Longreads introduces curated travel reading with Travelreads

Thanks to the Internet, social media and our various smartphones and e-readers, you no longer have to rely on the airport newsstand’s collection of John Grisham novels for travel reading. You can browse the New York Times from your cell phone, read a guidebook on your Kindle or start dreaming about your next trip with an e-magazine like TRVL. If you’re a fan of long-form journalism and fiction, you may look to Longreads for a constant stream of links to new and classic content online.

Today, Longreads has launched Travelreads, a destination-specific channel for travel reading with partner Virgin Atlantic. Compiled by links submitted by readers and curated by the Longreads team, the channel will include traditional travel writing as well as short stories and non-fiction set in a particular destination. “Geolocated Longreads, basically,” as founder Mark Armstrong has called it. All of the links are 1500 words or longer with offerings ranging from 1932 to brand-new content.

Travel blogger Jodi Ettenberg, a long-time contributor and lover of Longreads, was recently hired as a contributing editor and is helping to run the Travelreads feed. “It’s a great place to highlight the best of long-form travel writing,” said Ettenberg. “It’s also wonderful to expand it beyond purely non-fiction travel narrative. To include classics and fiction gives the feed a roundness that I feel sets it apart.” So far, you can find everything from Hemingway’s report from the Spanish Civil War front, to a Haruki Murakami fiction piece on Tokyo cats and a straight-up travel piece on Penang, Malasia. You can search for any place or author you like on the site.

You can find Longreads for your next trip at Longreads.com/travelreads, or by checking their Twitter or Facebook feeds for “the raw feed” of links submitted by readers. Share your own favorite stories by tweeting links with the hashtag #travelreads. Happy reading!

Travel meets journalism at Roads and Kingdoms

Last month, writers Nathan Thornburgh (a contributing editor to TIME and recent guest of Fox News) and Matt Goulding (food & culture writer and author behind the Eat This, Not That! book series) launched a new website with the intriguing tagline: “Journalism, travel, food, murder, music. First stop: Burma.” Combining on-the-spot reporting on current events and politics with in-depth cultural observations, rich photography, and engrossing narratives, Roads and Kingdoms feels like a travel blog we all want to write: a bit daring, occasionally foolhardy, and often inspiring. Fresh home from their first major trip and recovering from Burma belly, Gadling talked to co-founder Nathan about Roads and Kingdoms.

How would you describe your blog in one sentence?
Travel meets journalism.

How did it come about? How has your background in news helped (or hindered) your travels?
Matt and I felt like our work – he writes about food, I’m a foreign correspondent – actually had a lot in common. As writers on assignment, we found that the best parts of being on the road – the amazing meal on the street corner, the back-alley bar with the great live jams, the sweaty tuk tuk ride through the outskirts of the city – are left out of the final product. It’s those parts that we want to provide a home for. It’s a different kind of travel mindset, whether you’re going to London or Lagos. Journalism is all about being curious, which is a quality great travelers have as well.

It’s not meant to remain a blog: we’ll be launching our full site soon, which won’t just be our travels, but a variety of dispatches in the Roads and Kingdoms style, from writers and photographers and videographers around the world.
Why did you choose Burma as a first destination?
First off, we think Burma is going to be a huge tourist destination in the years to come, if the country continues to open up. It’s an amazingly vivid and warm country, and has a lot of the traditional rhythms of life that Thailand, for example, has lost.

Burma also had the perfect combination of stories for us to launch Roads and Kingdoms with. We were able to report on the killer hiphop scene in the south, up-and-coming graffiti artists in Rangoon, and of course, the amazing (and all but undiscovered) Burmese cuisine. Then Matt went to Bagan, this breathtaking valley of temples that will become a big part of Burma’s tourist boom. While he took in the temples, I visited the heart of the war-torn north, where I was able to hang out with gold miners and Kachin refugees and see a part of Burma that not a lot of people get to see.

What do you hope to inspire in readers?
We’d love to inspire readers to travel the way we do: with a sense of wonder and a big appetite, with curiosity and an awareness of the backstory behind the destinations.

Flashback, Burma Day One: Bad Crab from Roads and Kingdoms on Vimeo.

Roads and Kingdoms did not get detained in Myanmar for being journalists entering on a tourist visa. But Nathan still hit an unexpected roadblock on the first day in Burma: a plate of chili-slathered, rancid crab.

What are the challenges in blogging somewhere like Burma?

We were fortunate that our trip coincided with Hillary Clinton’s historic visit to Burma. The government didn’t want to create any problems that week, so we were incredibly free as journalists there; much more so than I could have ever imagined the first time I went in 2003. I was followed and watched when I visited the north, but they didn’t interfere with my work. However: Internet access still sucks. You can’t blog if you can’t connect, and that’s a huge problem in Burma.

