Each month, we’ll introduce you to a member of our Female Travel Bloggers Facebook community so you can learn about who they are, why they became a blogger and what their favorite travel moments have been so far.
Meet Sophie, FTB Admin, from “Cosmic Chicago”
What inspired you to start blogging?
I used to journal and letter write daily, and while I was around for the rise of blogging I never had the courage to put anything I wrote out there. That all changed halfway through college. I was traveling and moving every couple of months, and it became harder to keep track of old and new friends. Putting my stuff out there for the world to see was terrifying, but as soon as I jumped that hurdle I never looked back and several blogs later here I am.
How did you come to name your blog?
I wanted it to be space themed and centered around Chicago, so I went with the most obvious, Cosmic Chicago. It works, but I think had I been more patient I could’ve come up with something slightly more clever.
What makes you unique compared to all other bloggers out there?
I’m hyper-focused in my blogging, covering the one thing that brings me the most joy- space. I love talking space, sharing my passion for space, and introducing the topic to folks that aren’t as knowledgeable about the subject. I think it is important that you blog about what makes your eyes light up and fingers fly because otherwise, it can start to feel like work, so I made sure that this blogging project was going to be all about the traveling I do to see and experience all things space.
What do you love most about being part of the FTB group?
The support, encouragement, and overall camaraderie. FTB is proof that you can have scores of women all working in the same field, all trying to hit some level of success, that are there for each other. Everyone is focused on doing their thing, but still has the time to help each other reach their goals. It’s great to see on a daily basis.
What advice do you have for people wanting to start a blog or those who are struggling to continue with it?
You have to love what you are writing about, so really focus on a niche or topic you can write about diligently and with authority. Also, don’t focus on becoming the biggest or best. It’s great to have goals and an idea of where you want to be, but do what you love with your blog first, establish yourself and let your passion lead the way and the rest will follow.
What are your blogging goals?
To always be growing. Growth means I’m reaching new eyes, and I always want to show people how integral space is in their lives. I’d also like to publish a couple books based on the travel adventures I’ve blogged about because reading about other people on their adventures is how I fell in love with travel.
What has been your biggest blogging win?
Anytime someone contacts me through my blog to share a newfound interest in space is a win for me. I’d rather focus on the connections I am able to establish through my writing than anything else.
As well as being an FTB member, Sophie is one of our lovely Admins. If you’d like to get to know the rest of the FTB team, you can find out more about them here.
Where do you live?
Chicago is home, but I also have a place in Houston for work, though this will change soon. I’ve always been in love with the idea of summering in Chicago and wintering in the South. Houston and Florida both offer the chance to do that and be near work opportunities.
What do you do for your career?
I am a space and science writer, so my blog and travels fit right into my work. I never do the same thing from one day to another which keeps things exciting. One day I can be interviewing astronauts in Houston, covering a launch in Florida the next, and then be learning all about the effects of microgravity on a student experiment in order to help create student curriculum.
What is your favorite film?
I love Pride and Prejudice, both versions, but the second, especially for its soundtrack and dialogue. It has a calming effect on me and I can listen to it multiple times a day, every day, when I just need noise or to get through a lot of work. I wish I could watch Persuasion in the same way.
What song is your life anthem?
No Me Voy a Morir (I’m Not Going to Die in English), by Belanova. When I first heard it several years ago it didn’t really have an impact on me, but it kept coming back to me and I began to feel the lyrics in a deeper sense. I don’t feel that way about a person or a guy, but about life’s experiences and personal struggles in general that I’ve been through.
What quote sums up where you are right now?
The same quote I’ve clung to for most of my life:
“Unus, Sed Leo.”
It means, ‘One, but a Lion’ and it reminds me that no matter what I’m facing, what struggles I need to get through, what obstacles are in the way, I can get there if I put my mind and every ounce of effort into it. It reminds me that mountains can be moved, and dreams can be achieved. When you are always working around awe-inspiring people, like astronauts, their optimism and work ethic tends to rub off and inspire. I’ve seen myself through so many things, and know there is always the chance for more, so I never want to let go of the idea that there is a way through.
Do you have an embarrassing travel story?
I travel with my small dog, and when you fly with a dog onboard they make you do a special screening. I was leaving NYC, I had just been to the Intrepid, an aircraft carrier that now serves as a museum. They invited me to their Space Festival and I interviewed former astronaut Pamela Melroy. I went straight from there to the airport, so I don’t know if that had something to do with it, but when they swabbed my hands I set off the machine for explosives. It was a busy weekend afternoon and everyone going through TSA just zeroed in their attention on me. Puppy and I had to go into a little cubicle for a more thorough check of our persons and our belongings. I was mortified but used to being pulled for more thorough checks so I just went thru the motions until they let me go.
What has been your most memorable travel experience so far and what made it so unforgettable?
There have been so many, but there is one that changed the course of my life when I just decided to go all in. My second trip to Florida to see a launch- the SpaceX 3 mission. I was at a point where I was frustrated with my writing and felt like I was just doing everything to get by. That trip was magical because I went as part of the NASASocial program representing a STEM program I was working with. I was standing there in the place where we launched people and things to space, talking about making the impossible possible, and I went home knowing I just had to make the leap into science writing, with a focus on space, full time. After that, I spent a straight year traveling to cover space-related events and missions, and here I am now.
What is your favorite city and country and why?
I love Madrid, and likewise Spain. The lifestyle felt closest to what I am most comfortable with. I grew up in Chicago, so I thrive in busy, diverse, culturally rich cities.
What one destination did not impress you and why?
I don’t know if it’s because it’s where I am now, but Houston. I just have not been able to fall in love or even mild like with Houston. For such a large city it lacks that city vibe, it’s near the coast but offers little in the way of beach getaways, and the weather is the worst. It’s a shame too because I need to return here frequently for work.
What has been your favorite meal?
A simple plate of spaghetti at a hole in the wall place on the outskirts of Rome. I don’t normally eat pasta, and rarely eat spaghetti- so rarely I can count the number of times since this plate almost twenty years ago- so it’s crazy to think that I’ve been talking about the spaghetti I had there and wishing for another taste for so long. Second to that was an entire mushroom pizza in a Venetian plaza at two in the morning. I clearly need to get back to Italy ASAP!
Where are you traveling to next?
I am focused on traveling to international launch sites, and those are all pretty out of the way places- Kourou in French Guiana, Baikonur in Kazakhstan, and Tanegashima Island in Japan.
What/who inspired you to travel?
I was an avid reader as a kid, and because I had so many opportunities to travel with my family and through scouting, it was easy for me to imagine going anywhere and everywhere I read about. Having tangible experiences of my own as a teenager was all the inspiration I needed to keep going.
What’s your travel style and why do you like it? (Budget, Luxury, slow, sustainable, family, solo etc)
I’m definitely a slow traveler. All my early travel experiences were spent with family or friends that lived in the place I was visiting, so I would seamlessly blend into the local lifestyle. It’s something I decided to do on my first long-term solo trip, and try to do whenever I can. I go from month-long stays to years-long trips in a single location. But I like to throw big adventures into the mix wherever I am – so I’ve done everything from living on a tall ship to flying in a warbird to watching rockets launch to space from on top of the VAB (which also happens to be where I got engaged!).
Are you a Female Travel Blogger?
Request to join our supportive Female Travel Bloggers Facebook community to ask questions and network with like-minded women! All you need is an active travel focused website to be accepted.
She travels the USA and the world to bring space to her readers as editor of Cosmic Chicago with ChicagoNow – a blog network with the Chicago Tribune Media Group. Currently, she is working on a book and off chasing rockets!