Being the mess that I am, I took far too long in answering the questions that I’ve actually missed the boat for the award itself but I’m still sharing my answers because the questions were brilliant and I often get asked some of them on my Instagram as well so here they are.
Have you decided where you want to live?
London has always been my home, although I have lived in the UAE and other UK cities.
I dream of living in New York for a bit too or maybe somewhere that’s hot all year round, but London is the place I always feel immediately at home, with its grey sky glory and impossibly narrow roads!
Who has been the most interesting person you met during your travels?
The great thing about travel is you get exposed to all kinds of people. Regardless of them being positively or negatively ‘interesting’, you learn a lot about people, culture and in turn, about yourself too.
One person comes to mind, yet I don’t even remember his name. We met in France several years ago. I just remember him being so unique, strong-willed and naturally ambitious that it really inspired me. He had this subtle force about him like he was untouched by the world’s influences and he just did his own thing.
He was of another ethnicity but moved to Paris, studied a million degrees, spoke French fluently and was making high-level changes in the world through his work by being there.
I love stories like this because it just proves that we are all one. If we allow ourselves to see our similarities rather than our differences, move around the world and welcome each other with open arms – then we’re able to help each other progress, not just on a personal level but to better society and the world.
I know, I get deep.
If you could, which language would you like to learn or improve and why?
Of course I’m going to say Italian because if you don’t already know, I’m obsessed with everything Italian!
Food, culture, language and I support the national team during the World Cup too, (and England obviously but you know how it is).
Italian is the most beautiful sounding European language to me e parlo già un poco as I studied it for a few years in school so I would love to improve.
But having said that I think it would be really cool if I, a very obviously Arab looking girl, could suddenly spout out perfect Japanese – maybe one day.
How did you start traveling? Did you always feel this strong desire of seeing the world?
I belong to one culture (Arab) and have lived my whole life in another, I’ve also moved countries as a kid with my family, so travel has always been a normal thing. Yes, I have always felt the drive to see the world, so I don’t think I had a particular moment that pushed me, but as soon as I was able to afford my own plane ticket, that’s when the real fun began!
The world has been given to us to explore it, to get to know people, integrate, learn, experience and enjoy. I can’t imagine staying in one place for too long. I aim to see as much as I can of the world before my time is up!
How many countries have you seen?
As of the end of 2018 I have been to 17 countries which probably seems very low for a ‘traveller’ but I’ve been to a few of those countries several times, mainly Italy, the US and UAE, visiting different cities and states and sometimes even the same ones to see my favourite people who live there. I visited 3 new countries just this year (Barbados, Belgium and Luxembourg).. and hopefully many more new ones soon inshallah.
Which one is your favourite so far and why?
I can’t answer a favourite country! Firstly, I haven’t been to every country in the world yet so it would it wouldn’t be fair haha, but also every country has something beautiful to offer.
I love Italy for its culture, people, food, architecture, (okay who am i kidding, just everything).
I love Malaysia for its calm and kind people and incredibly beautiful beaches.
One day I’ll pick my favourite feature for every country, but let me explore them all first!
After all your travels, is there anything that still scares you on the road?
I always have the tiniest worry that I’ll miss or forget something important, or not consider something about the particular destination while I’m too excited just exploring and it would leave me stranded and unable to contact anyone.
It’s never happened (alhamdulilah) and I’m quite a conscious person but that fear creeps in even when it takes me 5 seconds longer than usual to find my phone in my bag!
People often say that traveling solo is not safe, especially for women. How would you reply to that?
LOVE this question because this is exactly what I stand for! Women should never be afraid to travel due to the fear of safety. Yes, we have to be cautious but there’s so many ways to take of yourself without it being a constant worry. I’ve written posts about travelling safely as a woman, you can read them here and here.
Neither this or any other ‘so-called limitation’ should stop you from experiencing the world, seeing its wonder and using that opportunity to get to know yourself. Get out there and do it. Believe me you’ll figure it all out. Just go!
Have you ever made big sacrifices for living the dream on the road? If yes, what have you sacrificed?
I’m grateful in my current position that I can travel, maybe not as much as I want but certainly a lot, so I can’t say I’ve made a sacrifice because I naturally don’t spend my time or money on other things like clothes, cars or a house… or whatever it is people spend on haha I don’t know!
To others this might seem like a sacrifice, but these aren’t a priority for me at the moment. If anything, I would probably sacrifice a lot more just to travel if I could!
What book/movie has inspired you most about your travels?
I wish I had a good answer for this, sadly I don’t. I think any movie that has featured an area or a country that I’ve wanted to visit has excited me to go and when I got there it felt so surreal.
Like the first time I visited new York WOW! I was such a little fangirl about everything. Chuck and Blair’s wedding spot in central park (Gossip Girl), the Upper East Side.
Times Square and everything from Home Alone, ah just everything was incredible. So I’d say every movie ever will continue to cause this for any destination!
Oh, also to mention a book, I found this massive book on the World’s Most Luxurious Hotels while I was staying in Pangkor Laut, Malaysia a few years ago and I’ll tell ya – that book was inspiring! (Eek what can I say, I do love a bit of luxury!) I want to read it again, but I’m still on the hunt for that exact book.
What do you want to say to the people that are not happy with their lives and don’t do anything to change it?
This is such a perfect question for me and a great note to end on as this is what I try to encourage in all that I do – Make personal growth a priority and use travel to make it happen.
More often than not, when you’re unhappy, you feel a bit stuck and you’re unsure where you’re heading. You go around the same circles in your head – the same thought processes, the same dialogues. You also float the same circles geographically – back and forth from your school, work, commitments, all the things you have to do and you aren’t allowing room for much change. Ultimately, these both have an effect and you stay stagnant mentally.
Change isn’t going to happen on its own, you can’t wait for it.
I say, step outside of yourself for a minute. Get out, go somewhere you’ve never been and it’s even better if you can go solo. Experience life away from your usual surroundings and people.
Meet a new place, meet new people, gain a new perspective and most importantly meet the new you who is now able to see why you’re unhappy and what other changes you need to make.
The best part of making that first move to travel and trying new experiences is it suddenly gives you so much momentum and drive to do whatever it takes to change your whole life. Then you can run with it.
Get going and get growing! – (omg I just made that up on the spot, and as cheesy as it is, I like it… new tagline?)