Ramadan Kareem to you and yours from me and me! From the bottom of my heart I wish you all a super blessed month filled with lots of ease, peace, and prayer inshallah x

Quick rundown of Ramadan: the 9th month of the Islamic calendar when Muslims all over the world abstain from food and drink to commemorate the revelation of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad. It’s a time where friends and families gather in remembrance of God and goodness so as to come closer to the faith itself. As kids we were told we fast to feel what others in the world feel on the daily to remind ourselves how blessed we are so we can be grateful for everything which I think still stands; the gates of heaven are also open tenfold this month as shaytaan (satan) is kinda sorta locked up for the month so any good deeds you do are multiplied. I could go on lol but essentially a special month for us and one which most of us look forward to every year to gain as many blessings and goodness as we can and I suppose reflect on every conscious and subconscious thought and action; if shaytaan is locked up and I’ve still got bad thoughts and can’t blame him, that means its just me init?! dun dun dunn lol you get the gist yea?!

-Yesterday

Right after Maghrib your girl went to make dua #standard, and this wave of excitement came over me like the night before Christmas (joke, I don’t do Christmas lol) but just this Ramadan giddiness at the fact it was that time of year again and how blessed to be alive to witness and partake in it, and I suppose be granted another chance to revive my heart&soul. Ironed my abaya, ready to head to the masjid for the first tarawih of the month only to learn it was a false alarm and that we’ve got one more day haha so I’m taking it as a sign to sit down and reflect on things I might want to work on this month inshallah; thought I’d share some of them, not to contend for Muslim-of-the-year or any of that [in fact I think faith is a personal thing between you and God but let’s leave that be] but I enjoy reading and reflecting on other people’s [general] goals and visions and aspirations and at times they inspire me to keep that light at the end of the tunnel aglow or add them to my list of growth, and Ramadan is a month of sharing and reflecting so why not add to that realm of potential pintrest inspo lol

so, here are 5 of a few more things I’d personally like to work on or get better at this month and I hope they might resonate with some of you as well!x

  • Pray on time regardless of where I may be

I might be lame for this one, granted I’m currently living in a Muslim country and there are always places to stop and pray, but I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes if I’m out or at work and adhan goes, I’ll talk myself into making it up later when I get home (which I do alhamdulillah), but yea, no excuses this month inshallah! I know I can’t be the only one who does this lol and if I am, oops, but hopefully if it becomes routine it’ll naturally develop into a habit – the good kind!

  • Say or do something kind for someone everyday

I think I try to do this regularly, but when you train your mind to be conscious of what it’s saying or doing, it’s pretty amazing how you’re subconsciously keeping track of what it is you’ve set out to do. If that makes sense?! Whether it’s paying someone a compliment, holding the door open, or making dua in your heart for that persons wellbeing, the small things will hopefully add up and not only put a smile on the other person’s face but inshallah on me heart as well!

  • Don’t waste food

We all do this and its pretty shite. Most of us at least, especially in this month and its terrible. I know sometimes you end up cooking too much and there’s only so many days you can go eating the same thing, but share or pack, or don’t go OTT in the kitchen lol sort out a schedule with your mates so instead of 5 of you preparing munch individually, have 1host per night. Nothing fancy or an Instagram iftar, just a standard ‘let’s not waste food’ type of iftar lol also pack up leftovers and share them with coworkers the next day or distribute it to the homeless, or feed the cats outside your building, anything other than that tsk and muttering of ‘astagfirallah’ we give ourselves before chucking food into the trash. This’ll be my second Ramadan alone and coming from a big family it’s natural to just prepare futoor for 5+ people lol so definitely going to try and cut it to 2-3 people and have mates over and anything left will inshallah be packed for coworkers!

  • #nobadwords

Last year a friend and I had a swear jar where we kept tabs on what came out of each others mouths, and any profanity resulted in a certain amount being placed in the jar. At the end of the month we had accumulated quite a bit lol (oops) and gave it to one of the workers in our building which I suppose is kind of like turning your bad deeds into something good for someone else lol so I think that’s something I want to continue this year. Granted the point is to watch what actually comes out of me mouth and be conscious of particular word choices, but in the likely event something slips out, inshallah it’s for a good cause right?!

