Happy Thursday everyone! Today, we’re thrilled to spotlight two travelers we adore – Claire and Laura Jopson of Twins That Travel. These two dynamic adventurers are fantastic examples of women exploring the world fearlessly… and they also happen to be identical twins!
Today, we’re sitting down to pick Claire and Laura’s brains on their story, what it’s like to travel so intimately with a sibling, their professional goals and why they choose a life of travel. Here we go!
Hi ladies! Could you introduce yourself and what you do for those of us who are unfamiliar with your stories?
Hello! Our names are Claire and Laura and we run the travel blog and Instagram account: Twins That Travel. We launched the blog as a hobby in 2014 in order to increase our confidence and overcome the anxiety we felt when it came to travel. Fast-forward five years and we now run the blog full-time; traveling the world for a living.
Amazing! I have to ask… as twins, what is it like to live an adventurous life together?
Being able to travel with your twin sister is both incredible and stressful! Knowing that we have someone by our side as we step foot in a new country gives us both confidence and a sense of bravery.
Traveling full-time (and running a business) with your twin sister, however, can also be tense at times. Like any sibling relationship, we have our fair share of disagreements on the road. Fortunately, the sibling relationship also means that we can make-up five minutes later – carrying on as though nothing happened. We often wonder how our relationship would fare if we weren’t identical twins!
You’ve recently started your own travel tours. What inspired this business venture?
Although we’re incredibly grateful to travel the way that we do, after nearly five years on the road, we wanted to create something that addressed those things that matter to us the most.
Firstly, we wanted to provide travel opportunities to women who were perhaps too nervous to travel solo, or hesitant to visit certain destinations alone. As passionate mental health advocates, we receive a lot of messages from women who are looking for advice when traveling with anxiety, and we wanted to support them with this – providing a safe and supportive group environment from which to see the world.
Secondly, we wanted to offer travel tours that were both sustainable and supportive of female-led initiatives. On our recent tour of Morocco, we ate at an entirely woman-run restaurant and attended a cooking class that provided jobs for women from the surrounding villages.
Being able to create a tour that champions women has been liberating, and is something we’re passionate about developing over the next few years.
We hear that you actually started a blog before even hopping on a plane. What were your intentions in creating a blog before departure?
When we launched Twins That Travel in July 2014, we travelled in small amounts, but not excessively. This was – in part – due to the anxiety we both suffered from, which made travel seem scary and overwhelming.
On reflection, opening up our Instagram account was a little like (unconsciously) creating an alter-ego for ourselves; portraying the sort of people we wanted to be – confident, courageous travelers. We filled our Instagram account with photographs we’d taken on previous holidays and things gained pace from there.
Over time, and with the support of our small online community, these alter-egos became a reality, as we plucked up the courage to travel more and more. Fast forward a few years and travel is now our full-time job and – perhaps most importantly – our anxiety is now manageable.
As the saying goes: “fake it ‘till you make it”.
Talk to us about travel anxiety. How do you cope with it? What do you do to find peace of mind before takeoff?
Generalized anxiety (alongside full blown panic disorder) is something we’ve both suffered with on and off for many years, and is something that feeds our travel anxiety. For us, travel anxiety can manifest itself in a fear of flying, or anxiety about being far from home. Although we’ve never found a magic cure for it, we’ve developed techniques to help lessen its effects.
Largely, these techniques are based on calling anxiety’s bluff; seeing through its smoke and mirrors. We’ve both had times when we’ve been truly in the grips of anxiety and considered cancelling a trip, but we quickly learned that this only fuels it.
As they say, the only way out is through, and so regardless of how bad we feel – we will always take that flight, or explore that country. As soon as we touch down in a new destination the anxiety – and all its wild claims – disappear.
Why do you both travel? What do you seek each time you hop on a plane?
In short, travel keeps our world ‘big’. Each time we step off a plane, our anxious thoughts become that little bit quieter. Travel helps to keep things in perspective, stopping anxiety from making our worlds ‘small’ again. In many ways, travel is our ‘therapy’ when it comes to our mental health, giving us a confidence that we didn’t have prior to running our travel blog.
That is why we travel.
What are your individual favorite places in the world? Is there a specific place that you fell in love with?
Despite being identical twins, we have very different preferences in terms of our ‘dream’ travel destination. Whilst Claire loves the heat – her favorite country being Italy – Laura loves cold destinations, like Norway.
Our one shared love, however, is Tokyo, Japan. So far removed from any other country we’ve visited, Tokyo will always hold a special, albeit slightly wacky, place in our hearts.
If you could give some advice for a woman going on her first solo trip abroad, what would you tell her?
Feel the fear and do it anyway! Despite traveling solo, you’ll never truly be alone when exploring a new destination. Connecting with people on social media before you travel can be a great way to build connections – providing you with the comfort of knowing that a familiar face will be waiting for you on the other side.
Social media might have its faults, but for travel – particularly for female solo travelers – it really is a fantastic resource.
What would you like to see more of in the travel industry?
As we mentioned with our TTT Tours, we’re keen to see more travel bloggers/influencers promoting sustainable tourism that supports local initiatives and the empowerment of marginalized groups.
As individuals who can have some ‘influence’ on where people travel to, we think it’s important to show travel in a considered way. This means less images of sandy beaches and luxury hotels, and more of local initiatives that improve the lives of those living in the destination.
What has been your biggest travel “high” and what has been you biggest travel “low”?
Our biggest high was just last week during our first TTT Tour to Morocco. Seeing women from all over the world come together for five days was incredibly rewarding, and a reminder of why travel can be so empowering.
In terms of a particular “low”, we’ve been fortunate enough to not have experienced anything particularly negative throughout our travels. General lows will usually come with cancelled flights, bickers over directions and burn-out after intense bouts of travel.
What is it like to have so many shared experiences with someone so close to you?
We feel very fortunate to have been able to share so many experiences with one another. Although we greatly admire solo travelers, we love the thought of how many memories we’ll have to look back on when we’re old and grey.
For us, travel wouldn’t be the same without having one another to share it with.
How has a life of travel changed you both?
Travel has changed us completely. Infinitely.
For most of our twenties, we were reliant on others and avoided stepping outside of our comfort zones. By (forcing ourselves) to become travel bloggers, we’ve been pushed out into the world and far from our safety nets.
This, in turn, has given us a confidence and resilience that we didn’t have before. Meeting people from all walks of life, from all around the world, has taught us that the world isn’t the scary place we once thought, but one full of laughter, opportunity and friendship.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story with us Laura and Claire… we look forward to seeing your adventures to come!