I reckon the more I talk about travel and share my sharings about travel and just put it out there into the world, it’ll eventually manifest itself and we can jetset into the skies once again lol

sharing three tips/tricks we’ve picked up over the years of travelling which will undoubtedly come in handy on your next trip which will be very soon inshallah! (manifesting for all of us here)

 

  • changing SIM cards upon arrival

I always change my SIM card as we’re landing, just to save time and have everything up and running once I’ve deplaned but never pack the little iPhone pin to poke your phone to open the little SIM slot. Easiest alternative: your earring! I always get stares by people sitting beside me like what on earth is she doing, but once I’ve managed to make the swap, some have even asked if I can do the same for them lol if you haven’t got earrings in or are a dude with no piercings, be brave and ask the air hostess and 9 times out of 10 she’ll know exactly what you’re on about!

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  • Lost suitcase key

You’ve arrived at your destination itching to shower and change your clothes. You frantically look for the itty-bitty suitcase lock you swore was in your wallet to no avail.  Can’t remember the lock code even though you swore it was 0000, or realize somehow someones magically swamped locks on your case (this has happened), which only annoys you more because you need to get into your case. Find yourself a pen (a pencil works too but preferably a pen) and all is well with the world.

Make sure both zippers are together and simply poke the pen through the closed zip in close proximity to the zippers themselves to ‘break’ the zipness. Run the pen along the zip to ‘open’ the zip et voila! I’m sure this isn’t the best treatment for your zip, but sometimes you really have no choice and are stuck in a pickle so gotta do what you gotta do! Closing the case back is super easy; grab hold of the zippers themselves and run them back around the case to lock it all in place!

 

  • No bug spray, no problem!

Picked this one up after a few jungle treks and safaris! If you’ve left your bug spray in a carry on and its taken at security and you can’t be fussed to get a new one, or don’t like sprays, or simply want an alternative which is a little stronger at keeping pesky bugs away, pick up a vicks/vaporub which works wonders. I’ve found it longer lasting and works fab around campfires or longer treks where maybe you don’t want to carry a spray for topup, but you can either pick up one of the mini vicks tubs or be old school and scoop a bit into a plastic baggy and you’re good to go! I wouldn’t recommend slathering it on your entire body lol but places you’re prone to getting bit ie. ankles, around the neck, wrists. A little defo goes a long way!

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Have you tried any of these before?! Do you have any hacks you swear by?! I’d love to hear from you! Share below in the comments! xoxo

Last month I had the privilege of writing a piece for Villa 88 Magazine (@villa88magazine) on some of my greatest travels and potential winter destinations I’d recommend and never got around to sharing! A 6 page spread which had me geeking out and in awe of how good it looked haha

A little about Villa 88, “conceived by leading businesswoman Asma Al Fahim, Villa 88 answers the demands of Emirati ladies for the highest quality inside information on the finest luxury fashion, jewellery, beauty and spa, home and travel in the Middle East and beyond. One of the region’s most exclusive lifestyle magazine, beautifully produced and hand-delivered to an elite target group, consisting of the Emirates’ most discerning and prominent women.” 

Super proud and honoured and can’t wait to get my hands on a hard copy so mama can see and feel proud too lolol you know how this story goes x magazine images below followed by the actual piece so you can have a read!

Enjoy! xx

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Vienna, Austria

Vienna during the holidays is just as magical and enchanting as it feels during the rest of the year. Truly a quintessential European feel to the city with beautiful architecture and culture around every corner, Vienna for me was slightly more elegant in nature than any other European city I’ve traveled to. It’s also very accessible on foot or by metro which makes life a little bit easier. Visiting the museum and National Library even just to see the gorgeous interiors is worth the visit; the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien (Art History Museum) is home to the most beautiful café I have ever come across. St. Stephens Cathedral is open to the public and in the middle of the town square so you can’t miss it. Schonbrunn Palace was once the imperial summer residence and requires at least half a day to tour the beautiful grounds and envision what life for Empress Elizabeth must have looked like once upon a time. Don’t miss out on the stunning Karlskirche Church both during the day and evening for a mesmerising reflection which will leave you in awe!

