Named “Best Independent Travel Journalist” by Travel+Leisure Magazine

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Travel+Leisure Magazine awarded their annual SMITTY (Social Media in Travel + Tourism) Awards this week. The winner of the Best Independent Travel Journalist / Blogger was

“Its 400-plus destination-themed podcasts have been downloaded more than seven million times. @AmateurTraveler” – Travel+Leisure

The following is an interview with Amateur Traveler creator Chris Christensen

What was your reaction to the award?

Chris: I was very pleased to hear we won the SMITTY Award, the Travel+Leisure award for the independent journalist and blogger. One of the things that pleased me most is that the emphasized the podcast. We have done over 400 episodes, as they mentioned with over 400 downloads a year. It’s nice to get some recognition for all the work that goes into that. We put in more than 8 hours of work into every episode and we cover nations, we cover different destinations all over the globe, so that was pretty cool.

What is the story behind Amateur Traveler?

Chris: Amateur Traveler, the podcast came first, the audio show. It came about nine years ago. The idea for Amateur Traveler started at a Memorial Day picnic. We had some friends over and we were telling stories and the best stories were travel stories. Originally the idea was that it would be all about my travel stories but it very quickly turned into talking about other people’s travel stories and became an interview show talking about destinations I have never been to and some that I will probably never get to. We have interviewed people who have been all over the world. We talk about everything from when you go to Chicago what should you put on your Chicago dog to going to Tonga and swimming with whales.

Who listens to Amateur Traveler?

Chris:  The listeners to Amateur Traveler tend to be very varied in age but they tend to be a fairly well educated group. We tend to go and focus in on the history and culture as we focus in on a particular destination and I think that is probably what brings educated listeners to listen. But they come from all walks of life. We have people who say they discovered the Amateur Traveler and it helped them get through that bus ride from hell in Morocco and we have other people who say that they haven’t started traveling yet but they are listening while they sort mail in the post office. A lot of people are listening while they are walking the dog or while they are working out or various other activities. Probably the best one I heard was the people who were biking across the world, biking across Asia at the time that we connected, and they were listening to the Amateur Traveler in their tent at night. That was probably the best story.

What travel stories stand out from the Amateur Traveler?

Chris: In terms of stories that our guests have told, one of the ones that sticks out to me is Andrew and Friedel Grant who were biking through Iran. And that is certainly a nation that we hear a lot about but we don’t hear a lot of positive things. They had a more positive experience as they were doing that.

They stopped one time to use a pay phone and the pay phones are apparently notoriously unreliable in Iran. A man stopped by and said do you want to use my cell phone to call because I understand you might be having some problems and then another man stopped by, and another, and another, and another. They sent me a picture of 5 men on 5 different phones calling 5 different embassies as they were trying to arrange visas for their further travels.

And they told another story about biking up a hill and it was a very long hill. One man was worried that they were going to make it and so he followed them for an hour slowly driving behind them just to make sure that they cleared the top of the hill and when they did he waved and went about his way but he just wanted to make sure that they were OK. And those are the stories of hospitality and of personal warmth that we get all the time on Amateur Traveler.

Where can we find Amateur Traveler?

Chris: You can discover the Amateur Traveler at and then you can also listen to Amateur Traveler at various places like iTunes and Stitcher smart radio. And then we have videos up on YouTube on my channel ( and blog posts all the time at so check it out and see why Travel+Leisure recommended it.

Chris Christensen is available for further interviews. Contact pr [at] for more information.

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Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

2 Responses to “Named “Best Independent Travel Journalist” by Travel+Leisure Magazine”

Barry Kramer


Congratulations on winning Travel + Leisure’s SMITTY Award. It is well deserved! The number of places you have taken your audience to over the past 400 episodes is amazing. I have found that the interviews, opinions, observations, and personal stories are always interesting and insightful. I truly look forward to each new podcast and blog post and hope there will be many more. You time, effort, and dedication to providing a quality Website, podcast, and blog are very much appreciated.



Thanks Barry!

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