Friday, April 25th, 2014

Nine Standout Travel Blogs of 2013

56

Myoli Beach, Sedgefield

I read a lot of travel blogs – well over 100. Most of them are in my rotation because I genuinely love them. They interest me, they entertain me, they help me plan my future trips. Beyond the ones I love, there’s a large number of blogs that I read to stay knowledgeable and up-to-date what people in the industry are up to.

At the same time, there are several blogs that I love but miss, wishing they were updated as often as they used to be. And, well, to be completely frank, there are the blogs I can’t stand for a number of reasons, but I can’t tear myself away from reading them.

So many travel blogs have been outstanding in 2013. It’s difficult to put together a list of the best, especially considering that so many bloggers are close friends of mine, but I’ve tried to put together a list of the blogs that went above and beyond this year.

Here are the travel blogs that I felt stood out in 2013:

Expert Vagabond by Matthew Karsten

I only started reading Expert Vagabond regularly this year, but I’ve become one of Matt’s biggest fans. More than any blogger I know, he has a great sense of exactly who he is and projects it brilliantly. He’s an athletic adventure traveler and game for pretty much anything.

What stood out the most in 2013 was how he hitchhiked across in America from Oregon to Maryland, hitching anything from trucks to boats to planes, even hopping a freight train like a hobo! I’m also a big fan of his photography, especially his photos from motorcycling through the Canadian Rockies.

The Polar Route by Ed Graham

This is one of the best travel photography blogs out there. Not only are Ed’s photos astoundingly good, but the photography guides that he started releasing in 2013 are so valuable that I’m shocked he gives them away for free. Additionally, when so many travel bloggers seem to be chasing perpetual summer (Hey-o!), Ed’s the opposite — he loves winter so much, the dude goes to Siberia in February.

The guides are great for both beginning and advanced photographers — read about how to shoot in HDR or how to find your photography style. You’ll also find funky photography tricks like how to make heart-shaped bokeh.

Katrinka Abroad by Katrinka

Katrinka and I met in Istanbul this year, where she’s been living as an expat, and that’s when I started reading her blog. We met because she’s a friend of a friend – or, to be precise, her high school best friend is the childhood best friend of the sister of my high school best friend – and since that time, I’ve become such a big fan of her blog.

Two things stand out: she’s a passionate film photographer with a very interesting style. I love her portraits collection and her scenic photos of Tbilisi are ethereal and mysterious. Secondly, she’s adventurous on her travels: her break from teaching this year took her to Georgia, Armenia, Serbia and Montenegro. Four alphabets in four countries! I look forward to seeing more of how she sees the world.

Ashley Abroad by Ashley Fleckenstein

A francophile, europhile and Southeast Asia-phile — I think you can tell why I like this one. Ashley’s a few years younger than me and traveling quite similarly to how I did a few years ago, making it a particularly nostalgic read for me. But beyond the comparison, her site is filled with beautiful photography, highly knowledgeable posts about living in France, and thoughtful candor about when things don’t work out as planned.

In the past year, she’s developed a distinctive voice and her skills have improved exponentially. I’m eager to follow her upcoming adventures through Europe and beyond!

Waegook Tom by Tom Stockwell

No travel blog cracks me up on a regular basis more than Tom’s – mostly thanks to his hilarious photo captions! I’ve read Waegook Tom for years, but this year’s posts were about his RTW trip, taking in offbeat destinations like Transnistria and San Andres, as well as a lot of time in the United States. He ate better in the US (especially Charleston) than I’ve eaten anywhere — all on the cheap!

Tom has a brightness and frankness to his writing that I love — adventures in life and love are fair game along with the travel, and his honesty is refreshing. He’s moving to Taipei soon, and I look forward to his Taiwanese adventures.

Escape Artistes by Theodora Sutcliffe

I haven’t read a single more compelling series this year than the story of Theodora’s then-twelve-year-old son Zac severely breaking his arm while horse riding in Mongolia. The battle to get him to a hospital (and to get their travel insurance provider to actually agree to pay for their rescue in a place so remote, the first clinic didn’t even have running water!) is gripping from start to finish, as well as a sobering account of how travel insurance companies will drag their feet at the cost of your health if you require something expensive.

