Michael Turtle Interview: On Being in the Moment & Creating Timeless Travel Content

The Astounding Travel Writers interview series continues!

Today, I am pleased to share with you an interview with Michael Turtle, a journalist-turned-travel-writer from Australia who is plunging the depths of what our magnificent planet can offer. In this interview, we cover how travel can teach patience, going pro, and creating timeless travel content. Enjoy!

Michael Turtle with Sea Turtles

1. Thanks for agreeing to do an interview today and being a part of my Astounding Travel Writers Series. It’s wonderful when we travel writers can connect. I’d like to begin with a simple question: How do you usually introduce yourself?

Mentioning what I do for a living is normally something I try to avoid in first introductions. It’s always a bit complicated. If someone asks, I usually say I’m a travel writer. But when they start asking who I write for — and I can’t name big international publications they recognize — I start to explain what travel blogging is.

2. What does Travel mean to you?

To me, travel is about exploring and learning. It’s about seeing more of the world we live in and meeting the people who make it what it is. Travel isn’t about relaxation or escape, in my opinion. It’s about challenging yourself to know and understand more.

3. In what ways has it pushed you to grow?

Travel has definitely forced me to become more patient and tolerant. Not that I was intolerant, as such, but I would get frustrated by things outside of my control or people who weren’t behaving the way I expected. Now I know which things to worry about — the ones that I can actually do something to improve or solve. The other things I am more relaxed about.

4. Have you ever hitchhiked?

I have certainly got lifts from strangers who have stopped and offered to drive me somewhere but I have never stood on the side of a highway with a cardboard sign and my finger out. It’s not that I’m scared of being murdered or anything… I just worry that I might not be able to sustain a conversation the whole time and the driver might get bored of me!

5. How did you get involved in the travel sector?

It started with actual travelling, I suppose. I knew I wanted to leave Australia for an extended period and see the world — so obviously some kind of travel. The writing about it came as part of that but was never intended to be the focus.

6. How was your site born?

I started Time Travel Turtle to be a bit of a portfolio for freelance writing work and a way to keep my sanity and give myself some structure as I travelled around the world. It has grown over the years and now it takes up most of my time.

7. Do you use social media daily? And if so, how do you find balance with it within your daily routine?

Assuming I have an internet connection, yes, I use social media every day. I’m probably not as dependent on it as some other travel bloggers — and that’s a good and a bad thing. I find that I enjoy being in the moment and only later think that I should have tweeted about it at the time, for example.

8. In that same vein, how do you balance writing and travel?

These days I find that I choose particular activities or go to a particular place in order to get a story to write about. So the balance is a bit easier because they are more intertwined. I will always be thinking about how I’m going to put an experience into words and what I want to ask someone so I can quote them later. That doesn’t mean I can’t still be very involved and enjoying what I’m doing, though.

Michael Turtle in North Korea9. Do you have any advice for people who want to start a travel blog or grow their travel blog?

Travel blogging is not an easy industry and it’s one that is constantly evolving. That means you need to have a long-term plan and be prepared to commit for many years to see any kind of professional benefit. If travel is your main passion, then make sure you keep enjoying that and don’t stress about the blogging side of things too much. If making a blog successful is your passion, then you can’t treat your travels like a holiday.

10. Out of everything you’ve ever published or created, what are you most proud of?

In a general sense, the stories I’ve written that I’m most proud of are the ones about people. There is something really special about sharing the lives of interesting characters with your readers. Everyone connects and that’s the whole point of what we’re doing!

11. How do you see travel writing & travel sites evolving into the future?

It’s a tricky question because I think the freedom of online means the travel writing industry will become increasingly fragmented. There used to be a fairly consistent style to the writing you would read in print publications or in guidebooks because there was such a limited number and they were competing with each other. Now, with social media and blogs, the key is to be individual and different from everyone else. That means the good bloggers and writers are trying to challenge themselves and push the boundaries. Where will this lead us in the future? Well, that’s up to the imagination of the digital pioneers!

12. Is there anything you’re working on that you’d like to plug?

There’s nothing out of the ordinary. I do make an effort with my writing to create stories that aren’t time-specific. I like to think that most posts on my blog are relevant and interesting to anyone who visits now as much as when they were written months or years ago. So I always encourage people to look through the back catalogue for some destinations they want to know more about.

Thanks again for being up for an interview, Turtle! I really enjoyed this, and I’m sure the readers will, too. Happy travels! 🙂


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