Being the Google lemming that I am, I clicked on the first result. Travelblog was hard to read. Ads and blogged photos seemed scattered around the page. The page layout was cluttered and the blog entries actually looked more like ads than the primary content of the site. I thought that I had wandered into an Internet back alley. It wasn’t terribly inviting and I hit the back button quickly. There seemed to be a decent number of entries despite the poor layout so there is probably something there that I’m missing.
Next up was Travelpod. Following the link brought up a much cleaner page layout. Blogged photos were organized and the ads were limited to a banner at the top and one set of sponsored links in the middle of the page. There was plenty of white space. This was a much more inviting site and I invested a few hours picking through some of the more recent posts for my target locales.
Travelpod has two great features. The first is a trip timeline at the top of each post that shows Trip Start and Trip End dates along with an indication of what part of the trip the post was from. It’s a useful bit of information to put some context to the state of mind of the travellers. The second great feature is a mapping widget that shows where each post takes place.
As I read through the posts I was happy to see that most of these people had really done their homework prior to their trips. They knew where they wanted to go and how well reviewed everything was.
The vacation experience begins at the very moment when you cross that threshold from wanting to get away to deciding to go. The excitement that I felt in reading their posts and gathering information about what I wanted to do on my trip is a critical part of my travel experience. My initial research turned up plenty of “what did I do” information but “how did I know to do it” wasn’t as easily discovered.
I was looking forward to filling in that gap for myself and that was the inspiration for Average Traveller. Documenting that process so I can reflect back on it and easily share the information with others seemed like a useful task. I often tell people that the Internet is a repository of spare time power. I’ve made many withdrawals so this is how I’m paying it back.