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Addicted to travel from a young age, Sofie Couwenbergh has accumulated some truly wonderful wanderings.  Far from a nomad, Sofie holds down a full time job, however with 30 vacation days each year and a whole lot of weekends, she wanders across the globe discovering new places and meeting new people each and every year!

Her mission is to prove that you can fit travel inbetween a full time work schedule, and you don’t have to necessarily sell everything and give up your home.

What do you love the most about travelling?

I guess it’s the combination of experiencing and discovering new things and the ‘detachment’ from worries at home. When you’re home, there’s always something that needs to be done. There’s always some kind of ‘task’ waiting for you. When I’m traveling I don’t think about all the things I still need to do because I simply cannot do them abroad.

Definitely a case of ‘escape behaviour’ here!!


Definitely a case of ‘escape behaviour’ here!

What inspired you to start travelling?

I’ve actually always travelled. My parents have taken me on vacations abroad for as long as I can remember. Those trips first started out as typical ‘child friendly’ holidays: picture a rather big hotel with an animation team and a giant pool.

Over time, however, they evolved and became much more focused on exploring independently. My parents still travel a lot and my dad even does a guest post series on my blog, called ‘In search of the light’, where he tells us about his travels with a focus on photography.

What is ‘Wonderful Wanderings’ all about?

In general, I’ve created ‘Wonderful Wanderings’ to share whatever I discover during my trips with the world. It’s my way of helping people plan their own wonderful wandering. I give tips on what to visit, where to stay, where to eat, how to pack… Anything travel related, really.

More specifically, Wonderful Wanderings is there for people who are, just like me, working a ‘regular’ job. By that I mean people who have a fixed home, work in their home country and lead what some people might call a ‘normal’ life.

I know there are a lot – and I mean a lot – of travel blogs out there, but I get the feeling that a lot of the ‘big ones’ are by people who are traveling almost constantly. Who often even don’t have a ‘home’. Those blogs definitely offer great destination and other information, but they also talk about a lot of things that I can’t relate to and miss things I sometimes struggle with.

My trips have a start and an end date and I have to fit them into my working schedule. That isn’t such a hard thing to do, but still I often get a question like: “You’re going away again?!”, accompanied by the remark that I surely must have quite the salary. I don’t, and I just want to show people, all people, that it’s possible to travel if you want to travel and that you can get a lot out of 14 days, a week or even just a weekend.

Yep, I'm going away...again!  Egypt, 2006

Yep, I’m going away…again! Egypt, 2006

Tell us about your wanderings!

All of them?!! Well, I made my first trip without my parents (I couldn’t travel without them before I as 18) to Barcelona. With a friend I stayed in a hostel near the Ramblas. Because it was our first time in a hostel we’d booked a private room. It was the smallest room I’ve ever stayed in! There was a bunk bed and then not even a meter between the bed and the wall. There was also this small closet between the bed and the wall and if one of us needed to open the closet, the other one had to step outside the room or get onto the bed.

The last day we stayed there it had been pouring all day and they told us we couldn’t stay in our room that night because there was water damage! We made the best of it and just partied all night long until it was time to leave for the airport.


Barcelona.  The first trip I took with my parents!

After that I made at least one week or 2-week long trip with friends, several city trips and a longer trip with the Boyfriend each year. My one mistake though was investing in expensive package holidays. I don’t know why we did that as I had planned a lot of trips before and they had all gone well. Luckily we learned our lesson and after a couple of trips started planning everything ourselves. Well, I started planning everything!

At the moment I kind of have a high and a low season for traveling. Low season is from November until March, when the weather usually isn’t that nice. I really, really dislike cold and rain so city tripping in that kind of weather isn’t my idea of fun. That doesn’t mean that I stay at home, but during that period I mostly limit my trips to anywhere that’s doable by car in maximum 2 hours.

Winter is also low season because that’s when I put a lot of time in another passion, dancing. My dance school does an annual show the first weekend of May, so the weeks before that are dedicated to rehearsals. When the show is done I dance less hours a week and get away as much as I can.

With the vacation days I have and the length of time I can stay away from work, I could take one month-long vacation or go away twice for two weeks (or four times for a week). I usually choose to go away twice for two weeks, but I do plan on making longer trips in the future. Besides that I often go on shorter city trips.

How do you afford to travel?  Are you rich?!

The question everyone asks. Unfortunately the answer is no. I get to travel as much as I do (and financially I could travel even more) because 1. I don’t spend a lot of money on other things and 2. I travel rather budget friendly. Let me explain a bit further.

Between myself and my boyfriend we almost never eat out and we only buy food and drinks that we know we’ll consume entirely. We try not to buy too many brands, with some exceptions like Cola is Cola – don’t give us anything else!

I have the luck of not liking alcohol, so when I go out, I go out to dance.  And dancing isn’t comfortable with a glass in your hand, so I guess I drink about 2 apple juices a night (apple juice is the party drink, I’m telling you!)

I used to shop a lot but being as busy as I am now, I realize that I used to shop that much not because I needed things or really wanted something, but because it was a way to spend my time. Not anymore!! I won’t say that I don’t buy stuff I don’t need anymore – I definitely still do – , and I like a good day of shopping like any other girl, but still I can say that I’ve changed. If I manage to reason that “that pair of shoes could get me two nights in a hostel” or “I’m only going to wear that about three times in year” I forget it.

