This time we’re talking to Kareemah, a well-known blogger Hijabiglobetrotter. Read on how she decided to move to Spain alone, why all Spaniards think all Muslims come from Sahara (?!), and “Travel is fatal to prejudice” is the worst travel quote ever…
T: A short bio about yourself: 3-4 lines that best describe you, what you do for a living and so on. Where are you currently living and where are you from? Tell us more about your blog and Instagram / Facebook / YouTube.
K: My name is Kareemah. I am a blogger, writer, traveller and digital marketer. I love connecting with people from different backgrounds and learning their stories. In my downtime, I play tennis, read a book or watch Damon and Jo’s youtube travel videos. I currently live in Louisiana, USA. I’m from Toledo, Ohio.
I started my blog Hijabiglobetrotter as a way to connect with like-minded travellers, highlight travel from a Muslim’s perspective and also encourage Muslims to explore the world. My social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Youtube are tools to amplify its purpose.
T: What makes Damon and Jo videos special?
K: I love how they learn new languages and incorporate it in their videos. I also love the friendly and fun vibes I get when watching their travel videos, it’s as if I am with them on their adventures.
T: Would you call yourself an avid traveller?
K: Not yet, but I have to visit some couple of places before I turn 30 inshaAllah.
T: What inspired you to travel?
K: My parent’s influence as a 6-year-old is what makes me who I am today. They exposed me to the world through encyclopedia, world explorer educational games and family trips.
T: Where have you been?
K: In the past two years, I have been to Spain, Portugal, Italy, Austria, Morocco, and Turkey.
T: Do you prefer to travel alone or with family and friends? Why?
K: I have moments where I prefer to travel alone and other moments where I wish to be with my family or friends for a trip. Traveling solo helps you better understand yourself while travelling with people allows you to share special moments that money can’t buy.
T: Do you have a full-time job? If yes, how do you find time to travel?
K: I currently work freelance; write articles, manage social media accounts and teach English all remotely. This gives me the flexibility to travel with ease.
T: What was your best trip ever?
K: My best trip was with my mum to Granada, Spain.
T: What did you learn about yourself during your most memorable trip?
K: I was pleasantly surprised of what I could do when pushed out of my comfort zone.
T: What were the locals you met like?
K: They were friendly, helpful and curious.
T: What was the funniest/strangest/most insightful thing a local said?
K: A Granada local told me the strangest thing: he asked if my mum and I were from the Sahara desert. There is a mentality by many Spaniards that if you “look” Muslim, then you must be Moroccan or Arab. It was a great opportunity to educate him on how diverse Muslims are.
T: What was the scariest moment?
K: Moving to Spain myself without knowing anyone. After reading blog posts from other brave solo travellers taking the leap of faith, I decided that I could do the same. What also gave me some sense of security were the supportive Facebook groups I joined that were based in Madrid, Spain.
T: What’s your favourite travel destination and why?
K: Morocco because I could eat anything without worry if it had alcohol or pork in it. Also, I loved hearing the call to prayer, especially for Fajr.
T: What place is top of your bucket list?
T: Have you learned a language when travelling? If yes, did you take a course at home, etc.?
K: I learnt Spanish prior to moving to Spain. I took classes in school and spoke to native speakers on Skype.
T: What’s your top travel tip?
K: Read a little bit about the history of your destination. It will give more meaning to some of the famous monuments or important sites.
T: What’s your travel style: budget or luxury?
K: I am a budget traveller.
T: What do you think of the current stigma on Muslim travel? E.g. US Muslim travel ban. How we can change it?
K: We can start individually but not letting these restrictions stop us from travelling. Through technology, we have the tools and power to change our narratives.
T: And how we can encourage more Muslims to travel?
K: Muslims creating awareness on their travel journey through social media. When others see this, they can say to themselves, “I can do that too”.
T: Which country is the most Muslim-friendly?
K: I’ve heard that Japan and the Maldives cater well to their Muslim travellers.
T: What’s like to be a solo Muslim female traveller?
K: It’s exciting, crazy, sometimes lonely, fun and most fulfilling.
T: Was your family OK with it?
K: Initially they weren’t but they later got on board.
T: What advice you can give to other females who want to travel but don’t dare or their family is not supportive?
K: Everyone’s family is different. Share your goals/dreams with someone who supports you and can advocate for you when you state your travel plans. Make a realistic plan with some research and financial goal. I created an e-guide on how you can plan and finance for your travel goals. Parents care and want to be assured that you know what you are doing. Finally, persistence is key. Keep telling your family about your travel dreams and show them how much you are willing to go through with it. It’s not easy but hopefully, this could make them consider.
T: Where would you revisit? Would you ever move to any of those cities?
K: I would revisit Turkey – I loved the Turkish food and the friendliness of the people.
T: What can’t you travel without?
K: I can’t travel without my neck pillow and smartphone and a book.
T: Which country has the friendliest people?
K: Of all the places I have been: Canada, Turkey, and Spain.
T: What’s the best piece of travel advice you’ve received?
K: Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.
T: What’s the worst piece of travel advice you’ve received?
K: Travel is fatal to prejudice. This statement implies that once you travel all one’s ignorance and prejudice are gone. I see it like this: It really depends on how you are brought up and how open you are two different people and ways of living. If one has an ignorant or ethnocentric, travelling wouldn’t necessarily change his/her mindset. Rather, that person might just compare how better his/her country is to the country he/she is visiting.
T: How are you documenting your trip?
K: Pictures and videos.
T: What’s the most reliable source of travel advice?
K: Blogs and Facebook groups. I love blogs that are both practical, inspirational and also genuine. Here are some examples: passportandplates.com, viajandoconfran.com, theblogabroad.com and girlvsglobe.com.
T: What’s been the best street food you’ve had?
K: Pastel del nata from Lisbon, Portugal.
T: What destination have you found to be overrated?
K: Paris, France.
T: Which country you’ve been so far having the best weather?
T: Thanks Kareemah and safe travels!