All photos courtesy of Sonia Gill
A self-described language geek, entrepreneur and an award-winning travel web series host, Sonia Gil is Our Type of Traveler.
Founder of the digital language learning company Fluenz, and host of “Sonia’s Travels” web series, Sonia shows that you can travel the world and enrich your life without breaking the bank. With a mission to “crack the secret code of cities,” “Sonia’s Travels” uncovers the local flavor of destinations, avoiding the tourist-trodden spots, to dig deeper to find the true soul of a city.
Sharing her love of language, Sonia’s projects include the non-profit Fluenz.org that distributes free English language programs for people in need. Recently, Sonia partnered with Lonely Planet to create FluentRoad.com, a unique online program for travelers interested in learning travel Spanish.
Sonia also has her own video series “Almost Free” on Ulive.com. As winner of the Webby Award for “Web Personality of the Year” in 2012, Sonia continues to “recapture the small moments that add up to the art of travel.”
We caught up with Sonia on the road to find out about all those small, but meaningful moments in her travels:
Hello, spring! After a long, dark and cold winter, we couldn’t be more ready for the weather to warm up and the days to get a little longer. Need more reasons to head outside? Nature is blooming, music festivals are heating up and the summer crowds are still at bay.
So quit hibernating and savor spring outdoors with our to-do list:
The mountain village of Furcy, Haiti. All photos by Kathleen Rellihan
“You’re going where?!”
I got that reaction a lot when telling people I was going to Haiti. That, and a long silence … or a raised eyebrow.
As someone who’s been known to plan last-minute trips, sometimes solo, I have been used to people doing double-takes. Usually, though, it’s just my dad who’s shocked, like the time I told him I was skipping Thanksgiving and heading to Iceland, alone, in the dead of winter. But this time, it was pretty much everyone who was surprised.
Did they think Haiti was too dangerous? Did they have mixed feelings about the voluntourism that I was about to embark on … that, perhaps, it wasn’t sustainable and, at best, just a feel-good activity. Or maybe my friends and family were just shocked that once again I was skipping Thanksgiving, and this time for an even less likely location … Haiti.
Photography by Juliana Broste
We feel every day women should be celebrated around the world, but this past weekend some fearless female travelers upped the ante in honor of International Women’s Day by celebrating the power of connecting travel-loving women all over the world.
Inaugural Women’s Travel Fest in NYC
The inaugural Women’s Travel Fest, presented by Go! Girl Guides, kicked off in New York City at the awe-inspiring Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts building. Kelly Lewis, founder of Go! Girl Guides, created the 1-day event to inspire and empower women to travel through tips from the experts on everything from how to travel through the Middle East to connecting with fellow female travelers.
“There’s just something magical about getting women together to openly address our hopes, our fears and our dreams,” says Lewis. “Women have unique concerns about their health and safety … that’s why I created Go! Girl Guides, and why we needed the Women’s Travel Fest as a community of women.”
Fox Searchlight Pictures
So many of Wes Anderson’s whimsical films have had us wanting to escape to dreamy destinations – from under-the-sea in Life Aquatic to seaside New England in Moonrise Kingdom. And with a name like The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson’s much-anticipated film opening this weekend, we think this one might be his most travel inspiring film yet, bringing us back to a time when travel was grand and dripping with glamour.
Andrew McCarthy (not taking a taxi) in Canoa Quabrada, Brazil. Photo courtesy of Andrew McCarthy
We (ahem, me) all fell for Andrew McCarthy onscreen in ’80s classics such as Pretty in Pink and St. Elmo’s Fire, as he often played the sensitive, pensive and soulful guy. These days, in reading Andrew’s travel memoir, The Longest Way Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down, it isn’t hard to see him again as that same thoughtful and conflicted drifter.
Living a life in Hollywood’s shadow hasn’t made Andrew any less relatable as the characters he often played onscreen in his younger years. He is just like us: vulnerable, fearful at times, and looking to escape to a place, at least for a moment or two, where “no one knows who you are or where you are.” He’s the guy you could find yourself sitting across from on a train and talking with for hours about travel.
I did get to talk to Andrew about travel, maybe not on a train, but on the phone while he was at home briefly in New York. Find out how Andrew changed his label of “Brat Pack” actor and “‘80s heartthrob” to New York Times best-selling travel author and National Geographic Traveler editor-at-large. Plus, learn what his travel fears are … and why he hates travel stories that involve taxis.
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we’ve rounded up some romance-inspiring travel ideas. Get your heart pumping on an adrenaline-filled adventure or gaze into your valentine’s eyes at a fireside table for 2 this weekend.
“Chocolate Trio” at The Spiced Pear; Photo by OpenTable
Haven’t made a reservation yet for Valentine’s Day dinner? Better get on that — it’s only a week away! Need ideas of where to go? OpenTable released their 2014 Most Romantic Restaurants in America, as voted by OpenTable diners.
Whether you’re looking to rekindle the flames with a fireside meal or prefer to woo your S.O. over sake and sushi, these restaurants are sure to inspire a little romance. This year’s list of winning restaurants with swoon-worthy dishes and come-hither ambiance spans more than 32 states and is based on more than 5 million restaurant reviews. It must be the dreamy coastal views, because California, Florida and Hawaii boast the most romantic restaurants. And the cuisine that’s this year’s favorite for flirting over? Fondue.
Photography by Getty Images
Happy Birthday to the King of Reggae! Today would have been Bob Marley’s 69th birthday. “In this bright future you can’t forget your past…” nor such a legendary musician’s past either. So what better way to celebrate the Reggae star than with a visit to his colorful country of Jamaica, mon! Bob Marley fans from across the world make the pilgrimage to the beautiful island nation to see where the music legend lived and where his iconic sound took root.
Photography by Elizabeth Fraser
Where can you find the rare and exotic coffee that Dangerous Grounds’ host Todd Carmichael travels the world to find? At the coffee sourcer’s La Colombe cafés – in Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Seoul and the most recently opened Washington, DC, location. To the happiness of coffee lovers in our nation’s capital, a La Colombe outpost opened this weekend in the revitalized Shaw neighborhood. We couldn’t be more excited for our coffee hunter to open a new café – especially one so close to Travel Channel headquarters, too.