It almost always happens. Whenever I finish giving a talk or lecture about travel blogging (and blogging in general), I am almost always asked which other travel blogs I read and recommend.
Travel blogs come in various forms, shapes, and colors and each has its own purpose. Some promote destinations by providing useful information (travel guides), some showcase incredible images (photo blogs), others chronicle their memorable trips (travelogues). Like most online users, I too am a fan of other travel blogs that help me plan my next trip or inspire me to travel more and write more, or both.
Here are ten of my absolute favorites in no particular order. (This list does not include blogs of friends who are very close to me.)
Edgar Alan Zeta-Yap is a wordsmith as well as a lensman. His photographs alone are enough to make me come back to his blog often (sometimes more often than he updates). But that’s not the only thing that makes Eazy Traveler the blogging gem that it is. Edgar has a way with words. He describes each place he visits with such clarity and precision that the place becomes a character, a driver, the type you are dying to know more about; and the writer becomes the vehicle. His articles are short but is never deprived of action — a brief encounter but always remarkable. In his posts, the place is alive and this life is what he brilliantly captures in his concise paragraphs and incredible photographs.
Like most good things in this world, the articles on Langyaw.com are short and sweet. These bite-sized posts offer a glimpse to Estan Cabigas’s moments on the road. Estan prefers the road less traveled. His tone is always conversational and unpretentious, like a friend narrating in flurry a recent adventure or discovery. But this friend shares, not brags. And don’t get me started with his pictures.
Another power couple in the local travel blogging scene: Nikka Corsino and Owen Ballesteros. This duo will probably cringe at the sight of the phrase power couple in the same sentence with their names, or they will probably ask me to remove it (hope not!). Nikka and Owen are just two of the humblest human beings I have had the pleasure of meeting personally, a rarity in this world, considering that they are also also two of the most gifted.
You know those times when you’re down and you have to look at something uplifting? Some people stare at the stars, others at old pictures. I look at Two2Travel. It is a visual treat: neat, light, pretty. I could browse to no end (but alas, they have finite number of posts). Their captures are inspiring and almost always powerful enough remind us that this is indeed a beautiful world. The writing is just as light, always an easy read but never devoid of substance.
If each travel blog were a movie, Two2Travel would be one of those colorful, Amelie-type, feel-good romantic blockbuster. But Flip N’ Travels? Ah, this one’s gangster! Bonnie and Clyde, anyone?
What happens when you put travel, wit, sarcasm, and great writing together in one corner of the web? Just add a sprinkle of intimacy (read: sex) and you’ll have the recipe for a lethal concoction called Flip n Travels. I have yet to meet in person Ron Cruz and Monette Fernandez, the writers behind this ridiculously addictive blog. Not that I need to. After all, the blog is so personal, the reader is treated not just to an exploration of a place but an adventure through their unambiguous and distinct points of view. A treat, yes, because what sets the blog apart is their unique perspectives, not very common these days.
The one thing that I adore most about FlipnTravels is that it shifts the focus from the place to their relationship with it. It refuses to be confined by the pressures of SEO and travel guides. The place is highlighted enough but it becomes a mere setting, albeit active and essential. The focus is the experience — the odd, the hilarious, the insightful — told through words carefully chosen from their bottomless box of humor and stash of witticisms.
Travel blogging can’t be any more entertaining (or sexier) than this. It’s highly addictive. And this serves as your warning.
Speaking of substance… Another personal travel blog that I have fallen madly in love with is the Transcendental Tourist by AJ Poliquit. He masterfully fuses useful information and entertaining experiences in one article that can be taken by the reader without getting lost. His beautifully woven sentences not only grab the readers and teleport them to that place but also make them think, feel, and appreciate it both as a physical space and as an experience, transcendental or otherwise.
