10 Most Common Questions & Answers on Traveling Alone to Saudi Arabia

One of my favorite things about traveling is the opportunity to experience life through my own personal experience, rather than living through the media and the biased opinions of others.

Saudi Arabia has always been one of those taboo places that, until now, has been impossible to visit for tourism purposes.

However, with the new revolutionary changes that have taken place in 2019, Saudi Arabia has now opened their doors, allowing for people to travel and discover their country and culture from all across the globe.

I was one of the very first travelers to visit KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) on the new tourist visa.

Just a side note: my trip was self organized and 100% paid on my own. No one paid me to give an opinion on Saudi Arabia. 

During my stay I was able to explore the country alone for over three weeks and have an experience that was unlike any other that I have had across over 108 countries across the world.

Saudi Arabia has not had the best reputation in the world over the years and many travelers claim that they would never feel safe traveling there.

When I mentioned to the public that I was going to travel in Saudi, I received hateful messages and warnings that I would not come out alive.

Traveling through Saudi Arabia in person is completely opposite than what you see or hear about in the media.

It may be a surprise to you, but I actually I felt safe.

VERY safe….

Okay, that is everything except for the drivers, but that is something that I will discuss later.

Not only did I feel safe, but I truly met some of the kindest and most caring people that I have ever met.

In this article I wanted to talk about and answer the 10 most common questions I received during my solo trip in Saudi Arabia. 

1. Do you have to fully cover yourself up or wear the typical black abaya?

The rules in Saudi Arabia have drastically changed, and one of these rules is not obligating women to wear the black abaya.

It is mandatory that you abide by a very conservative dress code:  covering your shoulders, chest, legs, etc. 

Your clothes should not be transparent or have any inappropriate words or pictures on them.

It is not necessary for tourists to wear a headscarf, unless they are visiting a mosque or a holy place.

I traveled throughout the country with my hair showing. The most important thing here is not about covering your hair, it’s about covering your body.

If you dress appropriately and conservatively, people will respect you and most likely you will have no problem.

My local Saudi host does not cover her head unless she goes into a formal meeting or mosque. This is very common for Saudi women, especially those who have lived or traveled abroad.

It is not mandatory now for local Saudi women to dress with the black abaya like they used to either. Women are free to wear colorful and stylish clothes, but always conservative.

2. Can women travel alone and freely in the country?

Absolutely!

You can travel and drive alone as a tourist and a local. No one gave me a hard time at all as a solo traveler in any part of the country. I met many local girls that travel throughout Saudi and internationally on their own.

After 21 years old women are free to do whatever they want without the approval of their family.

Tourists are free to visit most places, but it is prohibited to travel to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. This is only open to Muslims.

People have been known to sneak in, but I highly discourage this.

3. How can I get around Saudi Arabia?

The bus system is not excellent and it’s quite difficult and time consuming to get around the country.

For example, if you want to travel by land from Riyadh to Jeddah, you will need to go to a bus station that is over an hour away from Riyadh (way more with traffic)!

The worst part is that there is no public transportation that can take you there, so you must have a car or taxi. It is not always easy to find a person with a car that will go one hour there to drop you off and one hour back home again.

There is the option for UBER and Careem, but the distances are very far in the cities, so the price will be quite expensive, especially to the bus station.

There is a train from Riyadh to Dammam, but it’s outside of the city as well, but not as far. This is a good option if going east, but there are no trains to Jeddah.

Without a doubt, the best way to get around is by car.

And yes, local and foreign women can drive!

Riding through Dammam, Saudi Arabia in a Classic Car

If you are not a good or confident driver, it is best to be a passenger. Saudi drivers are some of the worst drivers I have ever seen (if you ask any Saudi person they will most likely agree to this statement).

You truly need to have confidence in order to rent a car here, because it’s a huge risk.

I saw multiple hit and run accidents and totaled cars on the highway. That is not to scare you, but just to be honest.

