In this edition of Celebrity Travel Addicts, we speak with Hanna Thomas, the travel blogger, architecture buff, and sun seeker known better as the Solar Powered Blonde! We chat with Hanna about her favorite destinations, some of her favorite places to view unique architecture, what makes Solar Powered Blonde stand out among the crowd, and much more. Check out her best advice to fellow travelers and find out where she’s off to next!
How did your passion for travel get started?
I think it was when I first went to Asia. My Dad and Grandmother were both born in Sri Lanka and they took me here when I was about 15. We had always gone on holiday each year, as my Mum is Polish so we would go there regularly to see family. But going to Sri Lanka really showed me just how incredible the world is and I loved learning about a totally different culture and experiencing a different side of the world. From then on I’ve been to Asia many times, sometimes even spending a few months travelling around.
What does travel mean to you? Why do you feel it’s important?
I love being able to see how other people live. I love learning about the history of different countries. I love trying different food, I just want to see as much as I can. I really feel alive when I am somewhere new, and then being able to share this with my followers on Instagram and on my blog makes it even better.
You’re a full-time traveler now, but where are you initially from? What makes it such a great travel destination?
I’m from London initially and I lived here for 25 years. I loved living in London, there is always something fun to do and you can never be bored. Every night is a Friday night and there are always festivals and events to go to. I love photography and London is full of great photography spots.
You run a travel blog called Solar Powered Blonde. Can you please tell us a bit about it? What makes it different from other travel content out there?
I have been told by a lot of people that the photography on my website really stands out. Together with my partner Boyan we take the photos for the blog, with drones, and with our regular cameras. We also love to explore lesser-known destinations and I have had a lot of good feedback about this. Recently we went to Malmö, which is not very Instagrammable and a lot of people said they added it to their list after we went. We also recently went to Jersey, a lot of people still thought it Jersey in the US so it was great to showcase out Jersey in the UK. Our best find though was a pink saltpan in France. It is still the blog with the most views on my website!
Like me, you’re an architecture enthusiast. What are some of your favorite examples of unique or memorable architecture you’ve seen in your travels?
I don’t even know where to start! Some of the best architecture I’ve seen I think has to be the temples in Chiang Rai in Thailand. They are so intricate and detailed it is unbelievable. Then in Europe, we also have great architecture. Copenhagen had some great buildings and Malmö had some train stations that looked very interesting from above. I also really loved the ancient architecture in Sardinia. For example there was a place in Sardinia called Porto Flavia. This was an old structure built for miners to be able to easily transport goods through the rock straight onto the ships below. It was really incredible.
How many days/weeks do you travel in any given year? What types of places do you like to visit?
I used to travel once a month at least while I was working in London and in March I left with one suitcase and am still travelling full time now. My base is in the Netherlands but I am very rarely there, although I also love it there. My heart really is in Asia though, anywhere by the sea, with temples and lots of interesting things to see is a perfect destination for me.
What do you want audiences to gain and learn from your work?
I want to encourage people to travel! I want to show people that it is possible to travel while working full time, and that if full-time travel is your aim, that this is also achievable. I also want to showcase less Instagrammable destinations and hopefully inspire people to also visit these places.
What are the top three destinations you’ve visited?
This is also a tough one! I would have to say Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Portugal!
Give us your ‘Top 5’ list for one of your top 3 destinations. Like a mini-guide or a to-do list of sorts. It can be anything from your favorite hotel, the best place to have lunch, the best sightseeing, etc.
- You must get the Kandy to Ella train, the most scenic train ride I’ve ever been on! It takes 6 hours but I didn’t stop looking out of the window!
- Head to Diyaluma Falls, one of Sri Lanka’s largest waterfalls.
- Climb up Ella’s Rock at sunset
- Climb up Little Adam’s Peak at sunrise
- Stay at Tri Hotel in Koggala Lake to spoil yourself!
How many countries have you visited so far?
I think over 30 now!
What are your top 3 favorite cuisines?
I absolutely love Italian food; I could eat pizza and pasta every day! Then I think maybe Vietnamese food, I love the soups especially. Then maybe Sri Lankan, I absolutely love the curries there and the breakfast with the egg hoppers and string hoppers.
What is your favorite restaurant in the world? What dish do you recommend there?
The best pizza place I ever ate at was Gino Sorbillo in Naples. It was absolutely incredible and I would recommend everything on the menu. But especially the simplest pizza they have with buffalo mozzarella was divine.
What is your favorite travel movie?
I love the BBC series Planet Earth – I haven’t actually watched a movie in a long time!
What is your favorite international airport?
I might have to say Heathrow in London! I love the lounge there and it’s not as expensive as other airports around the world. Some of the less rich countries have crazy prices at the airport!
Which city had the friendliest people?
Portuguese people are always very friendly! I thought the people in Porto and Lisbon were all very friendly and I met lots of fun people!
Who is your favorite travel companion?
My boyfriend Boyan (@boyanoo)! We travel everywhere together since we met!
What is the best way to kill time while traveling?
I never have time to kill time! When I’m not out exploring I am editing photos or writing the next blog post. Sometimes it’s nice to be somewhere with no singal so I can properly relax. Faroe Islands has been good for that, I love a good hike with no signal! I usually kill time sat at airports editing or doing research for upcoming trips.
What is the most exotic place your career has taken you?
Recently Boyan and I did a project for Taverna’s Trips and we went to Bali to help with her trip there and it was incredible. I loved swimming with all the fish and trying to capture them swimming around with the GoPro. Then working with a guesthouse in the Maldives was another highlight – a dream destination for me, it was stunning. Working with tourism boards has allowed me to go to places I would never have been to otherwise. I never wanted to go to Sweden and Scandinavian countries as I thought it would be a bit cold. Working with the tourism boards of Copenhagen and Malmö was great and showed me that summer there can be super hot too!
What is your best bit of travel advice for someone who wants to, or is about to, embark on a life of travel?
Don’t let anyone get you down! People said to me don’t quit your job because you never know what might happen. But just go for it and ignore what people say and go with your heart. I had an overwhelming urge to quit my job and now I haven’t stopped since. Even when we think we have a week free we end up getting a job and filling it!
What are 4 things you could never travel without?
Camera for sure!! My laptop now as I work from it, suncream and my snorkel! You never know when you might have to go underwater haha to see something incredible.
What is your ultimate dream destination?
I would LOVE to go to Hawaii! It has been on the bucket list or a long time. Also Reunion and the Seychelles, the list goes on!
What is your favorite travel quote?
“No place is ever as bad as they tell you it’s going to be.” – Chuck Thompson
I found this one recently and I loved it! When I told people I was going to Jersey, UK people said why are you going for so long or what will you do there? Each place I’ve been to that someone said something negative about I have still loved. Better to make your own opinions!
Where are you headed next?
I’m in the Faroe Islands now then off to Spain next!
I’m Hanna, a full-time traveller, travel blogging and creating content around the world. I quit my job as a nurse to pursue my new path as a travel blogger and haven’t looked back ever since. The best part of my job is working with tourism boards to find new areas and showcase the lesser-known spots around the world.