The Social {Travel} Network

Last week on the Budget Travel blog there was a post about the best social networks for travel. There are countless blogs and sites out there these days, and the number is growing daily. While there are some interesting concepts in their post, I find that a lot of the clout of these social networks is due to the size of the network itself. Quite frankly, for a lot of reasons, these sites are not really my style. For me, I’m just as interested in content (most of the time what is not mainstream) and design (both of the site and graphically). I also admit I’m lucky to have my blog as my own form of social network.

As I’m tying up my thesis on tourism, digital media and Morocco, I find myself hyper-aware of the various kind of communications that exist for the travel industry, and what direction the industry is heading (or rather, the direction I want it to head). Below are a few of my favorite community style sites these days showcasing my style of travel.

1. Hejorama is a travel community with a great sense of design with the motto “travel as you are.” Besides their fresh look, fun integration of illustration, interesting content, and strong stance on travel (read their manifesto here), they’re also based out of Paris, and offer most content in both French and English. You can find them on Twitter, and they just started a new #mondaymaps hash tag. (My Paris swimming pool piece even got picked up by their weekly Web-O-Rama piece last Friday).
2. Trourist is a sign-in style social network with the tagline “keep traveling real.” Their goal is to connect like-minded people to share experiences in order to help you plan your trip and create new experiences. Later this winter I will be participating in their “Each Traveller Has a Story” project, where 3 Moleskine notebooks are traveling around the world to various travel bloggers.
3. The Bold Italic is less of a travel site, and more of a local site that “equips you with unique local intel, backstories and adventures that define San Francisco.” This collaborative site goes off the beaten track of SF, with an interesting set of contributors who keep the content fresh, engaging and unexpected. On top of it, each “backstory” is accompanied by is accompanied by an eye-catching graphic that screams good design.
4. This past week I learned about a new project called Baltimore: Open City where students of the Maryland Institute College of Art’s Exhibition Development Seminar (EDS) exploring urban planning, development and renewal in the city. While this isn’t necessarily a “travel site” I appreciate the sense of digging deeper into the local, which benefits both residents and visitors. I love the idea of getting students involved, especially with design, in order to help create platforms for discussion and social change. There is also an accompanying public lecture series for the project, and soon there will be a call for entries for local artists, which will culminate with an exhibition. Currently the site is being used to generate ideas. Read more about the project in the Baltimore City Paper. Create Baltimore is another site to keep an eye on for creative projects happening in the city.
5. Grantourismo!, my final pick is less of a collaborative project, but shows how a community can be formed around a travel blog. Lara Dunston and Terence Carter exhaust me regularly thinking about their non-stop lifestyle as travel writers. What I love most about their blog as that while their posts are place specific (they’re almost complete with their 12 month around the world adventure), their ideas of travel and how to experience a place like a local are themes that are meant to be carried with you anywhere you go.
Note: I’ve already posted about them, but I also think Iceland and Norway are doing cool things for travel, tourism and online media.

{my Paris photo above translates to “the direction of travel”}

10 comments

  • Fantastic post.

    All of these – except for Grantourismo – are new to me. How did I not know about The Bold Italic, being from the Bay Area? It’s awesome, on first surf.

    I’ve tried before to get involved with an online travel community proper, but never really cotton’d to one. I wrote a piece for Matador Travel when it launched, but have since taken down all the details and pics on my profile there. The site is great for many, I’m sure. But for me it’s just cluttered overload. I can’t deal.

    The only other travel communities I still use or participate in from time to time are Trip Advisor and Virtual Tourist. Those two (particularly TA) are great for Q&A with other travelers. I like asking questions on their forums and posting answers for others whenever possible.

    But your list looks interesting, so perhaps I’ll give one of these sites a go. My mom just got me a subscription to AFAR magazine, and I see they’re going to start (or try to) an online travel forum and community of sorts. We’ll see how that pans out.

    For me, I think I much prefer friendly and manageable blogs like yours, C’est Christine, Lost in Cheeseland, and others. Reading posts and comments here and leaving comments of my own is travel community enough for me.

    So keep up the good work!

  • Risamay/Marisa – As you can tell I can barely keep up with my own blog and comments, let alone sign up for a network for this that and the other thing. It’d love to be part of the expat community in Paris online, but there are only so many hours in the day. A lot of these sites are still young, but I feel like those involved are connected and think they way I do. For that reason I also love the D*S city guides: http://www.designspongeonline.com/category/city (I penned the Baltimore and Paris ones)

    Bronwyn and Lins – yes, there’s a lot of exploring yet to do

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