If you decide to rent a car, the prices will range around $25-$40 per day and a maximum mileage of 300km.

If you are on a time crunch or want the most convenient way to get around, flying is the best option.

The airport in Riyadh and Jeddah are centrally located and will take you anywhere in the country for a low price.

Most airlines will allow you 7 kg of weight with no extra cost. The flight times are short and the prices are excellent. You can fly anywhere between $25-$100 most days of the week.

Thursday and Friday tend to have the highest prices due to it being weekend.

I try to fly as little as possible while traveling, but in Saudi Arabia it is nearly impossible going for long distances without an airplane.

For example, to go from Dammam (in East Saudi) to Jeddah (in the west), it takes 23 hours by bus (only 2 hours by plane)! The price is not much different between flying and the bus, plus the bus station is outside the city and you will need a taxi to get there (it might cost your more for the taxi than the flight).

Keep in mind that a new metro is currently being built in Riyadh and it should be finished in the next couple of years. This will be one of the best thing that will ever happen to the city and it will take more cars off the roads.

4. I am a solo traveler, what is the best way to meet people there?

Without a doubt, Couch Surfing was my favorite way to meet people in Saudi Arabia.

For those of you that are wondering, Couchsurfing is not just for staying with people in their home.

The cell phone app has a feature called “hangouts” where you can find people within your area that are available to hang out in the time you are interested. You can meet up to have dinner, coffee, visit the mall, a short trip and share an experience together.

Hangouts is very quick, easy, convenient and I use it ALL of the time.

The Couchsurfing community is huge in Saudi Arabia and full of kind people. I met some girls, but I have to admit that the majority are men.

I had absolutely no problem with any disrespectful men during my stay. Always read your references and choose wisely and you should have no problem.

5. Is it safe to visit Saudi Arabia?

The news will tell you NO, but the reality is YES.

Like anywhere in the world, there are dangers, so I am NOT saying this is a country that is 100% safe. However, from my experience I never ran into any problems while being there and traveling alone.

The most unsafe part of the country is on the highway. They are known to have many underage kids driving cars or people without a proper license and they can be reckless (this is becoming more controlled).

Just like any place, it’s not always the safest to be outside alone at night by yourself.

As a solo traveler, you will meet people that might stop you, ask questions, and want to hear your story, but I only found very curious and interested people throughout my stay.

6. Are men and women allowed to get hotel rooms without being married?

Yes, you can!

There are no problems for tourists or local people to travel within the country and stay with each other in the same hotel room.

All you need to do is provide your documentation and you can stay together.

Keep in mind that this change is very new and in the more conservative areas you may have someone that tries to give you a hard time, but stand your ground and know that the new rule states that you can share a room.

There are people that are still hesitant and resistant to the change happening in the country, so just be patient with people if they question you or are hesitant to give you a room.

Keep in mind that the rules are still in place for separating men and women in some public places, such as restaurants and sporting events. If you are traveling with the opposite sex there are family sections that you will be able to sit in with separate entrances from the male public.

7. Is alcohol allowed in the country?

Alcohol is prohibited in Saudi Arabia. It is very important that you do not try bringing in alcohol or drugs into the country.

Even if you go to a 5 star hotel, they will not serve you alcohol.

It is possible to get alcohol in more private places, especially being a foreigner.

My suggestion is to give alcohol a break during your trip and don’t go searching for it. And SERIOUSLY don’t mess around with drugs in Saudi. They take this very seriously!

8. Do places really close 5x/day for prayer.

Yes, mostly everything closes in the city (except airports, hospitals etc) 5 times a day during prayer time, lasting about 25-45 minutes each time.

During this time it is important to respect the norms of the culture, such as turning off your music in your car or home and not making loud noise.

This is their time of prayer and we must show our respect.

9. How can I get a visa to travel to Saudi and how long does it last?

I wrote an article on the process of getting a visa. You can click here to read more.