  • Consistently content

This sounds odd, and I know we all aspire to come out changed for the better and our faith strengthened a tad more than how we entered the month, but give it a week or so and all them old habits tend to make their way back into everyday life which kinda sorta sucks.

I think I want to get to this point inshallah where I’m just good and okay with everything, the bad and the good and the unexpected, and have my heart and soul content with knowing that everything happens for a reason; I know I’ve gotten better at this over the years alhamdulillah but just strengthening that faith and maybe learning some new duas that speak to tawakkul (concept of reliance on God aka ‘God’s Plan’ as Drake so eloquently put it lol) and having it be a consistent constant is something I’d like to work on! If you’ve got any duas or hadiths you love that speak to this, def send them my way please and thank you!x

And there you have it lol 5 of a few other goals this month but these hit more of the surface layer; might seem quite simple and easy peasy but they’re ones I want to get better at and which inshallah I think and hope are realistically attainable this month! If you’ve got a couple of your own that you’re willing to share, comment below or on instagram as I’d love to hear them!x As always, lots of love and light and prayers sent your way, even more so in this super special month xx

Our last day in Seoul was a free for all so I had made a list of a few places I wanted to see and kinda sorta challenged meself to get it all done in about 12 hours!

I convinced myself at the airport that I didn’t need a local sim, which in all honesty I really didn’t, BUT it would’ve come in handy here and there just because. During breakfast the morning of, I sat with my ickle pencil and notebook, googled station stops and directions, any hints from the online world really lol and off we went!

If you’re from Toronto, you already know how slightly lame our miskeen metro system is. It’s nothing compared to the likes of London or New York, and now Seoul lol a whole lot of colors and interchanges and English words on top of Korean symbols and super overwhelming to look at when you’re already a tad confused! On top of that no one appeared to be at the information booth underground and besides a map, 3 ticket machines and an entrance barrier, there wasn’t much third party assistance.

The machines themselves are helpful if you know where you want to go. They easily translate into English and sort your fare accordingly. I was hoping to grab a tourist pass or a day pass of some sort but obvs couldn’t ask anyone so not sure if one exists, but from my understanding you purchase one-way tickets to your stop or via your route which I’m aware is completely ridiculous for people who live there and there must be a system in place, but just in my experience I’ve got no clue! Your girl did the one-way one-way thing and it was fine; fares are also super cheap so #winwin ! Did mess up one time and barriers wouldn’t let me exit, but some nice elderly Korean men helped me jump over (their idea promise) and that was that!

First stop: Bukchon Hanok Village

  • Anguk Station (Subway line 3; dark orange line)

-take exit 2 and walk North (this is dumb I know but it might help; I hate when people use north/south/east/west because who blady uses that anymore) toward Bukchon-ro Street. Walk for about 10-20 minutes and you’ll begin to see traditional houses and tourist shops which also rent out traditional dresses for all your Instagram needs! (*rumor has it that if you dress up, you’re granted free entry into the palace..!)

The village itself isn’t really a ‘tourist’ attraction; it’s simply a residential area which houses hundreds of traditional houses called ‘hanoks’ that apparently date back to the Joseon Dynasty. The traditional essence and structure of the houses has been preserved whilst still current with signs of ‘the modern world’ lol and its quite interesting to see the contrast between the two; ie. a benzo pulling out of a hanok house or security cameras overlooking traditional doors etc. but it’s a beautiful area nonetheless! Also if someone is selling strawberries while you’re around, buy some lol the sweetest strawberries ever!

Next make your way to  Bukchon-ro 5-gil street; go back the way you entered and make a right onto Bukchon5 and walk straight on for a bit. Depending on the season, Jeongdok Public Library on your right is (was) a beautiful spot to catch the cherry blossoms if they’re in season. We were apparently in the last week of the season so a lot of them had already bloomed and fallen but it was still super beautiful to see and walk through.

