An Interview with Chris Christensen from Amateur Traveler


So far in this interview series I got to talk to Dave Levart (traveL is his last name) as well as traveler, entrepreneur and actress Kimberly Fisher. Our last interview was with Johnny Ward, who gave one of best answers I’ve gotten to the question, “How do you manage success in travel?”

This of course, can be different for each person. However, this line of work is a lifestyle. If you are more interested in things and or money there are better jobs out there. I measure success a number of ways as it relates to my travels and travel site. Pursuing something that you are passionate about and sticking with it and seeing it grow – whether it is income, the number of visitors or other opportunities that result – is certainly success.

This week I got the chance to talk to Chris Christensen from Amateur Traveler. Chris has been doing travel podcasts, almost always interviews with other exciting adventurers, and now he answers some questions of his own.

1) Do you remember April 2006, just under a year after you started your podcast? It was the month where you got into National Geographic. How did it feel when you saw your name mentioned? What were some other big moments for you and Amateur Traveler?

I do remember 2006 and getting into National Geographic Traveler. Getting promoted by main stream media seemed like it should drive a lot of traffic but usually makes little difference. It made a bigger difference the times that iTunes has promoted Amateur Traveler.

Big moments include being told that Amateur Traveler is used to teach English as a foreign language at Oxford University or being called one of the 10 best travel sites on the Internet by the Chicago Sun Times.



2) I loved running into other travellers overseas. There’s a shared spirit of adventure. A lot of your podcasts have included  fellow travellers. How has being tied to the travel community influenced you?

I now have friends all over the world and it has been fun occasionally meeting up for tea in London or getting a tour of Mexico City by a former guest on Amateur Traveler. One of the cool things about junior high school was finally being in a large enough school to find there were other kids like you. The Internet is like that, but even more so.

3) I believe you’re currently working as an executive in the tech startup world; how has that affected your travel lifestyle? 

It might be a bit hard to keep up with my career. I left my day job at a Silicon Valley startup company at the end of August and now work for myself. But I will be working part time for TripAdvisor, my former employer, to pay the bills while I start my own company and software as a service website,, which helps industry representatives connect with bloggers like me.

I made this change to have more flexibility for travel, and have four weeks of trips within the next two months. Trying to find the time to travel and the money to travel is an interesting puzzle to solve, especially for someone like me, with a wife, a house and a mortgage.

4) You’ve been doing this for a little over eight years now; that’s a lot of travelling, podcasting and interviewing. What were the biggest ups and downs in the process? 

headshot3I started Amateur Traveler in July of 2005. The first time I was promoted on iTunes I was at the first podcasting conference and my site went down from the traffic. You have those sort of minor problems. Sites being hacked, advertisers going away, traffic coming and going with the seasons.

Cool highlights have been my first press trip to Cozumel, the Amateur Traveler photography tour to Egypt (just before things blew up there), the eight months I took off to work on Amateur Traveler full time in 2010, and trips to Maui, Lanai, New Zealand, etc.

5) You’ve mentioned that you used to follow 70 podcasts before starting your own. Do you still follow some? Any favourites that you’d like to recommend?

What I have been saying is that I used to follow 100 but have scaled back to 70 last I counted. I counted again just now and that seems to have gone up to 126. It may be time for an intervention. The number rises and falls as I get tired of ones or they stop publishing or as I discover new ones.

I got started pretty early so I don’t know any travel Podcasters who started before me and didn’t know any travel bloggers back in 2005.

I was influence by other Podcasters, notably This Week in Tech, one of the first podcasts.

6) Zig Ziglar once said, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” Do you have any especially vivid memories of struggling with motivation?

Every week. It is quite common after I put out a weekly episode of Amateur Traveler to say to myself, “Well one more week that I didn’t quit.” My goal has been 48 shows a year with four weeks off and I was surprised at the eight-year anniversary of the show that I was pretty close to that. I have averaged a show every eight days. It helps that I don’t do the show by myself anymore. For the last two-to-three years I have had an editor who does five of the eight hours of work that a typical Amateur Traveler episode takes.

7) You’ve been covered in a lot of press and done all sorts of interviews before. I feel like there’s always one question you wish someone would ask, but the question never comes. What’s that question for you? 

As good looking as you are, when you travel do you have to beat the women off with a stick?

Surprisingly no, more people seem to like me for my sense of humor 😉

If you enjoyed this, you can also check out our last interview with Johnny Ward!

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