How is social media adding to the blog?
Social media is huge for us. We’re starting out as a Tumblr, for example, not just because it’s great for articles/photos/videos, but because it’s so shareable. We want people to get involved, not just as passive consumers, but as advisers and compañeros along the way.

Where are you going next?
We have a short list, and we actually want readers to help us decide. London? Moscow? Lima? It’s a big world out there!

Follow the adventures at RoadsandKingdoms.com and connect with Nathan and Matt (and assorted interns) on Twitter @RoadsKingdoms and Facebook.

Travel Blogger Broke-Ass Stuart Brings Cheap Thrills to TV

Called “A travel show that’s on the map but off the beaten path”, Young, Broke and Beautiful, debuted this week on the IFC network starring funnyman, writer/blogger Stuart Schuffman (aka Broke-Ass Stuart). The new show goes to some of America’s largest cities but typically avoids touristy stuff to revel in cheap, underground offerings and weird people.

In the season premiere of the 6-city summer series, Stuart dives right in on his mission to uncover the hidden, cheap attractions that might be overlooked in mainstream travel guides. According to Stuart, known for his popular guidebook Broke-Ass Stuart’s Guide to Living Cheaply in San Francisco being a “broke ass” is a state of mind where life is not about the stuff you have, but the stuff you do.

In the New Orleans episode of the new show, Stuart hangs out with a fangmaker (for humans), cooks gumbo, talks New Orleans music history, then hits an all-night bounce party at the NOLA Art House.

Also available in paperback, a free chapter of Young, Broke and Beautiful is available to download on Schuffman’s Facebook page.

“Broke-Ass Stuart’s philosophy is to write for busboys, poets, social workers, students, artists, musicians, magicians, mathematicians, maniacs, yodelers and everyone else out there who wants to enjoy life not as a rich person, but as a real person” says TheFutonCritic.

Let’s take a look at what’s coming up on Young, Broke & Beautiful , Fridays at 11 p.m./10 p.m. Central on IFC.

MSNBC launches Overhead Bin travel blog

A new competitor enters the market! The good folks over at MSNBC launched a new travel blog this month called Overhead Bin, where “MSNBC.com’s travel reporters and editors look at news, destinations, deals and, of course, the joy and hassle of traveling.”

With some serious flagship writers such as Harriet Baskas from Stuckattheairport and Rob Lovitt blogging for the team, the site has some impressive firepower, and we’re expecting some really great travel content to emerge from the group. Already they’ve covered all of the recent travel buzz including At Sea with Kiss, Dr. Ruth and Dan Rather, Memorial Day topics such as Is it cheaper to Fly or Drive and even viral videos where photogs swim with jellyfish — there’s no doubt that their editorial strategy is right on point.

Currently, the site seems to be sticking to relevant, recent news and vacation related content, while on-the-ground destination and first person coverage seem to be either still in development or taking the back seat. Either way, at the rate at which they’re churning stories we’re sure that there’s much more good content to come. Welcome to the fray, team MSNBC.

[flickr image via Fields of View]

Top 10 reasons that Top 10 lists suck

The Top 10 list is as prominent in most bloggers’ toolboxes as hammers are in carpenters’, um, toolboxes. Bloggers love to compile lists. Readers love to judge, debate and share those lists. In theory, everybody wins. However, if you’re a fan of travel writing – or any writing, for that matter – the Top 10 list is the embodiment of the death of narrative. Sure, Top 10 lists can entertain readers, share information and convey feelings, but too much of a good thing can be bad. Travel blogger Michael Hodson (aka @mobilelawyer) decided to take on Top 10 lists in a recent post on his blog, Go, See, Write.Hodson points out that “No one even bothers to do them right – A Top 10 lists should be a countdown from 10 to 1.” Well, he has a point there. We should be celebrating number 1. We’ve been guilty of that mistake here at Gadling. Heck, we’re guilty of using top 10 lists often here on the site. Why? Because we think that we have ideas to share. So, while Hodson claims that “Every good Top 10 has been done,” I must respectfully disagree.

I think every bad Top 10 list has been done several times over. I also think that many bloggers use the Top 10 list as a crutch to hide poor writing skills, muddled ideas and laziness. However, I think that Top 10 lists can be helpful. But, as Peter Parker’s uncle once noted, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Top 10 lists written purely for the sake of shock value or to generate some page views are a disservice to readers. Top 10 lists that are well thought out, promote discussion and truly share useful information have a place in the travel blog world. And, yes, so do Top 10 lists that are just plain hilarious.

Hodson’s post is worth a read and should give travel bloggers pause before they write their next Top 10 list.

Photo by Flickr user sam_churchill.