Making TravelPod Better: August 2015 edition

Autumn is nearly upon and August has come and gone, so here’s a list of some of the most important things we improved on TravelPod last month:

  • We’ve (finally) removed the flash requirement for all of our photo-uploads, so you can now upload profile photos, trip photos, and do mass-uploading of blog photos directly from your mobile device!
  • The TravelPod iOS app has been updated to work with iOS 9. The new version hasn’t yet been released, but should be out in time for iOS9’s autumn release.
  • Blog photos now occupy the full width of the display when reading on mobile devices.
  • Comment-notification emails now include image thumbnails and snippets of blog content to provide a little more context.
  • As usual, we’ve also made a number of bug fixes and visual tweaks.

TravelPod is a big site, and we absolutely depend on your input for deciding what to give the most love. Please keep sending your feedback and tell us how we’re doing and what you’d like us to do better.

** Photo by TravelPod member oandb

TravelPod Buzz

A Year of TravelPod Travel Blogs

With new TravelPod blogs appearing every day as our members travel the world, we thought it would be interesting to see what what all the blogs from one year would look like when we mapped them out together. You can watch the results in the video below, as a year’s worth of blog entries unfolds in 1.5 minutes. To build this, we made every entry a dot based on its location and used lines to connect entries within trips. Viewed all together, the result is kind of magical, and some obvious trends emerge. Lots of travel between Europe and Australia, for example, and the vast distances covered by travelers in Asia, South America, and Africa.

It’s great to see the wide variety of trips being saved and shared on TravelPod. Keep traveling!

This visualization was produced using Processing.
Cool stuff TravelPod Buzz

Connect TravelPod to multiple Facebook accounts

Are you traveling as a group?

Are you traveling as a couple or a family?

You can now log into TravelPod using many different Facebook accounts.

This allows several people to update a single blog.

As an added bonus, when you send an entry notification, it will be sent to the Facebook friends of all the accounts associated with the blog.

Just click the blue “Sign in with Facebook” button and connect your Facebook account to your TravelPod account by following the prompts.

It’s that easy.

TravelPod Features

Costa Rica Local Expert: Lisa Valencia

Lisa Valencia packed up everything and moved to Costa Rica in 2007.

Since then she has been creating art and living life to the fullest in her favourite place in the world.

She’s one of TravelPod’s most recent additions to the Local Expert team.

I asked her a few questions about her new life and on being a TP Local Expert and here’s what she said:

Lisa Valencia drenched after a rainstorm in Costa Rica

Why did you become a Local Expert?

I love my life in Costa Rica and want to inspire others to follow their dreams, too.

What are the best and worst things about living in Costa Rica?

The best thing is that I can live cheaply, in a beautiful place, and enjoy a leisurely lifestyle. My life is so much simpler here than when I lived in the States. I have time to walk on the beach and have idle conversation with whoever I meet, time to exercise, time to write, time to just be.

The worst thing about living in Costa Rica has not to do with the country but with me. The worst thing about living here is that I am not fluent in Spanish. Life would be so much richer if I was. But I keep learning, every day. I can’t think of anything that bad about living here – Oh! Yes I can – the bathrooms. Public bathrooms are not kept nearly as clean in this country as in the United States.

What are the top five things for travelers to do in Costa Rica from your personal experiences?

1. Go to the Caribbean, play on the beach, get to know the people and do the following:
2. Take a guided jungle hike.
3. Ride a horse in the mountains.
4. Go to a Salsa Club and watch the amazing dancers.
5. Go to the waterfalls.

What are some of your best and worst travel experiences?

There are so many…… and they’re all in my book!
The worst was the night I spent in a cheap hotel – no – it was the time all my clothes were stolen.
The best is every new day!

What is your proudest accomplishment?

In life – the two great kids I raised.
In travel – creating exactly the life I want to live in a tropical paradise, all on my own.

What do you do with most of your time?

It really varies. I write. I sometimes travel to other parts of Costa Rica. I do art work, spend time with my daughter and my friends, ride my bike and on and on……

What’s a typical day like for you?

I get up, do my yoga, eat breakfast and work online answering emails and writing. Then I’ll go out to do errands – buy some groceries, talk to people I meet on the street. Or maybe I’ll go to the beach for a few hours. Sometimes I walk the beach, sometimes I lay in the sun and read a book. At the end of the day, just as the sun is beginning to set, I like to get some more exercise by running on the beach. In the evening I usually eat at home, but sometimes go out to one of the great restaurants here in Puerto Viejo. Then I’ll stop in to one of the four or five places that have live music. Life is good!

