Travel Tales

How to travel in a girl group (Hen Do Celebration in Santorini!)

Last month, I was blessed to go on a trip to Greece for a friend's hen do (or as it's known in America a bachelorette trip) in the gorgeous island of Santorini. Since Greece is mostly affordable, a lot of the girls wanted to join for the fun hen do abroad. We ended up being fifteen girls including the bride. No one anticipated this big turn out, but it is a great feeling to see how many people would love to come and celebrate for a big occasion. We were all excited and rented a big villa. One of the only ones that accommodates fifteen! We were there for five days. On one hand it was undeniably fun, but on the other some plans were hard to arrange. Saying that, the maid of honour did a fantastic job organising everything!

On the last day, I asked the girls about their thoughts on group travel and how to make the most of it. So, this is a collective post with all our thoughts.  

Let's start off with everyone's favourite things about travelling in a group

  • Lots of fun 
  • Cheaper accommodations  
  • Meeting different people 
  • Getting to know your friends better 
  • Becoming more aware of your personality and your own traits 
How to make the most of group travel

Here are SEVEN tips to make the most of a group trip: 

  • Designated a leader
    Let one person be in charge instead of various people who are trying to make plans as they go. 
     
  • Discuss plans before the trip
    It's hard to determine all trip plans before the actual trips, but having a rough plan is very helpful. Luckily, the maid of honour, tried her best to do that. She even told us what to bring for certain occasions like the all dressed in white dinner!
     
  • Be aware of the purpose of the trip
    Ask yourself and other attendees about the purpose of the trip. All members of the party should be on the same page. Is this trip to party? to spend most days on the pool? To try food?to explore? Being clear on that will give you better expectations
     
  • Be flexible and open to other people's suggestions
    Going on a group by default means that the trip is about the whole group and trying to balance everyone's wishes. So, being flexible is key!
  • Consider different budgets
    When you are travelling with a group, this is a very major consideration because not everyone has the same income. Defining that before a trip is ideal, but sometimes activity and food prices cannot be anticipated. Establishing a daily budget could be beneficial.   
     
  • Take 5 and be accepting
    If someone bothers, just take a moment out of the situation to get your zen back and then discuss that subject again or avoid it. Plus, don't let it show through your behaviour. There is no point of heating things up unnecessarily. People just have their own views on things and not everyone needs to have the same mentality. Just accept it and move on.
     
  •  Enjoy yourself
    Going with a group as pointed out earlier is FUN, so just focus on enjoying yourself, the new place and bonding with the awesome people you chose to travel with. 

Over to you: What are your thoughts on group travel? and what are your tips? Share with us in the comments below! 

More travel tips you might like: 

How Can You Afford Living in London?

How Can You Afford Living in London?

This is the million dollar question that I get at least once a week or whenever I meet new people. Let me start by saying when I say I live in London, I am no where near Big Ben, London Eye, Harrods or anything in Central London really. I live an hour away and that's still considered London. This city is expensive no doubt, but here is how I can afford living in London

  • Being a Full Time Student in London is GOLD

I think being a student in London gives you so many possibilities and DISCOUNTS! I have a discounted Oyster card, which means I pay 125GBP a month for a travel card from zone 1 to 4 and that includes all forms of transportation in London (Bus, DLR, Tube, Trains and the Overground). I also get a student train card (Rail Card) to travel in the UK  for a significantly cheaper prices. Plus, I get 10% off in most stores with MyUniDays or you can get the NUS card

As a full time student, you don't pay council tax too, which makes rent cheaper as well. 

  • Give up Central London for Zone three or four

As I said in the introduction, I don't live in Central London. I live between zone three and four, which happens to be on the other side of the River Thames that you probably would not have visited. It basically takes me an HOUR to get ANYWHERE. That's a sacrifice you have to make if you want to stay in an affordable place that is slightly bigger than a shoe box. With my discounted Oyster card mentioned above, it makes sense to live further.

  • Meal Planning and Home Cooked Meals is a great method to SAVE MONEY!! 

This saves so much you have no idea! Those supermarket sandwiches and crisps you buy at lunch for 3-5 pounds add up and become crazy! Think of this: A whole loaf of bread is 80p and humous is 1 pound and a bag of spinach for another 1 pound you can even treat yourself with 6 small bags of crisps for 2 pounds max. There you just made 5 lunches for 5 days for the cost of one! You see what I mean. Another thing, plan your meals before you get groceries, so you don't waste. Each meal I cook has two portions, so I have it for two dinners. Try a few vegan meals a week and that saves loads if you are using one type of vegetable, a can of chopped tomatoes and rice that's like 3 pounds for a filling meal. You can get very creative here and there are like a bazillion pages on instagram and pintrest to help you with that!    

  • Meet Your Friends At Art Galleries or do other free activities

The wonderful thing about is London is the amount of free activities! (Read: How to find cool events and things to do in London). Big museums and art galleries are my default meeting point now. It gives you something to do and it is a fun. If the weather is good, you can also go to parks for picnics and catch ups. 