The whole saga starts with this post – you can see them all in the “mishaps” category. Hope you had nothing else to do today.

Young Adventuress by Liz Carlson

Liz has more personality in a fingernail than most people have in their bodies. She’s one of my favorite long-form writers, her posts exploding with adventure and color. Her posts are filled with lots of joy and a little bit of darkness – just how I like them – making her one of few travel bloggers to talk about the ugly times.

This year Liz spent a lot of time in Europe before moving to New Zealand, in part to stalk Peter Jackson. I particularly loved her post on Paxos, Greece, an island I now dream of!

The Points Guy by Brian Kelly and Staff

2013 was the year I got more serious about earning points and miles, which has saved me a lot of money on flights. I tried several resources – many free, a few paid – and each time a deal popped up on one of the other resources, I’d think to myself, “Yeah, I already read that on The Points Guy this morning.”

It’s the single most comprehensive resource on points (though it’s primarily aimed toward American travelers) and it’s the fastest to report new deals. On top of that, it’s all free. Why would you go anywhere else? Warning, it’s a LOT of content (usually four or more posts a day, many of them lengthy), but just get into the habit of reading what applies to you and ignoring the rest.

Luxury Hostels of Europe by Kash Bhattacharya

I wanted to put this project on the list because it’s not only a fantastic resource, but it’s a brilliantly executed project by my dear friend Kash, one of the smartest people in the travel blogging business.

Luxury hostels – hostels that are more like boutique hotels with beautifully decorated private rooms, art galleries, home-cooked family dinners, activities directors, even swimming pools – are one of my favorite travel trends of lately. More and more of these are popping up throughout Europe, and this book lists some of the very best.

Download the book for free when you sign up for the newsletter at The Budget Traveller. It’s in the right sidebar.

Which travel blogs do you think had a standout year in 2013? Share in the comments!

Comments

56 Responses to “Nine Standout Travel Blogs of 2013”
  1. Sam says:

    Great list. I love Tom’s blog; he’s hilarious! I didn’t know most of the others, so I’ll have to go update my Feedly subscriptions now! Cheers.
    Sam´s last blog post ..From on High: Top 3 Quito Views

  2. Great list Kate, added some of them to my rss reader. Thanks for sharing!
    Aga @ a matter of taste´s last blog post ..Eat Street Markets

  3. Kerry says:

    YEAAAHHHHHHHH KATRINKA AND TOM! WOOP WOOP!!

    /regularly scheduled programming
    Kerry´s last blog post ..A “Bombay feast” Christmas lunch at Dishoom, Shoreditch

  4. Thanks for including me on here, Kate, I really appreciate it :)

    It was great to finally meet you this year, and hopefully it won’t be too long until we meet up again (get yourself to Taiwan!) Lots of other blogs for me to check out here! I read Katrinka’s and Theodora’s, but need to read up on the others more.
    Tom @ Waegook Tom´s last blog post ..That Time I Went To A Tropical Island And Didn’t Write About It Until Now

  5. I don’t really like self promoting myself like this.

    But for 2014 mine is one to watch!

    And with a route like this and the time I will spend in each place you’ll see why

    http://www.adventure-backpacking.com
    Traveller Sam´s last blog post ..Koh Phangan – Thailand’s Stickiest Island

  6. Katrinka says:

    Thank you Kate! I feel very honored.
    I’m glad you’ve been enjoying my blog, and I’m SO glad we met this summer! I can’t wait until we can reconnect again, somewhere in this big ol’ world. Much love.
    Katrinka´s last blog post ..Something New For Me: Slide Film as Positives!

  7. Jessica Wray says:

    Great list! I love reading Tom, Ashley and Liz´s blogs!

    There are a few here that I´ve never heard of. I´ll be sure to check them out!
    Jessica Wray´s last blog post ..Finally Being Honest: The Story of How I Really Feel About Korea

  8. Julianne says:

    Great list Kate, I’m adding a bunch to my Feedly as we speak! Also, thanks for the little shout out — I’m still so glad you and Katrinka found each other. What a small world it really is!