Continue on Bukchon 5 after that; the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is on your left if that tickles your fancy – I just admired it from the outside lol

Cross over at the lights and you’ve got both the National Folk Museum of Korea in front of you and the back entrance to Gyeoungbokgung Palace. The museum grounds are free to walk through (obvs your girl chose that option), which was lovely, and then I’d definitely recommend leaving and continuing [south] on Gallery Street until you come to the main gates of Gyeoungbokgung Palace. Again, the massive entrance grounds are free to tour and walk around [didn’t go in because we were on a time constraint], but the architecture of the palace and seeing people dressed in traditional wear is definitely something to experience!

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Palace over, head to the closest metro which would be Gyeoungbokgung station (Subway line 3; dark orange line) either towards Common Ground or Seoul Tower, whichever you fancy. I did Common Ground next only because we were staying closer to the tower so I figured I’d do that then head back to the hotel, but both are easily accessible once you’re on the metro!

Space: Common ground

  • Konkuk University Station [dark green line; line 2 or 7]

-take exit 6 and walk straight for 5-10 minutes and you’ll see it on your left

Common ground is one of Seoul’s first pop-up stores and has been built with about 200 vibrant blue shipping containers stacked and welded together to create the space. Definitely exudes a more hipster and urban vibe to the city and just a wicked spot to check out. Restaurants are on the 3rd floor with a terrace overlooking the grounds, café’s on the first, and food truck grub in the open area on the grounds; stores are lined up indoors and are def more urban/street brands.  Apparently there’s also a weekend market which takes place alongside various street performances and such.

Next up was Seoul Tower also known as Namsan Tower

  • Myeongdong Station (subway line 4; light blue line)

-Make your way to the opposite side of the street [exit 2-4] and wait for the number 5 bus at the bus stop; the stop is literally as it shows in the photo below

Seoul Tower is a communication and observation tower located on Namsan Mountain in Seoul. Presumably its become a tourist attraction because of the view it provides overlooking the city. I had planned to take the cable car up top to get a view and take some photos but time wasn’t on my side so hung about near the foot of the tower and enjoyed the blossoms and whatever view I could manage from there which was still quite lovely!

Because Myeongdong was en route to the hotel, took the bus back from the tower [same route], got off at Myeongdong Station and walked through the street itself to get home. Myeongdong is synonymous with Seoul itself and is definitely a must if you’re ever in the city. Shopping galore and just this exciting bustle which I haven’t experienced elsewhere. There seemed to be a daily evening street food market we caught a couple times which had vendors selling a variety of items if you’re into trying new foods!

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Skin care is another one that kind of took over the street lol its quite overwhelming the first time around, especially if you’re like me and super fascinated by the skincare/cosmetic world lol so I’d recommend doing a bit of research online about certain brands and specific products you might want to try to eliminate a) wasting time looking at everything & b) spending money on things you probably don’t need! The street is also a great place to pick up any souvenirs or novelty Korean items for your peeps back home! ie. Hello Kitty socks, dancing PSY dolls, keychains etc.

And that was that my loves! Made me way back afterwards and headed to the airport to experience the most wonderful week of uncomfortable jetlag possible haha FYI, Incheon Airport isn’t the greatest; we all struggled finding a place to sit let alone something to munch, and the only place open at 11pm was Starbucks which wasn’t quite able to fill the hunger void lol

Anyways! Hope that’s provided somewhat of an itinerary for those who might have Seoul as an upcoming destination, and/or shown how realistic it is to maximize a short period of time wherever you might be! Keep an eye out for a Korean vlog also coming your way soon which will hopefully provide more of a visual to some of the aforementioned! xxx

Hiya! We’re finally back from a few new places which means lots to share with you all and I can’t wait! You probably know by now that mama and I have returned from a pretty epic 10 days in Nepal and India which was an experience I don’t think either of us is ever going to forget! Seeing the sunrise over the Himalayas and Everest, sky-diving over the Annapurna Valley, seeing the Taj Mahal together and just freaking enjoying each others company is something I’m so grateful alhamdulillah that we had the chance to do x check out the pre-pre to our adventure on youtube here!

