1. Tell us a bit about yourself, where did you grow up, what cultural influences do you have in your life, what is the earliest memory you have?
My earliest and most fun memories are running around the hotel complex, talking to people and playing in the grounds. I must have been around 5 years old. My parents used to work in a hotel in Bulgaria, where I was born, my mum as Front Desk and my father as Food and Beverage manager.
Since I was the youngest, I would often be taken with them to work and just play around and pretend to check-in guests. I remember I always wanted to live upstairs in the hotel and finally after 30 years I can say I currently live full time in hotels.
When it comes to cultural influences I must say I consider myself a citizen of the world. I was born in Bulgaria, I was raised in Greece and I have lived in the UK. I have literally spent 10 years in every country and I just moved to the Middle East for another adventure.
After becoming Muslim 6 years ago a lot of things have changed and a lot of more cultures have influenced my way of thinking and living. I am extremely happy and proud of every single aspect of my identity because it defines who I am today and what I do.
2. Why travel?
I’ve always travelled. I don’t think I ever remember myself not travelling. Yes, it wasn’t a long distance but when I was young in Bulgaria we would always go around the country to Thermal baths, on beach holidays etc. When I moved to Greece at 10 years old we owned a hotel in Corfu and up until high school I would go every summer for 4 months to work and help my parents. I did a bit of everything, from sales and marketing to cleaning the toilets.
Those summer memories and interactions with the tourists was what made me decide to study abroad and meet and explore different countries and cultures. At 20 I came to the UK to study and just started travelling. I would take every opportunity for long transit stops on my way to Greece just so I can explore a new city for a few hours.
I don’t think I ask myself why travel, but rather ‘why not travel?’ It is truly a life university and I always encourage people to travel. It makes us more tolerant, confident, and it’s a sunnah! Plus you end up making amazing friends on the way 🙂
3. What were you doing before MTG? Did you love it or hate it? (are you still doing it?)
I have always worked and I love being productive and creative. After my undergraduate degree I studied Masters in Islamic Finance but I always loved marketing and branding and had the most experience in it. So after I graduated, I started working as head of marketing at a large halal company in the UK working directly with the giant Tesco supermarket. I loved my job, it was a very fun, creative, and super busy environment.
MuslimTravelGirl started as a hobby for me when friends asked me to share my tips and someone suggested I start a blog. Until then it was just by word of mouth to help friends, but once I created the blog it kind of exploded and I am super happy and proud of it.
Now MuslimTravelGirl is my full time job and we are currently expanding the team which comes with another set of challenges and excitement.
Many people say blogging is easy but making it a full time job is challenging and exciting. You learn new things every day and you just never know enough. It tests you on so many levels. I love it.
4. I know it must be like asking you to pick your favourite child, but where has been your most favourite place to travel to? Why?
OMG, Can I say – the whole world?!
I think there is no one place that is my favourite but there is one place I call home and I love the most because it offers so much diverse beauty. I still haven’t explored the whole country but Greece has thousands of islands, amazing history, food and travel options so it must be my number one.
Of course I am biased, but I am sure the millions of tourists prove me right every year. After all, we have Santorini, Navagio beach and the Acropolis 😉
5. Do you enjoy being on a plane? What is your favourite / least favourite part of it?
Oh, this is an excellent question. I do enjoy my time on planes especially if it’s in business class which is way more enjoyable than economy. Of course this doesn’t happen as often as I would like but still I think picking an airline you like travelling with is important whether it’s business or economy.
Upon departure I love the excitement I feel about visiting a new place and upon return I love being back home in my own bed, because let’s be honest – no matter where, your own bed feels so much better.
During the flight I just try to watch movies or do some work (usually never happens) as I find it very hard to sleep on a plane. Most of the time I just wait for the time to pass by so I can arrive.
6. When you’re not travelling, taking brilliant photos, filming vlogs, and etc – what fills up the rest of your time?
Thinking about the above! Honestly, I love sitting on the sofa and casually testing routes and combining options for my audience in order to save money. 🙂
When it comes to switching off, I’m mostly enjoying time with my husband and family. As I live far away from them this usually involves travelling to see them, but really my life is boring. Sometimes people think my life is super exciting but honestly if I am chilling I’m most likely just binge watching TV shows.
7. Do you have anything in the pipeline that you’re excited about and would like to share with our readers?
Oh, so many things. We just moved to Doha so I am starting a weekly vlog on exploring Doha and seeing it through my eyes. I am super excited to be living here and hopefully explore more of this part of the world. My bucket list is growing fast.
I am also launching my Umrah course at the end of January, it has been great success so I am opening it again for students because I believe everyone deserves to perform an Umrah without breaking the bank. And of course a few more “secret projects” 😉
8. Anything else you’d like to share?
Yes! Go check out MuslimTravelGirl, let us know what you like, what you would like to see and of course share your travel stories with us.
I love when people email us asking for advice but also share where they have been and how they have done it. It can be lonely working online so it’s a great way to show some love 🙂