The National Student speaks to Sophie's Suitcase
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In 2010, Sophie Davis set up Sophie's Suitcase, a luxury travel and lifestyle blog, that shows how you can travel the world with only 26 days of annual leave.
Her site includes photos, reviews and tips about travelling and life, fitting around your 9-5 job.
Since starting, Sophie's Suitcase has grown considerably, gaining thousands of followers on social media and winning the Best Travel Blog at the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards 2015.
We chatted to Sophie about all things travel, and to get a few tips on travelling on a budget.
When did you first get the travel bug? What’s your earliest travel memory?
When I was young my parents always encouraged me and my brother to travel. They taught us that seeing the world was the best way to explore other cultures, try new food and meet amazing people.
We travelled all across Europe and took road trips, visiting friends and family all over the world. My dad also introduced me to travel from a young age, talking about his own experiences of travelling and hitch-hiking around Europe, and when we were teenagers we visited friends in France, Sweden and Spain. It gave me the travel bug, and I haven’t looked back since!
If somebody were a tourist where you grew up - where should they go?
I grew up in a small town in Northamptonshire so there weren't a lot of tourist hotspots. However Daventry, where I grew up, was home to Daventry transmitting station which was owned by the BBC and was one of only a few transmitters back in the day around the world. Others included New York, and other capital cities. It brought the total audience within listening distance to 94% of the population, and made the idea of a nationwide radio service a reality. Fun fact, hey?
Where can you visit and never get sick of?
You never tire of places that offer you something new each time you visit, and you become addicted to finding more. New Zealand is a country of adventure, outdoor pursuits and culture, from the springs in Rotorua, to the Maori lifestyle that is still enforced today.
Scandinavia is simply a culture and a way of life I crave - the ‘hygge’ lifestyle, where work and life is balanced and life is full of simple pleasures such as enjoying time with friends and getting back to basics.
Where’s one place you’ve always wanted to visit?
I have always wanted to visit Canada! Like New Zealand, I love the outdoor lifestyle, and how everything centres around adventure, activities and the environment.
From its huge mountains to calm lakes, imposing glaciers to wild forests the country is full of exciting and wonderful landscapes and opportunities. I would love to visit the Rockies and go hiking, explore Vancouver, and then head off to the mountains for a spot of skiing.
Have you visited anywhere and it hasn’t lived up to the hype? If so, where, and why?
I don’t believe anywhere isn't worth visiting, as destinations are all based on personal experiences. And a place that is a dream for one person, may not be for someone else. However, I would say that Berlin didn’t live up to the hype I was expecting, but I would love to go back and see the city again as I know so many that love Berlin and go back time and time again. I also went in winter, and next time I’d love to go in the spring or summer and see the city in bloom!
Who’s your ultimate travel buddy?
My boyfriend Theo is my ultimate travel buddy. He is my boyfriend but also my best friend, and we get on so well when we travel together. We love doing the same things, we love being outdoors, and we love scouting out adventure. I have travelled more, since I have been with him, than ever before. If anyone ever tells you that you can’t travel once you have a boyfriend, they are wrong. Grab your boyfriend and take him with you!
What’s one tip you have for travelling on a budget?
Plan in advance - I always plan ahead and scout out the best deals for flights, hotels and activities. I try and get passes for events, or a plan to do free things whilst in a city - there is always so much going on that is free! Sign up for price alerts on Skyscanner so that when flight prices drop, you can book them!
What 3 things can you not travel without?
1. My iPhone - Simply because it acts as my bank account, camera, diary, contact with home and much more. I can plan my life through my iPhone 6 and this alone means I can travel lightly elsewhere.
2. Dry shampoo - You never know when you might need to be ready to socialise when you are travelling, therefore don’t rely on washing your hair and instead take some dry shampoo so you are ready for any eventuality.
3. Headphones - When you travel there is a lot of waiting around. Use that time wisely, and listen to a podcast, your favourite album or even zone out and tune in to a yoga nidra meditation.
One tip for surviving long haul flights...
Take a wellbeing pack with you including toothpaste, your favourite book, eye mask, lavender spray and some earplugs. Be prepared and make yourself comfortable!
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To hear more from Sophie you can visit her website: www.sophiessuitcase.com