What’s your favourite part of the TravelPod forum?

My favorite part is making connections with new people who love traveling and are interested in Costa Rica. I like to share my adventures and learn about theirs.

Featured blogs

Connecting Facebook and TravelPod

We’re very excited to announce a new feature that allows you to sign in to TravelPod using your Facebook account.

The biggest benefit for you, is that you no longer need to remember a separate username and password for TravelPod. Simply “connect” your TravelPod account to your Facebook account and from then on when you’re logged into Facebook, you’ll be able to access your TravelPod blog as well.

To get started, just click “Connect with Facebook” link in the header.

This is only the first step in an ongoing effort to make it easier for you to share your travel experiences with your friends and family.

Look for more great Facebook features on TravelPod in 2010!

Uncategorized

Subtle improvements to the Timeline

Since we first launched the new Timeline feature then we’ve been looking for subtle ways to improve its usability while still maintaining its minimal style and cool interaction with the map.

With today’s changes, when you hover over the green dots we now emphasize the relevant city and we added a country flag that will help you scan through a trip.

You’ll also notice that the map automatically centers itself as you hover over each pin. Clicking on the pin in the Timeline now takes you directly to that entry.

These are small changes that we think improve the Timeline tremendously.

We hope you like the changes as well. Let us know in the comments.

Uncategorized

Lifehacker loves TravelPod

Australia’s version of Lifehacker.com has featured TravelPod in their travel section.

Lifehacker shows users how to simplify their lives using TravelPod

Lifehacker shows users how to simplify their lives using TravelPod

Just another reason to blog with us. TravelPod organizes your travel memories into one convenient package, making it an appropriate “life hack” for anybody doing a trip, no matter what size.

Thanks to Lifehacker and Gail on Tech for showcasing our site!

TravelPod Buzz TravelPod in the news

Spammers Beware!

We’re always on the lookout for spammers creating fake blogs, comments and forum posts.

There are plenty of evil-doers posing as bloggers and putting up fake content and pasting their advertisements on our site.

We’ve just launched a new system that will allow us to target individual spammers, and block them from posting anything on our site.

Once a spammer has violated our terms of service, they are easily pinpointed and blacklisted, never to be seen again.

It’s just another way we are keeping this site as informative and helpful as possible for you and the rest of the community.

We catch most spam, but we can’t catch it all on our own.

Help us make TravelPod a friendly place to blog.

Let us know if you see any spam on your blog, or anywhere else on the site.

 

TravelPod Team TravelPod Updates

Anonymous commenting on all TravelPod blogs

We’ve heard you loud and clear.

Just writing a comment on your friend’s blog doesn’t mean that you’re a blogger.

You shouldn’t have to sign up for a blog account to do keep in touch with your friends on the road.

From now on, it won’t be mandatory to sign up for a new TravelPod account to comment on a blog.


Any reader can click “Add Comment” at the bottom of any blog entry and write back to the author, even if they don’t have a blog on TravelPod.

They simply enter their name, comment and decide whether they want updates.

It’s as simple as that.

We’ve gotten a lot of suggestions on this feature in the past, and we’re happy to change this to accommodate everyone.

We really love getting your feedback on TravelPod features, so please keep them coming.

Let us know what you think

TravelPod Features

TravelPod’s new Trip Timeline Feature

Travel blogs, in general, can sometimes be hard to navigate.

We’ve always tried to think up new ways to make it easier for visitors to find what they’re looking for when browsing blogs on TravelPod. For example, we’ve created interactive maps with pins and tried different “table of contents” layouts ( just to name a few features ).

Still, there was room for improvement and with our recent redesign we took the opportunity to try something new: The Travel Blog Timeline.

TravelPod's new Trip Timeline tool

Each blog entry on TravelPod now has a timeline built-in that your guests can use to read all of your entries.

Each green dot symbolizes an entry in a travel blog and when clicked, let’s you scan each blog entry in conjunction with the map.

The pins are arranged along the timeline by date and sliding your mouse across the length of the timeline makes it easy for visitors to choose a specific entry. A brief summary of each entry hovers over your mouse as the pointer slides across the screen.

** Power tip: If you mouse over the “Trip Start” or “Trip End” labels, a button is revealed that lets you quickly jump to the next or previous entries.

