If I’m being honest, as much as I try not to read Nada’s (much more known to me as Lexy) blog because I’m afraid to get bitten by the Travel Bug (due to lack of funds at the moment), BUT I JUST CAN’T NOT. With an array of Travel Blogs sprouting here and there, with glamorous flash-enabled home pages to breathtaking outfit photos taken against ancient ruins, it’s hard for you to commit to following a solid one because it could get depressing. But Lexy’s is such a breath of fresh air, because she doesn’t intimidate you from traveling … she inspires you. While her posts do have scenic photos that make you wish you were with her, the best part is, she doesn’t inspire you to take that trip just to score an equally social media LIKE-MAGNET selfie, but for you to actually EXPERIENCE LIFE SOMEWHERE ELSE. I don’t think a lot of Travel Blogs does that for you.
I was lucky enough to meet Lexy through our common friend, Raisa. We would occasionally meet whenever our schedules (mostly my budget) permitted me to hang out with our small girl group back in Jeddah. Lexy was always either fresh from a trip, or off to planning the next one. It just made so much sense for her to share her travel experiences, especially when she mostly travels ALONE.
I wanted to feature Lexy on my blog to share her light and inspiring vibe so I asked her a couple of travel – related questions to fuel the Traveler in all of us!
1) When did you start to Travel?
2.) Most of us say, “I want to see the World”, but we never really get our butts off our chairs and do something about it. What made you take the first step into making this a reality?
I can absolutely relate to that.
As a self dependent woman since the age of 15, I had always thought of traveling but I step back because I used to always think of putting the money into better use such as paying bills, school tuition, rent, and other responsibilities. I wanted to make sure that every hard earned penny is spent on something extremely important and absolute necessities. The thought of traveling was too luxurious and completely out of the question.
As I started to travel, I realized that, those bills will always be there. It is endless. Not unless you win a lottery and that too won’t last forever.
But time and your life passes by within a blink of an eye. And with the digital age we are living now, the world is moving in a much faster pace!
You can always make money, today, tomorrow, or in couple of months. But you can’t go back in time and live your life.
What good does it bring you from purchasing materialistic objects? You will wear them, look at them, get compliments and all those will wear out over time.
But with traveling, you gain experience, knowledge, new perspectives, self growth, memories, meet new people from all over the world and learn new things about yourself that you did not even know. You will have endless stories to share with your loved ones, future children and grand kids. Those are a lifetime treasure. You can’t put a price on it.
So if you are reading this, please do yourself a favor and travel to a new place. It does not have to be far, it just needs to be out of your comfort zone 🙂
3.) What was your first time traveling solo like?
My first solo trip was to Morocco for a couple of days but I wouldn’t consider it as the first solo trip because I had a friend and I barely did anything.
I would say the first one was to Egypt and it was very easy. Perhaps because it is very similar to where I live. I did not get the shock as anyone else would if it had been a completely foreign country. I got a bit ripped off here and there during my first few trips but that’s common for first time travellers 😛 Hahah
Lebanon Photoset (first three photos taken by @alertthememory)
4.) Most important tips you’d give to solo female travelers?
1. Keep your guards up
2. Always follow your instinct
3. Get to know a local as soon as you arrive and keep their contact for help or emergencies. They are the best ones to ask for tips and recommendations as well.
4. Have fun but be very subtle.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask strangers for help or run/scream like a maniac if you ever feel like you are in danger. I have done that multiple times and I am not ashamed at all! Your life comes first!
5.) What are the preparations you do before traveling?
Well this is a tough one because my traveling style evolve with every travel 😀
During my first few trips, I had an excel spreadsheet with specified time on the places to visit, how to get there and every little detail. Over time, the planning become less and eventually ended up with going with the flow and just wing it!
As an extremely budgeted traveler, I prepare for two important things; accomodation & transport. Sometimes I don’t end up booking any accommodation/transportation if what I find online is over my budget. JUST WING IT! 😛 You will be surprised how things can be easily sorted once you get to the destination.
There is always couchsurfing, guest houses or meet a local that could take you in for free! And we live in a digital age, everything is almost a click away 😀
6.) What are your thoughts on the pros and cons of traveling without an itinerary AND traveling with a very strict, outlined itinerary?
It depends on the country and the circumstances. I have tried both and I would definitely recommend an outlined itinerary if you have a very tight and short time or if the country’s public transportation is very limited.
In my trip to Jordan, I had only 26 hours and I wanted to do EVERYTHING. In order to achieve that, I had to make sure that every second is used appropriately so I had a strict outline.
Whereas, if you have time, just let yourself free. Allow life to surprise you in many different ways.
In my recent trip to Armenia, I did not have a plan. I had ideas of few places I wanted to see, but that’s about it.
From the first sight I visited, I was really lucky to meet another traveler from Belgium who had a rented car and I ended up traveling around Armenia without using any public transportation.
That’s the beauty of not planning; you will be amazed with what you stumble upon, whether good or bad it always end up as a great memory, experience and of course a new lesson learnt.
7.) Out of all the places you’ve been to so far, which one would you find yourself recommending your friends and blog readers to go to?
I get asked this question a lot and I always reply back with “What do you look for when you travel?” 😛
Just as every person have a personality, I like to think every country has their own personalities as well. So if you are not into modern countries such as Singapore or UAE, you would not enjoy it as much as going to Armenia where it is surrounded with beautiful landscapes and countryside.
8.) Describe your favorite scene / memory during one of your travels that you were not able to take a photo of
So far, there wasn’t any that I was not able to take a photo of but I had lost photos from my amazing safari trip to Kenya and visiting the Maasai tribe in Maasai Mara. I’m heartbroken whenever I get reminded of it.
I had rented a professional camera so I could take high quality images of the fascinating wildlife and breathtaking savannah. When I came back home, I cut and pasted it to my laptop and then pressed on undo. And poof! It’s all gone. I tried to get it retrieved many times but no luck.
Republic of Artsakh
9.) What’s one place you haven’t been to yet, and would really, really, really want to see?
All the countries I have not visited? Hahah!
This is a difficult one because I really really really really want to see every country, islands and territories in the world. Even those unrecognized countries!
What I could say for now is perhaps the ones I cannot go YET due to financial reasons and obligations towards my fulltime job. I really want to go on a long term travel around South America. That’s the dream!
10.) Talk us into planning a trip soon.
GO TO UGANDA!
I am currently planning my trip to East Africa and I just found out that Rwanda has recently increased their fee for Gorilla Trekking to a whopping 1,500 USD per head!
I had to add Uganda to my travel plan because their Gorilla Trek fee is still 600 USD per head, and you never know when it may follow the steps of its neighboring country.
Rwanda, Uganda and Congo are the only 3 countries where you can do Gorilla Trekking to observe the beautiful silver back gorilla families as they eat, play and do their thing ON FOOT! You will be only few steps away from them. It is a lifetime experience and one hell of a story to share! 😀
To see more of Lexy’s travel entries, do check out her blog, NADA AL NAHDI. She has a tab solely for VISA requirements! That’s like my favourite part, because it HELPS to know these things, and is one less Google search off your list!
She also did a feature of me and my favourite Dubai spots here!