Run the equator: Starting up

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Starting up

So we have decided to leave our yuppie lives behind and get out of urban hell and the everyday routine of metro-boulot-dodo, like the French would say. One year. One travel. Two people.

No more jobs, no more work-related stress. Travel-stress? Maybe, who knows, we'll try it and we'll tell you...

For our travel blog I chose blogger because I can integrate it with javascript and add custom maps to it with the locations we've visited. I know many travel sites offer this functionality but I haven't found any yet that wouldn't make me cringe in pain at their design and usability. There are many offers out there; it actually looks like every travel-related site that we've seen offers some sort of a free or not-so-free blog. The most notable among them:

  • http://www.mytripjournal.com - nice, but it doesn't offer a spell-able site name, it creates instead an endless URL for each journal with meaningless numbers and letters. The problem with that is you can't give a catchy-sounding website address to your friends and expect them to remember it. It's also not in a blog-format, thus your updates aren't obvious for anybody who just gets to the site, they would have to click on a country you visited, etc. It offers a nice map feature though. The standard website doesn't offer much, and the premium version costs $89 a year. If I can do this for free with blogger or livejournal or google maps or Microsoft Live maps why bother paying?
  • http://www.offexploring.com - I didn't understand exactly what they offer, and it's not free. Too many ads, and it seems it's mostly targeted toward sharing photo albums and it's not a blogging site. It's important for me to get content in blogging format because I rely heavily on text, and I may blog without adding pictures sometimes. Anything that has "unlimited photos" in the offer doesn't impress me because, first, I already pay for flickr.com which is awesome, and second, the travel websites compress the pictures way beyond being useful for actual storage.
  • http://realtravel.com - free, nice map feature but no personalized address, too many ads, and way too many clicks to get to any actual content which is almost too hard to locate on a page. Jumping from entry to entry is also not the easiest task.
  • http://www.travelpod.com - free, not bad, good map, but still too complicated. Although I have nothing to reproach this site on the technical side (it even offers a decent URL "travelpod.com/members/username"), it seems a little too unwelcoming. There are too many "boxes" on the site and in order to read each post one must always scroll down to it.
  • http://www.travelblog.org - free but with a horrible design - it uses the whole width of the page for content, and their map feature... couldn't see it, it hung my browser.

So I decided to go on my own with Blogger (aka Google). I would have chosen livejournal, as I have used it for years, but it doesn't seem to allow any javascript content and I need that for displaying the interactive map with our itinerary.

Check the Live map on the right sidebar - it displays our current location and a pushpin that bubbles up with a link to the latest blog entry. To this I'll add itinerary lines, and more goodies. Javascript rules. Microsoft Live Maps is awesome. Google Maps was my first choice but it lacked geographical data for all Central America, most of South America and most of Asia. I turned to Live Maps and don't regret it, it's much better. Yahoo has something similar and Mapquest may as well, but hey, enough is enough...

It will be a little more difficult to promote the blog, not having the travel site behind my back to feature me on their homepage, but there are too many blogs anyway, who cares about one more traveller recounting his experiences?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Francisc! What an awesome blog! You guys crack me up! Very well written as well. It's a combo of your Euro-Amer Repertoire! Love it!I hope I get a chance to visit you guys sometime in 08'!

So dinner at your guys'place next Monday! I'll bring my appetite! :)

~Michelle

equator said...

Woo, woo! Michelle, you're my first "commenter". Keep coming back to this site for updates.

Will madam be so kind to order her food now? The kitchen is open.