When I say that I travel ‘rather’ budget friendly I mean that I don’t go all the way. For example, I don’t stay in dorms. I love to meet new people and socialize, but I always want to be able to retreat and do some things in peace. I do, however, stay in hostels a lot, which still often offer cheaper private rooms than hotels.

Oh and before I book anything I spend hours (literally) comparing prices and reviews to make sure I get the best deal for my buck.

2 nights at a hostel for the cost of this pair of shoes!

2 nights at a hostel for the cost of this pair of shoes!

One thing which you don’t like about travelling?

The whole airport-flying thing. It’s not that I’m afraid of flying, I just really don’t like how much time I spend in transit and I’m never 100% comfortable in a plane. It’s always either too warm or too cold, you have a smelly neighbour, your seat is next to the toilets, you just can’t fall asleep… If I could have Scotty beam me up, I’d definitely pay for that.

 Biggest cultural shock you have experienced while travelling?

I have to admit that I haven’t visited a lot of non-Western countries yet, so I haven’t experienced any big culture shock yet. Although I’ll answer with the fact that people in the Netherlands don’t eat mayonnaise with their fries, but (the very yummy) Joppisaus. What’s up with that???


Joppisaus – try it when you’re in the Netherlands!

The coolest person you have met on your wonderful wanderings?

I went to Los Angeles with a friend last year, and at the end of our trip, on a flight back to LA from Vegas, we started talking with a man who asked us what we had planned for the rest of the night. We told him we were just going to get some sleep at a Super 8 because we had an early flight out the next morning.

He couldn’t believe that that was how we were going to spend our last night in Los Angeles (he had a point) and asked us if we wanted to go to dinner with him. We did (after texting his details to someone we knew – you never can be too sure) and got in the shuttle bus with him to pick up his car at the parking lot. In the shuttle bus, he started calling and it looked like he was making some kind of reservation. After putting down the phone he let us know we would be staying at the Sheraton that night.

Say what???? That’s right, he had booked us a room. Of course we immediately thought that he was going to want something back for that, but we decided to see where all of this would go.

The guy took us to the hotel so we could freshen up. After that we left for Manhattan Beach, where he paid for our dinner and a drink afterwards and even let my friend, who is crazy about jeeps, drive his jeep back to the hotel. He even gave her a charger when she noticed the battery of her iPod was flat and he didn’t have a charger with her.

We got back to the hotel and had to say goodbye. What would happen? Would he ask to go up to our room with us? Nothing even close! He kindly said goodbye and when we gave him a goodbye kiss on the cheek, you could see he even was a bit uncomfortable!

Of course you’re now wondering why he did all those things for us. Well, so were we and we had actually asked him over dinner. He said that he loved how we had started talking to him, that he never dared to start a conversation with someone and that meeting us had turned a night without plans into a fun one.

What a way to leave LA!

PS The beds at the Sheraton Lax are really  good.

Funniest travel moment?

When I was visiting a friend in Milan a couple of years ago, on the way back to her apartment, we concluded that the people of Milan always look grumpy. Somehow the conversation developed in such a way that we ourselves couldn’t stop laughing anymore, so we were sitting on the subway, laughing almost hysterically, while everyone around us just kept looking grumpy. This, of course, only caused us to laugh even harder.


Laughing uncontrollably in Milan!!

Three things you can’t travel without?

The three things I can’t travel without are also the three things I always have with me when I’m at home: paper tissues (good for so many things), my smartphone and lip balm (I’m kind of addicted to it).

Which destinations are at the top of your travel bucket list?

I would love to do a road trip through some of America’s national parks. Ideally I would start in Vegas and drive to San Francisco via the Death Valley National Park, Sequoia National Park Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe and Sacramento. I wouldn’t spend time in Las Vegas, though. I’ve been there last year and although I’m glad that I’ve seen it, once was enough.

After that I’d go to Canada. My parents are there at the moment I’m answering these questions and my dad tries to let me know each they how their day went. The excitement dripping from his emails alone makes me want to go. They spot a bear like every day!

Most practical piece of advice for those planning travel?

Take clothes you feel good in. You don’t want to feel like a tourist all the time. And comfortable shoes, definitely comfortable shoes.

Why should people travel?

Because there isn’t one reason why they shouldn’t!

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, through Twitter, Google+ and on Facebook.


  1. Hey Megan,
    Thanks so much for having me!

    • Thanks for providing a great answers!

  2. A very classy young lady. Thanks for doing the interview with Sofie! Learned a little more.

    • Really love Sofie! Glad you enjoyed the interview!!

  3. Fabulous interview ladies. Sofie always provides a great interview and has a great perspective on travel and life.

    Thanks again to both of you for a great read.

    • Thankyou! So glad you enjoyed the interview, and I’m in agreeance – Sofie is great!

  4. Great interview. It’s great to learn a little more about Sofie and her blog and to know that she manages all her travels around a full time job. It can be done!

    • Thanks Carolyn!
      It definitely can be done! :-)

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