Being a longtime listener and viewer of the Amateur Traveler podcasts I jumped at the first opportunity of speaking with Chris Christensen about travel and his perspectives of things that enable and supplement our travel experiences.
Chris of course is the host of the Amateur Traveler, an extremely popular online travel show that focuses primarily on travel destinations. It includes a weekly audio podcast, a video podcast, and a blog. The Amateur Traveler audio show started in 2005 and has averaged 1 million downloads over the last 3 years. Chris also is one of the 3 hosts of the award winning This Week in Travel podcast. Clearly the only thing “amateur” about it all is the name of the show itself.
Chris is a regular speaker at various industry events as well, and was recently involved in couple of sessions at TBEX 2013. TBEX is where world’s most prominent travel bloggers, writers and new media content creators gather to talk all things travel.
Apart from travel, I share with Chris another huge interest, that of podcasts. I like to describe myself as a podcast junkie and by his own admission Chris subscribes to over 70 podcasts himself. The idea of “The Amateur Travel” was germinated through his obsession with podcasts.
Excerpts from our chat:
- I read that your love affair with traveling started way back in your childhood through your parents. Those road trips as a kid taught you a lot. That fascination has clearly trickled down quite well. I was curious to know if you’re a full time traveler now?
Chris - Actually I have a day job, I only worked as a full-time blogger for 8 months in 2010. While I did quit my day job last week, I plan to support myself with software development, not blogging.
- With all the high quality work you produce regularly, it’s hard to believe this is not your full-time job. What do you think about flying? Any recent and notable flight experience?
Chris - I love flying. You get to soar through the air like a bird. I don’t see how anyone can tire of that. I had a chance to fly on one of the first Boeing Dreamliner 787s out of San Jose to Tokyo recently as a guest of ANA. Great plane to a great destination. (Read his report here)
- Airports are an integral part of flying. Which one do you prefer?
Chris - I like San Francisco, which is my usual airport. Modern, spacious and my gateway to the world.
- And which city has impressed you most while traveling? Any outstanding experience you would like to recall?
Chris - I loved Istanbul, Tanzania and Egypt. Egypt and Istanbul for the history, and Tanzania for both the wildlife and its people.
If I had to pick my very favorite day traveling it would probably be visiting the Ngorongoro Crater on a safari in Tanzania. Being three feet away from a lioness (fortunately with a good strong car window in between us) when she growled was outstanding all right.
- How would you like to improve the current crop of airports? What one addition (except Wi-Fi) can be most helpful for travelers in your view?
Chris - Lots and lots more places to plug in a laptop.
- Traveling is not your full time day job but you still manage to balance your passion with profession pretty well. What advise can you give other aspiring travelers reading this?
Chris - Don’t quit your day job might be an odd advise to come from me, so let’s say at least don’t over estimate how much money you can make as a blogger until you are making money as a blogger. It can take a while to build up an audience and most full time bloggers are either a second income or live someplace cheap.
- Wise words. Tell us your deep dark secrets of pre-travel research.
Chris - We look up hotels on TripAdvisor. I like visual guidebooks like the Eyewitness Guides and often where I go these days is influenced by episode of Amateur Traveler where someone has come on the show and told me of some amazing place.
- And finally Chris, give us your 3 must follow twitter accounts.
Chris - My passion for travel predates social media by decades but I do like keeping in touch with social media. Some of my favorite twitter accounts to follow are:
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