Of all the entertaining varieties of travel blogs out there, there’s one category that sets itself apart in a way that I find most appealing – and that’s the expat blog. I’m a wannabe expat myself, so clearly that’s part of the draw for me, but I also think the way an expat approaches blogging is inherently different from any other travel blogger. In fact, many of them wouldn’t even consider themselves travel bloggers, and there’s a good reason for that.
It’s because they’re not.
Being an expat blogger can mean writing about cultural observations about one’s chosen home, or about the new cafe or shop or museum one discovers in the getting-to-know-you phase of living in a different place. But once you’re settled in, it can be hard to continue to look at where you live as a traveler might. Which is why so many expat blogs are one part travel guide, one part cultural anthropology class, and one part “what I had for breakfast” blog.
Obviously, with this kind of ingredient list it takes a good writer (or photographer) to keep things interesting. So in this article I want to highlight a few of what I think are the best expat blogs out there.
15 of the Best Expat Blogs (in No Particular Order)
Miss Expatria (Rome & Montpellier) – Christine Cantera, AKA Miss Expatria, is one of my favorite bloggers, period. She’s hysterically funny but also unfailingly charming with her enthusiasm for everything. She’s like a kid in the candy store of the world, and no matter where she is she’s in love with something enough to tell you about it. Reading her blog, you feel like you’re chatting with an old friend over coffee. Or wine. Or both.
David Lebovitz: Living the Sweet Life in Paris (Paris) – David’s a food writer who lives in Paris, so the blog is equal parts food porn and Parisian (sweet) life. His cultural observations are amusing as well as interesting, and a recent post about what he’d miss if he moved away from Paris was particularly enlightening. (His Twitter updates are immensely entertaining as well.)
Alexandre Gervais (Tokyo) – Alexandre Gervais’ self-titled blog is a showcase for his photography, and what beautiful photography it is. He’s from Montreal, and moved to Japan to learn Japanese – thankfully he’s also a top-notch photographer who enjoys sharing his surroundings with the rest of the world. The words are minimal on the site, but the pictures are huge; and, for photo-geeks, the technical details of each picture are provided, too.
Traveling Mama (Morocco) – Tina and her family are, technically speaking, in the middle of something of a round-the-world trip. It’s just that they’ve been in Morocco since early 2007 and her husband runs a language school there – so I think it’s probably more accurate to call them expats than travelers at the moment. Either way, the blog is beautiful (the fact that Tina’s husband is also a skilled photographer doesn’t hurt!) and the writing lovely.
Danish Accent (Portland) – One of the best things about an expat blog is the potential for seeing your own home country in a new way, so finding expat blogs in the United States is particularly fun – especially when that blogger lives part-time in your home city, too! Peter Fogtdal is an author who splits his time between Copenhagen in his native Denmark and Portland, Oregon, where he’s a literature and writing professor. His blog includes posts about his travels and cultural observations, as well as information about the books he’s written.
Still Life in South America (Buenos Aires) – As the about page of this blog states, it’s “part travel journal and part resource for fellow travelers,” which is a pretty good combination for an expat blog. It’s written by an American writer and English professor who moved to South America in early 2008 with her husband in order to learn Spanish, and they’ve lived in Buenos Aires since mid-2009. You may never know the name of “the writer,” but the writing is great, and the photos are plentiful.
Isoglossia (Slovenia & Bulgaria) – I’m oddly drawn to Isoglossia, despite it feeling like it’s more about things like potty-training and other child-rearing topics than about travel, because the author is bitingly funny. John is an American who recently moved his family from Slovenia to Sofia, Bulgaria, so it’s possible the new environs will inspire more travel-esque posts in the future. Even if that’s not the case, however, the site is worth stopping by for a good chuckle now and then (as is the Twitter feed). And any travel trivia freak will be happy to know just what an isogloss is.