  • Only Go out to Cafes    

I am a social butterfly and I love hanging out with my London pals. As a Muslim, we can't meet at Pubs, so I used to meet my friends for restaurant meals (Read: My Ultimate Favourite Food Guide in London). That started costing me so much!! Now, I try to meet at cafes in the afternoon for tea or a just desserts. We sometimes only get tap water and stay there for two hours or more. Even buying a cup of tea or coffee is much more affordable than a main course.

Neal's Yard London
Vegan Dessert in Wild Food Cafe London

Over to you:

How Can You Afford Living in London? Are there any other things you are doing I haven't mentioned above? Please Share your thoughts in the comments below! 

More Posts from London: 

The Vlogging Camera I swear by (Review for Canon G 7X) + Travel Camera Recommendations 

When I decided to get on Youtube, I decided to get a more portable camera other than my profession (but heavy!!) Nikon D7100. I looked around and basically read every possible review. Until I found Canon G7X. I was a little worried because it was almost 500GBP, but after using it for a year, I can highly recommend it! About 95% of my videos are all filmed with this camera, so take a look at my YouTube channel Arabian Wanderess to see the video quality if you need more video examples. 

Six things I personally love about Canon G7X

  • One. The Flip Screen!!
    Omg this is so essential when I am vlogging you have no idea! I can see how I look and exactly what I am filming.
  • Two. The Weight!!
    It's such a light and portable camera. It fits the smallest purses I have. I don't even feel like I am carrying it. 
  • Three. The Wifi function!!
    I haven't taken any photos on my phone in AGES! The quality of Iphone photos just do not compare to the photos I take with this camera. The wifi function makes it so easy to transfer the photos from the camera to the phone using the Canon app. It takes me less than a minute to connect, upload and share on social media! My camera instagram photos are getting lots of love! You can give them some love too! 
  • Four. The low light performance (Night filming)
    This is another great thing! My biggest worry was if this camera would still preform well. It does work nicely at night for the most part. I had to fix the yellow saturation of some videos on Premier Pro, but it's quiet good. It's good for photos as well. Take a look at my London after Midnight Photos. All were taken with this camera. I think it's quiet powerful. Unfortunately, this camera can't seem to take stunning photos of the moon or stars, but that's another story. For a compact camera, it's mind blowing!     
  • Five. The baby tripods! (Great to take photos when you are travelling solo!)
    This is very helpful! When I am travelling light and for a short time, I only pack one of these Joby tripod with me. They are versatile and can bend and etc. When I was travelling in Sri Lanka, I took my solo dreamy beach photos (like the one below) by using the Joby tripod and the Remote Live View Shooting function (accessible in the free Canon phone app). 
Buy this tripod 

Buy this tripod 

  • Six. Remote Live View Shooting Function (For Quick Stop Motion Films)
    As I just mentioned in the previous point the Remote Live View Shooting, which is accessible through the Free Canon phone app is a life saver for taking travel photos if you are travelling solo OR for stop motion films! 
    ** Check the video below and forward to 2:54 to see the stop motion I included using this camera and the Remote Live View Shooting. 

Extra Tip: I bought two extra batteries from Amazon, so I stay longer on the road without worrying about the battery life! 

Another Tip: I got the wind muffler to get better quality sound. 

Also another thing you might want: a camera protective case! I got my poor camera scratched so many times until I got a case! Like a whole year later. 

Cheaper Travel Camera Recommendation

By the way, if you are looking for a cheaper alternative to the Canon G7x reviewed above and you don't really care for vlogging or flip screens and you want a light, reliable, good quality camera with the phone app then the Canon Powershot SX610 is going to be a great option for you. I bought it for my sister as a birthday present and she loves it. The quality of her photos are so much better than a phone camera. 

Note: if you are considering buying any of these practical and reliable travel bags, please consider getting them through the links provided in on this page. That will give us a little commission with no extra cost to you. These little commissions help this blog grow and continue. Thank you for your support.  

More Posts that you might enjoy: 

- Practical and Reliable Duffle and Tote Travel bags for your solo travels

- Eight reasons every Muslim woman should travel solo at least once

- How to take pictures of yourself when travelling solo

Over to you: What camera are you taking with you on holidays? and which one would you love to buy? 

Travel Blogging and Social Media hashtags and feature accounts

As we all know, being on social media is crucial especially for bloggers and artists because that's the main way people find out about us. As a travel blogger, it's good to have visibility via specific hashtags and features. These are the ones I find most useful for Instagram. Keep in mind that I keep my caption clean from these hashtags and only use my own, but add them in the comments below to give a neater look to the photos. 

Top Travel Hashtags

Daily Travel hashtag: #TravelTuesday #WanderlustWednesday 

General Travel hashtags: #travel #wanderlust #explore #travelfind #discover #instatravel #traveljunkie 

use: season, day, county, city, occasion as well. 

Top Travel Feature Accounts

Might be a good idea to start with smaller accounts because bigger ones get 100s of tags a day. 

