One of my favorite questions of all time. I get asked this a lot! I do not take a professional photographer with me. I use a Leica Camera and my iPhone. I use a tripod and I ask random strangers during my travels. When my husband flies with me, he takes my pictures. When I travel on a big project and a videographer is needed then we fly him/her with us. All photos are taken by me unless stated otherwise. My best travel accessories is my tripod and the remote control that comes with it. I’ve always been in love with photography and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Are you married? If so, how does your husband support you?
I’m happily married for 7 years! My husband supports me in every decision I do in growing my business and empire. He has always known me as a traveler since the day we met and always push me to follow my dreams.
Do you have a team?
Yes, I have a business partner , he knows me well enough. We are a team of 4 so far and always on the hunt for loyal, organized and fun people to have on our team!
How many languages do you speak?
Is everything you receive free?
There is no such thing as a free trip. My business trips are covered by my company. Which is Travel Junkie Diary HQ. Press trips are covered by clients with back to back meetings and schedules. My work is not done yet after that though. Once I am back in the office, I work with the team for our deliverables deadlines and make sure they are met on time. There are so many things you do not see behind the scenes. You can have a look here at an article I wrote a while ago on the truth in being a travel writer.
How did you get into traveling as a career?
I started traveling at a young age, working in my previous job in events and travel helped me grow my career in hospitality and eventually after 14 years of corporate travel, I launched Travel Junkie Diary and made the bigger part of my dream come true.
How do you decide where to go to next, where to go next and what unique must see's and where to stay?
We work on a yearly calender. Our dates are set and location are set way in advance for the whole year. However, there are always last minute changes and additional trips etc. That’s the beauty of it sometimes! I decide on where to go after a lot of research and forecasting the upcoming destination. Then,most of the other times, I follow my heart.
Are you a travel agency?
We do not provide hotel bookings or flight itinerary. We do organize #TravelwithTJD , the first of its kind social media digital campaign where we invite 8 inspiring individuals followers from across the world to travel with TJD along with our partners from the hospitality industry. This digital campaign is aimed at creating an experience of a lifetime, an adventure and a unique opportunity, one that we at TJD work very hard to ensure is memorable and successful. You can find out more about it here and how to be part of our next one!
Where is your favorite place in the world?
Such a difficult question and no answer to this. I can however tell you my special memories. My very first is London. Where everything started. My love affair with travel, my career, my home. London was for a long time a place I would run to when all falls apart.
Vietnam and Sri Lanka. I have worked on charity programs there and it holds a very special place in my heart.
Amsterdam was the first city I went to after London and fell in love with it instantly. It was also the first time I met Roger Sanchez.
South Tyrol and Hallsatt is my magic land. I couldn’t believe such a place existed.
Jamaica in 2009 was my first carribean experience that lasted a month and a half instead of just 2 weeks!
Chiang Rai at the Golden Triangle was my life changing journey. I am a huge South East Asia fan too! It has so much to offer.
Cuba is my paradise.
Scandinavia is a place where when words fails, mother nature speaks. A land of unicorns and waterfalls.
Bali will always be a place I turn to heal and explore more.
Latin America most especially Cuba – I believe in my past life I was cuban.
Do you ever get bored of traveling?
I can’t say I get bored of what I do. I make sure I am not doing (whatever it is) too long so I don’t get trapped into a routine. I do get tired and suffer from exhaustion though. Mental exhaustion. Maintaining a business, keeping up with the family and at the same time finding solace and time for myself. At times, I struggle but I manage and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Do you ever get exhausted?
You bet I do! Behind the scenes, I break down. I get vulnerable. I have my downs. Then I write. I write best during those times. Then I give myself more time and find my own way back up again. I’m stubborn that way. Loving my job helps a lot.
Who were you before Travel Junkie Diary?
I was raised in Dubai for almost 30 years. At first, I wanted to be a lawyer. Then a pilot. Then slowly, I started learning more about being an interpreter. So it always revolved around languages and people. I studied marketing and hotel management and found a career that I always wanted to do, which revolved around travel, hotels and events. I had a great manager that helped me grow in my career, brought out the best in me and taught me everything I needed to know. Denise always believed I could do great things when I put my mind to it. My first business travel was in Morocco. It was intense! Setting up for a huge event for 1 week with no sleep. I broke down. I was very young but determined. I had to learn technical words and learn how to manage 800 delegates from across the world all at once. At the time, I had no idea! Ever since, my job revolved around organizing events and working closely with hotels across the globe for many, many years. I was working since I was 18 years old. It was inevitable, Travel Junkie Diary was always part of me.
What inspires you?
Before taking off. The last person I speak to is so important to me, always has been. People that come into my life for a reason. It’s both a curse and a blessing to feel so much and I am about as deep as it gets. People’s way of seeing their life, the way they speak to me. Special people inspire me. Before take off and when landing is the most important moment time for those you really care about, those who are truly special in your life, to let them know, you are safe and happy.
Have you taken any writing classes?
