Don’t expect detailed scenes of specialized tours or lengthy (read: overkill) coverage of eateries when you arrive at Featured Traveler Sonia Gil’s website, Sonia Travels. The wandering travel “vlogger” and lexicon-loving founder of Fluenz, a company that creates language learning software, shies away from specifics in her short travel videos. Instead, Gil strives to tap into the attitude of a place, the “magic code” that makes it tick. Her motto couldn’t be more suited to AFAR’s mission: “There are travelers, and there are tourists,” she says. “Tourists come and go. Travelers … try to experience, to understand, and, in the process, learn something about themselves. I want to rouse that traveler within.”
Sonia’s latest project is Fluent Road, a language learning software and collaboration between Lonely Planet and Fluenz custom-tailored to teaching travelers. We caught up with Sonia to hear about her latest adventures and favorite discoveries.
Right now I’m in New York.
My next trip is to Sedona, Arizona.
First international trip: I was five years old and my mother took me to New York (I was living in South America at the time). Everything, absolutely everything, was mesmerizing.
My videos are my most treasured travel souvenir.
Favorite local style/most stylish place: Copenhagen. Coolness runs through their veins.
iPhone or DSLR? GoPro.
If you’re in Miami the night daylight savings end (November) don’t miss Sleepless Night. Everything is open all night, and there are tons of events and an enviable vibe.
Learning at least a few words in the language is the best way/place to connect with locals.
What’s the one hometown place you miss most while traveling? The beach. I need my boost of sun, sand and saltwater often.
Where do you always take out-of-town friends? To the Standard Hotel in Miami—watch the sunset, drink in hand, with a 50/50 chance of dolphin spotting.
Favorite travel book: The Beach.
Most out-of-character travel experience? Something that you would never have done at home: Hiking to the top of a tepui in Venezuela. Sublime.
Biggest travel mistake? Mistakes turn into the best stories—ordering some red foot instead of red wine in China.
Favorite foreign word or phrase: Sussurro (it means to whisper in Italian).
Travel has taught me the joy of coming home.
Photo courtesy of Sonia Travels