New trip timeline shown on an entry page

Timeline navigation is something new that we think is pretty innovative and are currently in the process of applying for a patent on the idea. We know it’s not perfect yet and we’ll be tweaking and adjusting it to make it as useful as possible based on your feedback.

Good or bad, we want to hear what you think… please try to be as specific with your feedback as possible so that we can make tweaks to perfect this new feature.

Thanks!

Let us know by leaving a comment below, or speaking up in the TravelPod forums.


TravelPod Features

Get your blog onto Lonely Planet’s website

The folks at LonelyPlanet.com have just released a new feature that will get your blog onto their guide pages.

You can submit your blogs to their “Blog Sherpa” program and once someone has reviewed and categorized it, your blog will be seen by people planning a trip to someplace you’ve already been.

lonelyplanet

Here’s how:

1. Login to your LonelyPlanet.com account here. You can even use your Facebook account if you don’t already have a Lonely Planet account.

2. Click on your profile photo to go to your Lonely Planet profile.

3. Click “My travel blog” on the left hand side

4. Click “New travel blog” and fill in the boxes.

5. Make sure you check the box beside Blog Sherpa that says, “Yes, please consider my blog for “Blogs We Like””

Once someone has approved your blog, it will be displayed on one of Lonely Planet’s main pages.

Good luck, and let me know via the comments below, if your blog was chosen to be part of the program.

Blogging news

8 ways TravelPod shows how popular you are

It’s a long awaited development, but we’ve finally released a detailed statistics page.

By clicking on the “stats” link on the right hand side of your Dashboard, you’ll find something that looks like this:

SNAG-0008

From here, there are 8 new ways of finding out how popular your blog is:

1. Total visits this month

Pretty self-explanatory, it’s the total number of people who have read your blog this month

2. Total visits, all time

Again, easy enough to understand. The total number of people who have read your blog since you began blogging

3. Weekly visitor trend

This graph tracks how many people have visited your blog and plots them on a graph through time. Usually you get lots of visitors when you’re actively blogging and traveling

4. Your visitors are from

This world map shows you the proportion of people that visit your blog and which country they are from. The darker the colour, the more visitors come from that country

5. Top Travel Blog Entries this week

It’s easy to tell which of your blog entries is the most popular for the latest week

6. Top Travel Blog Photos & Videos this week

Your most popular photos and videos are shown here every week, with the most popular at the top of the list

7. Top Travel Blog Entries this year

Again, the most popular blog entries from the past year can be found here

8. Top Travel Blog Photos & Videos this year

The most played videos and most clicked photos of the year are shown here, updated every week

View your own stats now

TravelPod Features TravelPod Updates

Sneak preview: TravelPod’s brand new look

travelpodpreview

TravelPod's new look will be revealed in stages

After sifting through feedback from hundreds of TravelPod bloggers, we made TP travel blogs more attractive and easier to navigate, while still keeping with time-honoured TravelPod blogging traditions.

We think you’ll like it.

We’ve worked very hard to maintain all the existing features on TravelPod that you love. We’re sure that you will feel right at home with the new look of your travel blog.

Look for these changes towards the middle of October, 2009.

The main differences between the old and the new look:

(To get this out as soon as possible and start collecting your opinions, we’ll be introducing the new design in phases. Some of these features might not be available on the first day)

  • A cleaner, professionally designed look for your blogs
  • Improved navigation for your visitors
  • An additional world map clearly displaying your trip in the right-hand sidebar
  • An interactive timeline at the top of the screen, making it easier to navigate between entries
  • A larger and more attractive travel map, with bigger map pins and speedy navigation inside the map
  • Blog comments can be left by non-members, and they will have the option to receive email updates of further blog comments
  • A simple “thumbs up” voting system
  • “Embedability” of your interactive travel map. You’ll be able to post your map on other websites like Facebook and Myspace
  • Easier access to the “Support My Travels” option. You’ll collect more donations from visitors

In order to change the site to suit your needs, the TravelPod team has also been ultra-busy behind the scenes updating our website technology. This will allow us to easily change the site, adapting to your demands faster than ever before.

We’re constantly looking for ways to help you blog better and as always, your feedback shapes TravelPod.

Let us know what you think about the new design in the comment section below

  • A cleaner professionally designed look for your blogs
  • Improved navigation for your visitors
  • Add something regarding the fact that the trip map is going back in.
  • TravelPod Updates