Kigali, Rwanda

When most people think of Rwanda, the genocide of 1994 is what immediately comes to mind; questions of safety and how developed the infrastructure might be cloud your judgement and you end up dismissing it as a potential destination. Don’t be one of those people! Rwanda has been named the safest country in Africa and known for its breathtaking scenery. Often called ‘land of a thousand hills’, it stays true to its name. To best experience this for yourself, why not walk across the largest canopy walk in all of East Africa, 200 meters long and165 feet high over the lush greenery of Nyungwe Forest National Park; if you’re lucky you might even get a glimpse of the beautiful wildlife soaring between the trees. Scared of heights but love animals?! Gorilla trekking at Volcano National Park is most definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience where you can visit these beautiful animals in their natural habitat. Home to approximately 17 different groups of mountain gorillas, conservation efforts of the park are truly to be commended in order to ensure the safety and well-being of the gorillas. With tea being the largest export of Rwanda, a visit to Gisakura tea estate is a must. Learn about the history and process behind our nations favorite drink and help pick out the perfect leaf! Remember, 3-leaves is key!

Karachi, Pakistan

As my trip to Karachi was a short one, I wanted to experience as much of the country and culture as possible! From beautiful clothing, to trying fresh samosas on the side of the road, to riding camels on Clifton Beach, I have to say we did well! The food in Karachi was amazing but there’s definitely a risk of you getting ill if you eat from some of the roadside stalls – this is obviously something recurrent regardless of where you travel, but you have been forewarned! I got a bit of a stomach bug from eating anything and everything, but would do it all over again because it was THAT good! I recommend trying the Haleem (lamb and lentil stew), samosas, jalebi, paratha, tea; try it all and I promise you won’t regret it! For more of a sit down meal, Kolachi is the place to go; traditional Pakistani cuisine in an open air restaurant right by the beach is a perfect way to end any night.

Kathmandu, Nepal

Nepal was my very first solo-travel destination and a forever favorite. Perfect for backpackers, a group of friends wanting to do some trekking, or anyone interested in going off-the-beaten path. After being hit by an earthquake in 2015, many historical monuments and temples were destroyed and much of the city continues to be under reconstruction, however there is still so much to discover and experience from this country so rich in culture! Start off in Kathmandu, the capital city, for a taste of the hustle bustle on crowded streets amongst street vendors, cows, tourists, and the never ending honking of cars. Visit Patan Durbar Square where you’ll find the freshest (and best) samosas and fried cabbage fritters wrapped in newspaper. Swayambhu Temple and the Boudhanath Stupa are an uphill climb, but the view from up top is completely worth it. Views of the Himalayas and Everest can be seen from Nagarkot, and be sure to catch sunrise from the roof of Peaceful Cottage Hotel for the best view! No trip to Nepal would be complete without a 7hour bus ride through the winding hills, (on a dual-carriageway which should really only be a single road) to Pokhara which is usually the starting point for Everest base camp. Pokhara is much quieter and calmer than Kathmandu and is a great place to perhaps wind down near the end of your trip. Take a canoe ride on Lake Pewa, or paraglide over the Annapurna Valley, the choice is yours!

Seoul, South Korea

Seoul is ‘Seoul’ cool! The city had all my favorite things at once, street food, fashion, vintage clothing shops, endless Korean skincare, and cute socks, what more could you ask for?! The metro is extremely convenient and the ticket machines easily translate to English which is great! Culturally, the city boasts a little bit of something for everyone. Whether you want to stroll through the traditional houses of Bukchon Hanok Village, rent a Hanbok (Korean Traditional Dress) and step back in time at Gyeoungbokgung Palace marvelling at the intricate architecture and sternness of the palace guards, or stop by a food truck at Common Grounds as you watch a break-dancing show, there is always something new to experience. My absolute favorite is the Myeongdong district, best known for its shopping, nightlife, and food. Neon lights and shopfronts shine brightly bringing the street to life, the smell of various street delicacies wafting through the air. Octopus anyone?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hola!

I wanted to share my most used apps whenever I’m abroad as they help make life a little easier when I’m on the go and you might find them useful too!

  1. Xe Currency

Easiest currency app I’ve found so far! You can load up to 10 different currencies at a time and can still use it without data; obviously it won’t be spot on without the data, rather with the most updated rate from when you were last connected, but definitely a close enough idea of what you’re spending!

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  1. Google Maps

Such a lifesaver sometimes! Pro-tip, download an offline map of whatever area you’ll be in (custom map) so you can still use the map without data; even if you do get a local sim, you won’t have to waste precious data on google maps because it’ll still work! I was skeptical of this at first, but you have my word it works lol

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  1. Uber

Uber is definitely my preferred option when you’ve got flights at random hours of the night and in some places people actually recommend you catch an uber versus a local taxi. The fact that its trackable and you can see the drivers rating beforehand gives me peace of mind, especially if I’m on my own. You also have an approximate idea of what the ride will cost and if your card is already connected to the app, no cash needs to be exchanged which is sometimes a safe thing!

