Sophia Bernard, attorney and life style blogger (Esquire In Love) is travel bae! No really, she is. As you might recall, in my post titled, “No resolutions,” I stated that one of my goals is to travel internationally. While I have yet to realize that goal, I will live vicariously through my friends. In order to make international travel a reality for me, in upcoming post I will ask my friends key questions about travel. First up, Sophia Bernard of Esquire in Love. Check it out.
Jen: When did you start traveling internationally?
Sophia: I started traveling internationally as a child. I am Hatian-American. My parents immigrated to the United states in the 80’s. So as a child, I would often fly back and forth between the U.S. and Haiti to visit my grandmothers and I even stayed long enough to attend kindergarten in Haiti. As an adult, my first international trip was a cruise in 2015, I went to the Bahamas.
Jen: How many trips do you have planned for this year, or should I say how many trips do you have planned for 2018?
Sophia: This year, I have 3 international trips and 3 domestic trips. In February I took a cruise to Grand Cayman and Mexico. I wrote about it here. In March, I traveled to Washington D.C., for Cherry Blossom Season! In April, I’ll be traveling to Iceland and Norway. In June, I’ll travel down to South Florida to visit Miami, which is probably my favorite place! In November I’ll be going to Dubai and Phuket, Thailand.
Jen: How do you plan your trips? How do you decide where you will go and when?
Sophia: A lot of research! I explained it in some detail here. Basically, I try to stay flexible and monitor flights to determine the most cost effective way to travel. Flexibility is key, but admittedly I can’t be as flexible as I’d like because of my career. I need to work and I love working. So generally, I plan my trips around weeks and maximize those times. The flight is the hard part, once I’ve locked that deal, I search hotels on Trip Advisor to find the best deals. I also use Trip Advisor to put together a detailed itinerary to maximize my time.
Jen: Now you’re an attorney, so the assumption is we have discretionary funds to travel endlessly. We both know the truth, lol. What kind of budget do you need to travel?
Sophia: My budget largely depends on the destination. For example, I am traveling to Dubai and Thailand in the same trip. My budget for Dubai is going to be larger than my budget for Thailand. Dubai is far more expensive than Thailand. So it all really depends. My goal is always to be cost efficient but at the same time I do want to enjoy myself and have some luxuries. For example, I will not book a hotel that is less than 4 stars.
Jen: Where do you look for deals or sales on flights and hotels?
Sophia: For flights I do not look anywhere other than google and directly on the airline site. I basically play around with dates until something works lol. For Hotels, I like to contact them directly and negotiate rates or I use booking.com or Trip advisor.
Jen: How much is too much for an international trip? How do you know when you’re paying too much?
Sophia: That is really hard to say, it all really depends. I will say that for me personally, I would think that over $1,500 for a coach flight is way too expensive. If you’re traveling to the Caribbean from Florida, anything over $800 is way too high. I’ve personally never paid more than $400 for a Caribbean trip.
Jen: What types of things does one need to plan for when traveling that a novice would not know to plan for?
Sophia: I would say think of some things you use on a daily basis and can’t go without, definitely pack that. I am a huge proponent of light packing so I try to plan my outfits per day. precision isn’t always a good thing, so I also pack one or two extra tops and bottoms just in-case I have and unexpected spill or something.
Jen: What kind of research do you do when planning to travel internationally?
Sophia: Flights patterns, Hotel patterns, weather conditions (rainy seasons vs. dry seasons), high tourist, and special events. For example, I didn’t want to go to Iceland during winter when the roads are super icy but I also wanted to see the Northern lights. The Northern lights are the most visible during the winter months when the days are shorter and it gets darker sooner, however, winters in Iceland are brutal. So I researched and found that they are still visible in April during Iceland’s spring season.
Jen: How many countries have you visited?
Sophia: As of the date of writing this, 9. By December of this year, 13.
Jen: Have you mapped out your 2019 travel destinations?
Sophia: Not yet! I will most likely start thinking about it in January.
Jen: What destination blew your mind?
Sophia: Santorini! It was like living in a dream everyday.
Jen: What’s the next trip?
Sophia: Iceland and Norway!
Jen: You just launched some products! Congrats! Tell us about those
Sophia: Thank you! I launched three products all inspired by my love for travel. I am also a fashion blogger so one day I came up with “A woman should always be well dressed and well traveled.” I launched a t-shirt, a crop top, and a coffee mug. You can shop here.
Jen: Any last comments or words of encouragement
Sophia: I encourage everyone to venture off and travel Go somewhere, go anywhere. I think that most young people don’t travel because they think it’s too expensive, it’s not. You can find cheap airfare. Last year, I found a $300 flight to Athens, that is how I choose that destination. It was $1800 to fly to Santorini. So I figured, I could buy a $300 flight to Athens, stay there for a couple of nights, then buy a $30 flight from Athens to Santorini. So my advice is: get creative and start seeing the world!