“You have favourite travel bloggers??” you scream in horror at the title of this post. “But your whole raison d’être is that you hate travel bloggers and want people to see a different side to travel!!” Well, OK, you probably aren’t screaming or thinking anything other than “Mate, don’t speak for me”, but seeing as my mission statement is to be – direct quote – “an irreverent and cynical British antidote to all the hippy-dippy, wishy-washy, motivational-post-filled travel blogs out there”, it might seem a bit strange to feature OTHER TRAVEL BLOGS.
My prerequisites are: must be well-written, must feature interesting stories, must not be totally overwhelmed with advertorial or free trips, and most importantly, must not stray into self-important, self-indulgent wordgasms about how they’ve FOUND THEMSELVES or any other such New Age mumbo-jumbo. A few manage to pass the taste test, however.
With no further delay, the travel bloggers who remain within my very limited tolerance threshold are…
I’m not even going to save the best ’til last. I love this guy: not only has he been to every single one of the 198 sovereign nations in the world, but English isn’t his first language, yet he writes perfectly in it, and with no affectations or smugness – just a wide-eyed excitement for travel. His profile is on the rise as of late, being featured on popular (if horrible) sites like Unilad and The Daily Mail in the last few months, but he’s been on my radar for a long time, thanks to posts like ‘The World’s 15 Hardest Countries to Visit‘ and ‘The World’s 25 Least Visited Countries’ (2013 version here, 2015 version here), although my favourite is this one about his stressful journey to Sao Tome and Principe.
If you enjoy all things to do with obscure countries with none of the Instagram envy, you too will love his blog.
This is a much more genteel affair – no 40 hour boat trips to obscure African islands here! But, considering it’s written by a Californian expat, it’s the most British blog I’ve ever come across. British in the sense of rolling green hills, Shakespeare and the Great British Bake Off, anyway, rather than the Britain First, bulldogs and Tesco Value Lager one.
Obviously I feel a sense of affinity because she’s blogging mostly about my country and is a fellow female solo traveller. But it’s about more than just that. Her Instagram game is insane, the content is more restrained than that of the other blogs but without being dull, and there’s a consummate professional sheen over the whole site, mainly because she does consummate professional sheeny things, like giving conferences on how to build your digital brand. It’s basically the polar opposite of my blog… but, y’know, I like rolling green hills and the Great British Bake Off. (And I like some Shakespeare plays, if not Hamlet.)
OK, there is a LOT of motivational stuff on here, which is one of my big no-nos, and there are quite a few advertorial type things. But I let him get away with it because the stories are ace (his devotion to cheap backpacking trips really helps here, such as his experiences in the third-class carriage of the Trans Siberian Railway, and getting arrested twice in Ukraine), his enthusiasm infectious and, because I’m a massive softie, I always like it when he flies his mum out to join him in some far-flung destination. He’s now been to over 160 countries, and is looking to have finished the 198 by Euro 2016. You couldn’t pick a better time to follow him as he picks up the last few obscure ones.
Also, he’s Irish. As anyone who knows me knows, I have a very soft spot for Irish men. In more than one sense.
In my bitter, still kinda heartbroken singleness, I should hate the relationship goals that are this Canadian couple and their globetrotting relationship. But they’re sweet and fun with it, and give me hope that someday I too will find a man who wants to go roadtripping down the Silk Road with me.
Actually, this might be my favourite. I’m not sure. There’s something about it that feels innately quite similar to this site, aesthetically (although I’m using a freebie WordPress design and his is presumably a fancy-pants custom one), and a similar obsession with the Balkans, their decay and hidden gems. But there’s the long-term travel aspiration that I don’t subscribe to (I like the UK too much to be away for long) and it’s, well, better than mine.
Unprofessional as all hell, sweary, pessimistic, lazy, hypocritical and not very good at taking good pictures – but by mixing in groundhopping adventures, rude road trips and Countdown behind-the-scenes gossip, the two positive things you can definitely say about Steadman As She Goes are that it’s original and unique. Although maybe the reason for that is that there’s no demand for it. Hmmm…