#LPTraveller @lonelyplanettraveller 
#BBCTravel or #LoveTheWorld @bbc_travel
#WeLiveToExplore @WeLiveToExplore
#wonderful_places @wonderful_places
#TheGlobeWanderer @TheGlobeWanderer
#beautifuldestinations @beautifuldestinations
#IPulledOverForThis @IPulledOverForThis
#PassionPassport @PassionPassport
#TLPicks @travelandleisure
#discoverearth @discoverearth
#darlingescapes @darlingescapes

Top Travel Feature Accounts and Hashtags Specifically for London

#ThisisLondon @London
#london4all #london4all_video @london4all
#TopLondonPhoto @TopLondonPhoto
#London_only @London_only
#lotiloves @londontheinside
#timeoutlondon @timeoutlondon

Top Travel Feature Accounts specifically for females

This photo was featured on @Globelletravels  and there are a number of travelling females account that support and empower such as: #Girlsborntotravel @Girlsborntotravel , #girlsmeetglobe @girlsmeetglobe , #girlsLOVEtravel @girlslovetravel , #femmetravel @femmetravel, #TheTravelWomen @TheTravelWomen

Top Travel Feature Accounts specifically for Muslim and/or Arab travellers:

The photo below was featured on #361.world @361.world 
There is also #muslimtravelers @muslimtravelers 

Muslim Travellers on instagram

For Feetlfies (feet selfies) for when you are travelling and when you are home: 

#fwarabs @fwarabs

#fromwhereIstand #FWIS @fromwhereIstand

#Ihavethisthingwithfloors @Ihavethisthingwithfloors

#Ihavethisthingwithtiles @Ihavethisthingwithtiles

PS. remember that if you are using brands/products or you are in a place that owns a social media account you should tag them too! 

connect with me on insta @designeresra

Over to you: What are your favourite travel hashtags and accounts? 

Travel Blogger in a Headscarf Q&A

Travel Blogger in a Headscarf Q&A

Frequently Asked Questions. FAQ about Hijab, the Muslim woman headscarf:

  • What does "hijab" and "Hijabi" mean?

  • What's underneath the headscarf? 

  • Who can see you without the headscarf?

  • What exactly do you need to cover and what can you show?

  • What is the reason for Hijab?

  • What does it mean to wear a headscarf?

  • How does it feel travelling with a headscarf on? 

  • Can you be fashionable when you wear the hijab?

Read More

My Travel Tech Kit

Hey everyone! I am packing for a short trip and I thought it's time to share my travel tech kit with you all in case you are wondering! :) You can shop the list below as well :)

PS. These are affiliate links, if you buy via my links you'll pay nothing more and I'll get a small bonus for sending you! :) 

image.jpg

Devices: iPhone + iPad

Cameras (for photos & videos): Canon G7x mark 1 + Nikon D7100 + GoPro Hero 

Chargers: 1 charger for iPhone & iPad + 1 charger for the external charger + camera charger

Pods: Tripod (light weight from Amazon Basic) + monopod (aka selfie stick) + a tiny phone tripod (I usually use that at home, but take it on art trips to record process videos.    

Extras: Headphones + external charger (I take two) + three memory cards 64GB + adapter 

PS. Make sure everything is charged before you pack it. 

I pack all the kit in one carry on bag. I am still a beginner in photography, so I only use one lens (the one I got with the camera). On longer trips, I pack my laptop and external hard drive too, which makes the bag really heavy! 

Over to you: what's in your travel tech kit?

My First Travel Vlog

Hi everyone, 

For some reason, I am not crazy over videos, but I have been talking myself into making some videos especially for some of the unique destinations that I was fortunate to visit such as Iran

Making a travel video was the hardest thing I have done in my blogging career. Some might laugh, but I am serious. It was weeks and weeks of agony. The process started from the trip. I had to be conscious during my trip and take more videos because I usually just take photos and write about the places. I had to discard a lot of videos I took because they were shaky, unclear and some were even taken with a dirty lens! :O

Then came editing!

Here are some of the challenges I faced while making the video and some of my solutions: 

  • Choosing the right footage. I had to choose from four devices. 
  • Writing a voice over to match. 
  • Picking a mic to record my voice over because the built in mic was too weak and caused an echo. I ended up buying the snowball mic from Blue Microphones because it had over 600 positive reviews.  
  • Choosing Music that I am allowed to use. That was really stressful and just settled for a track from the free Youtube Audio Library.    
  • Editing! This dilemma took the longest. I started with making the movie on iMovies and the audio on GarageBand. I worked them both, but then bringing the movie and the audio together was painful, so I followed Super Kat's advice and I switched to Adobe Premier Pro and that just saved my life and made the process much quicker. (I spent an extra 5 hours, but they were good 5 hours).  
Adobe Premiere Pro

I was very excited when I finally finished the editing. I know the video still needs to be better, but that's my first one and I am hoping it will get easier the more I do it. Now, I leave you with it! 

Feel free to share any vlogging making tips in the comments below!