Rome Photo Blog (Rome) – There’s no shortage of “daily photo blogs,” but I particularly like Jessica Stewart’s. She’s a talented photographer who has a knack for spotting things in her adopted city that you might miss if you were just passing through (she’s particularly fascinated by street art). Looking at her photos makes me look at my surroundings, wherever I am, in a new way – which is a great attitude to have whether you’re traveling or not.
Diary of a White Indian Housewife (Mumbai) – Sharell met the man of her dreams in a Kolkata nightclub while on leave from her job in Melbourne, and that changed her life forever. They got married and moved to Mumbai, where she is – as the blog title indicates – a “white Indian housewife” who writes about travel in India for About.com and about life in India on her blog. There are cultural observations, travel tips, and tidbits about daily life – and there are also lots of pictures.
Le Franco Phoney (La Clusaz) – As you can probably tell from the cute blog name, this blogger has a sense of humor. Australian April Hollands moved to the French Alps after two stints living in England in order to be closer to snow (she loves winter sports), and has been blogging since mid-2008. April’s a writer with a background in journalism, but don’t worry about getting overwhelmed by hard-hitting serious topics on her blog. You’ll find more in the way of funny observations about life in France on the blog than anything else, and that’s one of the things that makes it so delightful.
Touching Up My Roots (Croatia) – This blog is about one American family’s journey tracing ancestral roots in Mrkopalj, Croatia. The blog’s author, Jennifer, is the one with the Croatian family ties, but her husband and their two kids are along for the adventure, too. There’s evidently a book in the works, but you can follow along before publication on Jen’s Croatia blog – full of photos and colorful local personalities. And for fun, check out the kids’ blog, too.
From Russia With Love (Rostov-on-Don) – Eileen Emch is a missionary in “the largest city in southwest Russia,” Rostov-on-Don, and has lived there since 1999. She’s been blogging since 2006, and her blog is full of observations on both the local culture and what travel is like in the former Soviet Union. She’s an experienced and eager traveler (not to mention an eager blogger), and she takes lots of pictures.
Living in Egypt (Cairo) – As Maryanne Stroud Gabbani says on her website, “I have experienced Egypt myself as a tourist and then as someone living here on a day to day basis. I know the difference.” Maryanne’s been in Egypt since the 1980s, blogging since 2003, and she now leads horseback riding tours in Giza. Her perspectives as both a long-time local and yet still an outsider make for an interesting read.
Emilie Johnson (Paris) – There’s a nice mixture on this blog of travel tidbits and what Emilie’s daily life is like in Paris, plus she takes lovely photos. The cast of characters includes her French husband and his adorable daughter as well as her in-laws, so you get a feel for French family life in addition to expat life. Read up on Parisian life quickly, though, as it appears Emilie’s returning to New York (with her French family in tow) in early 2010. Let’s just hope she keeps blogging.
Ahoy, Hanoi! (Hanoi) – Although the author of this blog is starting to bounce around a bit location-wise, he’s still firmly outside his home country and pretty funny no matter where he is. Ben August had planned to spend six months in Hanoi, but then he met a girl – you know how that goes. He ended up staying for more than a year, and even returned after traveling for awhile. Ben’s got a great sense of humor, and posts lots of photos and video of his life in Vietnam and his travels throughout the region.
Finding Expat Bloggers
We’ve all heard how everyone has a blog these days, and sometimes that feels true – which is why I said this is only a list of some of the great expat blogs out there. There are, as you might expect, a kajillion (that’s a technical term) expat blogs, and a huge number of them are really interesting.
If you’re looking for more expat blogs, one handy place to look – especially if you’re looking for blogs in a specific location – is the Expat Blogs site. You can find blogs by country, and you can also find information about living in that country.
And if your favorite expat blog wasn’t included in this list above, please let us know what it is in the comments section below. We love finding out about new expats worth following.
About the Author
BootsnAll staff writer Jessica Spiegel is midway through the excessively long paperwork process involved in becoming a legal immigrant to Italy, and in the meantime she continues to write about Italy travel for BnA on WhyGo Italy. You can also find her on Twitter @italylogue.
photo by mangpages