Anita Yusof has more than 21,000 followers on Facebook because she is simply a great inspiration to women and men alike. A mother of two, she realized her dream to ride solo around the world on a Yamaha FZ150i. In 2015 she started her Global Dream Ride from North America towards South America, not looking back ever since.
Do you have a support group that helps you to achieve your dream of travelling the world?
As I travel with a high-powered motorcycle, I did A – Z by myself. Only the technical part about the bike that I leave it to my mechanic. As for like-minded travellers, I am a member in a Whatsapp group named Lady Riders of the World and in many Facebook communities such as Global Women Who Rides, Babes on Bikes, WomenAdvRiders and World Women Motorcycle Association.
What is the most essential part of planning your trip?
The most essential part of the planning is financial. Being very low on budget and without monetary sponsorship, I must really plan my route, duration of the stay in each country, where to stay for the night and which border to cross, because of all these involved money. Being a woman, travelling solo on a motorbike, and with a limited budget, doing my research beforehand is very crucial – for safety reasons, and to make sure that my money could last until the day I return home.
My motto is, ‘Plan for the best, prepare for the worst. If shit happens, just smile and find a way to fix it.’ However, I am also flexible for changes. It is important because not all that we plan will be materialized. This is really true because travelling solo can be exhausting especially when your time is not very flexible. There is so much to see and to do, and all these require some research. If you have a partner, at least you can share the tasks, but that is not the case for me.
So I always tell myself to do one thing at a time.
What do you on the trip to make it more a mindful journey?
The moment I started my Global Dream Ride, I told myself to abandon a materialistic mind completely. I set my mind that I am going for an adventure and I am going to live on the very minimum in all aspects, including comfort. This mindset made me more ready to accept whatever is destined for me.
During my travels, I keep a journal and note what I see and feel. I also recorded myself in the video as sometimes writing couldn’t express yourself as accurate as video did. Furthermore, I couchsurfed many times too as a way to save some bucks and – most importantly – to have a better understanding of the locals’ life and culture.
Trying local food is something which I can’t do much due to the lack of money and also due to the halal matter, but at every opportunity that I get, I will try to eat local dishes. As a mindful traveller, I paid attention to everything around me – unfamiliar sights, smells, sounds and all.
Being a Muslim, I accept whatever that Allah decides for me and if something doesn’t go as planned, I always tell myself that things happen for a reason. This is also the time that I reflect on myself.
Also, when I see differences, especially when it comes to Muslim practices in Muslim countries, I never judge. We might think that we practice the correct way, and they do it wrong, but what if they (the ones we think to practice the religion wrongly) feel that we are the wrong ones?
So we shall never judge and, instead, celebrate the differences! There’s no right or wrong because we submit to the One God.
Have you had any encounters of unexpected kindness and how did you pay-it-forward?
There is always help from Allah. When my sponsorship applications were turned down, Allah actually had other plans for me. He sent ‘angels’ along my journey to help me – giving me food, money and sharing their roof.
In return, I normally offer to cook Malaysian dishes for them and help with cleaning up or taking care of their little ones. I also include them in my prayers. They always say that the prayer of a traveller will be granted. Wallahualam.
What is your view of Muslim women travelers as the group that can combat Islamophobia and promote more intercultural understanding?
This is exactly what I did during my Global Dream Ride. I made a good example of myself that Muslims are not bad people and Muslim women are not weak. I encouraged all women travellers to do the same thing so that the world would know that we are equal even though we wear hijab.
How do you deal with disappointment and hurdles during your travel?
Whenever something bad happens, I do my prayers and seek guidance from Allah. I will offer the special Solat Hajat (a prayer to request something humbly from Allah), asking Him to make things easier for me and to ease my path. For most of the time in my travels, I had no one then, except Him.
So I vow to stay strong as travelling is not all about rainbows and butterflies everyday. There are ups and downs. And I remember what doesn’t kill us make us stronger.
Thanks and safe travels, Anita!
This interview was done by Wan Nurul Hanani.
About Hanani: Inspired by her parents who wrestled their way out of a very rural area to obtain national scholarships and to have a high-flying career, Hanani believes that everything is possible once you set your mind into it. She has embarked on solo travels and treks to Peru, Iran, New Zealand, Turkey, Morocco and other countries since 2009. Her love of mountains has taken her to the likes of Mount Yong Belar, Mount Semeru to Annapurna Base Camp on which she proudly donned the traditional baju kurung or kebaya.