Travel stories online, 10 hotspots

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Where do you go online if you want to read a travel story or feature, we wondered. We went on a quest. A far from easy one. Good writers turn out to have no website, others only post an intro to a publication or a pdf you can’t read. And why don’t the Dutch have an award for travel bloggers? We share 10 hot spots in travel journalism.

“A writer should read at least ten times more than he writes”, Jan Brokken a Dutch writer once said during a lecture. “Read what your heroes write and ask yourself why are they so good”, he then added. So we devour whatever we can find as far as travel literature is concerned.

Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux was our first heroe. And from Dutch soil, we truly enjoy Cees Nooteboom, Adriaan van Dis, Bob den Uyl, Frank Westerman and Jelle Brandt Cortius, amongst others.

But how about travel stories online, we wondered. Are there any good sites focusing on stories. We don’t mean the ones with the top 5 destinations but real stories like Theroux .

Travel stories online

In our quest for travel stories online we found some wonderful stories, usually told by journalists working for a paper or magazine, who after publication put the story on their website.

We found few sites with writers, only writing for an online platform without a paper or magazine to back it up. We also noticed that there is a big difference in quality between writers and bloggers at prestigious awards like SATW (Society of American Travel Writers).

SATW

Bloggers are often not very literary whereas the winners  in the category newspaper and magazines are great writers. Maybe that is the secret. Most travel writers are in the first place journalists and not blogger. There are some exceptions though.

In the Netherlands, where we are based, there is not even an award for travel bloggers like in other countries. There is an anual award for travels stories but bloggers are excluded. A pity, we think.

New finds

As for the sites we found to either let you dream away or get you woken up, here is our list. Far from complete and more a beginning of new finds. Here you are some nice travel stories online.

1. Classe Touriste by Belgian journalist Debbie Pappyn and photographer David De Vleeschauwer, is a feast for sore eyes and a great read. The two visit extraordinary places like Kamchatka. In her stories Pappyn emphasizes on customs and ways of living of local people. The site is a selection of formerly published articles in international travel magazines.

2. Nigel Richardson is freelance journalist  for The Telegraph, won many prizes and wrote a great book on Brighton. Mrs. Villager once had the privilage to get lost in a Dutch wood with the writer. His stories appear after publication in The Telegraph or elsewhere on his very sober website.

Richardson’s stories are literature. Beautiful observations of people and their surroundings and always with a touch of British humor. Highly recommended.

3. Mary Jo McConahay is an American journalist, documentary maker and writer. Won various awards for her narrative journalism. she writes for the Texas Observer and brings touching stories on the consequences of the wall between the United States and Mexico.

Her website is more like a portfolio so you have to click a lot. But when you do, you will be rewarded.

4. Perceptive Travel brings monthly travel stories of various writers. Not necessarily travel writers, but certainly of writers on the move.

5. Nowheremag are travel stories as travel stories are meant. the site is rum by a team and stories are from all over the world and vary from a kidnap in Libya to a love affair in Russia.  The site is specially designed for e-readers

6. Do you want to know what happens when you get stuck on Iceland. in the snow or why Obama’s visit to Birma is premature? Roads and kingdoms has the answers. The stories cover only small part of the world but they go in depth into political and social issues of a country. The site has been awarded Gold by SATW for best stories.

7. From Holland there is Sander Groen. Award with the national travel award, the Aad Struijs persprijs for a story on Teheran. An award we have also been nominated for but we didn’t get as far as Sander. Beautiful humorous travel reports.

8. Notes from the road does not only have beautiful stories by Erik Gauger, who finds that travel journalism is more than just passing on the message that the sea is blue and the hotel comfortable. He doe not only write but he photgraphs, draws among other things. Have a look at his desert photography. Stunning. Look at his Moleskine drawings  or the special maps he designs.

9. The Cultureist is a site of storytellers who want to make the world a better place. it exists of a community travelers and story makers and covers more than travel alone. Stories can also be drawings for a example of a visit to Serbia or encourage you to invest in  Haiti.

10. The Shooting Star  is the website by Indian Shivya Nath who travels the world by herself. She stays with descendants of the Maya to learn Spanish, talks to fishermen at Mauritius to find out the island is not all about paradise. She writes nice personal stories on places off the beaten track.

Do you know websites you find worth mentioning? Let us know. We would love to learn more. 

Text: Anneke de Bundel

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