We moved around quite a bit during this trip, checking into a new place every night which did get a tad tiring, so I think we were both super grateful for our stay at bloomrooms in New Delhi during the final 2 days of our adventure! Coming back to the same place and same room brought a sense of comfort and ease, especially right before heading back to Kuwait, something I’d definitely recommend just before you head home ie. staying put in one location during the final leg!

bloomrooms New Delhi is part of the larger Bloom Hotels Group which oversees a few different hotels throughout Asia. This includes hotels in Delhi, Bangalore, Gurgaon, and Goa [secretly stoked about this one!] They’ve also been featured in the lonely planet guide, Conde Nast Traveler, Cnn, GQ, and the New York Times just to name a few!

The number one priority @bloom hotels is to ensure guests get a good nights rest during their stay, resulting in a custom built cloudbed placed in each room which I think mama and I can both attest to being super comfortable! Showers and the bath area were also super lovely and spacious; after experiencing a couple drip-drippy showers the one at blooms was heavenly. Mama particularly loved the scent of their body wash & soaps so its got an official mum seal of approval lol

We stayed at the bloomrooms @ Link Road location which was awarded with the Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence for the fourth year running. At first we definitely found it hard to locate, partly due to the fact our tuk-tuk driver had no idea where he was going and didn’t have a phone or googlemaps and tried to scam us hard core (your girl had to pull out the teacher finger on mandem!), but once we were settled and were able to situate ourselves it was definitely a blessing! It’s quite central and located in a residential area which made us feel quite safe and secure (again especially since our blady driver took us through the backroad slums convincing us we should trust him and check in someplace else he knew of as this was a smelly and unsafe area. Fact: it wasn’t!)

The location itself sports the cutest garden ever, alongside a lounge and café on the grounds. The general atmosphere and vibe was up me alley as well; not too stuffy or too lax, but a balance between the two. Someplace you could def hang out with mates and have a laugh or potentially hold a meeting at; perfect for both leisure and business purposes I suppose! The caf stays open til quite late which I appreciated because mum and I ended up getting munchy at random times lol food is freshly cooked which was another plus and again, mum approved! Mamas the type who isn’t too keen to eat out very often, so when she does she’s quite particular about where she eats lol so the fact that she opted to head back to blooms on several occasions whilst we were out and preferred to eat there is quite telling lol

A 5-10 minute walk via an overpass bridge to Jangpura Metro Station allowed access to the whole of Delhi. A tourist day pass was 200 rupees ($3 CAD) per person which gave us access to all lines including towards the airport metro which was lovely (you know I love me public transport). The location also has a car on the property which I’m sure you can book if you need to get someplace, but be sure to do it in advance so they can coordinate with the driver. Mum and I were kindly dropped off to the metro our first day which def helped visualize our surroundings and mentally map out the route there and back!

I also love meself an old fashioned paper tourist map with sites and metro systems etc. and the one provided by blooms was super helpful, especially because our location was so accessible to everything. Accessibility is definitely something I look for when wanting to stay someplace ie. is it close to public transport, can I get to sites, town etc. without a taxi, can I walk etc etc etc. and so was grateful for where we were placed.

Staying at blooms allowed for a much needed wind down to our trip which I was grateful for. The fact that both mum and I were able to enjoy the space and that it met our different needs (comfort, access to technology, food, location etc.) was blessed. If you’re ever in the region or come across a blooms establishment (click here for a list), definitely give them a go as they’re guaranteed to meet your needs and then some!

Special thanks to bloomrooms@Link Road for hosting me for a night during my stay in Delhi. All opinions and views expressed are my own.

Ahlan wa Sahlan!

Jordan was one of them last minute trips where you know you’ve got a few days to jet off but don’t know where to actually go, and then you wait too long to decide so tickets are ridiculously priced or have ridiculous routes, and I basically got caught up in all of that! Literally a 4 hour flight turned into 9+ hours with a layover in Dubai (so silly I know lol) but it is what it is and alhamdulillah for being able to make it out!

Thought I’d share some suggestions based on me experience and a few of you have also messaged saying you’re headed soon or its on your list, so hope this helps!

