The Amateur Traveler is an online blog and podcast that focuses primarily on travel destinations and the best places to travel to. The podcast covers everything from knowing what to put on your Chicago dog when you go to the Windy City to swimming with whales in Tonga. The podcast started in 2005 and was downloaded almost 1.4+ million times in 2021.
Amateur Traveler has previously won awards from the Society of American Travel Writers and North American Travel Journalists Association. It also earned Chris Christensen, the creator, a SMITTY award from Travel+Leisure magazine as the “best independent travel journalist”.
Oddly enough, Amateur Traveler is also used to teach English at Oxford University and is part of the English proficiency exam for the Thailand State department.
Tell us about yourself?
By day I am a Silicon Valley software nerd. I got into podcasting because I loved the medium. I loved learning new things and podcasting gave me a way to do that that I could integrate in with my life. I started listening to podcasts shortly after podcasting started in late 2004. After a while I wanted to start my own podcast. I thought about a tech show. I thought about a religious show. Then I had some friends over for a Memorial Day picnic and all the best stories we told were travel stories. That’s when the idea for Amateur Traveler started to take shape.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Keep going. The last year or two has been more challenging. Doing a travel show when people aren’t traveling is more difficult as you might imagine.
What problem does your business solve?
We help travelers plan their get away. We introduce them to a whole wide world of destinations and hopefully inspire them to explore.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
My show targets a North American traveler who has not got a lot of time to travel. So each week focuses on a 1-2 week itinerary somewhere in the world.
What is your magic sauce?
Firstly, I just have been around a lot longer. This week’s episode of Amateur Traveler will be number 784. We have covered some destinations more than once but we have probably covered 700 different places.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
First I plan to not quit and to ride out the pandemic until people are traveling more and numbers go back up for travel bloggers and podcasters. Second, I plan personally to ride this show back into semi-retirement in 2023 and retirement a few years after that so that I can have more opportunity to say yes when people invite me places.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
A worldwide pandemic has been a bit of a challenge. I have trips with listeners of the show planned in 2020 and 2021 which were cancelled. It became harder to get fresh content with people just staying on their couches. Travel blog numbers fell off a cliff in March of 2020 with most travel bloggers losing 60% of their traffic and more than 60% of their income overnight. Each time that starts to rally we get another variant.
How do people get involved/buy into your vision?
I have links on my website for show to listen to as well as how to pitch me to be on the show and how to work with Amateur Traveler.