Online Armchair Reading
Likewise, armchair tourists -- who think reading about traveling is more enjoyable than actually traveling -- will find many hours to kill in the journal blogs. Someone who would rather chuckle about the time you were forced to eat an eyeball to avoid offending your host might enjoy sites like the Long Trip Home: Travel Blog (www.thelongtriphome.com/travelblog), World Hum (www.worldhum.com/weblog.cfm) or BootsnAll (blogs.bootsnall.com), which offers up this little tale from India:
So there I am, walking along with eyes fixed firmly on the ground, when some drug seller slimes out from nowhere and begins to walk alongside. I say "walk," but it is more of a stagger. He is a dishevelled figure, stoned on heroin or some other substance, and whispers in my ear, "Hashish -- good Manali." My non-response results in the type of substance being offered getting stronger -- "Hashish . . . Cocaine . . . Heroin?" Silence just encourages him; he probably thinks it is part of my hard bargaining strategy.
-- BootsnAll Travel Blogs
Your hipper armchair tourist, though, may prefer the quirkier and cooler journals, such as Mike Pugh's world travel saga, Vagabonding (www.vagabonding.com). Pugh includes stylishly creepy stuff like a photo captioned "Cockroach in my Dar es Salam hotel room (actual size)." Over at Beans Around the World (www.beans-around-the-world.com), the ironically inclined can track the adventures of S&W Black Beans as travelers pose them in front of just about any landmark you can imagine -- Machu Picchu, Devils Tower, Yankee Stadium -- and a few you couldn't, like one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces.
Meanwhile, seen-it-all travelers who find most guidebooks pathetically mundane would never mingle with the less-traveled masses at the group blogs. Instead, they seek the minutia on such specialized sites as Matt Barrett's huge A Travel Guide to Greece (www.greektravel.com). Here's where to discover Sifnos, the Greek-island-you-never-heard-of:
For people who are looking for the 'real Greece' and yet still wouldn't mind a little nightlife, Sifnos is the place to go. Prices are inexpensive compared to other more exploited islands like Mykonos, and Santorini. The beaches are uncrowded and very clean and the snorkling is excellent.
-- A Travel Guide to Greece
Tech-heads, of course, are well represented. The MP3 generation can surf over to One-Minute Vacation (www.quietamerican.org/vacation.html) to hear 60-second audio clips submitted by travelers to far-flung places. At Destinova (www.destinova.com), we turned up a techno-tidbit about a hotel in Boston where the room key is created by using a photo of your iris. Cool!
That's much more interesting, and probably much less useful, than up-to-date blah blah blogging about the best mileage-earning credit cards (www.webflyer.com/blog), airport security profiling (www.onlinetravelreview.com) and airline bankruptcies (hasbrouck.org/blog). But these are out there, too.
It's all out there. Blogs are so numerous that "blog management sites" like Kinja (www.kinja.com) are cropping up to help you keep track of new postings from your favorite bloggers.
So blog away. But keep this in mind: Blogee beware. These Web sites make it a cinch to seek out others' advice, but anybody can blab anything on the Net. So before you book, ask yourself: Are these the musings of an avid independent traveler, or a faker trying to flack a fleabag hotel? Is the writer getting some kicks, or a kickback? And does this instant travel critic seem like someone who shares my tastes and interests?
These are just a few questions to ponder while perusing the fine exhibits at the Musee de l'Erotisme. Admit it. You're heading straight there, next time you visit Paris.
Gayle Keck writes a suspiciously blog-like monthly column for Travel about travel magazines.