Many college graduates backpack through Europe, drive across the country or splurge on visiting an exotic destination before joining the working world. But Robert Allen, Pip Bennett and Jeremy Boote, who have known each other since they were 14, turned their travel bug into a business project, Unearth Travel.
Since launching their site two years ago, Allen and Boote have grown Unearth Travel to a 30,000-user Web site. Now 25, the South Londoners came up with the idea of developing an online guide after travel books did not meet their expectations.
Unearth Travel heavily relies on user contributions, like a Wikipedia for travel. The main feature is "The World Guide," which includes a planner and guides written and monitored by users and team members. Other features include an itinerary builder, gallery and reviews.
The site’s advice section offers information on responsible tourism, tours, travel networking, itineraries, books and gadgets. It also features a place of destination, which gives basic information like when to visit and what sights to see. All the content is based on user contributions.
For avid travelers constantly on the move and who are not wary of identity theft, Unearth Travel offers a personal storage area to save an electronic copy of your passport and travelers checks. The team is in the process of sending this vital information to a more secure data storage area on their private servers.
According to Bennett, the most popular tool on Unearth Travel is the itinerary builder, but Londoners flock to the blog area. The popularity may come from the section’s weekly "London Top 10 List," a roundup of local events.
While the layout is user-friendly, Unearth Travel is difficult to navigate at times because there is so much to offer and the site’s databases are in constant development as new applications are added. The developers hope to eventually expand the itinerary section so that it does more than just draw the route across a map, Bennett said.
Australia is the most written-about destination, and travel tales from Southern and Western Africa are beginning to surface into the guides, Bennett said.