The multiple entry visa costs around $125 and is valid for one year. You can stay in Saudi Arabia for 90 days during the one-year time frame, but if you want to stay longer, you will need a different type of visa.

The visa process takes about 20 minutes to fill out and 1-5 days to receive it by email.

10. Is it expensive to travel inside the country?

Saudi Arabia is not the cheapest country. The official currency is the Saudi Rial, but it’s very easy to pay with a card in most places, especially inside the major cities.

Hotels room can range from $30+

I didn’t see many options that were lower than that price anywhere. For budget travelers, keep in mind that there are no hostels, but Airbnb is available in many places.

If you plan on getting around by Uber, instead of renting a car, this will be one of your highest costs. Just a short taxi ride can cost you $10 and this only goes up in the night time.

Food: eating out in restaurants each day can get expensive. A normal meal will cost you anywhere from $10+ in a mid range restaurant. There are cheaper places, typically ran by Indians, where the price is a bit lower. If you are on a budget, the cheapest way to spend money is to share a local meal at home with other people.

Flights: Skyscanner is the best website in my opinion for finding good prices on flights.

The two budget airlines that I used in Saudi are: Flynas and Flyadeal

Coffee Shops: Saudi people love their coffee shops. A regular medium size ice coffee will cost you around $4.

That is probably one of the lowest priced items on the menu. The more specialized coffee will be almost double the price.

On most days I got invited to coffee shops up to 3-5 times a day.

That would’ve been over $ 400 during my whole trip if I would’ve accepted all of those invitations!

 

 

Don’t forget to check out:

EVERYTHING YOU SHOULD KNOW FOR OBTAINING THE NEW SAUDI ARABIA EVISA

MOST COMMON TRAVEL MISTAKES: PART 3

SUAN MOKKH: 10 DAY SILENT & MEDITATION RETREAT IN THAILAND

 

 

 

Do you have any questions about Saudi Arabia That I did not mention in this article?

Connect with me on Instagram and asked me anything that you are curious about!

Instagram: 1nomadicdreamer

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Everything you Should know for Obtaining the New Saudi Arabia eVISA

Over the last couple of years, rumors have spread across the media talking about Saudi Arabia opening their doors for travelers to freely visit their country for tourism. Multiple media sources have written about specific dates indicating when this change would be made, but in the end, the doors still remained closed.

However, earlier in August 2019, more and more new sources started to write and speak out about a revolutionary change that would take place in Saudi Arabia in September 2019.

This captured my attention, so I decided to follow the news regarding this topic on a weekly basis.

In September, more articles started confirming a set date of a new eVISA that would shortly become available.

This time, it was more than just a rumor!

On September 27th, there was an official confirmation that stated that many nationalities from all across the world would be able to visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on a new, easy to obtain EVISA.

Photo: Dammam, Saudi Arabia

Photo: Dammam, Saudi Arabia

 

As soon as this news was released, I instantly bought the new EVISA and started planning my solo trip there.

I can tell you from first-hand experience that getting a visa and traveling there is easier than ever!

In this article I wanted to give you a bit of information and answer some questions that people have asked me every day through social media on obtaining a visa for Saudi Arabia.

Who is elegible for the new EVISA?

  • USA
  • All European counties
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Canada
  • Asía (Japan, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan)
  • South Africa

Where do I obtain the eVisa?

The whole entire visa process is done 100% online.

There is no physical place that you will need to go and it is NOT necessary to send your passport or documentation to any place.

There are many different websites that you can apply, but the one that I chose and trust is:

visa.visitsaudi.com

What documentation do I need to present?

You will need to fully complete your application and submit a photo.

It is VERY important that your passport will not expire with 6 months of applying for the visa. You will also need a full page or two for the entry and exit stamp.

Necessary information:  profession, city/country of birth, current address, passport information/expiration date, purpose of visit.

Towards the end of the application it will ask you for your address in Saudi Arabia. It will give you the option for a “residential or relative” or a “commercial accommodation.”

