Adventure, Interviews

Interview with Michael Turtle – Travel Writer

1.What’s the absolute best part of travelling?
My favourite bit of travelling is that every day is different and you never know what to expect. I have no idea where I will be in a few days time and what I’ll be doing because I never plan in advance. It keeps life pretty exciting.


2.How do you make your income?
Good question – and if you can help me out, that would be great! I earn an income from freelance writing and television producing. It’s still an irregular thing at the moment because I’m spending far too much time travelling and not enough working. My bank account suggests that balance might need to change (pun intended).
3. What’s it like to have all the time in the world to do anything you want?
It’s liberating to not have a pile of things that have to be done weighing you down. But it can also be a bit tiring. Sometimes I miss having a framework because it means I have to make decisions about what to do all day and every day. Having said that, though, I have no plans to stop!
4.Do you have a set plan for each day, each year? How far do you plan ahead?
I rarely plan ahead at all. In terms of a yearly plan, I have an idea about what continent I want to go to in which seasons to get the warm weather. That’s about it. When I’m in a place I normally know where I want to go next but just decide the day before I leave that I’m going to move on. Often I don’t know the stop after that. I like to speak to other travellers and hear their experiences. Some of the best places I’ve been to I had never heard of before someone recommended them.
5. Do you ever get lonely, all this travelling on your own?
Funnily enough, no. There are always people to speak to, people to share stories with and even people to travel with. If anything, the problem can be that there are too many people around when I need some quiet time to write or catch up on work.
6.How did you make up your list of destinations?
Wow! You give me far too much credit to assume that I have a list!
7.Why do you document it all? Have you ever read back over it all?
I don’t read back over much of what I’ve written. The way I see it, the final product is for other people but the process itself of documenting everything is for me. I guess I was scared that if I was to travel indefinitely I would get lazy and waste the experience. By making a commitment to write and photograph it all, I am forced to go out of my way to explore unusual places, meet interesting people, and always be analysing everything I see. I love it because my research has taught me things I would never have known and sent me to places I would never have visited otherwise.

8.Can you give me a rundown of a typical day for you?
Ha ha. I wake up. During the day I eat some things and do some things. Then I go to sleep at night. They’re about the only things that are typical each day!
9.What’s your main passion?
My main passion is trying to get an understanding of each place I visit. I know that sounds a bit vague but I think the best way to appreciate travel is to understand why things are the way they are. I like to know why people live there, what they do during the day, how history has impacted their lives, what part the natural environment plays, and so on. Culture fascinates me.

10. Where did the idea behind the logo come from?
A good designer friend of mine, Andrew Harrison (, drew it for me. The turtle was a pretty obvious character to use because of my unfortunate surname (at least I thought it was unfortunate when I was younger and got teased). The backpack is the world just because it looks cool… although I could make up a story about how everything I have in the world is on my back… or that the greatest possession we all have is the world? Oh, and the hat is because I always wear a hat.
11.How does it feel to be the boss of your own life, to be in complete control?
Well, bosses sometimes get angry and sometimes have to assert their authority. It’s no different in this case. Sometime I have to tell myself to do things I don’t want to, or to make decisions when I’m not sure of something. Still, at least I quite like my boss.
12.Do you ever get tempted to return to full time employment and settle down?
No, definitely not. In the future I would like to have more of a base somewhere, but I can’t imagine a settled life without travel.
13. How do you tackle the money issues – dry spells of income?
I think the key is to always be sensible and careful. Plan for a rainy day and don’t splurge just because you’re having a good run. There are always going to be ups and downs so you just need to evenly spread everything out.
14.Do you still consider Australia home? Is homesickness ever an issue?
Australia is definitely home. I may not have an actual home anywhere in the world these days but I’m very proud to tell people that I’m Australian. Homesickness isn’t an issue because I know the people and things I love are always going to be there when I decide to go back.
15. For all the highs, what is the worst aspect of being a travel writer?
The worst aspect is always looking at every experience with a writer’s eye. It’s very hard to just relax and enjoy things without thinking about how you might turn it into a story. I find myself composing sentences in my head when I should just be living in the moment and enjoying what I’m doing.
16.In your opinion, is it possible to be in a serious relationship and be a travel writer?
If a travel writer was constantly on the road, like I am, then you would need a partner who was travelling with you and interested in all the same things. I’m single but I have met quite a few permanent travellers who are in very happy and long-term relationships because they both enjoy the same things (including the documenting of their journeys).
17. How do you fit your life in a suitcase?
I don’t like this question. It makes it sound like my life is ten t-shirts, ten pairs of underpants, a pair of shorts, a pair of jeans, a pair of shoes and a toiletries bag! I like to think my life is all the things that are outside the suitcase, in the world around! (To give you a practical answer, though, regular laundry and a disregard for fashion.)


Twitter: @michaelturtle




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