This edition of What’s in My Backpack features Sofie, a full-time travel blogger and freelance writer who you might recognise from WonderfulWanderings.com
Tell us about you?
Hi there! I’m Sofie, and I’m a full-time travel blogger and freelance writer. I was born and raised in Belgium, where I still live just outside the city of Leuven with my boyfriend. I don’t function without a cup of tea and love dancing.
Where are you now?
At home, working at the living room table.
Describe your travel style?
I like travelling independently, wandering around through city streets or doing a little road trip. I’m not a big fan of tours – unless they’re food tours – but I do plan a lot. I’m definitely not a budget traveller, but I don’t have the money to go full-out luxury either 😀
Your favourite mode of travel?
How do you fund your travels?
Because I put together a lot of marketing campaigns for destinations, a lot of my travels are work-related, and costs are covered for me. When they’re not, and I travel just for fun – which I often do as well – I fund my trips with money earned through freelance writing, marketing campaigns, blog consulting and affiliate sales made through the blog.
What do you like best about travelling?
I love learning about other cultures and trying new foods. I also love how each place feels like a fresh start where nobody knows you, and you can be whoever you want to be.
The most memorable trip you’ve had?
There’s two actually. In 2012 I travelled to Los Angeles with a friend to explore the county and take dance classes in North Hollywood. That trip was a real revelation to me. It was the first time I really opened myself up to strangers and unexpected experiences – as well as to the thought that my life didn’t necessarily have to go as I always thought it would.
The second trip was to Canada in 2014 with my boyfriend. At that point, we’d already been together for five years or so, but I’d never joined him on one of his many snowboarding trips. I’m not a fan of the cold, but the real reason was that I have a terrible fear of heights and didn’t want to get in a ski lift under any circumstance.
That year, however, a Canadian ski resort asked me to come test out their slopes. As boyfriend is a really good snowboarder, I tried the ski classes for beginners and the easiest slope, while he tested and filmed the more challenging slopes as well as the snow park. We did a bunch of other wintery activities that trip as well, and it was so great to be able to share in his passion finally.
City/place visited the most and why?
Probably London. I think I’ve been there about eight times now and I still love it. There’s always something new to discover, and there’s a great sense of anonymity mixed with that British politeness I love so much.
Best hotel, guesthouse or hostel stayed at?
Probably Quinta Nova in the Portuguese Douro Valley. It was located at the top of its own vineyard, overlooking the valley and the Douro river. It was so quiet there, that when we arrived, we automatically started whispering. We had a beautiful room, and the in-house cook served delicious Portuguese food on the patio. I could use another night there!
What’s your backpack of choice?
None! Unless I go away for just one night, in which case I take my Eastpak Egghead laptop bag, I travel with an awesome Crumpler trolley.
What’s in your backpack?
Oh dear. You realise I’m a girl, right? My list of essential travel things are really the things I never travel without.
Favourite travel gadget?
My battery pack! I’d be lost without it. Or quickly out of work 😀
One travel product you ditched, donated or destroyed?
I still have it, but I only take my travel pillow with me on long-haul flights.
Electronics you couldn’t travel without?
My Samsung S6 and my laptop, the first for social media and using Google Maps, the second for keeping up with work.
How about apps?
Not a trip goes by that I don’t use Google Maps, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Gmail. I also like to keep my travel itinerary in Google Drive.
Last product you purchased?
Good question. I don’t buy that many travel related items. When I do buy something, I make sure it’s something that lasts a while. I think a selfie stick. And I haven’t even used it yet 😀
Any tips for travelling on a budget?
I find food the easiest thing to cut down on. I’ll never sleep in a hostel dorm – although I know that’s a good option – but I would resort to just bread and jam if I had to. Luckily, I’ve never had to. Not such a fan of jam.
Finally, where to next?
I don’t know yet! I’m full-on planning 2017, and while I do have some trips set up, most of them are for spring. It’s actually very likely that my first trip will be one of those mystery trips where you don’t know where you’re going until you get to the airport. Very curious about those!