  9. Awwww. Thanks for including me Kate! That means a lot.

    I’ve been enjoying your adventures this year too. :D
    Matthew Karsten´s last blog post ..Wildlife Safari Through Tortuguero National Park – #EcoCostaRica

  10. Ed Graham says:

    Hey Kate I’m really flattered you included my website here! And thanks for taking the time to put this together; plenty of great sites to check out here. Thanks again and happy holidays!
    Ed Graham´s last blog post ..A Very Belgian Christmas: Beautiful Bruges

  11. Silvia says:

    Amazing list! Love love Liz’s blog, aaand might just have to stalk Ed’s polar travels. Like literally, checking Russian visa requirements now. Enjoy the holidays, Kate!!
    Silvia´s last blog post ..Our Trip in Numbers

  12. Ditto what others have said. Looks like I have a bunch new sites to add to my favorite places.

  13. Colleen says:

    What a great list! I discovered The Expert Vagabond this year, and found this post through him. I am passionate about travel, and am working towards being able to do more of it. I blog during my trips, and include photographs. This spring I walked the Camino de Santiago. If you decide to check out my blog posts from that trip, I hope you enjoy them. Next spring I plan to visit Italy, Greece, Macedonia, Slovenia and Croatia.

  14. I love Tom! :D Will check the rest of the blogs you mentioned :D
    Micamyx|Senyorita´s last blog post ..My Christmas Wishlist: Travel Edition

  15. Great list, I have been looking for some new ones to read and quite a few of these are new to me! I especially love the luxury hostels idea!
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown´s last blog post ..Expat Blog Awards 2013!

  16. Thanks so much for including me, Kate! I feel so honored- your blog is one of my favorites so this means a lot.It was great meeting up with you in Paris this year, hopefully our paths will cross again sometime soon! Also I love a lot of the same blogs, particularly Waegook Tom and Expert Vagabond.

    Also I’d love to read more about how you’ve gotten into airline points- I seriously struggle with travel hacking so it would be great to hear what you’ve done to score flights!
    Ashley of Ashley Abroad´s last blog post ..A Traveler’s Holiday Wish List

  17. Laura says:

    Yay, I love discovering new blogs to read! I already subscribe to quite a few of these but there are some I’ve never read and I’m off to check them out now. Thanks for sharing!
    Laura´s last blog post ..My Favorite Things about Venice

  18. Liz says:

    Thanks for the mention Kate! I owe a lot to you for helping me out and inspiring me – has it really been over a year since Spain?

    Let me know when you want to go to Greece, I’ll go back to Paxos ANYTIME!!
    Liz´s last blog post ..Stepping back in time in Hydra, Greece

  19. Becky says:

    Thanks for sharing your list of blog reads! There are a few of my favorites listed and a few new ones to check out…perfect timing since I’ll have extra time for reading over the holidays.
    Becky´s last blog post ..Just the Facts: Frequently Asked Questions about Nicaragua

  20. Thanks for compiling this list, Kate. I’m new to the travel blogger world so lists like these are helping me figure out who the cool kids of travel are! Such a variety of travelers too, nice roundup.

  21. Brooke says:

    Great selection! I’d love for you to check out my blog – World of Wanderlust

    http://www.worldofwanderlust.com

    It’s a luxury travel blog so may not be suitable for everyone, but a great insight into the luxury travel industry!

    Thanks and best wishes :)
    Brooke´s last blog post ..Not all those who wander are lost

  22. Brilliant post, and perfect timing too. I had recently been looking for some new blogs to read, get inspired and have a jolly good chuckle too, i’ll be sure to check these bad boys out :). As a new to the ‘scene’ blogger, i’m amazed at how fast a lot of established and respected bloggers like your self manage to research, collate, write, edit and format their posts, not to mention their website management. I seem to take a while doing the aforementioned, I in particular would find it very useful if you have written info about how you structure your travel post writing? or maybe put on the post-to-do list ;)
    big travel love x
    Jimmy @ Footsteps of Jim´s last blog post ..Why Biking In Aurlandsfjord is a Lot of Fun

  23. Simon Lee says:

    I have been following Tom and Matt since early this year, now i have 7 more to follow:)

    Thanks for sharing Kate.