Firstly I’d definitely recommend renting a car if you can! The option for taxis and buses are available as well but a) it’s so much more cost effective and b) it was a tad hard to grab a cab! Lucy and I headed to Jordan together as did another friend with her mate and she ended up renting so we all kinda sorta road-tripped together after the first night which made life a little easier. I’d also just got back from London so didn’t have as much time to look up transport options etc. let alone somewhat of an itinerary lol but alhamdulillah for things just working out! Thanks B love you! X

Get a Jordan Pass! This is one of them tourist passes which actually benefits you and is worth your money lol costs 70 JD and you can get it online (we did ours as we were departing Kuwait). Gets sent straight to your phone with a QR code and your’e sorted!  It waives your visa fee which in itself is 40 JD, and grants you access to quite a few attractions (UNESCO heritage sites) and museums which are places you’re presumably going to visit; attractions include Petra, Wadi Rum, the Citadel etc. Entrance to Petra for one day is 50 JD so even if you just did Petra (like we did), it still worked out in our favor!

Start down south and do Petra and Wadi Rum first and then make your way back up towards Amman and  also give yourself 2-3 days to get through them. I’d def take this route next time around as it just made more sense in terms of the physical stuff lol we started by the Dead Sea for the first day and a half and then headed south which was still fine, but after the 4 hour drive to the camp near Petra and having to be up early the next morning and legit heading back to Amman the same evening was a tad tiring for everyone (and I wasn’t even the driver). After Petra and Wadi Rum head up to the Dead Sea area for a day or two to just unwind and then head to Amman for another day or two to experience more of the city itself. We just had half a day-ish in Amman which was still lovely but I’d definitely stay longer next time. The citadel and a few other sites are near Amman as well so it would be worth your time exploring in and around the area.

Try to stay in a Bedouin camp whilst you’re touring Petra and Wadi Rum for the experience. There are a number of hotels near the sites as well, but there’s nothing quite like sleeping under the stars and 6 layers of blanket in the middle of nowhere, and then waking up to the howling of wild dogs and frigid water – fact: I did not shower this day. (I’m really selling it init!) lol but in all honesty, you’ve come to experience all you can and try new things and step out of comfort zones so why not?! We stayed at the Seven Wonders Bedouin Camp and I’d recommend them; everyone was super friendly, food was lovely, and the camp was right up my alley so I was more than happy lol one of my favorite parts of the trip!

We didn’t have enough time to visit Wadi Rum so made the most of Petra itself which gives me a reason to head back lol but Petra is doable in a day. Start off early and beat the insane number of tour groups and the heat. It’s really such a spectacular place and it would be a shame if you rushed through. We started around 9am and were back out at about half 3 only because we wanted to be on the road before dark. I had read and seen pictures about a night tour at Petra as well which I’m sure is something worth experiencing, but we didn’t get a chance this time.

For Petra itself, make sure you’ve got comfortable shoes, duh. Even if you end up jumping on a horse or donkey to get you through, at some point you’ll still have to walk some and there’s really no paved route. Sun-lotion, water (pack a few extra bottles), snacks because you’ll get munchy (snickers and granola bars were my friends that day), sunnies and a hat are pretty much staples I’d recommend you take along; in a rucksack/backpack just because that way it’ll be on your back and not in your way or you fussing with a crossbody etc…this just makes more sense to me lol but obvs. you do as you please!

There are a couple shops on the way that do have munch and water and you can always use them as pit-stops, so that’s always an option. Also if you see a toilet en route, just go because you don’t know when you’ll see another! Chargers as well; external chargers will save your life especially if you take a million pictures of the same thing like I do and your battery tends to run out quick lol interesting bit of information though which I’ll heed next time around, taking makeup or mascara with me..! This was the most requested for item by so many of the ladies we met on the way, whether we had any makeup or mascara to give them and unfortunately I had noneL that and biscuits or sweets for the kids because kids are kids duh! My heart hurt when one of the girls asked for water so I gave her whatever I had and then she asked for a biscuit and I felt so silly because mama always says to keep sweets or something to hand out to kids and I should’ve known better so ugh for Saira but inshallah next time x

