Travels May 2008

The Trip Advisory: Tune In, Turn Left

Also see:

Weni, Widi, Wiki
Our correspondent visits Seattle with only the hive mind of the Internet as his guide.

Dozens of social-networking and user-generated sites on the Web cater to travelers. Here are some that I used in Seattle:

Google Earth is available as a free download for Windows and Macs. Travel information is embedded in many of the overlays created by various Google Earth communities., which is owned by Expedia, has exhaustive (and sometimes exhausting) user-generated reviews of hotels around the world, along with comments on attractions and restaurants. has active message boards for more than 50 destinations and topics (such as “kosher food”), with reports on dining spots that offer everything from $200-per-person wine pairings to $2 hot dogs. is a general-interest board with postings on restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, bars, and the like in dozens of U.S. cities. Judging by the preponderance of exclamation points, the site attracts a younger crowd. is a social network in which users can create their own communities. Search for the place you’re headed, ask questions, or just listen in on local chatter. organizes posts by tidy categories (“off the beaten path,” “restaurants,” “local customs”), with dozens of user reviews for many of the most popular spots. is owned by the same people who own Travelocity and has an active community of 350,000-plus members who contribute well-considered reviews, many written in the manner of traditional guidebooks. is a map-based Web site where users can annotate destinations and upload photos of their travels, descriptions of their favorite restaurants, and so on. The interface can be aggravating. offers handy templates for creating trip journals and posting short reviews; registered users can organize their itineraries based on recommendations from other travelers, or just follow in their footsteps. Recent offerings include “4 Days Around Jackson Hole” and “10-Day London & Paris Oooolala!” has a more global orientation than many other sites, and permits browsing of posts by destination or “things to do” (e.g.,“diving & snorkeling,” “food & wine”). does as it suggests: provides a place to post accounts of one’s travels. The interface is designed more for the writers and the people tracking them than for strangers seeking information. is a social-networking site that allows users to “share stories about places in your city and around the world,” but the site architecture results in a fairly random grab bag of facts and opinions.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Wayne Curtis is an Atlantic contributing editor.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What's the Number One Thing We Could Do to Improve City Life?

A group of journalists, professors, and non-profit leaders predict the future of livable, walkable cities

Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus


Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.


Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.


Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.


Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.


The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air



More in National

More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

Just In