Nadeen White is the award-winning travel and lifestyle blogger behind The Sophisticated Life, LLC an online luxury travel blog and destination guide. She is a travel blogger by day and a pediatric physician by night, juggling both lifestyles while encouraging her readers to live their lives to the fullest by traveling and sharing their experiences. A self-proclaimed bonvivant, her website is the perfect platform for those of us with a little wanderlust, ready to escape for the summer.
How did you started with travel blogging, while you were still in school for pediatrics?
I did a lot of schooling to become a physician, so I wasn’t able to do a lot while I was in school during residency training in terms of traveling, so when I finished residency I was just working full time, I finally started doing some traveling. My mother travels all over the world, so just growing up I was exposed to that and so that was always an interest of mine. I realized a lot of my friends and I had the same interests, we like to travel, we like to go to food and wine festivals, go to museums, just a lot of cultural things and really delving into that. At the time I didn’t see a lot of people like me that were online talking about that and inspiring other people to do it. I just started the blog as a hobby. It was like an online magazine initially where I share with people all the things my friends and I were doing all over the country and the world. I started networking and joining different blogging groups and realizing how I could really be effective in terms of blogging and reaching people. I write a lot of travel guides to destinations all over the world and that has been really received well because people want to go some place but they really don’t know what it’s like or how to get there or what to do when they get there.
Where did the idea to create an online blog stem from?
Initially it was a website that had different categories and I was going to put out a new issue every months and then again, that just wasn’t working well, trying to get people to contribute to the different categories. So I narrowed down my focus and redid my website where it was more just like a blog where I was the contributor and the editor. I still accept guest posts from people but I’m the creator, editor, and writer. I am my brand. I’ve realized if you want to get something done and want it to be successful, you have to put it in your own hands. I switched over to Host Gator so I can have total control of the site and became LLC a few years ago, so it’s truly a business at this point.
In your travels, do you find yourself with family? A group of friends? Solo?
I travelled any way I could, I travelled with family, my mom like I said was a big traveler so I went on trips with her, I went with friends, I went on my first solo trip in 2011 and I’ve planned a lot of girlfriend getaways. Now since I’ve got married, I’ve also travelled with my husband a lot. I wrote an article about the seven benefits of travelling with your spouse [laughs] like them picking up the luggage and carrying that for you. So I’ve pretty much experienced all aspects of traveling and in terms of whomever I’m going with, I am the one who does the trip planning and I do full itineraries. I really don’t use travel agents. I find places myself and being in the travel blogging sphere, I have a lot of friends who have been to places and they write about it. So I do my own research and I come up with what I want to see, what I want to do, figure out the transportation.
How do you find the balance between both of your career lifestyles and find the time to travel?
It’s definitely a juggling act, especially since I got married. One of the reasons I love being a hospitalist is we do shift works, I do 12 hour shifts, a few times a week and so you’re able to group your shifts a lot of times in a month so that you can get a long weekend off without using up vacation time or get a week off. When I was in private practice I was working every other weekend, late night, Monday thru Friday. I’ve been a hospitalist now for almost 10 years and it definitely gives me time whether it’s a long weekend trip, five days, I’m able to fit something in almost every month. Depending on how much time off I have, it kind of determines what kind of trip I may plan for that time period.
What has been one of the most challenging obstacles in your travels and how did you overcome it?
I think the biggest thing as a female is safety and making sure, if you are traveling as a solo female to be aware of your surroundings, plan things out before you leave your accommodations, know where you are going. I don’t usually go out late at night if I’m by myself somewhere. My friend and I were in Barcelona, we got off at the wrong train station, we were actually lost at night and we were afraid to ask anyone questions because then they would know we were tourist and we were lost. We were kind of in this random neighborhood and we just kept walking and walking and we finally ran into a man with his child and figured he was safe enough to ask which way to go back to the train station and he directed us. If you’re out in restaurants, in bars, in clubs, men may offer to buy you drinks, you know I say no and you have to really as a woman. I encourage all women to travel, whether it’s solo or with friends, but you really do have to keep safety as a main concern when you’re doing that.
The Sophisticated Life offers everything from wine to food to to culture and art, do you have a favorite category?
I would say my biggest section on my blog is the travel section and the travel guides. After that I love to eat! I love, love, love, food. Every place I go to, I like to learn what they’re local cuisine is. I don’t even travel to another state and go to a chain restaurant that I have in Atlanta. I like to go to local places, eat the local cuisine. I like to interweave food into travel and I love wine. Not just learning about wine, but learning about the different wine regions around the world. I just did a post on Rhone Valley [in] France and that was interesting to me because I didn’t really know much about the wine there. I’ve been to Tuscany, I’ve been to Napa a few times and I have a few guides on wineries and restaurants in Napa. Food and wine are definitely the two, besides going to a new place and seeing a new place, before I get into the food and wine of that area.
What tips would you give to those who want to pursue travel blogging?
I think first of all you have to enjoy writing. Being a physician it’s always science, test, exams, multiple choice. I never realized I was that creative in terms of writing a blog. I tell people it has to come naturally to you, you have to really enjoy writing, and enjoy what you’re writing about. You have to find a niche. What I find sometimes is people may decide to start a travel blog because they’d like some perks that come along with it from the travel industry, but they’re really not passionate about it and they don’t really do the research in terms of the traveling or really experience where they go when they travel and I think that shows up in your blogs and the blog posts. You really need to be authentic about what you’re writing about and enjoy what you’re writing about. The other thing is really finding your niche. Writing about your experiences but developing some kind of niche that you can tap into. Definitely being your brand. I have a friend who is an adventure blogger and that’s what she does, she loves outdoor stuff and she loves adventure. That’s great that she writes about that, but that’s not me, I’m not a backpacker. I went whitewater rafting for the first time last year and that was fun, but I accept the fact that I’m more of luxury blogger. That doesn’t mean that I spend thousands of dollars a night on a hotel, but I do prefer staying in nice hotels, eating at nice restaurants. I’ve never stayed in a hostel, that’s just not me. I think people try and cover all bases, [but] I really tell people to stick to who you are. You are your brand. When people see my blog and they meet me, it fits. So being authentic, really knowing yourself, knowing you brand and being comfortable with what you write about. It should really come off as natural to whoever is reading it.
What destinations are next for you?
I hit it heavy at the beginning of the year. I already did Thailand and went back to South Africa for a second time in March. This summer I’m doing a bunch of U.S. travel, actually, I’m going to Nashville for a medical conference in July. Our next big trip is in the fall. I’ve been to Paris before, but my husband’s never been, so we’re going to France for ten days for our two-year wedding anniversary. We plan to go to Brussels and to the Champagne region of France, which has been a huge bucket list item of mine. We’ll probably go visit London for a few days. Believe it or not I’ve already started planning that. That’s in September, but like I said, I plan everything out and that’s the next big trip I’m planning out.
All photos by Nadeen White