Travel Dreams in the Land of Day Jobs and Mortgages

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While some travelers and many travel bloggers live a nomadic lifestyle hopping from one hostel to another, some of us have deeper roots. We live in the land of mortgages and day jobs, of homework and PTA meetings, of commutes and weekends off. We live there by choice but sometimes we hear the cry of the open road. Here are some ways that I satiate my travel lust at times when I’m at home.

Travel podcasts

I’m not encouraging that everyone do what I did and start a travel podcast but travel podcasts are nice things to listen to to get you through that commute or that rough work day. Every month I get emails about Amateur Traveler from travelers and homebodies alike. They say how the show helps them to get through a rough work day, difficult bus ride or a tough workout. The “my body may be working for the post office, but my thoughts are in Vanauatu” sort of emails. 5 of my favorite travel podcasts are:



I like Pinterest. Some say that I shouldn’t like Pinterest because of my obvious Y chromosome-ness. But if you look at my Pinterest account you won’t see plans for an upcoming wedding, craft projects or recipes for ratatouille. You will see travel photos. Pinterest is my 30 second vacation every morning.

Desktop wallpaper

Travel Dreams in the Land of Day Jobs and Mortgages | Travel InspirationBehind the spreadsheets, behind the email, behind the browser, on my computer’s desktop you often see a beautiful picture of someplace that I’ve been or long to go. It’s not there to brag. It’s not there to show off. It’s there to remind me that although I love my job and I love my life I’m also more than this. I’m a traveler and a wanderer with many trips behind me and hopefully many ahead.

If my desktop does not have one of my pictures it probably shows one from Gary Arndt.


I’m a huge fan of  travel blogs, travel forums and other travel websites but if you look around my house it’s not uncommon for any particular flat surface to have a guidebook. Guidebooks are possibilities. Guidebooks are magic carpets. Guidebooks can help me practically plan for an upcoming trip  or dream of one I may never take. I like guidebooks with lots of pictures. I love Insight GuidesEyewitness Guides or National Geographic Guides.

Language learning

Before I became addicted to podcasts you could often find me listening to language tapes or CDs. I have studied Spanish, Italian, German, French, Russian, Greek, Turkish, Mandarin and Swahili… not all at the same time. Part of what I love about travel is the opportunity to learn new things. Being home does not require me to give up that opportunity.

In addition some of my favorite travel memories have been facilitated by even just a little fluency with the local language. The reaction of a crowd in Tanzania when I introduced myself was priceless. The service that we received in Milan when I dealt with the restaurant owner in Italian made me feel like family. The small talk with strangers traveling on my own in Mexico led to private tours, shared laughter and shared memories.


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Brownie box camera

Travel Photography

it wouldn’t take you long after visiting my house to figure out that I love travel. There are photographs everywhere. Photographs of gondolas and street scenes, photographs of beaches and skyscrapers, photographs of smiles and adventures. There are also rows of photograph albums from the days before we switched to digital photography. We talk about travel photography from time to time on Amateur Traveler because my love for travel photography is as old as my love for travel. Granted, my equipment has improved since I was given a hand me down Brownie box camera as a kid.


I don’t collect many souvenirs, choosing to take home photographs instead but we do have the occasional water color of the Virgin Islands or the lovely pewter tea pot our Turkish exchange student sent home with me when I visited his family. Each trinket, each souvenir reminds me not just of wonderful places but of the people that made the place wonderful.


Travel Journals

Near our photo albums in a place of honor in our living room are our travel journals. Each one chronicles a different adventure and I pull one down every once in a while and relive some old trip. I remember our trials and our joys. Some things went wrong and somethings led to unexpected discoveries. On our first trip to Europe we had than night we spent above a beer hall on the evening of Pinkster Fest when loud drunken Germans kept us awake until well into the night. But also in Germany we took a detour off the autobahn to a small town we practically picked at random and ended up in the beautiful half timbered town of Fritzlar. For years a watercolor of that beautiful place hung in our bedroom.

Maps and Atlases

When I grew up we kept a dictionary, the encyclopedia and an atlas right next to the dinner table. It was not uncommon to reach over to one of those to answer a question or settle an argument. This was in the time before google, wikipedia and the internet. When my wife and I added on to our house in 1998 we created a room that has become my office. The first thing we did was hang a huge map of the world and a map of the United States. The maps have been taken down because they became so faded. The travel dreams behind them have not faded.

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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 “Travel Dreams in the Land of Day Jobs and Mortgages”

Karl Anders


I enjoyed this piece, Chris! Like you I manage a busy career, family, etc, but also enjoy a rich travel life. When I’m not traveling, I’m studying, listening, looking and planning for my next trip, or working on my travel and photo blog. The balance between a profession I’ve worked hard to master and travel make my life more interesting and rewarding that doing just one or the other.

It’s all about the balance, Chris….

Debbie Schroeder


Great points, there’s definitely something to be said about armchair traveling. πŸ™‚

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