After deciding to leave the world of banking, Omniya Fareed took a step not usually taken by Egyptian women and started exploring the globe as a travel blogger. From the UAE, a few days before starting a 90-day trip around Europe, Omniya told us her story hoping to convince any Egyptian women hesitant of traveling that they can and should try it!
Omniya sees the hesitance in Egyptian women towards traveling as something based in society, “Egyptians, particularly women, don’t travel very much, mainly because of the restrictions placed on them by their parents and the culture.” Because it is so rare for Egyptian women to travel, Omniya has faced some resistance to her lifestyle, “people don’t really understand it, they just think, oh you are just having fun. Many people don’t even consider freelancing a real job. I also get questions like, ‘how are you going to get married?’ ‘what will you do when you turn 30?’ But people meet on planes and get married, you never know what is going to happen.”
“Women should be able to focus on priorities other than marriage and childbirth.”
In order to combat these views, Omniya suggests that we need to promote the idea that women should be able to focus on priorities other than marriage and childbirth!
“Learning and experiencing other peoples’ cultures,” according to Omniya, is what makes traveling so essential for people to try. “For example in Japan, people are so disciplined and respectful. You see these good traits and can learn from them yourself. Traveling also opens up other experiences like food, nature, sights and art.” Self-development seems to be key for Omniya, “I found that traveling gave me the courage to speak to new people, and it taught me that I can fully depend on myself.”
But for many of us, the prospect of traveling alone as a woman can make us feel anxious. With all of her many experiences, Omniya gives us advice and reassurance.
“Of course on my first trip, I was a bit nervous. But I haven’t really felt unsafe as a woman. Obviously something bad could always happen, but I am sure to take the sensible safety precautions.”
Her advice is to always know where you are going– whilst a little bit of wandering is okay, don’t go overboard. Not to stay out too late, especially by yourself. Always have the name and number of the hostel address. Be open to meeting new people, but don’t go with a person you just met back to their house. And when meeting new people, be careful about telling them where you stay.
In general though Omniya tells us, “if you just take the same precautions that you would take in Cairo, you should be fine. Don’t worry too much and just focus on having fun.” Racism, visa and language issues are some of the things Egyptians associate with traveling, but like Seif Tamer, Omniya tells us not to worry. She says that she has only experienced racism in Russia, but advises us to not let any negative experiences put us off future travel; it certainly hasn’t in her case! Although her friends warned her about racism in countries such as Hungary, Omniya found Hungary to be one of the most welcoming countries that she has visited. Showing that sometimes our fears might be over-exaggerated! For Omniya, visas have not really been an issue, just a few 15-minute waits here and there. Which, at the time might be a bit embarrassing if you are delaying a group, but in the end make a good story. On language barriers, Omniya says that she hasn’t really felt held back at all. So don’t let any of these worries stop you from embarking on your travels!
Any Egyptian women looking to travel for the first time but not sure where to begin, Omniya suggests Europe because it is safe and easy. For those lucky enough to travel without a budget Japan is the perfect destination for a safe and exciting experience. For those with more restrictive parents, Omniya advises, “try to convince your parents that traveling is okay by first going with a tour group. If they see that you are fine and responsible, then they might change their mind.”
So there you have it, if this amazing Egyptian woman can travel to dozens of countries, see the glorious sights and experience the world’s beauty, what’s stopping you?