Nine Standout Travel Blogs of 2013
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.
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.
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.