This week’s interviewee for Travel Bloggers Who Rock! is Michael Turtle of Time Travel Turtle. I first met Michael on a press trip to Poland along with Paul Dow from Trav Monkey and Stefanie Haigh from stefaniegrace.com. We all had a good laugh on the trip and it was fun to hear Turtle’s celebrity stories from his job on a national television breakfast show in Australia, including the infamous “Bieber Fever” story, where the crowds got just a little out of hand upon hearing that Justin Bieber would be performing outside the studio! Michael rocks as a travel blogger because he clearly has a talent for telling stories and great travel narratives. As the tagline says, Time Travel Turtle is a travel blog with stories beyond the brochure.
Turtle, you worked in the Australian media, can you tell us about who you worked for and what your job role was?
For most of my time I was a television and radio reporter and newsreader for Australia’s national broadcaster, the ABC. But the job I had just before I left the country was with a commercial television station. It involved managing all the entertainment content for a national breakfast show, including writing stories with Hollywood’s biggest celebrities and organising concerta with people like Katy Perry, Usher and (this still gives me nightmares) Justin Bieber.
You decided to quit and go traveling, what was the trigger that made you decide to do that? Can you remember an exact moment?
It was something I had been thinking about for a long time but had pushed to the back of my mind for a few years. I wouldn’t say there was a particular trigger but I did come to a rather sudden realisation that I wasn’t invested in my work anymore and there was no point to keep doing it if I wasn’t loving it. A lot of us are lucky to be in a country and a generation where we don’t have to do a particular job for our whole life, so I just decided to give this a go.
So what countries did you go to?
I first headed to Asia to see some friends – so that included Indonesia, China and Thailand. but then I went through the US, down to South America, and then up to Europe. I really enjoyed some of the more off-beat countries like North Korea, Turkey and Paraguay.
You set up your travel blog Time Travel Turtle. Obviously Turtle is your surname, but can you time travel?!
Ha ha… I would go back and do A LOT of things differently if I could! And I would probably go into the future to see if this whole blogging thing is going to be worth it too! The title is meant to be interpreted in slightly different ways by different people, but the idea is that I have no fixed agenda so all the time in the world… and I use the time I have to find out about cultures and history.
What made you want to start a blog? Did you just want to document your travels, or was it more than that?
It all started as a small personal thing. Being a journalist, I thought I would go mad if I didn’t have a release for my writing. It wasn’t so much about letting friends and family know what I was doing as much as it was about me trying to keep my sanity. It kind of all grew from that and now my poor friends and family can’t escape me blog-spamming them!
Tell us a story of when your travels haven’t gone as expected.
Thankfully I’ve been quite lucky and nothing has gone horribly wrong (touch wood). But, of course, I’ve had times when I’ve been stranded or homeless or just generally cold, wet and confused. I remember one time in Uruguay when I’d travelled to an isolated beach to volunteer at a turtle rescue organisation. But I accidentally got there a day early and nobody was there. I didn’t know where I was going to sleep or what I was going to eat until a kind family from down the road picked me up and took me in for food and a bed for the night. You’ve got to love the kindness of strangers!
You’re back in Australia now, what’s the plan? Are you staying put for a while, or will you go traveling again?
True, I’m back in Australia or, as I like to call it, the continent I’ve done the least travel in. This is just a bit of a break to see friends and relax from a fairly hectic 18 months of non-stop moving. I’ll be heading off again in a few weeks to get a few more countries under my belt. My priorities for 2013 are South and South East Asia, Pacific, and the ‘Stans!
What are your hopes for your blog in the future?
Well, in the short term, I hope everybody who has taken the time to read this post heads to Time Travel Turtle to see if they would like to join me for the rest of the journey. In the longer term? I just hope I keep enjoying it and people keep coming to check it out.