I just put the number and name of a friend in Saudi Arabia, but you can just put a hotel with a contact number. If you plan to travel around a lot within the country, just put the name/number of the first hotel that you are planning to stay in. This name and number does not appear anywhere on the visa and you will not be required to stay at this place during your whole stay.

How long does the visa process take?

The application took me less than 20 minutes to fill out and I received my visa within 24 hours by email.  However, other people have told me that it has taken up to five days to process everything.

The process was SUPER easy. As soon as you receive it by email, just download it (along with your required Saudi health insurance) and take it with you.

Can I use the visa at both land/air borders?

The eVISA is eligible for both land and air crossings. I entered into Saudi Arabia from Dubai and also took a trip to Bahrain by land. Entering and exiting the country was very simple.

The immigration officers will stamp your passport and then you are free to enter and exit the country as you wish.

You do not need to travel with any extra passport photos. You will be required to give your finger prints, take a picture and that is it!

There are no additional costs at the border.

Is this visa multiple entry?

Yes, the visa is valid 1 year and you can enter and exit all you want.

However, you have to be very careful that you do not exceed more than 90 days in one year without an additional visa.

Cost of Visa and Mandatory Insurance

Everything for my visa cost me around US$125, payable by credit card.

When you are getting ready to check out on the visa website, it will take you to a page giving you options for medical insurance. It is required that you have medical insurance during your stay.

I chose the Arabian Shield Insurance, which cost me 35 USD.

On the website you can download a printable version of your policy, including details of your full coverage. Take this with you just in case of emergencies.

Important Reminder

You must show a yellow fever vaccine if you are traveling from high risk countries. There are multiple websites that can show you which countries are considered “high risk.”

 

 

Honestly, it is quite incredible to look back and see how easy this process was! Without a doubt, it was one of the easiest countries to get an online visa that I have ever been to!

My solo trip to Saudi Arabia was absolutely fantastic and I felt VERY safe traveling there. I will share many of my experiences in the weeks to come, so stay tuned!

 

Don’t forget to also check out:

OVERLAND TRAVEL TO LIBERIA, AFRICA: A COUNTRY OF LONG STANDING RESILIENCE

THE ONE THING THAT YOU SHOULD NEVER TRAVEL WITHOUT

SUAN MOKKH: 10 DAY SILENT & MEDITATION RETREAT IN THAILAND

 

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What Travel Electronics & Accessories Do I Use?

I would need an extra large suitcase or two in order to carry all of the camera gear and equipment that I own with me in my travels around the world: cameras, lens, tripods, stabilizers, drone, computer, tablet, iPhones, portable wifi, chargers etc.

However, as a long term, active traveler, I realize how important it is to travel light and keep comfort as a main priority. The majority of my travel is done overland and I tend to walk a minimum average of 6-10 miles a day. Carrying a heavy load of electronics, as well as clothes, can be straining on the body over time, especially given how active I am.

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I have spent countless hours searching online for light weight products, that would allow me to travel comfortably, while maintaining excellent quality, as I venture to every country on Earth.

In this article I wanted to give you an overview of some of the electronics that I love and trust. I have personally used each of these products and everything I write is based on my own personal opinion and experience.

 

iPHONE X.

I have used many different models and brands of phones over the years, but my favorite, and the one that is I use on a daily basis, is the iPhone X (or the newest model of iPhone). However, depending on the part of the world that I am traveling to, I might change my phone to a more basic, less valuable one.

For example, when I traveled to Africa, where the iPhone is more sought after, I carried the more common day to day Samsung phone.

I have learned from personal experience that it is not wise to take a new iPhone to many destinations around the world. I was once robbed at gunpoint in the daylight hours by two big men dressed in all black who caught eye of my iPhone and then robbed me of everything (I will save the details that story for another article).

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The iPhone has excellent quality and I enjoy using it much more than any other brand of phone that I have used in the past.  I use my phone with my stabilizer and as a remote to fly my drone. I love how everything is copied directly to the cloud, which is easy and secure.

