Prepare to Travel with Wonderful Wanderings
Our eighteenth and last installment of our series, Prepare to Travel, is with Sofie of 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. Join us as we learn how to prepare to travel with Wonderful Wanderings!
AfterGlobe (AG)- We hear again and again, how people can’t believe that others are able to travel the world in abundance or long term. Many can’t even imagine doing this. What travelers did before they left to travel always seems to be a hot topic. Would you agree? Do you get a lot of questions about traveling and how you are able to do something so many consider a luxury?
Wonderful Wanderings (WW)- It’s a bit different for me as I’m not a long term traveler. I still work full time and use weekends, public holidays and my vacation days to travel. Yet, it still amazes me how often I hear people say something like: “You’re leaving again?”. On top of things this comes from people with the same amount of, or even more, vacation days than I have. I think a lot of people who are working full time – and especially those who have children – are still ‘stuck’ in the ‘one vacation a broad per year’ mind set, although I notice that’s starting to change.
AG- When did you first start thinking about traveling? What changed from dreaming about it to actually making it happen?
WW- My parents have taken me abroad for as long as I can remember. At least once a year we take a family holiday. First to the typical European vacation destinations like Spain and France; later further away to places like Egypt and New York City. I definitely have to thank them for introducing me to travel. My parents still travel a lot and when they tell me about the things they’ve seen and the places they’ve visited, I always want to go there as well.
AG- Once you decided you were going to travel, what did you do to start working towards making it a reality? Did you make a plan or budget?
WW- I’m actually constantly planning a next trip, or even the one after that. I don’t have a special savings account dedicated to travel, but I try to save a certain sum each month and what’s left of my paycheck by the end of the month, when all the bills are paid, goes onto my savings account as well.
I also keep track of all my expenses, both when I’m at home as when I’m abroad and when I leave for a trip I normally have a certain budget in mind.
AG- I can understand why people always seem amazed that you are going on another trip. It does seem that you travel quite a bit. On average, how many trips do you take each year?
WW- I do about 2 ‘big’ trips per year. I put ‘big’ intro brackets because I’m never away for months. I have to travel within the limits of my job and that usually means that I go away for two weeks twice a year. The rest of my travels consist of smaller city trips and getaways, mostly during weekends or public holidays to which I then add a vacation day or two. This year I’ve actually used up all of my vacation days for travel, but one. I’m keeping that last one for an emergency.
I know my travel schedule may not seem impressive to those who have the time to travel all year round. I also know that if I really wanted to, I could switch up my lifestyle so that I could travel all year round as well and although I would love to have the freedom to do just that, it’s not my top priority right now. Let’s say I’m working on some other projects first. And then there’s of course Boyfriend to consider as well.
AG- What do you do to be able to afford your travels? Any advice that you think will help others afford to travel more?
WW- I don’t spend a lot when I’m at home. Besides apartment costs and food, almost all of my money goes to my other passion: dancing. That means paying for classes and for gas to get to those classes. I almost never drink alcohol and when I go out I can easily get around with just two apple juices for an entire night, because I find it annoying to dance with something in my hand.
I also don’t splurge when I travel. Well, except for last year when I went on a shopping spree in Los Angeles. I mostly stay in hostels and often prepare my own meals or go for something not too fancy. I also spend hours comparing prices and reviews before booking anything, to make sure I get the best bang for my buck.
I used to shop a lot, even at home, but now I try to compare the price of something I’d like to buy to something travel related. Those sneakers, for example, could pay for 3 nights in a hostel. Are they really worth it?
AG- How do you budget for your travels? Do you usually stay within your budget when you travel?
WW- I keep a maximum amount I want to spend in mind and so far I’ve never exceeded that. I get to that amount because I’m a real over organizer. I book my accommodation and maybe a rental car in advance, so counting those together with my flights I already have a pretty good idea of the big costs of a trip. On top of that I always make day plannings and even though I don’t always stick to them, they do contain what I want to see and do in a certain destination. How does this help me to budget? Well, of course I look up the entry prices for everything I want to do beforehand. yes, I’m that much of a planner.
AG- What do you find to be the most difficult for you when you travel?
WW- Enjoying the moment. Because I’m such a planner I’m always thinking about what to do next, how to get there, what time it is… while I should just be enjoying what I’m doing at that exact moment, even if that’s just lying on a beach somewhere.
AG- Many times when reading travel blogs, we find ourselves thinking that we need to need to buy a bunch of things to be able to travel. Did you experience this? What things do you now realize that you didn’t really need? Any recommendations on what really is needed?
WW- As I haven’t traveled long term or in extreme conditions yet I’m probably not the right person to answer this question, but I think there is one thing that goes for every trip: less is more. You can always wash your clothes and you can almost always buy something on the road if you really need it. Beats the hell out of lugging a heavy suitcase/backpack around.
AG- Do you have any additional advice for those who want to travel the world the world, but haven’t?
WW- I’m a real organizer and although I know not everyone is like that, I would recommend to have a certain plan in mind of how you want to travel, how you plan to arrange accommodation, get around etc. Maybe you’re not worried about those things, but it might be comforting for those staying at home if they know you have at least thought about these things.
Thank you very much to Sofie of Wonderful Wanderings for doing a Prepare to Travel interview with us today. Be sure to head over to Wonderful Wanderings to read all about Sofie’s adventures on her travels. What do you do to prepare to travel?
All photography provider by Wonderful Wanderings.