Most of you here are also aware of me not being too much of a food person whilst travelling lol I’ll munch whatever and if I absolutely love something I’ll rave on about it haha our lovely driver from the Dead Sea stopped at a bakala to grab us these Turkish delight ‘logs’ if you will, I’m pretty sure it was a Turkish delight type helawa, rolled in pistachios and comes in other flavors as well, but it was lovely jubly and prob the only food item which sticks to memory! (no photos sorry!) oh also the 3JD shawarma after Petra which was blessed after all that walking lol

In terms of souvenirs or trinkets to bring back or look for if you’re interested, mud masks from the dead sea can be found everywhere or you could always grab some yourself whilst you’re there. I learnt that ostrich eggs, especially painted eggs, are something Jordan is well known for so something tourists often take back. I think I got some jam for mama, a magnet and mud masks lol sorted

If you’ve got any questions or found this helpful, do get in touch because I love hearing from you!x

this year I promised myself I’d start trying to make little travel vlogs of wherever I’d travel as a keepsake for meself, so got a gimble and tried (still trying) to figure it out haha but here you have it! (click here)! Me first attempt, maybe the last because who knows whether I’ll be consistent with it, but yay! It brings a smile to my face and I hope to yours as well and if not oh well, I like it so hah x if you’ve got suggestions of how to make these better or what kind of footage you’d like to see (because if I do make more I’ll most likely share them), let your girl know! love you miss you byee xxxxxxx

Everyone’s got different needs in general day-to-day life, and whilst travelling those needs tend to be magnified to a million and one [for some]. The need for a fluffy pillow, a shower in only the most pristine of conditions, carpeted flooring, a closet with hangers, and whatever other comforts of home aren’t necessarily going to be givens once you leave (def available if that’s what you’re after so by all means you do you, but this post isn’t about that!).

Depending on where and why you’re jetting off, you’ve almost always got somewhat of an idea of what you’d like to spend a chunk of your budget on. Tours, all-inclusive resorts to just chill and never leave the premises, food, a concert or event you’ve flown in for, shopping, sightseeing etc. etc. you get the point lol

I personally enjoy spending my travel budget on doing stuff as opposed to where I lay my head at night, again, depending on where in the world I’ve headed. As long as I’ve got a bed to sleep in and a bathroom in decent condition (okay hot water too lol) I tend to be alright! Don’t get me wrong though, I have and do stay at hotels and can def be about that fluffy pillow life at times lol but there are alternatives out there which are just as good at a fraction of the price.

I was in London a couple weeks ago, stayed in a hostel (@astorhostels), and asked you guys on instagram if you had any questions/concerns about the hostel life because I’m aware it isn’t always the preferred type of accommodation for some; especially if you’re a solo female [Muslim] traveler. Last time I was in town I stayed a lovely hotel which I was tempted to return to, but thought we’d go a different route this time around.

Before we get into some of those questions,, some of you might be thinking “what is a hostel?” Prior to my experience, I was always under the impression of them being this dingy establishment of cramped bunkbeds situated either in the heart of a busy city or the outskirts of town, filled with backpackers who couldn’t afford to stay anyplace else, no food, maybe a dirty bathroom *insert idunno emoji here*

BUT a few years ago my lovely younger sister changed my entire perception after we stayed in a hostel in Kyoto, Japan. She had been staying in them for a while at this point whilst touring around the country and I always scoffed at the thought lol but was slightly jealous of how she could afford to stay at a different place every couple nights. I remember first entering the building and thinking ‘Saira are you dumb? This is so freaking cool! Why haven’t you done this before?!’ (she said I had better credit here so there’s that)

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credit: @abbasspace

SO! What is a hostel exactly?

A hostel is essentially a budget-friendlier version of a hotel; envision a smaller hotel with dorm-like vibes. They aim to provide more of a social and shared travel experience via an alternative accommodation space, again, at a fraction of the price of a hotel. Because they’re catered to travelers and tourists alike, their locations are blady wicked! Almost always in close proximity to main transport systems, tourist sites and attractions, local munch spots etc., they allow for the best and easiest accessibility to anything and everything you’d want to explore whilst in town.

sidetone: yes you can roll up with luggage and not just a backpack lol some have lifts which help, some don’t, but you’ll survive!

