Meet Our Featured TFT Traveler: Sofia C!

How old are you, what grade are you in, and where do you go to school?

I’m 18 years old, from Massachusetts, and I’m currently a freshman at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island.

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What TFT programs have you gone on?

I found TFT one year ago, so I have only been on one trip thus far: Europe for Older Teens: Florence, Cinque Terre, Interlaken, and Paris.

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How many countries have you been to?

With TFT I have been to three countries: Italy, Switzerland, and France (on the Europe for Older Teens program). Besides those three countries with TFT, I have also traveled to the Dominican Republic, Germany, Spain, Morocco, and Hungary. And I have plans to go to Peru, Iceland, and Chile in the upcoming year.

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Why did you want to make TFT a part of your life by becoming a TFT Crew member in the Brand Ambassador program?

After my amazing first experience with TFT, I knew that I had found something special that I wasn’t ready to let go of. So being a Crew member was naturally my next step. What being an ambassador means to me is putting our brand out there. I am just one of many faces for the company and I am trying to get as many new potential travelers involved as I can. I want to share my experiences with my peers in an attempt to inspire them to seek their own adventures! TFT is like a big family; we Snapchat, follow each other on social media, and communicate regularly. It’s a wonderful feeling to be involved in something you’re passionate about with friends who share the same passions and goals.

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How have you grown as a person through travel and what has travel taught you?

What I love about traveling is that it forces me out of my comfort zone. I learn just as much about myself as I do about the country that I am visiting. There is a lot of introspection involved when I travel. Going to places that are not as developed as the United States has been really eye-opening, and I have learned to be appreciative of what I have. In addition, it has taught me a lot of life skills. For example, I was the kind of person who needed everything to be planned out precisely and if it didn’t go according to plan, the world was going to end. Traveling so much has taught me that everything will be just fine in the end. There will always be another train, there will always be another sunny day and this rain won’t ruin my trip, things like this. I have become more go-with-the-flow and confident in myself.

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What do you travel for?

I travel for the culture and the experience. In my opinion, being a traveler makes one more worldly. It allows people to gain perspective and appreciate what they have. Every place I have visited has welcomed me into their rich cultures. Being surrounded by new languages and foods and customs can be daunting, but I love the feeling. I always keep my heart and mind open and I want to absorb as much culture as I can because I love seeing it. In addition to the culture, there’s the experience. Whenever you go to another part of the world, there is a plethora of new exciting adventurous activities available. For example, I can’t ride camels in the deserts of Morocco, or go paragliding through the Swiss Alps if I choose to stay at home. I have done some incredible things in my day, and I am so beyond grateful that traveling has allowed me to do it.

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Favorite place and why?

My favorite place I have ever been to outside of the U.S. is Málaga, Spain. I went to Spain in January as a part of a four-week study abroad program with my university. My group and I stayed in Málaga for a week while we took day trips to other historic cities (Granada, Sevilla, etc.). What I love about Málaga is that it is such an incredible spot. It is a quaint city on the Mediterranean coast. I was there when the Spaniards were celebrating Three Kings Day, which is their equivalent to my Christmas. So as we explored the city, everything was decorated in bright festive lights and decorations…it was beautiful. Besides the beautiful decorations, the food was fantastic and the natives were so kind! I have been studying Spanish and when I tried to practice my skills, I was very appreciative of their patience and understanding.

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Can you give some advice to a first-time TFTer?

I went into my trip not knowing a single person and not having ever gone any farther than a three-hour plane ride away. So naturally, I was quite anxious because it can be a nerve wracking thing! But one piece of advice I have is just do it. Be open-minded. Try new things…try everything! The TFT trips go by in the blink of an eye, so try to live up every minute of it. Put yourself out there and introduce yourself to people, try some crazy foods, go on the excursions. Do everything that you can because these are once-in-a-lifetime experiences!

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Three fun facts about yourself:
  1. I flew a sea plane before my first ever commercial flight! When I was 15, my uncle was training to get his pilot’s license. So one day of the summer, he took my family and me on a sea plane ride on Lake Winnepausakee in New Hampshire. I was lucky enough to ride co-pilot and got to steer the plane! It is what sparked my love of flying. About nine months later I took my first commercial flight from Massachusetts to Kentucky. Definitely not as fun being the passenger!
  2. Everywhere I travel, even if it’s just to a neighboring state, I collect a pin. I am not one for souvenirs, so whenever I go somewhere, the only thing that I bring home with me is a pin from that place.
  3. I love studying languages and plan to triple minor in French, Italian, and Spanish.

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Best local mode of transportation and why?

If it’s for just within the city, walking is the best way to go. When I travel, I walk upwards of ten miles a day and I love it! If it’s for something a little farther out, then trains. I could take the window seat and watch the world go by all day. I love seeing the landscapes…I think it’s beautiful.

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What is your top tip to be a traveler, not a tourist?

The double backpack look: one in the front and one on your back. It is a great look and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise – backpacks are key!

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What is the one thing you wish you had known about traveling abroad before you went on your first trip?

Pack lightly! Nothing is worse than having to lug around a giant suitcase. Bring the basics and bring as minimal extras as possible. You can do laundry. Also, please pack accordingly. Look at where you are going and get clothes that are appropriate. I did not look at Italy’s summer temperatures and, needless to say, after walking to the top of Il Duomo on a 98-degree day in Florence wearing long pants and a t-shirt, I was melting.

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