What was your inspiration behind wanting to become a digital nomad?
I’ve always been a hustler. I love projects and moving around and I couldn’t imagine myself settling for a desk job for good (I still can’t). I’ve always had a thing for traveling and three trips (Nubia in Egypt, Erasmus in Europe, and Sinai in Egypt), in particular, inspired me to start my own travel blog.
What was it about your Erasmus experience that made you realise you wanted to travel long term?
I guess it was mainly the free movement perk. The ease of traveling around Europe increased my thirst to explore and got me even more addicted to traveling. Randomly deciding to spend the weekend in Amsterdam when you’re living in France, for instance, is a cool thing, and that’s what I loved the most.
Read more of Nadines erasmus experience here
Talk to us about your Erasmus experience in France. What did you learn? What were the ups and downs? If you could pick 5 things you took away from the experience what would it be?
My Erasmus experience was truly life-changing and it definitely made me who I am today. Of course, there were many ups and downs; it wasn’t easy at all. I remember at first, I felt alone (not homesick tho), but not long enough afterwards I managed to make friends, some of which I’d like to call chosen family. Also, exactly in the middle of my stay, a major drop in the Egyptian currency occurred, which doubled all my living expenses. It was quite challenging to manage all my finances, especially with banking regulations that often caused sudden card blockage. However, I managed to make it through; this experience also taught me a lot in terms of managing my finances.
If I’d pick 5 things I took away, they’d be:
- I learned the true meaning of compromise
- I learned to get out of my comfort zone and the beauty of it
- I came to peace with the idea of never finding an answer to some things
- I learned that change is inevitable (be it for the better or worse) and finally,
- I found out that travel can literally heal or cure anything.
At the end of the day, making the memories I made, visiting the places I’ve been to, meeting the people I’ve met, and learning everything I’ve learned was all worth every bit of it.
Tell us about Curls en Route as a blog. What are your hope and goals for it? Who is the target audience?
I hope I could turn Curls en Route into a full-time thing rather than just a side project; this is actually my biggest dream. I’m mainly targeting both Egyptian and foreign travelers/traveler wannabes for different purposes. I’d like to encourage more people to go out there and explore the world as well as spread the solo traveling culture among Egyptians.
I want to push more girls, in particular, to experience this at least once in their life because it’s really okay and truly life-changing. Also, I wish to draw more global attention to tourism in my country. Egypt has so much to offer but has so many stereotypes built around it. I try as much as I can to shatter these stereotypes and show the world what hidden gems Egypt is privileged with.
It is clear to me that my adventurous soul as an Australian woman is more easily acknowledged as “the norm” What kind of culture backlash do you get?
Well, thankfully, I grew up in a community that is understanding and supportive of what I do. Plus, it’s 2020, women in Egypt are making history every day just like they’ve always been since ancient Egypt. We have successful female entrepreneurs, champions, scientists, and even adventurers. If there aren’t many female solo travelers in Egypt in terms of numbers, then that’s just because we’re about 100 mil. living here, but at least we exist even if it’s not the norm, and I’d have to say, I’m super proud of this.
When you meet other native Egyptian girls you grew up with, do you get much backlash or jealousy or is it more questions and encouragement? Can you give us an example?
As I previously mentioned, I was lucky to be surrounded by people with somehow a similar mindset. I’d more likely come across questions around traveling alone, but not about traveling in general. It’s normally either because of safety concerns or whether or not I might get bored without company; which is the case everywhere else in the world when solo traveling is brought up. So, backlash isn’t really something I’ve faced, at least so far.
In fact, I remember meeting girls from a rural village at some event and they were very fond of what I do; they even asked to take a picture with me and gave me a note and candy 🙂 At the same event, two high-schoolers came to me and gave me Russian coins as a gift; having younger people looking up to me like they did meant the world to me.
And yes, I do come across jealous people who think that my life is all rainbows and butterflies, but don’t we all meet these people? I just don’t let it get to me and focus on the encouraging comments instead; thankfully, I get these often. I remember after my trip to Bali in 2018, I got really encouraging messages from both boys and girls that I had them all written on sticky notes. My favorite said that my Instagram stories were so entertaining they waited for them everyday!
What is your favourite things about travelling as a solo female?
Believe it or not, I’ve always felt that traveling alone makes it easier to mingle and make new friends. And those random stranger convos we watched in movies, those are priceless. Also, being a female solo traveler has always felt so empowering; it makes me push my limits and helps me learn new things about myself every time.
Which 3 out of the 7 continents have you travelled?
Africa, Asia, and Europe.
What was the inspiration behind wanting to visit Jerusalem?
We can say that I’m a little bit of a spiritual person and I love visiting places that are rich in history. Being the sacred city that it is makes it bucket-list-worthy for sure. I wish I’d live to mark it as done someday.
How did you create your bucket list?
Hmm.. this is not really an easy question to answer. But maybe the easiest way to put it is that I’ve been inspired by other people’s travels or destinations I’ve come across on the web in a way or another. Another thing is that I have too many different interests; I like challenging adventures, exploring new things, getting to know more people, food, music, and much more. All these things inspired me to come up with this list somehow. It’s also worth mentioning that there are plenty of other stuff I still come up with every day, that I’m still adding to it.
See Nadines bucket list here.
Number 17 in your bucket list is to write books. Tell us more…
Well, this is still something I’ll be working on in the far future. I still need to travel to so many places to be able to do this but yes, writing a travel book (or maybe more if it clicks) is a dream I hope to pursue one day. I still haven’t decided what it would be about; maybe some sort of adventure I’ll still embark on, maybe it would be a compilation of my travel guides or tips, or maybe a novel inspired from real stories I experienced on the road. I’m still not really sure. Being in the editorial field for 3 years now and my career as a managing editor at a reputable online magazine in Cairo is definitely something that’s given me so much experience. However, I still need much more on-ground experiences to have enough material for my first book.
On your bucket list is number 30. Roam Egypt and show its beauty to the world. Tell us where you would recommend, so far from your experience that we should go and why? Tell us your 3 favourite experience from 3 different destinations you have travelled
My number one recommendation would have to be my favorite place in this whole wide world, South Sinai. To me, this place is just like home. Of course, the Afro-Asian peninsula is extremely vast and has so many destinations within; Dahab, Sharm El-Sheikh, Taba, Nuweiba, Saint Catherine, Ras Muhammed, Ras Sudr, and more. My personal favourites are Dahab, Nuweiba, and Saint Catherine. I’d also like to recommend Aswan, my second favorite city in Egypt. In spite of its utter simplicity of life, this place is rich with its people, history, and culture.
If I should name 3 favorite experiences, the first would definitely be my hike up Mount Sinai in Saint Catherine, which was my first-ever hike. Another experience that’s truly close to my heart would have to be when I visited a deserted island, near Philae in Aswan, with my friends. The only resident there was a very old Nubian lady named Hajja Safeya. She hosted us and had us over for a super delicious traditional Nubian dinner. My third favorite experience would have to be getting my second piercing in Bali. It was after midnight and I was with two travelers I just met a couple of hours earlier through a Facebook female travel community. One of the girls wanted to get a tattoo and we ended up at a studio indeed. It was a matter of time till I asked if they had a body piercer and I added a third stud to my left ear. Afterwards I thought about making it a tradition when the trip feels right, considering that I got my first one in Prague during an Erasmus road trip I had with my friends. I got my third one last February on my birthday in Cape Town!
Read more on Nubia, Egypt here.