Long before blogs such as this one came into being, before Facebook and Instagram, and even before the founding of FlyerTalk, there was a place on the internet for travelers to share trip reports. Started in 1997 by Canadian Luc Levesque, TravelPod grew to become a very popular and easy to use platform in the travel space used by thousands to share their worldly exploits.
TravelPod became so popular in fact that in 2007 it was acquired by TripAdvisor.
But as of next month, it will be no more. The company posted the following message on their website today and sent out emails to their members:
After 20 years of leading the travel blogging revolution, it’s time for us to sign off. It’s with heavy hearts that we must announce that TravelPod will be closing on June 19, 2017. In the meantime, we want you to know that you can now download a complete archive of all of your entries, blogs, photos, and address book information. It’s all on your TravelPod Dashboard when you sign in, and will be active up until our closing date of June 19, 2017. Thank you for going on this unforgettable journey with us.
They don’t really cite a reason for the closing, but I suppose we can guess it has to do with competition from Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms that also offer methods for chronicling travel. And of course, WordPress has made hosting your own blog incredibly easy as well.
Still, I wonder how they couldn’t at least breakeven on the costs, given the ad revenue that they presumably generate from the otherwise free content. That said, their SEO never seemed all that great, given that I rarely saw a TravelPod blog pop up, unless I was searching for some obscure place. So who knows.
For those looking for an alternative, TravelPod is recommending a community driven site called TravelArk.
My experience with TravelPod
Before Ben asked me to join him here at OMAAT, my wife and I would use TravelPod to write up our trips. It was convenient, had a straightforward interface, and some handy mapping tools available. Plus it was free.
We always kind of knew this day might come — and honestly I feared they might just shut down with no notice whatsoever — so I would urge her to back up her posts elsewhere as well. Though of course, we rarely did.
So I do very much appreciate the month notice they provided, as well as the archive backup tool they have available.
What will survive from our generation?
The closing of TravelPod causes me to pause and reflect on the seemingly daunting task of preserving the massive amounts of content that are created everyday. What will survive the test of time from our era that will allow the future generations to learn from us? What is the best way to preserve some memories such that our great-grandkids might have a chance of being able to read, watch, or listen to it?
The older I get, the more I think about this stuff.
At breakfast the other morning I was reading an article in IEEE Spectrum (yes, I’m a geek) about how our digital movies may not exist in 100 years. The scary part is that they aren’t talking about your home movies, but rather Hollywood blockbusters and the like. A Technicolor technician predicts that “there’s going to be a large dead period,” he told me, “from the late ’90s through 2020, where most media will be lost.”
If they can’t preserve their archives, what chance do we have with ours?
The amount of content that the world is generating on a daily and even hourly basis is just staggering. I occasionally ponder the future of blogs such as this one and wonder what will happen when technologies evolve and the way media is consumed changes — will anyone care about the millions of words that Ben and company have penned here over the years? I once figured that having a few of my writings published as part of a major blog has to at least improve the odds that they survive into the future, but is that just a fallacy? What will become of the BoardingArea archives in 20, 40, or 100 years?
It’s a sobering thought.
TravelPod is closing down as of June 19, 2017. If you have trip reports hosted there, make sure you download your archive ASAP. And if you’re like me, take the time to ponder the longevity of your content, scattered as it may be across the web.
Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you.
Did you use TravelPod? Are you sad to see it go?