Travel Off the Cuff: Your travel news source
Got a source for global travel news? Probably not just ONE site, but many - and searching them all is a hit-or-miss proposition. Well, recently I found a site, Travel Off the Cuff, that does that search for you. This site is just incredible - I've found new travel sites I'd never heard of - and now, I know that if I want to find something, or if I've missed a few days on the 'net, I can go here and see what is new. Fantastic!
Last week, I sat down and talked with the founder of Travel off the Cuff, Mark Wolinski, to get the scoop on his site. Here's what he had to say...
WE: Tell us a little bit about Travel Off The Cuff...
MW: Travel Off The Cuff is a social news site focused on travel related news and blog postings. Visitors to the site can browse through "First Class News," which is really popular news and find some great travel articles. They can also browse through "News On Standby", which is news that hasn't been upgraded enough times to make it to First Class. If they like the story, they can upgrade the story. Once a story has enough upgrades, it gets promoted to "First Class" on the home page. So, in theory, the best and most interesting travel stories on the web get promoted to First Class.
WE: Where did you get the concept from?
MW: The concept for the site is derived from social news sites such as Digg, Reddit and more recently Yahoo! Buzz. While these sites have travel categories, they started out with technology focus. The problem comes up that if you're looking for travel news, there are not a lot of stories that make the front page of those sites and they are still mostly dominated by technology and political stories.
WE: What are your goals for the site?
MW: My main goal for the site is to become a place where people can find great travel ideas and locations through the experience of others. That they can learn from reading blog postings that great travel isn't tied to a schedule. I've spent a lot of time at theme parks and have seen parents drag their kids from one attraction to another, trying to stay on some schedule. It doesn't have to be that way. Same thing for people visiting London, Paris or Rome. One of the best days I had in Paris was walking from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower. I was soaking up the culture and spent a couple of hours just taking photos of the Eiffel Tower as day was taken over by night.
WE: What has been the most surprising or influential article you've seen on your site?
MW: The one article I remember being most surprising was a NY Times article about a guy who took an inflatable kayak to Venice to tour the canals with. It was something I'd love to do (although I've never been kayaking). There are also a couple of guys who run a kayak tour in Venice, which I probably would never have heard of (or even thought of doing) if they hadn't posted a comment to that story.
Beyond that, I'm most impressed by stories of people who use travel to do things for the environment or community. There's a couple who's hiking down the Appalachian Trail raising money to clean it up (and collecting trash as they go along). There's a family who's biking from northern Alaska down to the bottom of South America. While I may spend most of my day in a cubicle never doing things these people are doing, I'm at least living their experiences through their stories and maybe someday, I can take their inspiration and do something something just as inspiring.
WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
MW: I'm very open to hearing new ideas to improve the site. There are some very easy ways to share travel news with the site from a toolbar link to putting links in your own travel blog postings. There is also a Facebook app for the site as well. People can follow First Class news via RSS feeds and Twitter.
While the site is in soft launch (which means, I'm posting most of the news stories and upgrading them to the front page), I know there are some great stories and blogs that I'm not seeing. The quality of the content will only improve as more people start using the site and adding great stories they've seen.
WE: Thanks so much, Mark! I check your site every day - and always enjoy finding new stories about global travel and customs. One that I read a few weeks ago, by a surfer who was talking about intercultural adjustment and fitting in, still sticks with me. Thanks for creating such a powerful site!
For more information about Travel Off the Cuff, please see: http://www.traveloffthecuff.com