Tracking my travel locations

Lately I haven’t had much time to work on my projects (J-ExifTool and “Can I Urbex”) because I’ve been infected by the travel bug. On the other hand, since I’m already developing on a 7 to 4 base, I don’t feel like developing at all  during the week.

I’ve been looking for a way to keep track of all the countries and cities I’ve visited in the past. I first tried doing this with the help of Google Earth but that was too complex and too ‘offline’. I’m looking for a solution “in the cloud” which I can share with family and friends.

The most obvious solution would be Facebook with it’s “Map” feature; I can show where I’ve been and I can share this with some of my family and friends. The problem with this map is that it shows about everywhere I’ve been, also the pub around the corner where I’ve checked-in yesterday evening. Another issue is that I don’t want Facebook to know all this info, knowledge is power and I would like to keep Facebook dumb and weak.

Another popular, social tool which can show where I’ve been is Foursquare, but it has the same problem as Facebook: I don’t need all those pubs on my travel map and I can’t check-in to place I’ve visited in the past.

After this moment of reflection I started looking for a solution and I’ve found five of them which I’ll briefly describe for you:

  1. http://www.whereivebeen.com/
  2. http://triptracker.net
  3. http://travellerspoint.com
  4. http://travelpod.com
  5. http://tripadvisor.com

Where I’ve been (.com)

Of all the sites I have tested, this is probably the easiest and best working site. Selecting the cities you’ve visited before or even want to visit in the future is quick and dirty; no details, just places. There is one big downside (personally) being the Facebook integration: there is no way you’re getting on this site without a Facebook profile, but if you don’t care, I highly advice you to use this site.

One thing I did notice is that it struggles a bit when it comes to adding cities with a strange name like Lübeck. If you don’t write the name correctly (Lubeck doesn’t return any results even tough it’s written like that on the map) then it won’t add the city, this isn’t a major issue because you can also click on the map and it’ll select the nearest city for you.

Entering cities on whereivebeen.com

After entering all the cities, you’re presented with a basic map showing all the countries you’ve visited (blue) or where you want to go to (green).

Map overview op whereivebeen.com

You can also share your map on your Facebook timeline to show off your travel history to all your friends, tough there is no added value since it’s just a link to the website and not the map itself. Integration with Twitter, Gowala, Foursquare and Flickr is also possible, but I haven’t tested those.
Whereivebeen.com Facebook timeline

TripTracker

TripTracker, as the name implies, is more focused towards to hikers that want to upload their GPS tracks and not people who want to keep track of their travel history. It’s also oriented towards people who want to blog while they are traveling. This becomes clear when you want to create and update trips.

Adding locations to a trip is hard and slow. You must create a new blog entry and then assign a location to this entry using a wizard. It’s obvious that you have to can add some text and photo’s to the blog entry, but overall it’s overly complicated and it just doesn’t work as smooth as you’d expect anno 2012.

TripTracker - location wizard

TripTracker - Blog entry

After creating your trip, you’ll be presented with a map showing your travel history. If you click on one of the locations, it once more becomes clear that this site is for bloggers: the overlay expects images and a text about your visit to this place.

TripTracker - map

Travellerspoint

Of all the sites I’ve tested, this is the one that came closest to my expectations. Creating trips is fast and easy, adding new destinations is fast and accurate and afterwards you’re presented with a nice looking map and there is no obligation to login using your Facebook account.

Travellerspoint - adding location

If you want, you can add some details to each location like date of arrival, date of departure and means of transport and some text.

Travellerspoint - details

After creating a trip, you get, as with TripTracker, a map with clickable locations. When selecting one of these locations you not only get the details you provided, but also a small description about the place itself. This data comes from the Travellerspoint guide which is made on a wiki-base, so everybody can add their own story (read: it’s not necessarily correct).

Travellerspoint - Detailed map

After creating a few trips, you might get a map which looks like this. The numbers in the circles show the amount of destinations, this helps keeping things clear (you can zoom in to show the locations)

Travellerspoint - Travel map

A nice bonus, if you specify all the details of your destinations, is the statistics page. It is, quite honestly, completely useless, but statistics like these are always fun to have.

Travellerspoint - Statistics

There are two ‘downsides’ tough: there is no real Facebook integration tough there is an RSS feed which you can import on your Timeline. The other ‘downside’ is that you can’t link any of the uploaded images to a  trip; it’s completely separated.

