About Amateur Traveler

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Chris Christensen of the Amateur Traveler

The Amateur Traveler podcast and blog are the creation of Chris Christensen.

When did the Amateur Traveler start?

The first Amateur Traveler podcast episode went out July 2th of 2005.

Tell us about your show and who should be listening to it?

The Amateur Traveler audio podcast is about travel destinations. It helps you decide where to go next. The show usually features an interview with a destination expert or with a traveler who has been to the destination recently. The show intends to motivate people to travel and I have started posting stories of people who have been motivated by the Amateur Traveler to travel as the series “Our Travels“. We share travel tips, things you would not learn from the guidebook, funny travel stories and surprises.

Why did you create the Amateur Traveler?

The podcast content predates the other blog content. I am a podcast junky and listen to around 70 podcasts. I knew I wanted to do a podcast before I knew what the podcast would be about. Then on Memorial Day in 2005 we had friends over and I realize that most of the best stories people told had to do with travel.

What is your background?

By day I work at a startup in Silicon Valley. I am by trade a software engineer, manager and executive.

Other than a little experience at my college radio station I had not done any audio work before starting podcasting, although I have done a fair amount of public speaking. I do, however, come from a long line of story tellers. Some day I will do a podcast about the stories my father told me growing up: the time my grandfather walked into the bank while it was being robbed, the story about their dog that saved my aunt from a rattlesnake, etc.

Growing up we did a lot of traveling for vacation, usually pulling a small trailer between various national parks. The success of a vacation for the Christensens was measured with an odometer.

I enjoy learning new languages before I travel and have studied German, French, Italian, Spanish, Mandarin, Turkish, Russian, Swahili and Greek. I find the language to be a great window into a culture. For instance in Swahili the language uses the same word for guest and stranger. In Chinese the character for good is a woman with a baby. Although I have studied a number of languages I am only fluent in English and that only when properly caffeinated.

Do you create Amateur Traveler by yourself?

For the longest time the answer to this question was “yes”, but now I get the help of two virtual assistants. Jeffrey edits the Amateur Traveler audio show including putting in the photos to the iTunes enhanced version. Kirsten manages all the reviews and does a lot of the posting and scheduling for guest posts.

Do you make any money off of things you advertise on the Amateur Traveler?

Not always, but let’s just assume that every link is an affiliate link and leave it at that.

Is there anything else your listeners should know about you, your show, etc?

Two of my passions are learning new things and humor. I think both are reflected in the show. A number of people have commented that the show has a “comfortable” style. I like that. I think my grandfather would be pleased with that.


Have you gotten any interesting press coverage?

National Geographic Traveler said in their April 2006 edition:

“Some podcasts have gained a minor cult following. For example, some 1,000 listeners follow Californian Chris Christensen’s Amateur Traveler series, a mix of personal adventures, travel news, and helpful tips.”

Men’s Journal said in their September 2006 edition:

“One of the 4 best adventure travel podcasts”

The Chicago Sun Times included the show in their list of 10 “Best travel sites” in April 2007:

“We’re thrilled when we stumble on diamonds in the rough like AmateurTraveler.com. This relaxed weekly podcast hosted by Chris Christensen offers travel tips, news and interviews with fellow explorers that provide that personal perspective missing from most guidebooks. A player embedded on the site makes listening convenient, and amateur videos provide front-and-center glimpses of some of Christensen’s treks.”

Best Life MagazineBest Life Magazine, a men’s magazine, named a list of the “The 10 best podcasts on the Internet“ in the May 2008 edition. In addition to two shows from NPR, the TED conference, the Economist, they named the Amateur Traveler.

Chris Christensen created “Amateur Traveler,” a weekly hour-long audio and video podcast, to keep you as far away from tourists wearing jean shorts and Big Johnson T-shirts as possible. Each episode explores world destinations with guidebook writers, journalists, and veteran nomads. You’ll learn the best place to find lobster paella in Barcelona, how to motorbike through India, and where to go for a far-flung family vacation. Whet your wanderlust by scrolling through the archive of more than 125 past broadcasts.