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  1. Google Translate

I lowkey like the struggle of miming and hand signals to understand people lol but sometimes that doesn’t quite cut it lol this lets you speak English (or whatever language you speak) into your phone and you can choose what language you want it to be translated into. It’s not always 100% accurate and I personally feel like its more time consuming lol but it does work sometimes! There’s also a feature which let’s you hole the phone over signs for an instant translation which is kinda sorta cool!

Another communication tip would be using emojis to describe whatever you’re talking about (show someone a fish emoji if you’re looking to eat fish lol) as pictures/visuals to aid understanding tend to always work. Or screenshot a blank Instagram/snapchat page and use the pen to draw whatever you’re trying to get across lol this also works great for drawing directions! (I used this the other day to draw what nail shape I wanted at the salon lellllll)

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5. VSCO

Although this is a photo editing app, it’s honestly one of the easiest to work with while you’re on the go and need a quick edit or change the lighting etc. on a photo you want to post. I use this loads whether it’s on my stories or posts, and it’s a fave! If you’re waiting for food or have an 8 hour bus journey and can’t sleep, it allows you to ‘work’ on the go lol and not have to always wait to get behind a laptop to edit!

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Hola from Mexico!

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We’re en-route again, this time from a new part of the world which I haven’t ventured to yet and quite excited to experience. If you follow me on instagram you’ll know we just left Cancun a couple days ago and spent a day in Mexico City as we haven’t really got to our final destination..!

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My sister in-law is joining me this time around which is grand as we’ve traveled together before so know what to expect from each other (fact: you can’t travel with just anyone regardless of how close they are to you)

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We had decided beforehand that this wasn’t going to be a luxury, wine-and-dine trip, as we just wanted to experience the countries/cities ‘as-is’ without a hefty price tag and to kinda sorta prove to ourselves that you don’t need X amount of money to see the world.

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I know for a fact every time I’ve gone someplace, I get at least a handful of DMs asking how I fund my trips and what I do for work to afford travelling etc. and honestly friends, you can do it too! Not going to go into a long rant about how we all choose our own priorities in life and are conscious of decisions/life choices we make and the potential consequences and repercussions of those choices in the future etc etc etc., but yes, it’s completely realistic and reasonable to travel and experience the world without spending an arm an a leg if you don’t want to! Alhamdulillah I’m forever grateful for the travel opportunities I’ve got over the years with certain brands/charities/tourism boards, but I started off traveling solo to step out of my comfort zone and to try something new for myself, on my own dime, and still do, AND I’m the absolute worst with money, so if I can kinda sorta do it, I think you can too!

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Slightly gone off on a tangent, but yes, back to this trip.

We decided we would only stay in hostels as that’s the most economical option for us – you’ve also got couchsurfing and air-bnb options which are relatively less than hotels, but this worked for us (if it’s the first time you’re hearing about hostels or interested in more info, check out this blogpost here); we decided the most we would spend per night would be $20. This is still relatively ‘a lot’, but again, considering the type of room/location/reviews etc. it’s up to you what you’re okay compromising on. We’ve seen rooms at $5 a night but didn’t feel comfortable with the photos, so this just works for us; the range so far has been between $11-$18 which is in budget so yay!

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In terms of daily expenses, we’ve planned to stick to between $80-$100 USD per day for the both of us (altogether); so about $40-$50 each. This should cover food, transit, souvenirs?, and certain activities we might want to do. Granted, depending on the specific activity/tour etc. we’re willing to be flexible within reason, but obviously not a stupid amount if that makes sense..!

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We’ve been keeping track of our daily spendings and trying to stay within budget, so thought it would be great to share what and how we’re spending to kinda sorta show you that travel doesn’t always need to be super expensive. Promise my intention isn’t in any way to mock or normalize or flaunt the aforementioned budget-range because I know that’s not the case for a lot of people, but it’s one which works for us at this particular moment in time without going into debt for the sake of going on a trip.

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First up is Cancun and Mexico City. These actually worked out to be layovers en route to where we’re headed, and quite long ones at that. 19 hours in Cancun and 23 hours in Mexico City, so of course we wanted to take advantage and explore a little with whatever time we had.

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We were slightly over the 50 but under 60 in Cancun (blaming it on the excitement of it being ‘day1’ plus were super hungry after the trek hence the biggest expense being lunch lol but under is still under!) Mexico City made us both proud as we felt it was the day we did the most walking, most touristing, most eating, and still managed to be way under so yay!!

Apprehensive about the next couple days as I have a feeling we might give up on the budget and pull a yolo lol but we’ll see what happens!