As a user of several Web photo hosting services, I've settled on Flickr, and one of the things it's really good for is loading a bunch of vacation pictures into a set and sending a link to that to my family members. That's about where the experience ends, though. There's not a built-in blogging tool, or a simple way to set up your shots with a lot of narration short of writing extensive captions. Many folks I know simply opened up WordPress or Blogger accounts and started up a disposable travel blog for such a purpose.
Besides going that route, there's a nice little niche market for a site like Driftr, which joins the ranks of RealTravel and TravelPost in providing travelers with a blogging tool that's been specialized for putting up photos and blog entries in a network of other travel bloggers. In short, the service lets you upload your travel shots or simply link up with Flickr to pull in any photo sets. These go alongside entries about local eateries, hotels, and activities, which can be rated on a scale of 1 to 10 and given URLs to point other users to their business page, Yelp review, etc. The goal is to let you put together microsites for each trip that allow other readers to quickly check out your photos, or dig deeper and read what you did while you were there.
On the social side of things, you can already browse other members' profiles, although there's not yet a way to add other users as friends--something I'm told is coming shortly. To coincide with that, users will soon be able to leave comments and send internetwork messages to one another, as well.
Compared with a standalone blogging platform, Driftr's writing tools leave something to be desired. It's got a nice feature that'll create an entry for each day of your trip, but there's no WYSIWYG editing for things like hyperlinks or other text formatting. What Driftr's really got going for it is its simplicity. It's easy to link up to Flickr (and according to the creators, more services are coming), as well as browse from trips you've taken off the large map that highlights the regions you've been in. It's also easy to explore other people's entries, as they get linked up by location to the world map.
The service is still in closed alpha, with the intent to open up early next year. We've been given 20 invites for Webware readers in case you're interested in giving it a look. Just e-mail hello (at) driftr.com with "Webware" (no quotation marks) in the subject line, and you'll receive an invite link right away if you've made the cut. Otherwise, you can find the alpha sign-up on the service's front page.