When I was a kid, I remember my Dad had a world map hanging in a basement closet, pins sticking out of the various locations he and my Mom had visited over the years.
These days, I'm a sucker for online travel maps, the interactive kind which allow you to shade in the countries you've visited or would like to visit in the future (and then show off to everyone).
GeckoGo, a new travel planning site, shines in this respect.
The home page prominently features an interactive map which allows users to view the ideal month to visit countries based on specific criteria (or none at all).
For example, September is considered an ideal time to visit Australia, Spain and Brazil for their beaches, while South Africa and Iran are listed as just OK.
Clearly, the tool is meant to get you thinking in one direction or another, not be the definitive answer to when you should sip a caipirinha on the beaches of Copacabana.
GeckoGo's creators, a group of young Canadians, are clearly passionate about developing an online resource for independent travelers with an informal, friendly vibe.
After reading their tongue-in-cheek profiles, I signed up for my own in a matter of minutes. I appreciated the intuitive process and uncluttered page layouts.
I diligently filled out my personal ” travel scorecard”? (map), racking up 23 countries visited, though is it really fair to count Macau?
In addition to maps, the design of the site is based around wiki-style, user-generated content.
While fully occupied with travel at the moment, I can imagine a time when I'm back in America, doing a brain-dump of all my experiences and recommendations onto a site like GeckoGo for the benefit of others.
Despite being the new kid on the block, the site is populated with thousands of listings from sights on Hong Kong Island to travel tips about Donegal, Ireland.
My only suggestion for improvement, beyond the never-ending need to add (and encourage the addition of) new content, is to find a way to better integrate the Google advertising.
The square blocks of text links feel like they're edging out the all-important travel information.
This review was written by Dave, and brought to you by GeckoGo. All opinions are my own.