Just a side note: I do strictly depend and trust the iCloud, although it has never failed me. I copy all of my videos and images to Google Drive on a weekly basis and that ensures that no matter what happens, I will always have my content saved in a safe spot.

Sometimes there are people who tell me that it is a luxury to own the newest model of iPhone and that they would never spend so much money on that. For me personally, my iPhone is main work tool (aside from my laptop) that I use for mostly everything: taking photos, videos, publishing on social media, audio recordings for my weekly radio program, using my drone, and so much more.

When I take time to see how much I actually use my phone on a daily basis as a digital nomad, it would seem almost ridiculous to not invest in a good quality phone.

Think about it this way:  if you divide the price of the phone between the years in which plan to use it, the prices comes down to less than $ 2 a day if you do the math, which is a great investment.

Surely many people who think they cannot afford it spend more on coffee or tobacco each day…

 

 

 DJI OSMO STABILIZER 

 

This device is excellent for recording yourself in action, as long as the camera that the stabilizer is holding has good quality (another reason why I love the iPhone).  My stabilizer allows me to record steadily while I walk or run, something that I cannot achieve while holding the phone and walking.

It also has many excellent functions. For example, I can place the stabilizer on a tripod, select my image and it will automatically follow me. This setting is perfect for a solo traveler, like myself, who does not have the comfort of having another person there there to take my pictures and videos. In this case, all you have to do is set up the stabilizer and it’s like you have someone steadily recording you.

I am also a HUGE fan of the time lapse setting.  Time lapse basically compresses real time actions over a period of time. The final result is a long experience that is sped up in fast motion.

As a traveler, one might use this setting to show the process of packing their suitcase. A full video of this might be boring to watch, but if you put the time lapse on, you will see the whole process in a short time frame.

Price: starts around $150

 

Cons: The case of my stabilizer takes up quite a bit of space in my backpack. The item is very delicate and it should not be carried loosely without the case. However, there are different models that are much smaller than mine, so that will be a future item I will buy.

There are also stabilizers for professional cameras as well, but they are quite heavy. However, this is something I intend to buy as well for recording videos for short trips, because it’s amazing!

SONY A5100

Without a doubt, this is one of the best cameras that I’ve had. On long trips, this is my ideal camera because it’s light, takes up little space and is easy to carry.

It also has a fully collapsible screen, which makes my life much easier when it comes time to record myself. As of now, I do not have anyone traveling with me, so the flip screen allows me to see myself directly and record.

I checked out many similar cameras, but none of them had the flip screen camera like this one. The model superior to this one, the 6500, has a higher price and similar features, but the screen does not flip, when caused me to not to make that purchase.

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The price of this camera is quite low, especially given the quality of photos that you get with this. The price is around $400, which in my opinion is a steal!

I also love the fact that it has interchangeable lenses, which allows me to change, depending on what I am taking a picture of in that moment.

Cons: there is no jack input for microphones, so I use the external recorder for videos.

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SAMSUNG Nx1

I love the quality and everything related to the Samsung Nx1. However, due to the size and weight of this camera, I only tend to use it on short trip. What I love about the Samsung Nx1 is the 4k video recording. The quality is incredible, but sadly Samsung has stopped manufacturing these cameras.

 

 

 

GOPRO HERO 5

The GoPro is perfect to use while doing extreme sports and water activities. I use it when I go snowboarding, bungee jumping, canyoning, rafting, etc. The camera is very durable and is made to withstand sports or situations in which you might possibly drop the camera.

I am an advanced scuba diver and with my GoPro I can record quality videos underwater.  For deep dives, I use a special protective case that works up until 60m (196ft). There are many underwater cameras on the market, but this is hands down the most popular one among travelers.

The price is only around $300, which makes it even more appealing.

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This is the protective case that I use while scuba diving, which has always worked perfectly for me:

Cons: The quality of videos are great, but I am not a big fan of how the photos turn out.

