Want to know how to travel in style, just like the pros? We check in with frequent fliers to find out how often they fly, their favorite destinations and what they never leave home without.
Name: Sofie Couwenbergh
Occupation: Full-time travel blogger and chocolate lover
College: University of Leuven and University of Antwerp
College major: Western Literature and Cultural Management
Facebook: Wonderful Wanderings
Pinterest: Wonderful Wanderering
Google+: Sofie Couwenbergh
YouTube: Wonderful Wanderings
Short bio: After an eventful trip to Sri Lanka, Sofie decided to quit her job at a publishing house to focus on her blog, WonderfulWanderings.com. There she takes her readers with her while she travels in Belgium and beyond, always exploring both daily life and the must-sees in her destinations.
How often do you fly? I’d guess around 4 times a month.
How many countries have you been to? *Goes to count on the scratch map she has hanging in her living room* 16. You can find the ones I’ve written about here.
How many continents have you been to? 4
Earliest travel memory: Singing “Sur le pont d’Avignon, on y danse, on y danse” when I was just a toddler on the beach, playing with kids who spoke French. I can’t remember if we were actually in France or just at the Belgian seaside.
Favorite American city: Los Angeles!
Favorite international city: Still Los Angeles. Or London. Or maybe Berlin. Damn it!
Least favorite country: I’ve luckily never traveled anywhere I didn’t like.
I have no desire to go to: Siberia. Brrrrr.
Friendliest people in the world: The ones you smile at.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: The US!
Favorite World Heritage Site: The cultural landscape of Sintra in Portugal.
Favorite airline: Brussels Airlines as it’s the one I fly the most and they’ve never given me trouble. I don’t like their new price structure, though.
Favorite aircraft type: Euh, one with in-flight entertainment and those headrests that you can bend so your head doesn’t drop sideways. That’s how far my knowledge of aircraft types goes.
Aisle or window: Window, unless it’s a short flight and I know before takeoff that I’ll need to pee.
Favorite airport lounge: You mean plastic gate chair, right? I’m just not that fancy…yet.
Favorite U.S. national airport: Brussels International Airport.
Favorite international airport: LAX, because it smells like dreams.
Favorite hotel: Quinta Nova de Nossa Senhora do Carmo. It lies in the middle of the beautiful Douro Valley in Portugal, surrounded by vineyards. The food there was wonderful, as was the view, our room and just about everything else.
Favorite cruise line: I’ve never taken a cruise and don’t think I quickly will.
Favorite travel credit card: As a Belgian living in Belgium I don’t really have an option. I have the Miles & More credit card, but barely use it anymore since I also have a credit card linked to my freelance business.
Favorite island: Corfu or Zakynthos.
Favorite beach: Tough one. I think I’ll go for Venice Beach. I’m not really a beach person and at Venice you can walk right back into the city.
Favorite fancy restaurant: Without a doubt DOP Restaurant in Porto. I’ve never had a meal like I had there.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: I’ve yet to find one that really wins me over.
Favorite bar: (I don’t drink.)
Favorite fruit: Strawberries. Yum!
Favorite food: Paella, eaten on a terrace in Spain, of course.
Least favorite food: Mushrooms. That texture, yuk!
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Water (yes, I’m rather dull).
Favorite travel movie(s): Big Fish.
Favorite travel show(s): I love Monster Fish on Animal Planet HD. That’s kind of travel, right?
Favorite travel book(s): “What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding” by Kristin Newman. I mean, look at that title. I must say I haven’t read that many travel books yet, though, so I’m always open to suggestions.
Right now I am reading: “A Visit From the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan. I took it with me to Sardinia convinced that I hadn’t read it yet, while I have. Luckily I only remember what I’m read again and have no idea what will happen next.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! Wait, are there others? I like the writing of Alex from Alex in Wanderland.
5 things you bring on a plane: Water, my smartphone, my camera, my laptop, and food. Basically all the things I need to survive.
What do you always seem to forget? How bloody long it takes before you actually take off.
What do you like least about travel? All that time spent in airports.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? A noise-cancelling headphone.
Favorite travel app(s): Google Maps! I use it all the time.
Most embarrassing travel moment: I was 17 and was spending a day at the hotel while my parents were out visiting something. We got permission to order room service, but it was in the States and so I had to tip the guy who brought the room service. He was rather cute and so I actually had to use my phone to calculate the amount I needed to tip him. I got so mixed up I also told him we’d be leaving that day. You can imagine his surprise when he saw us at dinner that night.
I’ve probably done more embarrassing things since then, but you know how it feels when you’re 17…
I’m embarrassed but I haven’t been to: I don’t see why I should be embarrassed about not having visited a certain place.
Worst travel moment: Losing a day in Quebec to being sick and missing the Red Bull Crashed Ice final because of it.
What’s your dream destination? Canada. I’ve already been, but only to the east and in winter. I’d love to go to the west in summer or spring.
Favorite travel charity: I’m afraid I don’t have one.
Best travel tip: Smile and hold your head up high.