Do you usually travel alone?

Yes and I love it! Either alone or with a friend or two, but mostly solo! Travelling on your own allows you to get to know yourself, the good and bad, and truly adds perspective to life in terms of how miniscule certain things, and even you, are in this world, reiterating the idea of living your best life and being true to yourself.

Your first solo trip is always going to be daunting and scary and you being super self-conscious of the world and everyone ‘watching’ you, but it’s just you in your own head lol the world can either be a beautiful place full of love and hope or a big bad scary monster out to get you; you ultimately decide which one it is. Every place, every country and experience is truly what you make of it; I’d always recommend going in with an open mind and open heart and being conscious of the fact that whilst this may not be your ‘normal’ or reality, it is for many others and to be mindful and respectful of that. (side note: would you be interested in a separate post on solo travel itself? tips etc?! let me know in the comments!)

Do you feel safe in hostels with belongings there?

Yes. I’ve got mini locks for my case(s) which I use sometimes, and many hostels also have a safe which they can lock away any valuables for you. You’ve often got to put down a refundable deposit ($5 or something small) but it gives you peace of mind if you’re worried about someone taking something. Depending on the room you’re in, everyone’s got their designated ‘space’ to keep their things and only those people assigned to that room have access via a key card (just like a hotel) so you don’t have to worry about someone from another room or floor snooping.

 Are hostels mixed? Are there female only dorms?

Yes, and yes! The hostel itself is mixed, I don’t think I’ve ever come across a female-only hostel, but the room you choose to stay in is up to you. Rooms are either all-female, all-male, mixed, or some also have the option for private rooms which is an entire room to yourself! Depending on the hostel, some rooms have bathrooms (with showers) in the rooms, some have them outside in the hallway which are communal (could be mixed). Rooms themselves could consist of 4-beds or more; in Japan my sister and I were in a private room with a shared bathroom, and after she left I switched to a 4-bed. In London I stayed in a 10-bed with a bathroom inside, Athens was a 4-bed with bathroom inside, so it all just depends on the place itself!

 

Cleanliness? How clean are the facilities especially if they are communal?

In my experience the hostels themselves have been pretty clean; just like in a hotel there’s ‘room service’ mostly to tidy up the bathroom. The one thing no ones really got control of though is the cleanliness of fellow travelers which might be kinda gross sometimes lol cleaning the sink and countertop once you’re done with it, or not leaving smelly socks/shoes out in the open are common courtesies you’d presume to be normalcies… but nah lol clean up after yourself because that’s how your mamas raised you, and hope the person before you has also done the same! If you’re quite anal about germs etc. you can always pack disinfecting wipes or something of the sort (my mama loves Lysol wipes haha) but they’ll get the job done.

What is your experience staying in a hostel as a female/Muslim/hijabi? (I always imagine myself sleeping in a room full of intoxicated people.!)

 My experience has been great so far! I’ve personally never allowed those ‘labels’ to define nor restrict me from doing certain things and so I don’t think you should either, but I definitely understand where you’re coming from x

As a female, sorted, you’ve got the option to choose an all-female dorm if that makes you more comfortable. As a Muslim, same thing lol stay in whatever dorm you feel more comfortable , pray in your room or the commons area, or you can always ask reception if they’ve got a private room you could use for 5 mins which I’m sure wouldn’t be an issue. As a hijabi, if you don’t want to say hi or smile or engage in conversation with me because you’ve already made presumptions of what I’m like based on what’s on my head, that’s on you and I’m not too bothered lol but like anything else if you make the first move ie. introduce yourself to your roommates or start chatting to people asking where they’re coming from, plans for the city etc. you’ll naturally find something to bond over regardless because you’re all technically at the hostel for a similar reason (travelling, stop over, touristing, taking a month off life etc.)