Travelpod

Travelpod holds the middle between TripTracker and TravellersPoint. Creating trips is easy and adding multiple locations goes fast and without any hassle, tough it’s not as accurate as Travellerspoint.

TravelPod - adding locations

Once finished adding locations, you can edit them and this is where the blogging nature of TravelPod shows that it doesn’t have to be as bad as TripTracker. Adding text and photos is fast and easy and it’ll even automagically weave your images into the text. If you’ve prepared a trip you can also send an email to a special e-mail address to create a new blog entry without opening the website or you can just use the iApp.

TravelPod - blog entry

If you’re looking for a cool travel-blog, then this is the one to go. There’s integration with Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, MySpace, Couchsurfing, Yahoo and Plaxo for easy sharing with friends and family.

TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor was the first site I tried and I’m not going to spend too much time on it since it doesn’t do what I want it to do. Don’t misunderstand me, it’s a great website to help you find things to do, locations to stay and stuff like that, but you can’t create a travel map with places you’ve been (okay, you can, but places in TripAdvisor terms mean ‘hotels’). I’d say, have a look at the website if you’re looking for travel guides and don’t give up too easily; the design and layout are horrible, the site is more confusing than Facebook, but once you’ve discovered the travel guide button, there’s plenty things to discover on TripAdvisor.

Conclusion

For me there is one winner; TravellersPoint. The site is easy to use, fast and accurate and there is no Facebook integration at all. If, on the other hand, you are looking for social integration, then WhereIveBeen.com is the site for you to use.

If you’re looking for a travelblog, then I highly suggest TravelPod and if you want to prepare a trip and are looking for info then you must have a look at TripAdvisor and the TravellersPoint travel guide.

Last but not least, if you have a GPS track and you have no other site to upload them to, then you could give TripTracker a try.

Last remarks

Only few people read them, but please do read the policies. Traveling is a huge business and just like Facebook these sites are eager to use your info to promote no matter what. For example, this is what you can find in the TravelPod Terms of Use:

… to hereby grant to TravelPod (or warrant that the owner thereof has granted to TravelPod), a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, license to use, modify, copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, publish, adapt, and create derivative works of, any such Public Content, for any purpose whatsoever, including, without limitation, a commercial purpose, and in any form of media, without any compensation to you, and to sublicense any of the foregoing rights and licenses.

This means two things:

  1. You give them the rights to make copies of your content, which makes sense because they have to make back-ups, replicate the data on fail-over servers, cache data, …
  2. You give them the right to use, parts of, your content as advertisement (if you say you like a hotel, then they can use this sentence in a publication, referring to you)

Additionally, even when you remove the data from the site, they still can use your content.

Disclaimer

Yes, a disclaimer 🙂 . I am not a professional reviewer, I am not affiliated with any of the websites I reviewed and I gain nothing by publishing this post. What you’ve read in this post is my opinion and if you do not agree, then that’s your problem … go write yourself a blog or something.

Also, what you see in the screenshots are imaginary travels, I’m not going to travel from Russia all the way back to Belgium 😛 .

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Tracking my travel locations

  1. Hi Phillip, just came across this blog post. Thanks for having a play with our Travellerspoint trip mapping tool! Very glad it came the closest to what you would have expected 🙂 One small note – we do actually have Facebook integration allowing the maps to be posted to FB as well. If you have any further feedback on the mapping or suggestions for how we could make it even better, feel free to drop me a note. Any feedback is useful to us – good or bad.

    Cheers,
    Peter

  2. Hi Phillip, thanks a lot for this review!
    I found you post very useful and easy-to-read for not-professional bloggers.
    I’ve recently created a personal travel blog on wordpress.com and was looking for a way to track locations and trips, about which I am writing. In contrast to wordpress.org there’s no way to set-up an integrated widget, therefore the idea to use an external service seems to be the only solution for that.
    Cheers,
    Anna

  3. Hi Phillip,
    Nice and comprehensive review. Have you ever heard of Maptia or Hi-story telling ? What do you think of them compare to all the above?

    1. Hey Nin,

      never heard of them. At first sight, Maptia seems to be focused on people who make awesome pictures and like to share them. I think it’s more focussed on the pictures and the exact location where they were taken whereas I was looking for a simpel map of visited locations (something rougher).

      Hi-story was a hard one to find, I guess it’s the thing where people can listen to what you had to say at a specific location 🙂 . As with Maptia, it’s very focussed on the exact location, not bad if you have family who’s following your every move abroad 😉 .

      Grtz

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s