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My Entry for the Liebster Award!

I was woken up on a Sunday morning by a message from Heather - founder and creator of Raulerson Girls Travel - that she has picked me as a nominee for the Liebster Award! What a beautiful gesture, and I am beyond thankful for her consideration. Heather is a wonderful example of not giving up on dreams. She traded the conventional 9 to 5 for fulltime travelling, and there’s no looking back for her! Her blog post on Strasbourg (France) and Memphis (Tennessee) are my personal favourites – they full of unique recommendations. Thank you so much, Heather, for this incredible honour.

What is the Liebster Award?

The Leibster Award is recognition given to bloggers from bloggers. It's a wonderful way to discover fresh content, and encourage others' hard work.

What are the rules/guidelines for the Liebster Award?

If you are one of the lucky ones to be nominated and choose to accept this honour, there are some rules that need to be strictly followed:

1) Thank the blogger that nominated your blog and provide a link back to his/her blog (on your blog!)

2) Display the Liebster Award medallion, and list the rules associated with the award on your post. (There are many different award medallion designs to choose from, on the official site.)

3) Answer some interesting questions by your nominator

4) Talk about your motivations in life aside from blogging (why do these activities motivate you?)

5) Pay it forward by nominating 2-6 blogs you feel are deserving of this honour.

6) Ask your nominees 5 creative and intelligent questions

7) Submit your entry leaving a comment in the Comment Box at with a link back to your site for the judge to read your questions and responses.

Heather's questions for me:

1) “There is a greater gift than the trust of others. That is to trust in oneself. Some might call it confidence; others name it faith. But if it makes us brave, the label doesn’t matter… for it’s the thing that frees us, to embrace life itself.”– Jennifer Worth

Have you done something that others have called you brave for doing?

Ans) Hailing from South Asia, I come from a culture that is far from liberal. Women aren’t “allowed” to travel on their own. I, however, was always rebellious and thoroughly disliked the idea of conforming to societal norms.

I started travelling incredibly young and till date, have been to 67 countries. Out of these, 38 have been solo travels completely on my own - without family, friends, a partner or colleagues.

When I first expressed interest in conquering the world as a lone traveller, everyone around me was apprehensive including my parents. Their angst wasn’t invalid – this world can be a scary place. But, after my family saw the relentless passion, they decided to give me the green signal. Our society, however, is a completely different ballgame. From, “akelay (alone)?!” to different variations of “hein (what)?!?” to carefully sculpted raised eyebrows – I was subjected to all of them.

Despite negativity, I decided not to care. My parents trusted me completely, and that has always been enough. They only put forth a few legitimate conditions which I happily obliged by. I will pay for it myself (to instill discipline and responsibility), it will be a safe country (for genuine security concerns), I will call them 4-5 times each day (to know I am okay), it will not be any longer than a week (I was only 18 then, so it made sense), I will eat proper food (so I don’t starve) and my entire itinerary will be supervised by them (so they also have an input in what I was getting myself into lol).

Always fascinated by Iceland, and one of the safest countries in the world, I chose it as my solo travelling goal. I freelanced for hours on end, copywrote for three companies, had a professional diploma in photography and started offering photoshoots, took up two internships and saved as much money as I possibly could. It took many hours of labour, endless months and a lot of time, but I finally got there. When I took off for Iceland, it was exciting right from the get go. Flying into Reykjavik’s rugged landscape was a sight to behold.

Under my parents’ supervision, I had chosen a hotel that mostly catered to other female solo travellers. Not only did I see the northern lights, world famous volcanoes, renown lagoons, ate the best seafood and camped under starry skies; I befriended many people who I am still in touch with. That trip instilled immense courage in me and instead of more negativity, people called me brave. Positive comments encouraged me to receive formal education in travel journalism, instead of opting for traditional career choices such as medicine/engineering.

After my solo adventure in Iceland, there was no looking back. I decided to embark upon even more fearless ventures. I flew out to a refugee camp in Calais, France, where I spent a whole month looking after vulnerable Syrian children. I visited asylum centers in Munich, Germany, where I met the mayor to discuss how we could protect those in suffering, and made an entire documentary regarding said subject. I volunteered at the footpath school in Karachi, Pakistan, to spread some of the knowledge that I was privileged enough to gain.

These are some of the experiences that encouraged other women to also be brave enough to follow their path, and to focus on their dreams.