Regardless of the communication stuff haha er well as a ‘hijabi‘ if you don’t want to go to pub night at the hostel, don’t go; this is that whole making life choices thing again init and I get that wearing and/or being in hijab presumes this restriction upon what you can and can’t do, but everyone’s got different values and deems more importance upon some things than others, so just like you get by in everyday life in terms of what you consider ‘permissible’ in accordance to your beliefs, you’d just do the same I suppose!

Can you sleep without hijab, is it safe?

Yes you can; again whatever makes you feel comfortable. I tend to stay in female dorms so it comes off once I enter the premises and of course when I sleep lol and then walking around the hostel or in commons doing work etc. I either throw on a hoodie or hijab it and it’s all good!

Do you have to share a room with strangers?

If you’re travelling alone, yes, unless you opt for one of the private rooms. If you travel with a group of friends etc. you can always just choose the same room so you’ll at least end up together in a room with strangers lol

 

Where can I find hostels?

I’ve only ever used hostelworld, hostels.com, and hostelbookers ; they’re legitimate, reliable, and have a massive range of places to choose from. Just like when you go to book a hotel, you’ve got ratings to look at, comments/feedback, photos etc. to help make your decision easier. I tend to look at the ratings and location; how close they are to public transport and town centers. Being close to transport helps in terms of going to/from the airport as well because you can often make your own way instead of getting jipped by airport taxis!

*Amenities etc.

 Most hostels offer laundry services either on or off the premises, and if you’re in desperate need of an iron you can always ask. In Athens I was taken to the basement to use the iron in the laundry room which obviously isn’t room service, but it got the job done and I wasn’t fussed in the slightest! Breakfast is also available at times; either there’s a café or shop of some sort, or recently in London Astor Hyde Park had a cool initiative where breakfast was only 1pound and all funds were donated to charity. If you follow me you know food isn’t a massive priority during my travels so I tend to skip out on brekky wherever I’m staying and grab-n-go whilst I’m out exploring!

Wifi and outlets are also a standard. If you’re in need of a travel adapter you can grab one from reception (often at the cost of a refundable deposit which is cool). Same with towels (I’d suggest bring your own though just because..!)

Hostels almost always have events going on at the space itself which is wicked and a great way to meet people as well. Movie nights, free walking tours etc. and there’s always a plethora of posters posted on the walls about things to do (just like at uni!) If you’re interested in booking tours etc. as well, your hostel can also assist with that sometimes or even have a discounted rate as you’re staying with them; some might also have affiliations with local restaurants which grants you a percentage off your meal which #nocomplaints !

I stayed at the Astor Hyde Park during my time in London and I loved it! So close to Hyde Park and literally the most perfect location in the ‘Royal Borough of Chelsea and Kensington’, an area I had never explored before whilst in London which I loved. 10 minute walk to the Natural History Museum, and a 12-15 minute walk to 2 underground stations (South Kensington and Gloucester) which was a blessing. Walked meself to Nottinghill and Portobello Road Market (25-30 min) which was through town and a highstreet; also easily walked into and through Knightsbridge and Trafalgar Square which was lovely (thankfully I was blessed with fabulous weather which is often a rarity in Londontown!) Also had no idea it was the same weekend as the BAFTA’s but they were literally taking place the next street down to us which was pretty cool!

Astor have got a chain of 4 hostels in and around London: Astor Hyde Park, Astor Victoria, Astor Queensway, and Astor Museum, and they’ve kindly gifted us a promo code to use on your next stay with Astor; use: ASTORLUV for 10% off your booking via their site here [max 14 nights] xo.

I feel like this post is long enough already, but I hope it’s helpful and inspires even one of you to step out of your comfort zone and give it a go even if it’s just for a night! If you’re interested in somewhat of a recap of me trip, check out my ‘Londontown’ highlight on instagram (@shazaira) for some walkings&talkings! Feel free to get in touch if you’ve got more questions/concerns etc. as I’d love to help out and be sure to let me know in the comments below if you enjoyed this read! xx

Special thanks to Astor Hyde Park for hosting me during my stay in London. All opinions and views expressed are my own.