    Simon Lee
    Simon Lee´s last blog post ..2 Days KL Parks and Putrajaya Tour (Suggested Itinerary)

  24. Savi says:

    Hey Kate,

    Vid loves the Polar Route because of Ed’s photography, and both of us are regular readers of Tom’s and Liz’s blogs. The others sound great too. Nice work getting all these together.

    Cheers!
    Savi´s last blog post ..Into The Wild – An Offbeat Safari at Hluhluwe Imfolozi National Park

  25. Clare says:

    I love Ashley’s blog – I’ve been following for around a year now. But there’s definitely some great new reading for me here. And Kash might well have convinced this hotel girl that she shouldn’t necessarily shun hostels!
    Clare´s last blog post ..This Year’s Best History Lesson: Life in Pompeii (and Learning Latin Verbs)

  26. anne says:

    and not just because they are our friends! :)

    http://www.thisworldrocks.com
    anne´s last blog post ..5 new artists for your yoga playlist

  27. Sally says:

    This list is great! I just discovered some of these blogs maybe a week ago, but already I’m in total agreement with your picks. They are awesome blogs!

    And the ones I don’t know, just like every other comment on this post, I have now investigated and am following. Woohoo! Thanks!
    Sally´s last blog post ..Photoessay: Udo, Jeju’s Cow Island

  28. Megan says:

    Yay, I love lists like these! It’s so tricky to find quality travel blogs when there are tons of possibilities out there. I’ve been meaning to check Tom’s out for a while…this is a good catalyst to do that!

    And I’m not sure about everyone else, but I’d be interested in seeing some of the “other” lists you mentioned…but that might not be very PC ;-)
    Megan´s last blog post ..Nobody’s Perfect: My Reoccurring Travel F*ckups

  29. Great roundup! Looking forward to reading these in 2014.
    Well Traveled Mile´s last blog post ..Top 10 Best Credit Card Sign-up Offers for December 2013

  30. Sarah says:

    Thanks for the list, I was looking for some new reading material! I will check them out!
    Sarah´s last blog post ..Myanmar: land of infinite Buddhas

  31. Amy Cruz says:

    Going to check these sites out soon, thanks for listing them here :)

  32. Kieu says:

    I like reading these end of year lists, especially when I see bloggers I don’t know. Looking forward to reading up your list!
    Kieu´s last blog post ..Hue Eats – Our Favorite Regional Food in Vietnam

  33. Stefania says:

    Thank you for this list! I’m checking out “The Polar Route” right now. I need some photography tips, as I’m just starting to understand some tricks.
    Stefania´s last blog post ..Glendalough, Ireland

  34. Arianwen says:

    I read some of these already and agree they’re awesome. I’ll be checking out the rest now!
    Arianwen´s last blog post ..Best Beaches in Sydney

  35. Sab says:

    Perfect, new food for my brain. Will add them to Feedly. Thank you very much, Kate!

  36. Noelle says:

    Love any new resources I can get my hands on, thanks for posting. I found your blog when digging for information on Kadikoy during our time there, and have been a follower since. My husband and I are 7 months into our year+ of travel, leaving Vietnam (and the beautiful Phu Quoc Island) tomorrow and heading to Cambodia and Thailand next, so we shall peruse these blogs for tips! Happy holidays all!

  37. Mary Beth says:

    I loooooooove Young Adventuress (Liz Carlson)!! Her pictures are beautiful and I love her familiar writing style.
    Mary Beth´s last blog post ..Check this out: New York City bans Styrofoam!

  38. Jesper Kofod says:

    Your travel blogs I would consider is the best one cheers! :)

  39. Katie says:

    Great list – thank you!

    I’ve updated my feed based on this. Just looking forward to a nice quiet night in by the fire to get reading them.

    http://www.secondhandhedgehog.com
    Katie´s last blog post ..Archive: Marmaris, 2008

  40. Hi Kate!
    I just wanted to comment and say hi. :)
    I’m new to the travel blogging industry and wanted to say how inspirational (and funny) your posts are!
    Love this list! Definitely a great resource for those new around here and looking to connect with others.
    Who knows, maybe one day my name will be up on one of these lists! (Here’s hoping haha)

    Look forward to watching your upcoming adventures!

  41. elina sara says:

    Thanks for sharing such great posts.

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