Still, AJ manages to keep his storytelling enjoyable by throwing quips and personal remarks about his encounters in the already potent mixture. Like FlipnTravels, the Transcendental Tourist adds humor and personal touch to his experiences to make a blog that boasts effective substance and excellent form more than anything.
While the Transcendental Tourist takes the audience to his world through letters, Hannah Reyes of Yellow Adventures uses her lenses to do the same. Oh and she does it so well!
Hannah needs no words to tell a story. Almost each shot and its elements are adeptly thought out, beautifully composed, and effectively motivated. Hannah magically loads pixels not just with light and color, but also meaning and emotions. Every single one of them talks. They whisper, they scream, they boast, they beg, they talk. Like all photos should.
It was Robbie of The Travelling Dork who introduced her blog to me, and it took only one slow scroll down the first page of her blog to captivate me. It was instant. If I ever doubted travel blogging as an art form, Hannah just schooled me right then.
One look at Lakad Pilipinas and you know the guy behind it is a talented son of a… Oops, that’s my envious alter-ego talking. But seriously, there’s just so much to envy about Christian Sangoyo and a big chunk of that is his impeccable photography. His unassuming blog is teeming with photos so hypnotic you’ll be tempted to pack your bags and plan a trip to that place right away. Or if you’re me, you’ll be left sulking, wondering why you didn’t have right DNA to produce pictures as captivating as his. His writing is just as excellent, putting the reader right with him when he was there, sharing how he sees the world. And it’s a beautiful world, indeed.
A bombardment of awe-inspiring photos awaits you when you visit Ambot-ah, the flagship travel blog of Marcos Caratao. He turned his back on his profession to pursue a “free-spirited journey of adventure and self-discovery.” This journey has led him to the many corners of the country and Southeast Asia and he chronicles these trips on this blog in great detail. Ambot-ah is a visual feast, serving captivating landscapes and gripping portraits. Heck, even his selfies look like they were taken by God (Lol). Aside from the shots, he is also a storyteller and a helpful one at that, posting his itineraries for those who wish to follow his tracks. And he’s a nice guy, too!
9. Travel Up
She’s a traveler, a geek, a gamer, a biker, a motorcycle enthusiast. In one word, Kara Santos is an “adventurer,” ready for any type of adventure be it virtual or real. And nothing else documents the exciting and adrenaline-driven life she leads than her blog — Travel Up! The name of her blog was inspired by the video gaming concept of leveling up, “gaining higher levels of completing tasks and challenges.”
Kara’s writing style is simple, easy to digest, and very “relatable” — allergic to empty adjectives. Yet, she successfully takes the reader on a ride to the edge. Yes, that may be it! The subject, the experiences themselves, is edgy enough that there really is no need to embellish it with words that only impress and intimidate. With her adventures, Kara makes Travel Up a fun and engaging read, and she does it oh so effortlessly.
I have always been a big fan of Lakwatsero even before I became travel blogger myself. Lakwatsero is a great go-to blog for comprehensive travel guides to destinations in the Philippines, from crowd favorites like Boracay to best-kept secrets like Cuyo. Angel Juarez, Lakwatsero himself, seems to have a knack for many things thrilling. He runs, treks, and dives, allowing himself to witness and enjoy the wide array of “worlds” that travel has to offer. You could say Lakwatsero is the ultimate Pinoy Travel blog if you throw in high quality photos… Oh wait, he has those, too!
A great deal of descriptive skill is required to properly narrate a spatial experience in a factual yet entertaining fashion. I may have been a personal blogger for almost eight years now but I am new in the travel scene and, like I always say, I still have so much to learn. Travel blogging isn’t easy (or not as easy as others think). It’s a rough, bumpy ride, I tell you, but the eight blogs above surely make it look like they’re just gliding through. And that, my friends, is pure talent.
So the next time you need travel ideas or inspiration, give these sites a visit and you’ll find yourself delightfully drawn by their restless spirit into their wildly nomadic worlds. And there’s no turning back from there.
Updated: November 23, 2013