 

DRONE DJI MAVIC AIR

The DJI Mavic Air has fantastic qualities and features that make for killer video!  Without a doubt, the best part about this drone is the size. Unlike many other drones on the market, the propellers on the Mavic Air easily fold up, fitting easily into a small case, which takes up very little space.

I discover something new every time that I use my drone. Many people tend to overlook all of the built in functions that it actually has. There are many drones on the market, but this one has excellent quality, at a decent price (between $500-800, depending on the extras you get).

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DRONE PHOTO EN SAPA, VIETNAM

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It has very practical functions, such as a mode in which it will actually follow you while while you are in motion, a 360 degree movement, boomerang etc.

I highly recommend this drone!

MICROPHONE

When doing professional videos, I like to use external microphones to obtain better audio quality. The brand RODE has excellent quality, but it takes up lots of space.

The small microphone is very practical for interviews or outdoor recordings. It is small enough that I can fit it inside of my purse and take it anywhere. Of course, the quality is not as good as the big one, but it will still be better than the quality I get recording it directly from the phone or camera, especially if I am in a place with lots of wind or noise.

 

EXTERNAL RECORDER

The external recorder allows you to connect the microphone and record high quality audio. It also has a high quality external microphone which allows you to make independent recordings.

When used for for recording professional audio, it requires synchronizing the audio with the video in postproduction, because they are recorded separately.

Fun fact: Do you know what the famous clapperboard that you see in movies is used for?

The clapperboard is used to synchronize the audio with the video. Once the sound is made it gives a reference of a visual and sound and then you can join the two parts together when you make the assembly.

The recorder is small and portable, so it is very practical for interviews and collecting my ideas and thoughts

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 SPIVA STICK

The Spiva Stick works with the GoPro camera. The stick allows you to change the GoPro’s orientation at 180 °.

With a normal selfie stick you have to constantly turn the camera around with your hand to get a selfie and then turn it again to record in front of you. However, with the Spiva stick the process it much easier because there is a red button that you push and it will do all of this for you.

Cons: It is not foldable and takes up a lot of space for travel. So I don’t take it on long trips, just for sports activities near home.

 

EXTRA BATTERIES

It is very important to have extra batteries for everything (drone, cameras, external chargers for the phone, etc). Keep in mind that there are times when I spend several days without being able to charge, such as when I camp in the desert or if I am in a town without electricity.

There is nothing more frustrating for me than to be in a neat place around the world and not have my batteries charged to capture the moment.

 

TRIPODE

I am always on a search to find a small, light and durable tripode. I love the one that I have, although it still is one of the heaviest items that I have in my bag. Before many of my trips I doubt as to whether or not I should take it, but every time that I decide to leave it at home, I regret it. Having a tripode gives me a full sense of freedom, knowing that no matter where I am, I can get the photos I am desiring to get on my own.

Without a tripode I am constantly trying to find a rock or platform to place my camera on or asking another person to take my photo. I have learned over the years that this does NOT work for me, and after people take my picture, I have to retake it again, because most ordinary people cannot take pictures the way that I like.

 

Resultado de imagen de Andoer Q666The best part about my tripode is that I can set it up, walk away and use my phone as a remote. With just a click, I can snap a photo or start recording. It is as if I had a person traveling with me at all times!

 

MACBOOK AIR

.My Macbook is my prize possession. It is light weight (only 2 pounds) and has a 13 inch screen. I use this EVERYDAY of my life for work and creating content. I refuse to use any other brand besides Macbook, just because I have had nothing but excellent experiences with them. The operating system is very stable and trustworthy and I have never even had a virus, like I had with all of my other computers.

The battery life is excellent on my laptop. I honestly can say that I have never had a better battery life than with my Macbook Air. This is a major plus, especially for long trips.

 

IPAD

The best part about the IPAD is the size. If I ever go on a trip without my computer, I will take this instead.  I have a case with a bluetooth keyboard, which allows me a similar feel to that of my laptop. The battery has a long life, which is great for long bus trips. Nowadays, I tend to use this just for reading or watching movies on long trips.

