Pretraveller Top 10 Posts of 2013

Anne Sutherland-Smith @Pretraveller
Anne Sutherland-Smith @Pretraveller
Anne Sutherland-Smith @Pretraveller

The Pretraveller blog has now been running for almost two years and they have definitely been a period of growth and learning!  Thank you to my regular readers for your support over this period.

Over 2013 I have seen my site traffic grow significantly to a point where my monthly views have grown five fold in comparison to the end of 2012.  In addition I have also seen my number of followers across direct following and social media increase by a similar magnitude!  And I also managed to squeeze in some travel experiences despite some of our challenges this year…

I was also mentioned in two list posts for 2013 which have driven regular traffic and advertisers to my site!  So I would also like to say a big thank you to:

Transition from to Self Hosted WordPress

In February 2013 I transferred the Pretraveller blog from to self hosted WordPress.  This was a big change but I decided it was essential as I had reached a frustration point with as a result of not having access to the full range of WordPress plugins.

After doing a trial run with my new theme and spending many hours trialling my host servers, theme set up and plugins I finally made the change.  Ten months later I am VERY happy with my decision to make the change.  I have also learned a lot about administering my own WordPress site and would definitely recommend it to others who may be thinking about making the change.

My best recommendation is to purchase a junk domain name and use this to go through the full process of setting up your site.  I definitely recommend Hostgator as your host as I have been very happy with their service.  I spent many hours using my junk domain to learn how to operate self hosted WordPress .  As a result when I was finally ready to transfer my main domain name I was able to set up the full WordPress installation so it was operational and appeared professional within only a few hours.

If you are interested in this process please leave a comment on this article and I will email you my recommended theme and plugins etc to help you get started.  I can also send you my list of hacker IP addresses to block but that is another story!!

Finally, here are the top 10 most read Pretraveller posts of 2013!

1.   10 Hedonistic Australian Artesian Hot Springs You Haven’t Tried Yet

Anne’s Comment:  This article was inspired by our visit to the Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre in April 2013 which was such a lovely experience to relax in the hot artesian waters.  I decided to research a bit further to find out what other artesian hot springs could be visited and was pleasantly surprised to find many more options which I shared with my readers in June 2013. 

I also wrote a follow up article called 10 More Hedonistic Australian Hot Springs You Haven’t Tried Yet which has also been popular.

As I eased my tired and tense body into the 40C (104F) hot artesian springs I felt a sense of relaxation which had eluded me for a while.  Soaking in peace in a swimming pool sized hot spa bath was an unmissable pleasure of visiting the Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre.

Across outback northern New South Wales and Queensland lies a string of ten towns which have affordable artesian swimming pools which are outback Australia’s unique version of hot springs.  The naturally hot mineral rich water is pumped from the hidden Great Artesian Basin which lies underneath approximately one fifth of Australia’s landmass.  Read more…

The Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre Wellness Centre, NSW Australia
The Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre Wellness Centre, NSW Australia

2.   The London Eye and Giant Ferris Wheels of the World

Anne’s Comment:  I can’t remember what inspired me to write this article (apart from the fact that I went on the London Eye about 10 years ago) but since publication in March 2013 it has received consistent traffic and also shows up on the first page of Google for its keywords.  I have also had to update this article several times after my broken link checker alerted me of changes to the linked websites!

The giant London Eye Ferris Wheel became an instantly recognisable icon of the London skyline when it opened in March 2000.  After the success of the London Eye over 20 other giant Ferris wheel projects have been initiated around the world, some which have been successful and many which never got further than a concept.

Giant Ferris wheels or giant observation wheels are significantly slower than conventional Ferris wheels.  Typically you will only travel through a single rotation of the wheel which is in constant slow motion. Giant Ferris wheels usually do not stop to allow passengers to disembark and embark.  They move so slowly that passenger changeovers can occur while the wheel is in motion.  The passenger capsules are spacious and you are usually able to walk around to enjoy the panoramic views as you slowly travel around the giant wheel circumference.  Read more…

The Singapore Flyer, a giant Ferris wheel in Singapore
The Singapore Flyer, a giant Ferris wheel in Singapore

3.   5 Top Tips to Prepare Your Car for a Big Road Trip

Anne’s Comment:  This article was published in January 2013 and it has received a steady flow of traffic since then.  I also cross linked it into all of my Australian road trip articles which has helped to drive the traffic.

