This week I’m excited to present a travel blogger who’s been online since 2005: American Chris Christensen. To be more accurate, Chris is a travel podcaster, a slightly different form of travel blogger. He makes audio travel shows rather than written posts on his two travel podcast sites Amateur Traveler and This Week in Travel. In today’s travel interview, Chris fills us in on the online world of podcasts, his own personal travels, and upcoming plans for Amateur Traveler.
Q1. You made your first travel podcast for Amateur Traveler way back in 2005. Wow, I didn’t even know podcasts existed back then! How did you even know about podcasting in 2005 and how did you get interested?
I started listening to podcasts in early 2005. The first podcast I listened to was This Week in Tech by Leo Laporte whose TV show I had watched on the defunct TechTV. I was quickly addicted to the mobile audio format and sought out other shows. Not long after I decided to create my own podcast (I now produce 4).
Q2. You mentioned that you’re a ‘podcast junkie’ and listen to over 70 podcasts. Besides travel, what other genres of podcasts do you enjoy?
I should say that I am a podcast addict in recovery as I used to subscribe to 100 shows. I also listen to shows about technology, PR, business, grammar, productivity, music, public speaking, current events and history.
Q3. Any idea how many podcasts are out there on the web these days, and in how many different genres?
Wow, a lot. PodcastAlley.com lists over 90,000 different shows and over 6 million episodes. Some of these may no longer be in production, but that doesn’t mean people don’t still listen.
Q4. When you started your podcasts, did you get it fairly right from the beginning or did you have a lot of learning and tweaking to do? If so, like what?
Some things have barely changed since I started Amateur Traveler. The show is still about travel and still about travel stories. These days it is almost always focused on a particular destination but in the beginning that was less consistent. The first destination show was episode 2 on Australia. The first interview was episode 5 with the guest Bernie Bernstein who was a co-worker of mine who had taken a cruise to Costa Rica. My range of guests is a bit wider now. It started as a weekly show and still is. Episode 5 was the first episode that included pictures if you watched on iTunes or on your iPod.
The sound quality is much better now as the show was not originally edited. Also originally I was on the same channel as my guest and there are at least a couple episodes where the guest is talking while I breath like Darth Vader over them.
Q5. You mentioned that you did a lot of traveling with your family while growing up. Are there one or two special trips / destinations / adventures that were particularly memorable or had a great impact on you? If so, could you please tell us about them.
Travel with my family tended to be get in the car and drive some place pulling our small trailer. Many of those trips stayed in California but our most memorable was to Yellowstone and then through Montana and up to the Canadian Rockies.
Q6. What’s your favorite type of traveling nowadays? In terms of length of trip, type of accommodation, activities, destination, etc. Why the preference?
We tend to go for a week and we fly someplace. Less than a week seems like too much trouble to fly somewhere. More than a week means that we can see fewer places in a year with our vacation schedules. We then combine that with smaller weekend trips.
Q7. Do you think you’d like to travel nomadically and long-term like many world travelers these days? Or do you prefer to have a home base and make shorter trips?
To travel nomadically I would have to leave my wife of 30 years, so I don’t plan on doing that. I would prefer more shorter trips to being totally without roots. We also have my 93 year old mother-in-law living with us, so a 6 month trip is not in the cards even if we had the time off.
Q8. So you’re a Director of Engineering at Trip Advisor, in charge of flights. Sounds like an excellent job. How long have you been with them and what exactly do you do as a Director of Engineering?
I actually left that job 2 months ago but they are still looking for someone to replace me if that sounds like fun. I loved the job, the group and the company but my commute was 2700 miles. I worked in California and my office was outside Boston. I would spend one week a month in Boston but the rest of the time I started my work day at 5:30am, in order to be on the same clock as the Boston office. That was exhausting. I was with TripAdvisor for only 18 months (vs >13 years for my previous job). I was in charge of all things technical for the flight search product TripAdvisor.com/flights and seatguru.com.
Q9. Since you’re working full time and running your blog Amateur Traveler, you must be quite busy. How often and how long do you typically get to travel in a year?
At both TripAdvisor and my current job I went back to a 3 week a year vacation schedule. I did manage to stretch that a bit with some unpaid time off. I also managed to work remotely from some other destinations.
Q10. What are your travel plans for the rest of 2012?
We just got back from Costa Rica. We are still deciding, but the top of our travel list right now is Ireland… or Croatia… although I saw a deal on a cruise in Russia today. I am also trying to line up some trips to Washington D.C. and to Baja California. Who knows.
Q11. Looks like Amateur Traveler covers destinations around the globe pretty thoroughly! Good job! Are there any destinations that you haven’t yet covered and/or are especially eager to cover in the near future?
We have a map of all (ok, most) of the destinations we have covered at Amateur Traveler Map. There are not a lot of holes in the map, but we will probably start covering some things in more depth. So for instance, we did a show already on Sweden, but I want to do one just on Stockholm. Which destinations we cover is a combination of what appeals to me at a given moment and what destinations someone pitches to me.
(All photos courtesy of Amateur Traveler)
Thanks, Chris, for telling us all about podcasts, your own travels, and Amateur Traveler. I don’t need to tell you to keep having fun with your podcasts! You clearly love doing this. cheers, Lash
Amateur Traveler - the best places to travel
This Week in Travel - Gold Medal winner in Broadcast – North American Travel Journalism Association
Skype: ChrisTwice | twitter @chris2x | AIM: ChrisTwice