The Amateur Traveler Manifesto

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imagesWhen I chose the name “Amateur Traveler” for the podcast that I create each week I had in mind the word “Amateur” in its most classic definition which means to do something for the love of doing it rather than for pay. I have never been opposed to being paid to travel or to write or talk about travel but even now as that happens more regularly I don’t want to forget what I want this site to be about. So it seemed time for me to define what it means to me to be an Amateur Traveler.

As an Amateur Traveler, it is my desire and goal to:

  • Never lose my sense of wonder and adventure when I am traveling
  • Never complain that we don’t do things that way at home, that’s part of the point of traveling
  • Never whine, because in the grand scheme of things if I can afford to travel, what have I got to complain about?
  • Pack light because sometimes the best part of vacation is what we leave behind
  • Treat the airport security people with kindness because I am getting on the plane and they are not
  • Get to the airport early, but not just to have a less stressful experience but because airports are wonderful portals to other places
  • Learn constantly, because that is the real joy of travel
  • Try the local dish, because I might find that I like crickets with guacamole (not so much really)
  • Understand that different is not always better or worse but sometimes just different
  • Treat others with respect… especially when I think they are wrong
  • Try and speak at least a few words of the local language because it shows respect
  • Smile as I botch the local language because humility is not a bad thing to learn either
  • Take pictures but remember sometimes to look up from the viewfinder to see the scene around me
  • Talk to the cab drivers, waiters, maids, clerks, and the people at the front desk because they all know something I don’t
  • Travel responsibly and sustainably not just because it is better for the planet and its people but because it is often the better experience.
  • Observe, appreciate, connect, and if possible contribute to the local community

Now that you know my manifesto I would like to hear:

What am I missing?

What is your manifesto?

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Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

6 Responses to “The Amateur Traveler Manifesto”

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Great list, Chris. I agree with all of them. I’d add, as a corollary to your “learn constantly” bulletpoint, that it’s always good to read up on the history of a place before you get there – even if it means reading about it on the bus to your destination. It adds a rich layer of appreciation to know how a particular country has grown within (or sometimes outside!) its borders and what went on in the years before you arrived.




These are all great, i wrote a travel manifesto for my website as well:



I did not see a way to comment on yours Stephanie. I agree you don’t have to speak a foreign language. But I do think it makes it more fun. 🙂



Great list. I can vouch for number 6 “Get to the airport early”. We had mishaps in San Francisco and Rome. I wish I would have asked locals what the worst scenario is for traffic in their city and planned for that scenario.



There is a certain saying for eco-travel that goes “take nothing, leave nothing”. I believe the savvy traveller exploring new cultures should always strive to learn something and leave something behind. The most profound effect that a traveller can have on the world is to act as the emissary of her culture and find ways to create flow of knowledge and goods throughout all the places she visits. I strongly believe we are privileged to be able to travel the world and we should exercise that privilege with responsibility to find better ways for the world to grow as a global culture.

Of course I would also add to your manifesto the most important part of travelling: talking about your travels (blogging) so others can find inspiration for their own journeys.



I aggree with every word! For me the word “amateur” here also means that no matter how much you travel, even if you do this full time and make money on it, there will always be some place where you haven’t been before and where you feel like a newbie – that’s the magic of travel.

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