Finding great travel writing online

Do you remember what travel was like before the internet? Me either. I have some fuzzy memories of a time before discount airfare searches, hotel finders, route planners, Lonely Planet forums and Bootsnall guides, but I try to block out the dark days.

Of course while all that stuff is incredibly handy, I find the best effect the internet has had on travel is opening a fascinating window into other traveler’s adventure. From canned travel communities with blogging features, to custom built WordPress sites, the internet is an amazing array of traveler’s tales.

Of course simple publishing tools do not great writers make. For every great travel site I stumble across there are countless other examples of dull, “and then we went here and then we went there,” travel narratives. As with all things online the chaff far outnumbers the wheat.

Luckily I somehow manage to keep finding more great online travel writing, like Notes from the Road, a gorgeous and very well-written site that’s hardly new (it launched in 1999 and was in fact showcased alongside Vagablogging when Time Magazine picked its favorite travel blogs a while back), but well worth adding to your list if you haven’t discovered it already.

Notes from the Road creator Erik Gauger describes the site as “a project in experimental travel writing — it is about subjective travel; the kind of real world of random things and real people.” It most definitely lives up to that description and Gauger’s writing ranges from witty to heartbreaking with none of the mundane itinerary recounts that plague so similar attempts.

The site is also drop dead gorgeous thanks to Gauger’s prowess with his old school 4×5 camera (not exactly an example of traveling light, but the results are stunning).

Gauger also neatly sums up the problem with so much professional travel writing:

Travel writing always gets a bad rap, because of ‘The azure sea was undulating and the hotel was fabulous.’ But travel writing can be funny, powerful and personal. Every non-fiction writer has that capacity to exaggerate; his experiences happen far away from the second opinion. After all, it makes the author look the hero. But travel writing implies honesty and research. And that’s why Notes from the Road is about the unvarnished, messy truth of travel, told by a regular guy.

If you’re looking for some refreshingly engaging travel writing, check out Notes from the Road and if you have any favorite sites in the same vein be sure to let everyone know in the comments.

Posted by | Comments (2)  | October 29, 2008
Category: General

2 Responses to “Finding great travel writing online”

  1. » ‘Travel Blog Exchange’ helps connect travel bloggers :: Vagablogging :: Rolf Potts Vagabonding Blog Says:

    […] covering a pretty wide range of the travel writing spectrum. I still haven’t run across any great narrative blogs, but there are quite a few interesting hints and tips blogs as well as some great destination […]