1) Hi Saira, and congratulations on being featured as a globelle gal in focus! Can you tell us where in the world we'd currently find you?
Hiya! Thanks so much for the feature - i feel very honoured! You can currently find me in Jamaica. I’m here with a Toronto-based retreat called Burgundy Roots, discovering the cultural beauty of the island.
2) What inspired you to first start travelling?
I’d have to say my my biggest inspiration is my mum. From a young age she’s always encouraged me and my brother and sister to go out and see the world, connect with people, and to have genuine heartfelt intentions and interactions.
Her favourite line was to ‘think outside the box’ in terms of thinking beyond our personal bubble and the North American border. Growing up our home was always one filled with National Geographic magazines and decorated with little pieces from here and there that mum had collected on her travels. So, from a young age the world never felt like something so completely out of reach!
3) What's been your favourite place to visit, and why?
Ah, this is always a difficult question! Every place i have been fortunate enough to visit has had a favourite part for me for some reason or another! From hearing the call to prayer echo between the Mosques in Istanbul, walking through the beautiful chaos of Chandni Chowk Market in Delhi, or eating fresh samosas wrapped in newspaper on the streets of Kathmandu, to wandering the streets of Downtown Dubai once everyone has gone to sleep... there’s always been a reason to fall in love with a place and make it my favourite (HQ: we'll accept that given these examples!)!
4) What's the worst thing that's happened to you since being on the road? How did you deal with it?
This would have to be a scooter accident in Thailand, which left me with a scar and a story!
It happened while attempting to ride a scooter for the first time, presuming if everyone else could do it, so could I. As I picked up some speed to get over a hill (and feeling quite a pro at this point) I tried to get back to a regular speed on the descent, and in my attempt to slow down I hit both the brakes and the accelerator at the same time.
I then figured it must be just like a bicycle (it’s not), and that if I stuck my leg out it would slow me down a little (please don’t try this, it doesn’t work!), and of course, it didn’t. Instead, I crashed into the side path, gashed my leg into the raised sidewalk and was left sandwiched between that and a running bike - it wasn’t a very pleasant situation.
I’m not very good with blood or pain either, so bones poking out and having to deal with hospitals, infections and no insurance on top of that wasn’t the greatest experience to say the least! Funnily enough I was actually on my way to a tiger sanctuary and to bungee jump for the first time so I did find some solace from the accident! #silverlining
5) Obviously life on the road is about fewer possessions and more moments, but what is the one thing you can't travel without?
Sometimes I get quite anxious prior to flying thinking about luggage and if I’ve forgotten anything, and it always comes down to whether I’ve got three things: phone, passport, and wallet. If i've got them, we’re good to go!
So if there had to be one additional thing and as silly as this sounds, I’d have to say a pair of false eyelashes! I thought long and hard how to respond to this, and I have to say I don’t think I ask for too much when travelling. I do love having my phone with me to take a million and one pictures of anything and everything, but could do without specific skin care products or sentimental items.
6) You're currently based in Kuwait, a while away from your native Toronto. What drove you to set up a life there? How has it impacted your travelling experiences being based in the Middle East - has it made the rest of the region more accessible?
A lot of people don’t know this but I’m actually a primary school teacher, and thats how i ended up being based in Kuwait! I’ve always wanted to move abroad, so as soon as I graduated I moved to Kuwait for work and fell in love with the Middle East region.
Being situated in the Middle East definitely feels as though the world is much more accessible and I feel I have been fortunate to have been able to explore a lot more of it while being here than I think I would have if I was still in Toronto.
7) You've reviewed a wide range of accommodation as part of your work. What have been your most memorable places to stay (one for the right reasons, one for the wrong reasons)?
I think the most memorable (both for the right reasons!) would have to be a hotel in Istanbul and a Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum.
For Istanbul I was working with a boutique hotel - Hotel Empress Zoe which was situated literally less than a 10 minute walk from the Blue Mosque. My soul has rarely felt happier, especially as I was able to share the experience with my brother who was on his first trip to Istanbul. The hotel itself was built from the remains of an Ottoman passage and includes a barrel vaulted room with the most beautiful interiors just giving off this authentic Byzantine feel which I fell in love with!
I also recently stayed in a Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum (Jordan) which totally fed into the ‘glamping’ experience haha but I loved every second of it! Think air-conditioned tent accompanied with an en suite (with hot water!) in the middle of the desert!
I can honestly say that I don’t have a memorable place for the wrong reasons as I always feel fortunate that i have been given the opportunity to travel somewhere (often for the first time) and even if everything is not perfect when it comes to accommodation its really about, at least in my mind, your overall experience and the people you get to meet and connect with.
8) What we love about your work is the shining positivity that comes through in each shot & each message you share. What inspires your positivity?
Aw thank you! I’m glad that’s the feeling that comes across in my posts! I’ve grown not to take things too seriously, life included, and to just go with the flow. One of my favourite quotes is “if it’s not going to matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes thinking about it”- it helps put things into perspective! Also consciously making a point to always find a silver lining and the good in any situation or in people is a great place to start!
9) What are your plans for the future, and what do you hope to achieve through all of your hard work?
I’m actually in the process of figuring out my next move! Careerwise, I’ve just wrapped up a Masters in International Education and pretty excited to see where it’ll take me. Going with the flow and trusting the timing of things is something I believe in so we’ll see what happens!
So whilst being pretty relaxed about the timing of future plans I do believe that in whatever i set out to do I'm always aiming to make some sort of difference, no matter how big or small. Who knows, maybe I can even hope to be a source of inspiration, whilst being true to myself, who are hoping to do the same.
10) What does travelling mean to you?
Travelling to me means happiness, and I say this with a massive goofy smile on my face!
It means new experiences and the chance to connect with people from all walks of life.
And without sounding too cheesy, to smile at more people, give more hugs, spread more love, be ever so grateful for any and every opportunity I’ve been blessed with, and just genuinely make my heart and soul smile! I love using my social media channels to share that love and happiness with people and hopefully make their hearts smile too!
11) If you could offer one piece of advice to those travelling for the first time, either as part of a group or solo, what would it be?
My advice to first-time travellers would be to go in with zero expectations and that’s not meant to sound negative. It just means embark upon your travels with an open mind and open heart. Be conscious and respectful of the fact that you are in someone else’s space, someone else’s reality, which might be completely different from your own, and that’s okay. Different doesn’t mean wrong; different is beautiful and magical and what makes the world a special place!
12) And finally, how can girls get in touch with you, and keep up to date with where you're exploring next?
I look forward to connecting with some of you!