2) “People who go on holidays are generally passive travelers. Travelers on longer schedules tend to lend themselves to more active participation in culture, language, and attitudes.”

How do you actively participate in culture during your travels?

Ans) Cultural immersion is always a top priority during all my travels! Some activities I always participate in are as follows:

1) Take public transport everywhere: I am fascinated by public transport because it’s so different in each part of the world. Whether it’s a traditional bus with truck art in Pakistan, a rickshaw in India, a bullet train in Japan, the Underground in London or the Maglev in China – experience cities like locals do.

2) Learn how to make a local dish: I always make it a point to not only try new dishes, but also learn to make some. One of my favourites has been a Turkish mezze in Trabzon, Turkey, via AirBnB Experiences.

3) Meeting locals intentionally: it’s so important to meet locals and have meaningful conversations – nobody knows their hometown better! Check out independent cafes and restaurants, pubs and galleries, talks and events for local encounters.

4) Staying with a host family: this is a personal favourite! I’ve stayed with host families in Turkey, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Serbia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia. It’s the easiest and most amazing way to experience a destination like a local, and, to learn another language. I had the most amazing time experiencing traditional homemade food, alongside great conversation.

5) Learn a language: speaking of learning a language, I love using some apps that make it easy for me to learn key phrases. Babble is a personal favourite, and a great way to familiarise yourself with a foreign language.

3) “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind” – Anthony Bourdain

Have you ever had to deal with the uncomfortable side of traveling? How has it changed you?

Ans) Discomfort during travelling is inevitable. It’s difficult to be away from home, in a different or no accommodation, without stability. It’s hard to see countries stricken with poverty and war, and children suffering. It’s excruciating to listen to stories of loss, sadness, hunger and political turmoil. From staying in shabby hostels, to losing luggage, to broken shoes, to money running out – each experience has made me stronger, better, more organised and more disciplined. I sort out my affairs far in advance, much more efficiently.

4) "Now for the lighter side of the questions…If Star Trek fans are called Trekkies, Star Wars fans are called Star Warriors, and Harry Potter fans are called Potterheads, what is the most creative name you would call Travel Blogger fans and why?"

Ans) Haha I love this question! I think I’d like to call them ‘Travel Otters’. That is because otters are cute and playful, and travel long distances via land and rivers. They even have fun while doing so, running for a few steps and then sliding on their bellies! It is also a play on the word “trotters” for globetrotters.

5) "If you knew the zombie apocalypse was to happen next week. Where would you travel to that would give you the best chance of survival? And Why?"

Ans) If a zombie apocalypse were to happen next week, I’ll most likely be on top of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai or the Shard in London. There is no place better than the tallest building in the world and second tallest in Europe (respectively), providing me with 360 views of all the places to avoid.

What motivates me in life, other than blogging?

Besides blogging, helping others brings me immense inner satisfaction. Travelling extensively always gives me an insight into so many countries suffering from war, conflict, poverty, disease, lack of clean water and famine. It has made me more empathetic, and motivates me twice as much to lend a helping hand.

For example, when I volunteered at the Footpath School in Karachi, Pakistan, it was an experience filled with mixed emotions. Here I was, immensely privileged to have sought higher education, and here were these vulnerable children. They had no school to go to and were seeking knowledge under a bridge on a series of footpaths. That drove me to assist them in whatever way I could. I spent hours teaching, reading, reciting, writing and engaging with these children. Some days, other volunteers and I would bring them treats such as pizza, biryani, other hot meals or fresh fruit. That motivated them to work harder, which in turn motivated us to help them even more. Being helpful should be adopted as a natural cycle of life.

I am nominating these fantastic and informative blogs for the Liebster Award:

My questions for these nominees are:

1) How would you convince a person who has never left their hometown to start travelling, even if it’s just the next town over?

2) Travelling the world is one thing but what prompted you to start a blog? List five aspects that set your website apart from other bloggers.

3) Have you ever gotten lost? Tell me the most entertaining/interesting/scary story about you getting lost in a foreign land.

4) Tell me about a travel journalist whose work you really admire. How has she/he inspired you and why?

5) Of all the countries in the world that you have visited, which one has stuck with you the least? How would you challenge yourself to go back and experience it in a new light?

Best of luck! Please leave the link to your posts (answers to above questions) here in the comments below, so I can get to know you better.


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