Travel blogs are a great source of information

You can find some really useful information in blogs, such as opinions, places to avoid; places that are a must see and countless other tips and hints on travel. For the purposes of this book, a blog is an article written by someone just for the pleasure of writing something, such as writing a journal, or they just want to help others by sharing their experiences. If it’s written by a travel professional, then I class it as an article.

Blogs
Blogs can be extremely useful in finding out more about a destination. Maybe the blogger found a really great local café or had a local guide take them on a great tour. You could also find out about any scams that they may have fallen victim to. Some blogs provide an RSS feed so that you can be updated automatically each time a new blog is added.

One website that is full of travel blogs is TravelPod.com. Here you can find blogs on just about any destination. There is a useful ‘search’ function that enables you to quickly find relevant blogs. You can also use this website to write your own blog.

Alternative sites are:

Travel Blog
Travellers Point

They can also be a way of letting friends and family know how you are getting on. The sites listed above can be used to write your own blog, or you could use one of the following general blogging websites. These websites are basically the same; it’s just a question of picking one you prefer the look of.

www.wordpress.com
www.livejournal.com
www.hubpages.com
www.bloguni.com

 

Newsgroups
In the early days of the Internet, way before the web, Newsgroups were the main medium for exchanging tips, asking and answering questions and general sharing. This network of groups was called Usenet.

By joining the right group or groups you can find information on just about any topic. There are drawbacks, such as spam and the attitude of a few users, but they are useful and could be useful when researching any trip.

To access these groups you need a newsreader program, this can be part of an email program or in some Internet browsers. If your browser doesn’t have this feature, then you can use an online email provider such as Windows Live Mail. I personally prefer programs that download the messages locally, but this is a habit formed by the old dial up modem days.

Another way of accessing newsgroups is to use Google. Typing groups.google.com into your web browser’s address bar gets you to the front page. Google has stored newsgroups messages going back to 1995. Travel can be found by clicking on ‘Recreation’. Alternatively you could enter the area of interest in the search bar.

To post to a group you need to log on with a Google account. Spam can be a problem, with automated systems harvesting email address from the various postings. To get round this use an invalid email address such as johnnospam@livenospam.com. When you post. A real person would still be able to contact you by removing the ‘nospams’.

Newsgroups have a set naming protocol, examples are:

rec.travel.africa
alt.rec.hiking
rec.travel.caribbean
rec.travel.Europe
soc.culture.europe
alt.travel

Unfortunately Newsgroups use is dying out, so some topics may be a few years old, and there is no guarantee that you will get a reply.