (from There’s No Place Like Oz) and I’ve had a few good chats with her since then. Like myself, Brooke got her start at traveling when she took the plunge and waded headlong into the chaotic mess that is ESL teaching in South Korea. She’s already discovering just how weird and wonderful life on the peninsula can be, and her posts offer an amusing perspective on life as an American gal in the Land of the (So Called) Morning Calm.
It’s a blog in its infancy, but it’s one showing promise. If you’re considering Korea or you’ve lived there before – you’ll likely enjoy reading Brooke’s adventures in her new adopted home.
#7 – It’s Good Overseas
In a classic example of it being a small world, I first met Tony through his girlfriend Paula – who I studied theatre with during our time at the University of New England. Attending her Willie Wonka themed party early in 2009, I struck up a conversation with Tony and soon discovered we were both guys with a love of travel. And while my own travels are fairly modest in scale – Tony’s been to some of the most fascinating places in the world. He’s got East Timor to my Fiji. Syria to my South Korea. Suffice to say, this is a guy who does travel in a way that most wouldn’t even think of.
It’s not just about his time abroad either. Tony gets out and explores Australia whenever he can, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Foursquare or Facebook places account that was more heavily modified. I sometimes wonder if Tony actually sleeps.
Tony’s explorations delve a little deeper than the typical tourist sights. He’s been to a cock-fight in East Timor and wandered aimlessly through markets in the UAE. His photography, rather than capturing cheesy sunsets or over-exposed landmarks, focuses more on the humanity of the locals and their everyday lives. A lot of blogs talk about the main events and the key attractions – Tony steps behind this and gets to the nitty gritty. It makes for fascinating reading.
While I take some of the credit for getting my good friend Byron out of the Great White North and onto the Korean peninsula a few years ago, there’s no denying the fact that this guy had wanderlust long before I even had the balls to go out to a new pub without some company in tow. While I was studying at Uni and trying to master the art of striking out with girls with grace, Byron was making his way around Africa on the kind of journey that’s going to make one hell of a novel someday.
Byron and I crossed paths long before we met in the flesh. We both frequented a pro wrestling/writing board a few years ago and struck up a friendship over our mutual love of irreverant humor and the writer’s craft. Our first ‘in the flesh’ meeting happened when Byron made his way down to Gwangju early in my second year there. Teaming up with my good friends Jamie and Paul, we rocked the Gwangju night life in spite of the snow and had a hell of a good time.
Over the past two years we’ve met up rarely, but it’s always been an epic adventure. Whether it was my drunken farewell to Gwangju in late 2009 or our debauched adventure on Texas Street early this year – Byron and I have never had a dull moment. Now on separate continents, I think it’s safe to say there won’t be any new adventures together for a while yet, but you can still read about his latest adventures and many of his old ones around Africa and South-East Asia over on his blog.
Byron’s a guy with a lot of wit and plenty of writing ability. You get sucked into his adventures – whether they’re his day to day life as a teacher on the North-South Korean border or his romance on the road.
Heather’s story is a pretty darn inspirational one. Not satisfied with the humdrum of her secure life in the United States, the 29 year old made the bold leap of getting a working holiday visa and spending a year in Australia living out her dream and having a ball at the same time. With Australia’s working holiday visas not available to those over thirty, Heather had one chance to experience the land downunder and she took it.
While she’s since headed back to the States and begun daydreaming about her next adventure, there’s over a year’s worth of fascinating insights into life as an expat in Australia on her site. In a year on Australian shores, Heather did more than most locals will do in a life-time. She lived it large in Sydney; road tripped all over the country; and made a bunch of friends in the process. Foodies in particular will find a lot to love in Heather’s blog – she’s a girl with a taste for good food and a talent for describing it. I’m really looking forward to doing the Sydney Food Challenge she’s got planned for me.
My favorite blog when it comes to Korea, the Kimchi Chronicles are the baby of my old friend Heather. While we first met as the partners of friends – we’ve since become fast friends and she’s actually going to be spending 24 days hanging out with me here in Sydney in the not too distant future. The pages of my own blog will doubtless be filled with stories from our adventures in and around Sydney soon enough. As a long time resident of South Korea (and specifically, my old stomping grounds in Gwangju) – Heather’s blog has evolved from a simple ‘My life in Korea’ style blog to a great resource for all things Korean. She highlights things to love about Korea, reports on the latest happenings on the peninsula, and dabbles in some fab photography as well.
There’s no shortage of blogs about life in Korea, and it’s hard to weed through them all and find a winner, so take my word on this – Heather’s blog is a well written and regularly updated little blog on Korea. The entries are short and sweet and there’s plenty to pick up from the pages. Definitely worth a look.
#3 – Brooke vs. the World
Brooke’s something of a legend in Australian travel blogging circles. Like Heather (from There’s No Place Like Oz) – Brooke is an American living and working here in Australia and traveling all over it as part of her job as the head honcho over at WhyGo Australia. Where WhyGo is more of a commercial venture, Brooke vs. the World is a huge collection of travel stories from both Australia and the rest of the world. The main reason I love Brooke’s blog is because it’s such a study in how to run a successful travel blog.
She didn’t start out a success. She didn’t have a huge following just by starting her blog. She started from the same humble beginnings all travel writers do and she’s pegged away at it until she got to the point she’s at today. Her writing is excellent and her travels range from the typical (time in Australia, Spain, and the US) to the outlandish (teaching in the Ukraine, falling in love in Latvia, and chilling out in Kazakhstan. If you’re looking for a model for a successful travel blog or just some tips on how to fund your own RTW trip – Brooke’s blog is the place to start.
#2 – A Dangerous Business
Another wonderful round the world blog, I stumbled across this one while I was researching for my trip to New Zealand in 2010. While Amanda’s travels have taken her all over the world, the majority of her travels have been done across the Tasman on the old Shaky Isles (New Zealand). Whether she was visiting Hobbiton, exploring often forgotten bits of wilderness, or hanging out in Auckland – Amanda’s a font of knowledge when it comes to the Land of the Long White Cloud.
It’s not just Korea though – you’ll find all manner of adventures within the ‘pages’ of A Dangerous Business, which is true to the old Tolkien quote about just how dangerous it can be to step outside your front door. Wanderlust is a sickness, and new experiences are the cure.
Amanda’s blog is another great example of how you can turn a hobby into something much more.
#1 – yTravel Blog
There’s travel blogs and then there’s yTravel blog. If you met Caz and Craig you wouldn’t think they were celebrities in the travel blogging world. I first met them at a Travel Tribe (now Travel Massive) event in late 2010 and was struck by how down to earth and friendly they were. They’re typical Aussies in the best sense of the word, yet you look at the juggernaut that is their blog and you find it hard to believe that two average people could create something so immensely popular.
yTravel Blog is not just travel stories. There’s articles and info about all facets of the travel ‘business’ – whether it’s how to get a working holiday visa; how to make friends on the road; or how to survive teaching in a strange new country. They regularly go on adventures yet still find time to keep a steady stream of top notch content coming. They’re the two people I most want to emulate as a travel writer, and I don’t think I’m alone in that admiration. As if writing about it wasn’t enough, Caz and Craig also do a regular podcast full of interesting stories and information.
If you only add one other travel blog to your circulation (I assume I am already on there, haha) – make it yTravel Blog. There’s just so much information there and so many fascinating stories.
There are so many blogs that I had to leave off this list. There’s some great ones about Korean life, some about travel, and a few that are just plain fun to read. At the end of the day this is a travel blog though, so I tried to keep them all as travel focused as I could.
Have a good weekend and happy reading!
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