Summer is in full swing: glistening water, white sand, or city lights… Wherever you choose to go, now is the time to recharge and broaden your horizons with new experiences. Three travel experts share their tips, whether you want to travel locally, as a hijabi, or solo.
Beseisso quit her job as a TV producer to start her YouTube channel, Fly With Haifa. Sharing her trips as a hijabi woman, she also aims to break stereotypes, saying, “I like to showcase the love between people in my videos.” Flying as often as four times a month, Beseisso calls herself a “last-minute traveler,” adding, “I go where my heart points.”
As a solo hijabi traveler, have you ever encountered prejudice?
I haven’t, but I know women who have. I usually learn how to say hello and thank you in the local language, and as soon as I say it, it warms the atmosphere and brings laughter. I wear a lot of color and smile at people with genuine love and curiosity. I feel this is the secret recipe.
What is your favorite modest fashion brand to pack?
I love Anatomi. The designer, Doaa Alghouti, is a hijabi herself and she knows what we need: long pants, tops, and jackets without having to layer up, which could add a lot of weight. You also integrate humanitarian work during your travels.
How did this come about?
I’ve always been into community service; it gives me deep happiness to help others. One of my first trips was volunteering at an orphanage in Zanzibar. When I traveled to Serbia, I met a beautiful Iraqi family that fled to the country byfoot. I became close with them; almost like an extended family. I gave them a camera and taught them how to vlog, so they could use it to build something from it. I am still a part of their journey.
What are the social media rules when documenting travel?
Have fun! Don’t be afraid to get lost. You can meet the most beautiful people to film with, and most amazing corners and locations to shoot. Pack extra batteries and memory cards and back up your footage daily, as you never know what could happen. Make it personal and go around with a local; this brings magic and real fun. Post and share and go to exotic locations – places that not many people experience.
Editor-in-chief of Condé Nast Traveller Middle East
“I was in Havana a few years ago, and the deeper conversations and interactions I had with locals wouldn’t have happened ifI wasn’t alone,” begins Saran. She has had boundless globetrotting experiences, from the Seychelles to Australia, Scotland, and Iceland.
As a solo female traveler, what safety precautions do you take ahead of time?
The greatest tool in my arsenal is research – make sure I know everything I can about the destination I’m going to: what different neighbourhoods are like, what kind of public transportation is safe, local dress codes, and so on. I also make sure I have data on my phone. With enough preparation, street smarts, and awareness of your surroundings, solo female travelers are totally fine in most places.
How do you best plan for a safari?
First, zero in on what kind of safari works best for you – South Africa, Kenya, and Tanzania are all beautiful, but they offer different experiences – South Africa is considered more manicured, the others offer a wild experience. Timing is also important. To catch the great migration – and I highly recommend doing it once in your life – there’s a window to book. If your camp offers balloon safaris, night safaris, or any variation on the regular morning and afternoon game drives – do them.
What to wear on safari?
In general, pants are your best friend on safari. Bring sunglasses, a hat, and comfortable and covered footwear. Wearing khaki tones to blend in is not necessary – you’re likely in a vehicle the whole time – but avoid dark blues and blacks in areas prone to tsetse flies because they are attracted to dark colors. There’s no expectation to get dressed up for dinner, but a dress and flats are fine if you really want to.
Chief brand and communications officer at Jumeirah Group
Florence Dubois tracks the world’s best-kept secret addresses on Instagram because she “loves to discover any place in the world.” But if she had to choose her favorite, it would be the desert. “I love the sound of silence. It’s so rare that I enjoy every minute. I love all the shadows of the sand, moving from white diamond color to dark terracotta, or warm brown at sunset.”
What do you look for in a hotel?
Surprising design, the spirit of a private home, the best mix of casual and sophistication – these are the details that make all the difference. Attention to service, good food, and a special location.
How do you switch off on holiday?
I always stay connected, but during vacations, I choose when I want to connect. Vacations are a time to rebalance, recharge, and reset. Any tips for parents traveling with young children? Kids are so agile, they can adapt anywhere, anyhow. They’re not a brake on any trip, but the pace may change due to their age.
What unique locations would you recommend?
Jordan, a perfect combination of rich culture and stunning landscapes. Also Namibia, for the experience of discovering an unexplored world. You can drive eight hours without coming across another car or human; it’s just full of nature. The colors of the sky and the landscapes are always changing, making you feel like you are in a film production.
Where do you like to explore most within the UAE?
Having lived in Dubai for a year, I enjoy escaping for a weekend to the desert outside the city to discover the region. My favorite places are Fossil Rocks and Big Red in Dubai, for the diversity of the dunes and rock hills. In Abu Dhabi, Liwa Desert is full of endless sand ribbons and sand pillows. You just want to keep all those wonderful images in your mind forever.
Originally published in the July/August 2019 issue of Vogue Arabia
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