Not really.I need to hire an editor ASAP. My colleague and friend of mine told me to download gramarly once and I can guarantee I still type too fast! In 10th Grade, I sat next to a beautiful girl called Samiramees, I was going through a rough time, my first love at the time had passed away, the only peace I found was writing. Sam and I exchanged notes in class on how we felt about the things we were going through. I still have those letters. She’s still an excellent talented writer. I think she opened up doors for me without her knowing. I kind of owe it to her now that I think about it. Ever since, I only knew how to express my feelings through writing more than talking my way through it.
Do you have a dog?
Hahah! No, I did for many years. Despite what my husband says, my chiwawa was cute.
Do you know how to play an instrument?
I played the piano for the longest time in high school. Music never gave up on me when I needed to heal. I have a weakness for those who play the guitar though. I’ve always tried learning but never had enough time to stick to it.
How long have you practiced yoga?
Since 2009. I started with Bikram Yoga daily for 90 minutes and did the 30 day challenge every 6 months even during pregnancy, injured my knee one time and educated myself even more on Yoga and turned to Ashtanga for my practice. Yoga is a practice for me between just me and my mind. I’ve also taken the teacher’s training course in Pilates in 2012 so I can teach pilates at the time but preferred training.
Do you have a favorite hotel brand?
I wouldn’t say I have a favorite hotel or brand. A property that has charming hidden stories, special hidden corners, interesting details and most importantly a hotel that has a soul with a great team, those are my favorites. Those who stand out on how they treat their guests, those are the ones I end up sharing through Travel Junkie Diary and my social media stories.
You are the only travel platform in the region, how did you come up with Travel Junkie Diary?
3 years ago, I wanted to create something new. Blogs where becoming a huge hit with social media and everyone either owned a fashion or food blog, both in which I do not know how to write about or express. Travel has been part of my anatomy and my repertoire since I was 16 and throughout my corporate years, so it was the only thing I can write about. So I decided to start off as a blog on diaries of other travelers and journeys. Today its the number 1 award winning travel blog in the region and I still cannot believe it!
What brand of suitcases do you carry?
RIMOWA, my heroes.
How many languages does your daughter speak?
Officially 3. But she is slowly learning Spanish and picks up a lot of other languages when we travel. I aim by the time she’s 6 for her to learn 5. Lets see how that goes 🙂
Do you watch football? Favorite Team?
That’s a funny one I had to include it. I occasionally still watch football. In the past, I used to watch religiously with my husband, he’s an Arsenal fan, but lately, for a long time actually, unfortunately, Arsenal has just not…been lucky. Let’s just leave it at that. So I have removed myself slowly ever since Fabregas left and today, I only support in silence.
How often do you travel?
It depends, 3 times a month at least. Sometimes, when I have a full month, the team takes over.
How difficult is it to travel with children?
I say practice makes perfect. I wrote an article about it you can read it here. I’m not saying it’s easy, but If you follow few solid rules and stick to them, you should be ok.
What annoys you the most during travel?
Flight etiquettes – There are certain things on flights you shouldn’t do! It does not come in a manual but I call them flight etiquettes that every single traveler should adopt. For example, being kind to flight attendants and those doing their job.
Animal cruelty for tourism purposes – These animals do not have to suffer for your pictures. Some of you may not know this, I am guilty of riding an elephant in Thailand in 2006, little did I know! These animals go through harsh treatment to be tamed and even drugged to allow you to ride them. Say NO to circus acts, NO to animal cruelty. Support orphanages not circuses.
how can we travel with TJD?
Send an email to [email protected] with all your details, where you come from, where you are based and we will get in touch with you!
You have the bohemian look. Where do you get your clothes from?
Thank you! Different places online and most of the time the same places. Bali is one of the greatest places to shop! Beach Gold Bali is one of my favorites, so is Gypsy River and Free People. My hats are from different places I travel from. I am a hat collector! My recent ones where from Lack of Colours.
Tea or coffee?
Tea with no sugar 🙂 I don’t drink coffee 🙂 Never have. I love tea so much that I had my first university writing project revolve on the history of tea! (Crazy, I know)
What diets do you follow?
I eat clean food, always have. Nothing fried, never fried actually. I get sick if it’s fried. Unless it’s french fries. I’m a hommos addict. I don’t eat dairy products. Stopped red meat for 1 year and a half now, although I was a HUGE burger fan! Never eat on planes, I get my own food. I’m allergic to corn and yeast and LOVE sorbets!
Who do you suggest are great Instagram accounts to follow for adventure?
Urban Peak by Nizar Fakhoury and Adventurati by Fadi Hachicho are my oldest friends. We’ve been through a lot together! At some point, they both played a huge role inspiring me to keep growing. They bring out the adventure in me! From climbing Adam’s peak to Kilimanjaro and climbing mountains to support the climb for cancer foundation that Nizar runs, to wall climbing every monday night. These two are definitely and inspiration to travel and in achieving their dreams.
The Gold List – I would be a liar if I did not add this. My wonderful partner created this account in junction with TJD and he has done such a wonderful job growing it inspiring people to travel.
What year where you born in?
I was born October 3rd 1980 🙂 I am a true Libran and some of my favorite people are Leos, Taurus and Scorpios.