Every Thursday, A Dangerous Business will be shining the spotlight on a world nomad, travel blogger, armchair adventurer, or just someone really cool in the travel world. This week, the traveler is Sofie from Wonderful Wanderings. Sofie is a Belgian chocolate lover and dance aficionada who combines a full-time marketing job with a never-ending wanderlust. She uses her weekends, vacation days and public holidays to travel the world and share her experiences with you on her blog.
1. How do you define the word “traveler,” and why would you consider yourself one?
I think a lot of people who consider themselves travelers are being too strict in defining the word, as if being a traveler is like belonging to some kind of elite. To me, anyone who steps out into the world with the urge and intention to explore and learn is a traveler. A traveler is open-minded and will always ask questions before judging. More so, he will avoid judging because he knows that there is always more to a place and its people than he’ll ever know.
I think and hope that this definition applies to me and that’s why I consider myself a traveler.
2. What has been your favorite travel experience thus far?
My trip to Los Angeles last year was amazing, but I think the annual London trip I do with my father wins this one. I don’t know many people in their twenties who go on a city trip with their dad. It all started with a getaway to London when I was 12. Since then we’ve been going on yearly day or two-day trips to different cities across Europe. At first, when I was a typical teenager, these revolved mostly around shopping, but after a while the explorer in me awoke and I needed more. We’ve gone to Cologne, Madrid, Amsterdam, Paris, Breda… and I can only hope many trips will still follow.
3. How about your proudest travel moment?
That’s a hard one. I haven’t been in any really dangerous or difficult situations yet, so I haven’t done anything ‘heroic’ either. I guess I was pretty proud when I traveled abroad without my parents for the first time. Or when I finally crossed the ocean to take dance classes in Los Angeles.
4. Have you had any travel mishaps or bad experiences? If so, have these influenced how you view the place where they happened? Would you go back?
Luckily I haven’t had anything bad happen to me while I was on the road. I never had anything stolen, have never been assaulted. I have never even missed a flight. One thing I will always remember, though, was when I was about 8 years old and on vacation in the south of France with my parents and six year younger little brother. Our hotel was located outside of the town’s center and we had to take our car to get there. One night we were out in town, but only when we were already there we realized that that night the French were playing the final of the World Championship soccer. And they won. No problem, you would think, but when we drove home – the game had already finished – this big group of people suddenly came out of nowhere. I don’t know if they did what they did because our car had a foreign number plate, but they lifted up our car and started shaking it. They even tried to pull open the doors. I was terrified. After what had seemed ages my dad pushed the gas without really driving forward and they let us go. I can still see myself sitting in that car. I even remember what I was wearing that night.
5. Name one thing you can’t travel without.
6. Name one thing you wish you COULD travel without.
My contact lenses. My eyes are actually a bit too dry to wear contacts so I often have to switch to my glasses in the evening. I just hate always having to take both with me as well as the case for my glasses, product for my contacts and so on. It’s also a pain in the butt when I go swimming because I usually lose my contacts if I open my eyes under water. So it’s sexy swimming glasses for me!
7. What do you think has been the biggest thing you’ve learned while traveling (about yourself, a destination, a culture, travel itself)?
Company is everything.
8. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I’d love to live in or near Los Angeles for the weather and the variety in places (beach, canyons, city life…), but I don’t know if I could live in the States in general. I’m thinking about how the media report, how the social security system works…
On the other hand I don’t think I’ve spent enough time in any country to really be able to say “I want to live here”.
9. Name one place you’d like to see or one experience you’d like to have before you die.
Just one? Darn. Uhm… I would love to see whales in real life. A lot of them. Preferably somewhere warm.
10. If there was one thing you wish somebody would have told you before you started traveling, what would it be?
I could answer several things here. Like that it doesn’t need to be expensive; that it isn’t unsafe; that you can plan everything on your own. But to be honest I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone tell me otherwise. I may have opted for a more expensive option now and then when I didn’t feel completely sure about the cheaper option, but that choice was always based upon my own doubts, never upon council from others. It’s not that everyone in my environment travels the way I do or I would like to do, but they never tried to stop me.