In this edition of Celebrity Travel Addicts, we speak with Laurence and Jessica Norah, the globetrotting couple behind the popular travel blogs Independent Travel Cats and Finding the Universe. We speak with them about their early travel experiences, their best advice for those who want to travel, their ultimate dream destinations, and much more. Find out what items they can’t do without and where they’re headed next!
How did your passion for travel get started?
We have slightly different “origin” stories of course, although we’ve both loved travel from an early age. Laurence is from the UK and Jessica is from the United States.
Laurence’s travel started when he was very young, as his parents lived in the Seychelles, and they often traveled together as a family. Jess’s first big trip abroad was when she was 16, and headed to Paris.
Since we met in 2014, we’ve traveled and worked together on our blogs full time.
How many days/weeks are you traveling in any given year? What are the types of places you like to visit?
We keep saying that we’re going to try and travel less, but then we think of exciting adventures and head off again! But we probably spend something like 4 – 6 months of each year traveling. Currently, we largely split that between continental Europe, the USA, and the UK. We love to visit a variety of places – cities for the cultural attractions, and then national parks and the country for hiking and landscape photography opportunities.
The two of you currently live near Edinburgh, Scotland. What makes Scotland such a great travel destination? What do you suggest people do when they visit?
Scotland is a fantastic destination for a number of reasons. The cities have a lot of cultural activities, from the famous Fringe Festival in August, through to museums, theatres and more. Then there are the spectacular landscapes. A road trip around Scotland’s famous North Coast 500 driving route, or a visit to the Isle of Skye, or a trip that takes in a number of whiskey distilleries – there’s just so much to see and do!
We usually recommend people who visit plan to spend a bit of time exploring Edinburgh (see our guide to things to do in Edinburgh) and then head out to explore the outdoors. If they have more time, we also recommend visiting the other cities like Glasgow, Inverness or Aberdeen.
You guys run two travel blogs – Independent Travel Cats and Finding the Universe. Can you please tell us a bit about them? What makes them stand out among all the other travel content out there?
We do! We actually started our blogs before we met each other, and decided to keep going with the two of them. Laurence started Finding the Universe in 2010, and Jess started Independent Travel Cats in 2013. The aim of the blogs is to provide readers with all the information they need to plan their own trip – whether that’s a road trip in California, a visit to the Eiffel Tower, or Mardi Gras in New Orleans!
We also share photography tips and general travel tips on our blogs and are always happy to answer questions and comments from our readers.
What do you want audiences to gain and learn from your work?
Two things really – we want to help our readers plan amazing trips of their own, whatever their budget or travel style. We also want to help them get better photos from their trips.
How many countries have you visited so far?
We don’t keep an exact tally, and we prefer to visit each country very thoroughly. Probably around 40 or 50 between us.
What are your top 3 favorite cuisines?
We love a whole range of food, hard to pick favorites. Laurence is a big fan of the local food in the Seychelles, which involves a lot of curry, rice, and fresh seafood. Jess really loves Mediterranean food.
Who is your favorite travel companion?
We almost always travel together and have been since 2014. So given that we’re still able to do that, we’d say each other! Of course, we’re not saying it’s all roses all the time – travel can be quite stressful – but we make it work.
What is the best way to kill time while traveling?
We have very little downtime, but we like to read books or watch a film if we have a spare moment.
What is your best bit of travel advice for someone who wants to, or is about to, embark on a life of travel?
If you want to do it, you should definitely go for it. Our only advice would be to definitely try and have some savings to travel from, or some transferrable skills that you can earn a living from as you go. It’s also important to remember that a life of travel, like everything, has ups and downs. Returning home after travelling long term can be very jarring, and whilst there’s not too much you can do about that, just being aware that people’s lives will go on without you is important to remember.
What are 4 things you could never travel without?
Our passports, cameras, laptops (we make our living from travel) and a smartphone.
What is your ultimate dream destination?
For Laurence it’s Antarctica (heading there in 2021), for Jess it would probably be back to Tanzania in Africa.
What is your favorite travel quote?
I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be. (Douglas Adams)
Where are you headed next?
We’re heading to Turkey later this month, and then spending some time doing a bit more exploring in the UK.
We’re Laurence and Jessica Norah! Laurence is from the UK and Jess is from the USA, and together we run the travel blogs Independent Travel Cats and Finding the Universe. We’ve been traveling and blogging about it since 2010, and have written hundreds of articles on a whole range of destinations and travel topics to help you plan your own travels and improve your travel photography. We’d love to connect with you, and hope our websites can help you plan your own perfect trip!
To learn more about Laurence and Jessica Norah, check out their Independent Travel Cats Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Be sure to also follow the Finding The Universe Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter to stay up-to-date with all of their latest posts.