Dispatches from a quick tour of the travel blogosphere:
At worldhum.com, there's wonder at whether North Korea's Ryugyong Hotel is the worst building in history. There's also talk of Robert Redford making a movie based on Bill Bryson's book "A Walk in the Woods," and a link to a video of Improv Everywhere's stunt in which 207 people freeze for five minutes in Grand Central Station.
On to gadling.com, where there's information and ideas about global migration - everybody, it can seem, is on the move - and updates on Hilton Head Island's annual Gullah celebrations as part of Black History Month.
No time to waste, as crankyflier.com is recapping the latest efforts to build Family Airlines, and weighing the news that United will charge for a second bag.
It doesn't take long to get the lay of the land. In a few keystrokes, a reader can find advice on the best barbecue in Birmingham, Ala., or thoughts of a longtime wanderer about settling down on the Kansas prairie. You can get travel tips at traditional media blogs, or the latest on Paris and Perez Hilton at Sundance, for example, at jaunted.com.
Much like terrestrial travel, where you end up depends on what you hope to find.
For six years, I have been an occasional travel blog reader and a blogger on boston.com. As a reader, I look for the random and reflective, preferring an unexpected anecdote to another take on the latest trend. As a blogger, I post about incidents or observations that are often removed from the spotlight, yet connected to broader contexts. What of memories from African afternoons and Irish rock 'n' roll, for example? I hope the answer gives meaningful pause in a fast foray through the Web.
Joanna Kakissis, a journalist and blogger at worldhum .com, told me in a recent e-mail that she aims to stimulate two-way exchange.
"I try to find a way to reach out to the reader, either through a question or by stoking a debate," she wrote. "I want people to read and respond to my post."
That digital dialogue is now part of the mix at Globe-trotting, boston.com's catch-all travel blog. Readers can share their comments about several daily posts from more than a dozen writers on everything from book reviews to Logan Airport news, from trips with the kids to traveler reflections from Los Angeles, London, and more.
A few more to consider: National Geographic Traveler's Intelligent Travel blog has broad boundaries. The
Regardless of range, the best blogs quickly take you in and out of a topic or place. Audio and video can help. During one visit to World Hum, a post included a video clip of Claude Lelouch's 1976 short film "C'etait un Rendezvous." The footage of a car speeding through the streets of Paris at dawn had been resurrected in a video for "Open Your Eyes" by Snow Patrol - another world completely.
For sites like World Hum, a long-running independent operation bought last year by the Travel Channel, the blog is just one part of the mix. It serves as a daily update section of an online travel magazine that includes original stories, timely Q&As, book reviews, and more.
For other sites, the blog itself is the destination, and many inspire by their breadth. Independent travelers have for years been using blogs as a public version of the family vacation slideshow, in real time, on location.
Two men are posting their adventures during a round-the-world odyssey at Long Jaunt, a blog currently at boston.com/travel that is heavy with colorful photo galleries and cultural encounters. The ladies from lostgirlsworld.blogspot.com, "three twentysomething New Yorkers," are home again after a year on the road. But continued posts suggest they earned admirers online besides the ones they met in faraway lands. And they hope to spread the love. One recent post explained the basics of RSS feeds, and another offered a 10-step guide to setting up a blog.
A particularly profound example of where it all can lead is found at notesfromtheroad.com. The site is the work of Erik Gauger. It began nearly a decade ago as a place for him to entertain friends about his travels. In that it is Gauger's private posts about his travels it is a travel blog. But it has become much more: a broad library of his quickly but carefully crafted stories and compelling photos of people and places, from Panama's Kuna Yala territory to Texas Hill Country to the Oregon coast. In one series of dispatches, "Rise Up Sweet Island," Gauger chronicles the struggle between preservationists and developers on an island in the Bahamas.
Gauger wrote in an e-mail that he means for all of his entries to represent "the other Web." For a reader, it is rich reward to arrive at this unexpected frontier of the travel blogosphere.
Other examples of individual work can be found through travelblogs.com, which highlights independent blogs, including one featuring thoughts from a student studying in Mongolia, and another the musings of an American living in Benin. Clicking among dozens of such personal sites can of course be hit or miss. Dead end? There is always the "back" button. Or even logging back into the real world.
Tom Haines can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.