Everyone loves a road trip.  There is a feeling of freedom as you get started, knowing that you can do as much or as little as you like.  But it is important to get ready for your trip to ensure you are prepared for most eventualities.  Here are five tips to ensure you are ready to get started and get home safely.  Read more…

Road Trip - Car Preparation

4.   Awesome Australian 2WD Road Trips: Sydney to Coffs Harbour on the Pacific Highway

Anne’s comment:  After being published in November 2012 this article quickly rated as 9th most popular on my 2012 top 10 article list.  It has since pushed through to make it onto the 2013 list as well. 

This was the kick off article for my Australian road trip articles which now cover the routes from Sydney through to Bowen (I will one day write the final article through to Cairns and Cooktown!), and also from Darwin to Alice Springs.

The road trip between Sydney and Brisbane is fittingly one of the most popular in Australia.  The combination of beautiful beaches, national parks, Australian history and gourmet food and wine experiences make the Sydney to Brisbane road trip an attractive option for many visitors.

Interestingly most of the best places to visit are within a short distance of the main route so to make the most of the trip you need to be prepared to go on regular side trips.  All options described in this article are accessible by 2WD vehicles such as cars and vans.  The Legendary Pacific Coast website has good information about different places to visit and a variety of itineraries.

This article covers the section of the Pacific Highway road trip from Sydney to Coffs Harbour.  Read more…

beach, Australia

5.   6 Super Australian Sand Dune Slides You Haven’t Tried Yet

Anne’s comment:  This article was published in December 2012 and has since been a steady performer.  It was inspired by our family trip to outback NSW in 2011 where we went sliding on the red sand dunes at the Perry Sandhills which was fabulous!

The steep divots up the red sand dune seemed to go on forever.  On what felt like my 100th trek up the hill with my surprisingly energetic children I decided that this was the last time.  After finally reaching the top I took a moment to catch my breath with a side benefit of being able to enjoy the amazing view across the red sand dunes.

Getting back to business I set up the snow toboggan to share with one of my children and we were finally ready to go.  3-2-1 and we sped at mach speed down the dune shrieking all the way until we stacked at the end!  10 minutes of exertion, 5 seconds of absolute pleasure…  Maybe I could climb the hill again…

There is a basic human urge to slide down sand dunes where ever possible.  Australia has a surprising range of sand dune sliding options across the countryside which are readily accessible to most people to enjoy the thrill!  And get some exercise on the side…  Read more…

Perry Sand Hills, Outback Australia

6.   3 Breathtaking Bridge Climbs of the World

Anne’s Comment:  This article was published in February 2013 and has since been a steady performer.  It was inspired by my living in Sydney and having done the Sydney Bridge Climb myself over 10 years ago.

You can walk across bridges anywhere in the world.  But did you realise that there are only three places in the world where you can climb on the top of a bridge?  All three are ‘Down Under’ in Australia and New Zealand.  The standout option is the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb, which is closely followed by the Brisbane Storey Bridge and the Auckland Harbour Bridge Climbs.  Read more…

Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb, Australia
If you look carefully you can see the silhouettes of people doing the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb on the top left section of the arch of the bridge.

7.   8 Tranquil Australian Treetop Adventures You Haven’t Tried Yet

Anne’s Comment:  This article was inspired by my having visited the Otway Fly about 7 years previous and I have also been on the Skyrail near Cairns years before that.  Since writing the article I have now also visited the Illawarra Fly which was amazing however I have not yet written about it!! 

This article was published in February 2013 and has since been a steady performer.  I originally published this post as a list of 7 until a reader pointed out that I had missed one!  I will never use the list number in the URL ever again…

Every turn through the rainforest treetops revealed new treasures.  We felt a sense of awe from being so high above the forest floor.  Our elevated walking tour through the quiet canopy of the Otway rainforest brought me an unexpected sense of serenity.

Walking on the ground through a forest is a wonderful experience. Having the rarer opportunity to walk or glide at an elevated height through the forest canopy is even better!  Here are eight Australian tree top options to enjoy.  Read more…

Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk, Western Australia
Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk, Western Australia

8.   How to Survive Your Long Haul Flight

Anne’s Comment:  This article was published in August 2012 as was rated as my 5th most popular article in the 2012 list.  It has since been a consistent performer.

