Winner of Best Travel Blog in 2014, Michael Turtle, better known as Time Travel Turtle, is always travelling the world finding some unique and interesting things to do in different corners of the globe :) I thought I’d catch up with him to find out all things Turtle travels!
Interview with Award-Winning Australian Travel Blogger: Time Travel Turtle
One thing that makes your blog so interesting is the fact that you don’t just merely travel somewhere and write about it, you always find something specifically suited to do there, such as a festival in Europe, driving a Lamborghini in Italy, and swimming with turtles on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef… was your goal in doing that to give your posts an individual and different angle from other travel blogs, or was it simply to do what you enjoy?
I worked as a broadcast journalist in Australia before I started the travel blog and my interest has always been in telling good stories. Although, from a personal point of view, I wanted to see the world, I always wanted to pursue this passion for sharing all the wonders that the world has. I don’t think people want to read about me, so much. I think they want to read about the fascinating people I meet on the road and the history of places that I visit. That’s why I always try to write about the things that are unique or special about destinations.
Your blog can be navigated through sections, one being by country/continent, another by theme etc., is your travel sequence or journey structured in any way? ‘Cause obviously you’re doing it so much and you must have been to so many places by now, how do you decide where’s next?
I wish I could say that I have been to so many places. The problem with travelling and writing about travel is that you’re always finding new places to go. My wish list only gets longer, not shorter! I used to travel a bit slower and try to avoid flight as much as possible so I would choose the next country based on geography – what’s next door to the one I’m in now? These days I have to jump around a bit more for work. But I still try to do a mix of popular tourist countries, so I can help people with their travel plans, and off-the-beaten-path destinations so I can show readers places they have never seen before.
Are the post ideas constantly playing on your mind while you travel, does that planning come first or how do you work that side out? Otherwise it must get pretty overwhelming to get back and have such an amount of stories to narrow down?
When I’m planning a trip, I like to do a lot of research beforehand and put together an itinerary based on places and sights that I think I’ll want to write about. I generally have a list of possible posts before I even step foot in a country. But I also leave myself enough flexibility to change plans and head off in a different direction if I find new things or get recommendations along the way. I also try to write things as I go along if I’m not too busy. Often I can write a post on my phone in the evening while I’m having dinner or a couple of drinks.
What was the hardest thing getting used to all this travelling? Were there any big culture shocks while you were anywhere for maybe a slightly longer period of time than before?
The hardest thing to get used to – something I am still not really used to – is having to constantly be finding out information and making decisions. When you have a full time job, you know what time you’ll get up each day, where your bus to work leaves from, where you’ll go to the supermarket on the way home, and so on. You actually don’t think about new things that often in normal life. For me, I have to work out where I’m going to sleep every night and how to get to that place – which might be hundreds of kilometres away. I have to work out where I am going to eat three times a day, work out what I’m going to do during the day, make snap decisions about whether someone is trustworthy or dangerous, make sure I’m keeping to my budget, and much more. I thought this life would be relaxing, like being on a constant holiday, but actually my mind works harder than ever before and is processing new things every minute of the day. (I still love it, though, for the record!)
You were a broadcast journalist, which I think most would agree is quite a tough industry to make it in, so what made you decide to leave that for this? And I guess what made you confident enough that you could make the transition to travel blogging as a full time job?
I certainly wasn’t confident that I could make the transition but I thought the worst thing that could happen is that I see the world for a few years and then go back into my old industry! There were two main reasons for the big change, though. The first was personal – I just felt like there was so much potential to life and I didn’t want to be locked in doing a job for ten hours a day when there were so many other things I also wanted to be doing. I quite liked all the jobs I did previously but you still have a boss, stresses, annoyances, and a lack of spare time. I wanted to try to change those things. The second reason was professional – I saw the rise of digital media and it really interested me. I wanted to get in early and try to make all the mistakes and learn from them before other people. I think I’ve partially succeeded. I’ve certainly made lots of mistakes!
What changed most when you went out doing this full time? Was there a different attitude or mentality or just a deeper focus or what did you notice?
The way that I have travelled has definitely changed over the five years I’ve been blogging. Over time, it has become much more of a job than a holiday (which was always the plan). I love having the flexibility to go where I want and take time off when I want. But the reality is that I also need to build in a lot more time these days to get work done. So after a busy period of travel, I usually rent a room somewhere for a week or so and catch up on everything. I have tried to keep my relaxed attitude so it’s still enjoyable, but I need to be more disciplined when it’s time to get things done.
For people who are booking getaways that we feature, what advice would you give them to make the most out of their trip?
I think the key for anyone travelling is to know why you are doing it – and this applies to short trips or long trips, solo trips or family trips. Is the getaway purely about relaxation? If so, make sure you’re going somewhere (and you have an itinerary) where you will actually be able to relax and not be running around all the time trying to see things. Is the getaway about exploring a new country? If so, do some research beforehand to find out where the interesting spots are and give yourself enough time to see them properly. The biggest mistakes I see are when people come back from a getaway more exhausted than when they left, or they feel like they missed out on half the things they wanted to do (and could have easily done in the timeframe).
What’s the most exciting thing in the pipeline for you in 2016? Any new places on the horizon?
There’s not much planned at this stage, to be honest. I often make last minute plans. I would love to try and get to Central Asia at some point and see some of the ‘stans. And hopefully I might even do a bit more of my own country – Australia!
To keep up to date with Michael’s travel plans, tips and aventures, just click the link below and visit his blog. It’s well worth it!