Meet Sonia Gil. She is a vlogger that creates short travel videos, but they’re so much more than that. In her videos, she surfs at hidden beaches in Nicaragua and people watches en plein aire in Paris. Last year she was honored with a Webby award for Best Web Personality / Host. And her vlogs offer travel tips on everything from how to pack for winter to what to expect at coffee shops in Amsterdam.
I talked to Sonia via email about traveling, travel tips and what’s next for her.
What is your first travel-related memory?
New York City- I was 6 at the time. Looking up at the buildings and feeling dizzy, having to hold on to my mother’s hand tight. A carriage ride, that was marvelous! FAO Schwarz, hotdogs on the street, Cats. And most impressive of all, it was 9:00 PM and it was still light out. I remember every detail, and yearn for that feeling of being in awe of everything around me ever since.
What’s the best (or most memorable) day you’ve ever had while traveling?
Wow, many… The first day of the Chinese New Year in China, they invented fireworks. I’ll leave it at that. When I got to ride a good wave for the first time in Nicaragua. Stopping to buy some water on some random dirt road and ending up being invited to lunch with a wonderful Mexican family. Reaching the top of a Tepuy mountain after many days hiking and bathing in that sweet freezing water. And on and on…
What inspired you to start your blog?
I had traveled my fair share, and had developed a methodology. I thought I had something to contribute and I certainly was not finding content that fulfilled my needs, that showed me what I wanted to see. So why not do it myself? Thankfully the best sidekick on earth decided to hop on board the project. Mariana Hellmund is the one that makes the magic happen behind the main camera.
What’s your dream vacation?
My dream vacation involves either learning something, having an intense physical activity every day or both. You end up feeling absolutely fulfilled by the time night comes. Some examples: Going to China to learn Chinese- everything you do, be it ordering water or asking for directions, when you get it right, it’s a triumph. And you get to feel triumphant multiple times a day. Surfing vacation- whether it’s your first time or your hundredth, every day is a challenge and every success is blissful. And it’s a great way to get closer to local life.
Favorite place you’ve been? Least favorite?
My favorite place changes all the time. Right now I have Amsterdam very much at the top of the list. But ask me again tomorrow. Least favorite? None, really can’t think of a place I don’t want to go back to.
Name one thing you haven’t done yet (travel-wise) that you want to.
Only one? An African safari on horseback and JAPAN, please.
How about something you’ve done and would never do again?
I ate some very scary squiggly worm-like looking somethings in China. Luckily, I did not speak enough Mandarin to know what they were yet. I would be okay not doing that again.
Who are some of the travelers who inspire you?
Alexander Von Humbolt- an oldie but a goodie. In the 1800s he traveled all over Latin America and wherever he saw a mountain he would climb it, no questions asked. And another adventurer, Bear Grylls. That man is inspiring, he can find his way anywhere, build a sailboat out of cans and is afraid of nothing. I have a video about them.
What are your top 5 don’t-leave-home-without-them travel essentials?
Mini Belkin surge protector with USB adapters- it eliminates having to take chargers, laptop, phone and my very own shampoo, face cream and conditioner – hotel shampoo, no sir!
What do you do for work that allows you to travel?
I’m the co-founder of an awesome language learning software company called fluenz.com. We teach German, French, Spanish, Italian and Mandarin and I lead the development team.
Why videos and not a blog with photos?
There are so many photographers posting amazing stuff already, I couldn’t compete. Yet there isn’t so much great travel video content out there. Plus, I don’t photograph well!
What’s next for you? Your site? TV deals in your future?
Continue head strong with Sonia’s Travels and crack the secret code of every conceivable corner. There is much in the works but nothing I can discuss yet- hush, hush. 🙂
What’s your #1 piece of travel advice?
Get lost, really lost, and peek in every open door and window… And whatever anyone says, don’t eat raw chicken!