Before you purchase that cheap airline ticket to a far flung destination stop and think about how you will survive the long haul flight.  Here are six tips to manage the long haul flight experience and get off to a great start for your vacation.  Read more…

Travel Hacking Your Flights

9.   Road Trip to Outback Australia: White Cliffs, Broken Hill, Mildura and Mungo National Park #Longform

Anne’s Comment:  This article was an experiment in #longform which was an aggregation of a series of 8 separate articles I wrote in early 2012 to chronicle our Outback Australia road trip in 2011.  It was published in November 2012 and was quickly rated as my 2nd most popular article for 2012.  It has since continued to be a consistent performer whereas I only see minimal traffic to the original separate articles.

The thought of driving over 3000km (1900 miles) in only twelve days was confronting.  To my dismay I had agreed with my husband to go on a road trip to outback Australia with our three young children in tow.  Read more…

Cobar - Road to Nowhere - Outback Australia

10.       Awesome Australian 2WD Road Trips: Alice Springs to Uluru (Ayers Rock) on the Stuart Highway

Anne’s Comment:  Over the early part of 2013 I spent considerable time and effort researching and writing the Darwin to Uluru road trip series.  As a result while I have already visited parts of the route I am personally very keen to do this road trip in the future. 

This article was the final one in the series and was published in September 2013 and it has since been a consistent performer.

The Northern Territory road trip between Darwin and Uluru (Ayers Rock) is regarded as an essential Australian outback experience.  A diverse range of experiences are available along the route, ranging from the awesome spectacle of Uluru, thermal hot springs and amazing National Parks.

To make the most of the road trip you need to be prepared to take some side trips, however in the Northern Territory these will be limited for a 2WD vehicle.  All of the options described in this article are accessible by 2WD vehicles such as cars and vans.  Read more…

Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), Northern Territory Australia
Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), Northern Territory Australia

Way Forward for 2014

I hope you have enjoyed a reflective journey through the Pretraveller 2013 archive.  It will be interesting to see the way forward for 2014!

2014 will be a big year for me personally as a result of some significant changes occurring in my family.  In addition I will be recommencing part time study in 2014 which will reduce the amount of time I can spend blogging.  I intend for the Pretraveller blog to still continue and keep growing so we will see how that all goes in reality!


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Thanks for your support in 2013 and I look forward to a great 2014 with you all!  Please let me know in the comments below if any of these articles struck a chord for you.

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  • Congratulations, Anne, on a great year on Pretraveller. Personally I’m loving the compilation posts you’re doing at the moment ( and not just because you were kind enough to feature frugalfirstclasstravel. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with in 2014.

    • Jo, thanks for your comment, it has been a really great year! I decided to do the compilation posts following a suggestion from my husband as an option to write new articles more quickly, and they have certainly been well received so far. I plan to keep them going in 2014 and we will see how they evolve over the year. Usually I will see an article which catches my attention and I will then use that as a theme for the whole article. All the best for you also in 2014!

  • Well done on a successful transition to a self-hosted site, Anne and on your increased traffic. All the best for 2014. Looking forward to reading your future posts.

    • Carolyn, thanks for your comment. I am happy that 2013 has been a good year for Pretraveller – I set some stretch goals at the start of 2013 which I actually achieved which is great! I can see that my momentum is progressively increasing which is really nice to see in action.

      That is one of the reasons I decided to write the Top 40 Australian and New Zealand travel bloggers article as after tracking the similar metrics for Pretraveller over the past 18 months I felt that I was well informed to be able to assess other travel blogs.

      All the best for you as well for 2014!

  • Anne,
    great pictures! I especially love the Sydney Harbor Bridge picture, breath taking! Also, congrats on your visitor volume increasing, that’s great. Thanks for the post, I really enjoyed it!

  • Really great posts you had in 2013, I truly enjoyed reading.
    I’m not ready yet to move to a self-hosted site but congrats on the great changes on your site. Happy New Year

    • Freya, thanks for your comment and you support across the year.

      If you are ever interested in shifting to self hosted WordPress please let me know as I can send you some information to help you get started.

  • Congrats on the move! I also moved into wordpress a few months ago from blogger and it is definitely a massive improvement.

    Sounds like you have had a great year! I love your Australia road trip posts. I am inspired to do an Australian road trip myself now after our great success with our US one.

    • Sharon, thanks for your comment. I am definitely happy that I made the move to self hosted WordPress – it has been so much better an I have really seen my traffic increase since then.

      Let me know if you are planning a bigger Australian road trip – I have a new (rather large) article coming out in just over a week which consolidates a trip to the Red Centre area.

  • I love to travel and have been already to a handful of foreign countries.

    Thanks for sharing some of your best posts on your blog.

    Keep up the good work!

    – Sam

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