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The Experts: Sydney Zaruba

You know those people who you've only met once or twice, but you get so into their social media that you feel like you know their whole life? Well, Sydney is one of them, and I guess that means she's doing her job right! Sydney is a professional blogger, sailor, and a travel agent... a true Jill of all trades. I met her briefly in Florence as we were both regulars at the bar Uncle Jimmy's, a true favorite for study abroaders then. Sydney is authentic and versatile with her posts. She'll have a magazine-worthy photo of herself, followed by a vulnerable post, and then some informative and humorous ones mixed in. While I think it's amazing to see all of the cool places she has been to, I give her credit for still being strong and entertaining during this time when travel is ceased. She just got done with a family sail from Texas to Florida which is awesome, check out her Q/A below!

Q: Tell me about your background in travel and what you are currently doing A: -in 2015 I stepped on my first flight ever to head to Italy. -in 2016 I moved to Italy and started blogging about the process and documenting my travels on Instagram.  I visited Italy, Germany, Spain, France, Austria, Hungary, and worked as a social media guru, blogger, and tour guide in Florence. -In 2017 I graduated from The University of Florida, backpacked Peru, and traveled back to Europe, and decided that one way or another, I was going to make my purpose traveling -In 2018 I dedicated the time to start making my blog and Instagram a business, I grew my account to 10k, started an email list, and made my first dollars from blogging. I traveled to Africa for the first time and landed collaborations I never thought possible. -In 2019 I made the biggest changes to my life yet. I traveled more in a year than I ever have before visiting Iceland, Scotland, England, Ecuador, and the Galápagos Islands - as well as going to NOLA, Savannah, Salem, and Colorado twice (I’m sure I’m missing a few trips too!). I made my biggest money ever from blogging and made the decision to join Explorateur Travel as an agent and offer my services planning travel! -2020 has looked so different. It started out with a bang and a pop and every day is different, but I’m learning to live with the new normal and to work with the changing face of travel. I have several travel collabs planned for later this year.  I'm sticking to saving up money while the world isn't traveling and planning my move to Scotland at the start of 2022.  I'm also writing a historical fiction novel and running another business!  I stay busy!

Q: What are the most common questions you get asked?

A: How I can travel so often and to so many places for so long. I'm blessed. I have freedom of work. My family has our own business and I work for them as a manager. I always get the entirety of January off, and every other year, the month of October as well. Plus, blogging gives me the freedom to make money while I travel. But, the biggest thing...I don't spend money on stupid stuff. When I go to spend money I always ask myself "Would this $20 be better spent on travel?" The answer is usually yes.

Q: How many countries have you been to? 

A: 17 I believe. But I’m one of those people who won’t country hop in Europe. I go to one country for a week or more at a time and really get to know the culture

Q: What are your top 5 favorite places you have been to?

A: OOOO this is a tough one. Italy will always have my heart. It's going to always be number one for me I think. How could it not? It's unlike anywhere else. Scotland comes in at number two. It's where I plan to move when I come back to Europe. Iceland - I've just never seen a country like this one. I don't have anything to compare it to. Plus, I'm a hot spring enthusiast, so this is like heaven to me. The US - People always rag on the states but our country is amazing. I live in Florida and love it here. New England (especially Boston and Salem) has my heart. And we have incredible nature...from the Pacific Northwest to the Grand Canyon, America really does have it all. The number 5 spot is hard because there are so many places that could rank here. Peru? Morocco? France? Ugh, too hard to decide.

Q: What are your top pieces of advice for traveling? 

A: Pack light. Go with the flow. Use a travel agent and don't play host to your own vacation.

Q: What are your travel essentials?

A: Ginger in my no. 1. It always goes in my bag (and I also always have some in my purse! I caught a parasite when I was in Ecuador and this was the only thing that saved me from not projectile vomiting while driving to the Amazon Rainforest. It's also great for hangovers and seasickness. Also Imodium, gasX, Vitamin C, activated charcoal, and salty snacks. Can you tell I've never traveled where I haven't been violently ill at some point?

Q: Worst travel experience? A: Directly related to the above question...The year was 2019. It was my second time in South America and I knew I would likely be sick at some point. The morning comes and we are going to the Amazon rainforest and I have extreme food poisoning. Turns out it wasn’t just food poisoning, I caught a parasite. We named him Herman, he sticks around for about 4 months. Worse than any ex I’ve ever had.


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