Welcome to my unofficial list of the best travel writing websites. The finalists derive from years of trolling the internet for great reads and inspiring new locales. The list is in no particular order and new sites might pop in the upcoming years. Enjoy!
My hands-down winner for best travel writing available to widespread audiences through traditional bookstores, newsstands, and airport kiosks, Afar Magazine features a great design and most importantly the best collection of feature stories around. From learning about bluegrass in North Carolina to the differences in Peruvian and Chilean pisco sours, the magazine share stories cutting deep into the heart of what makes a country, city, or culture tick. I’ve been a subscriber since day one and the magazine currently represents one of only two print publications in any genre I read religiously. The website originally didn’t offer much in the way of content, but in the last few years has become a phenomenal resource for travel—with most articles available online and an intuitive forum for travelers to share trip highlights with others.
A relatively new online publication, Roads & Kingdoms offers a stunning website layout and original travel stories from all points of the globe. The combination of white-space friendly text and full-width images is all the rage nowadays, but R&K pulls the look off better than most and presents photo journals and short to medium-length articles in a great package. The topics are far from fluff pieces and range from discussing the little-known country of Suriname in South America to banana beer in central Africa. The site also partners with 3rd-parties like Slate and Sports Illustrated to share weekly series like The Far Post.
World Hum claims to share the best travel writing on the internet and I’d be hard pressed to disagree. The website is far from flashy and could use a facelift to highlight photos and make stories more readable, but the content contains great travel writing from some of the most esteemed writers in the travel community. Read book excerpts from Paul Theroux, learn about the meaning of travel from Pico Iyer, and read dispatches from Africa by Frank Bures.
My first experience on Jungles in Paris was spent watching a ten-minute short on an old Romanian lady painting eggs—a traditional pastime and source of income in her culture. The video effectively captured the detail, effort, and care put into this interesting pastime and I was instantly hooked. With about 40 videos to date offering high production quality and a diverse variety of content topics, the site isn’t technically the best travel writing with video-centric content, but still made the cut due to the site’s great ability to teach its audience about the world. I learned about a new locales on days when reading didn’t sound too great. The site naturally can’t release original videos but every so often, so new visitors can catch up on the archives and sign-up for the newsletter to get notified of future releases.
Perhaps my favorite photography-centric travel site with a dose of good travel writing to boot, Notes From the Road features photo essays from around the world divided by region. The creator of the site, Erik Guager, writes and photographs all of the content on the site—an amazing feat when you really dig into the sheer number of locales highlighted. The photography is first rate, and while the text is split up between multiple pages for a disconcerting slide-show feel, it does make for a sensible option given the author is really focusing on the photography. Edit: Erik and I connected via Twitter and he’s now trying out full page posts.
A digital-only publication with all content available for free online, Nowhere Mag features a great collection of literary travel writing published in a traditional magazine format. Unlike most magazine sites, however, the content in fact looks better on a tablet, so iPad owners should especially take note. The magazine is white-space friendly and features a lot of established writers and unique talents from around the world penning some of the better travel writing in recent years. I’ve closely followed the site after its founding in 2009 and have witnessed both its content and praise from 3rd-parties grow over the last few years. Personal highlights include “The Crossing” by Frank Bures and an article by Dave Eggers in Edition No. 9 describing brothels in Nigeria and Thailand.
While I’ve been known to lightly poke fun at the New York Time’s “36 Hours” series and other regimented and disjointed step-by-step itineraries to exploring a city, I somewhat hypocritically find the website 12 Hours extremely helpful. The site’s main focus of (you guessed it) 12-hour itineraries emphasize design, food, and fashion. What I find much better about their approach is the fact the destinations follow a coordinated path, as in; “hey, on your way from here to there, you’ll walk through this cool park.” In addition to genuinely being a guide one can efficiently use from point A to points B and C, I find 12 hours much more realistic for a specific sightseeing approach. Have two full days in a city? Spending time in a cafe people watching for an afternoon might be better than blitzing through another three to-do items. On the other hand, what about those half-day layovers in a city where it makes perfect sense to escape the airport, but time is truly limited in getting any sense of the city? The best travel writing in a traditional sense might not apply here.
Outdoor enthusiasts need look no further than Sidetracked for the best travel writing of this growing sub-genre, an online and printed journal showcasing expeditions and adventures around the world. Browse by region, terrain, or method of travel (e.g. foot, rafting, etc.) and enjoy full-width images, solid writing, and useful intel on countless options for people willing to get their hands dirty and break a sweat in some of the most beautiful and challenging locales on the planet. An added bonus: the site design might be second to none when it comes to mixing photography and writing in a cohesive package.[mashshare]
Best Travel Writing Websites Summary