Full Time Travel Blogger Michael Turtle Shares His Best Travel and Packing Tips

Traveler Michael Turtle

I’m Michael Turtle and I’m from Sydney in Australia. I’ve been travelling full time and running my travel blog for more than six years now. Before that, I worked as a journalist and producer for TV and radio stations in Australia. I’ve always had a passion for travel and even before I did this professionally, I spent a lot of time around the world, meeting new people and learning about different cultures.

How and why did you get into traveling?

For me, the decision to travel full time was a combination of trying to fulfill personal and professional dreams. Although I enjoyed my job at a television station, I liked the idea of being my own boss and working on stories that I felt passionate about. At the same time, I wanted to make the most of my years while I was ‘young’ and have adventures around the world. Creating a new career as a travel blogger was the solution to both of these things. In the end, it wasn’t too hard to make it happen – and it was actually a very cathartic experience to get rid of a lot of my belongings, stop all those regular payments, and break free from stressful commitments.

Traveler Michael Turtle

How do you prepare for your adventures and travels?

Because I travel continuously, I never really need to ‘prepare’ for a trip. The hardest thing I deal with is working out what to do in the periods when I don’t really feel like doing anything. It can be quite tiring to be constantly on the road and it’s important to have enough balance in the year where I can decompress a bit. So I often try to plan my travels so I end up in cities where I have friends and I can just relax and hang out with them regularly. I also like jogging but often get too busy on the road to get into a rhythm, so I always look for opportunities to go for a run – particularly in the morning when everything is nice and calm.

Traveler Michael Turtle

How do you finance your travels?

When I first started, I used my savings to support my travels while I built up my blogging business. Now, I earn enough from the website and associated work that I can use that to stay on the road. While I used to stay in hostels a lot at first, now I can ‘splurge’ for my own room in budget hotels. I find that if I concentrate my travels on cheaper countries, then the money goes a lot further. I prefer to spend more on experiences and local food than on accommodation or tourist traps. When it comes to gear, I also prefer to make a few sizeable purchases that will last me a long time, rather than constantly buying cheap things that quickly fall apart.

Traveler Michael Turtle

Why is traveling important for you?

I think for a lot of people, travel is a ‘holiday’ – it’s about getting away from daily life for a bit and releasing stress. There’s nothing wrong with that at all and I completely understand that approach. For me, though, travel is about learning more about the world and constantly experiencing new things. I love meeting people from other cultures and exploring what makes us different – and what makes us the same.

I find it really rewarding to use my visits to historical sites to understand the story of humanity and everything we have done in the tens of thousands of years we have existed. And I get a very organic sense of peace when I go on journeys through natural wonders and see what this planet has created. I see life as an opportunity to craft our own story and this is what I want mine to be.

Traveler Michael Turtle

How do you bring your things with you?

I have used a few different bags over the years but have been fairly loyal to two brands – Osprey and PacSafe. If I’m spending a long period on the road in developing countries, I use an Osprey bag (Sojourn 80l) that has wheels and comfortable straps, so it can be suitable for any conditions. If I’m doing trips where I need more clothes but won’t be moving around as much (like in winter, when jackets are more important), I use a PacSafe bag (Toursafe Exp29) with wheels. When I’m travelling with either of those large check-in bags, I use a small PacSafe photo bag (Camsafe V17) as my daypack and carry-on. If I’m doing shorter trips (up to a month or two) in destinations where I don’t need many clothes (like SE Asia) then I travel just with carry-on and use an Osprey pack (Farpoint 40) for that.

Both those brands have proven to have great quality and durability and so I like to keep using them because I know they will last for many years and it’s unlikely something will go wrong when I’m on the road. Both of them have also considered some of the small practical things that are important for long term travel – like different sections and access to compartments – and I really appreciate that.

Traveler Michael Turtle

How do you organize things in your bags?

When I am travelling with carry-on and checked baggage, then I only put things I wouldn’t mind losing (like clothes) in the checked bag and keep anything important (like electronics) in carry-on. It puts my mind more at ease knowing that I can leave my big bag unattended on a train, for example, and I wouldn’t be too upset if something happened to it.

Within the large bag, I have a bit of a system to keep clean and dirty clothes separated but, other than that, things just get shoved in where they will fit. But I’m very particular where everything goes in my smaller bag. That’s partly so I can do a quick check to make sure I haven’t left anything behind like chargers or power adaptors.

How do your bags and gear hold up?

Everything I travel with these days is really sturdy and I don’t have any problems with it. Anything that I’ve used over the years that fell apart or got damaged easily, I’ve replaced with something of better quality – so I’ve learned my lesson the hard way with a few things.

When I first started travelling I was using a large bag that had wheels and straps but, in the end, I got rid of it because the straps weren’t very comfortable. It was then that I moved to my Osprey bag and have never looked back. At the time, I placed more emphasis on price than comfort and I regret doing that.

Traveler Michael Turtle

Any gear you wish you had brought with you from the beginning?

I travel these days with a tiny daypack from Pacsafe (Pouchsafe PX15) that folds up and goes in my main bag most of the time. It’s great when I want to just take a few things – like a jumper and a water bottle – out with me for the day but don’t want to empty my other daypack of everything else. It’s not very expensive and doesn’t take up much room or weight, so wish I had thought to use it right from the start.

What has been your best travel-related purchase below $100?

My favourite item I travel with is also one of the cheapest. It is a power adaptor that accepts any type of plug and will go into any kind of socket. And, on top of that, it has two USB chargers as part of it. Wherever I am in the world, I know that I can charge everything I travel with from just one socket – and that’s been a lifesaver on many an occasion!

What is your best advice for other travelers?

My number one piece of advice is really simple – it’s to know why you want to travel. Once you have truly answered that question, then all the other decisions you have to make will be much easier. For example, if you know that you just want a two-week relaxing trip somewhere tropical, then you can plan accordingly and get the kind of holiday you’re after. But if you know that you want to experience local life, then you would approach everything from a different perspective. It’s incredible how many times I have met other travellers who aren’t enjoying themselves because their trip doesn’t fit their real aim – people who want a break from work but then go to 10 European cities in 14 days and are constantly exhausted, for instance!

Traveler Michael Turtle

What will the future bring?

I’m not exactly sure what is next for me – I try not to plan too far in advance so I can be flexible if opportunities pop up. However, my aim for the next year is to travel a bit slower and spend more time in each destination. I would like to be able to get to know the side of cities that you can really only discover if you spend at least a few weeks there.

Visit Michael Turtle on his website and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter


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