Sally spent 12 years working as a freelance technology journalist for newspapers and magazines in the UK and US before founding the Tots100, followed by the MAD Blog Awards, HIBS100, Trips100and Foodies100. She writes her own parenting blog at Who’s the Mummy, which was ranked the UK’s #1 Mummy blog in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Sally has been named one of the UK’s top 10 most influential bloggers (2013), was shortlisted in Red magazine’s Red Hot Women awards in 2012, and was nominated for inclusion in the Debrett’s 500 in December 2014, a list of the 500 most influential and innovative people in the UK today.
Alex: Can you briefly introduce yourself?
I’m Sally Whittle, I’m a blogger and social media professional from the UK. I write a family blog called “Who’s the Mummy?” and also run the Tots100, Trips100, HIBS100 and Foodies100 blogger communities here in the UK.
Why do you travel? What are your inspirations?
I can’t imagine not travelling! I love the feeling of escape that travel gives you, the opportunity to step outside your routine and try new things. I’m inspired by social media, of course, I love to follow travel bloggers on Instagram, in particular. But I’m equally inspired by books, films and television. Who didn’t read Room with a View and immediately want to go to Tuscany? Or watch Lost Boys and be captivated by Santa Cruz?
How do you organize your travel plans? Any travel hacks you can share?
I mostly plan online as it allows me to do a little bit at a time. I use Skyscanner to track flight prices and I use miles for upgrades rather than flights (the odds of finding a flight I want to take, to a place I want to visit, and being able to pay with miles, is about zero in my experience). I love using HomeAway.co.uk to find apartments and houses to rent, and Viator to pre-book activities and excursions before we go.
Tell me about a person you’ve met or a memory that impacted you the most during one of your trips?
When I was 19, I spent a summer in Canada, working for Greenpeace. It was amazing, but challenging for a female, solo traveller. Over a period of a couple of months, I got attacked by a swam of bees, was run over by a car, lost my job, lost my rental apartment and couldn’t afford a flight home. Then I got left on the US border by a Greyhound bus. Nightmare! But what stuck with me was realising that I coped. That the scariness of travel never outweighed (for me) the sheer thrill of being somewhere new, and having an amazing adventure.
Aside from the basics, name three items that you always bring when you travel.
I travel with a child so a headphone splitter because otherwise halfway into a flight, my daughter will always steal my iPad. Aside from that, I’ll never travel anywhere without a book (essential for airports) and Factor 50 sunscreen, because my English skin burns in about 20 seconds when exposed to sunlight.
What is your motto when it comes to traveling?
Better to do something than not. Which is a silly motto really but it’s what I use to remind us that we’re in this new place and let’s go out and grab it by the collar and do something new, even if it’s a bit scary, or a bit weird, or we’re not sure if it will be fun. Better to regret it after than never to have tried it.
The best and the worst meals you’ve ever had traveling?
Worst would have to be being served ‘tete complete’ in the souk at Marrakech. It was a goat head, if you’re wondering. The best would probably be eating fish tacos on the beach at sunset in San Diego. Perfection. If you’re ever in San Diego check out The Taco Stand in La Jolla, you won’t regret it.
Which city do you consider yourself an expert on? Can you share any hidden gems in that city?
We have spent a lot of time in New York over the years. If you’re visiting with kids, then definitely check out the Childrens Museum on West 83rd St, then head for milkshakes at the Lexington Candy Store, which hasn’t been decorated since the 1930s and is ridiculously charming.
What is your favorite travel song/album to listen on a trip?
It entirely depends on the destination. Beach trips require the Chilli Peppers and pop-punk, I find, while forest breaks need something a bit rougher, maybe some Tom Petty. I also have a secret love of country music and usually at some point on a road trip, you’ll find us singing along to John Denver’s Country Roads. Yes, I know all the words.
What is the funniest foreign swear word you know?
Is it very bad that I don’t know any beyond a bit of basic German and French? I find that in any situation, shouting, “Your mother was a hamster and your father smells of elderberries” works wonders, if only to confuse anyone listening.
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