If you plan to use the IPAD as a computer, keep in mind that you will need to choose one that has enough memory space. The basic 16 or 32 gb IPAD will run out of space quickly. I highly suggest spending a bit more money and getting that extra space.

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What are the most important electronics that you take when you travel?

Connect with me on Instagram: 1NOMADICDREAMER and share your answer! 

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Exploring the Island of Mallorca, Spain

Mallorca is the largest Spanish island, located to the east of the peninsula in the Mediterranean Sea. It is known internationally for its beautiful landscapes, beaches and nightlife.

When most people think about this island, they tend to think of only a beach destination, but after visiting there several times I discovered that it has so much more to offer than just beautiful beaches!

Mallorca is rich in history, with delicious cuisine and many incredible places to explore: mountains, traditional villages, beaches etc.

It is perfect for a family vacation, a couples getaway or even for those who travel alone, like myself.

It is also an ideal location for professionals or companies that are looking to organize or attend activities and events. There is always something happening on Mallorca island!

During this last year, I have had the opportunity to travel to Mallorca, combining both work and pleasure.

During my first visit, I was invited to attend the annual Travel Bloggers Meeting of the Balearic Islands. During the five days that I visited, I stayed at the beautiful Meliá Calviá Beach Hotel, which was in a beautiful area, full of attractions and night life.

For this event, they invited 17 influential travel bloggers from the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Poland, the United States, Puerto Rico and the Netherlands. During this trip we visited different parts of Calviá and explored different key parts of the island.

Apart from being one of the invited influencers, I was also the invited keynote speaker that was asked to share about my experience traveling alone to almost 100 countries around the world and working as a full time media influencer.

On my second trip, I was invited to speak at DESTINO MICE at the Congress Palace in Palma. This is an annual event aimed towards meeting and event organizers that seek to promote Mallorca as a specialized destination.

In the afternoon, I gave a 2 hour training on Emotional and Social Intelligence applied towards management.

The next day, I was one of the five inspirational women invited to speak in Inca for an event with MOTIVATING TALKS organized by Creativity Events.

Resultado de imagen de MOTIVATIONAL TALKS de Creativity Events.

After spending some time in Mallorca, I quickly realized that it is much different than any of the other Spanish islands that I have visited so far. In my opinion, it was a huge advantage visiting in the low season, because I was able to escape the crowds and experience a whole different side of Mallorca that many people might not get to see in the high, crowded season.

Mallorca is so much bigger than I thought, so I decided that renting a car would be the best way to get around and explore.

I chose Roig Rental Car, a car rental company located less than 5 minutes from the airport. I was picked up by a shuttle at the airport and taken quickly to their main office. I was given a small, fuel efficient car during the week that I was there. It was very practical and I got my around the whole island on just one tank of gas!

This is hands down the most comfortable and affordable way to get around, especially if you are traveling with multiple people.

Recommendations:

There are many hotels and places to stay on the island, but given that Mallorca is known for its beautiful beaches, I decided to look for something as close to the beach as I could. The ocean always gives me energy and helps me to recharge my batteries, so finding a place with beach views was a must.

Hotel Nixe Palace

After a late evening flight and dinner, I arrived to Hotel Nixe Palace quite exhausted. The reception was friendly, helpful and had everything prepared for me as soon as I arrived. Upon entering the room, I was surprised to find a nice welcome note, fruit platter and a bottle of cava. The amazing detail as soon as I entered my room was priceless!

The room was very spacious and the bed was soft and comfortable.  I instantly opened the curtains and saw that there was a large balcony. I stepped outside, took a deep breath of the fresh air, with a gentle breeze coming from the ocean, and instantly felt relaxed.

I was so excited about having the large outdoor area with seaside views that I actually woke up each day way before the sun in order to have some quiet time before my events and calm my mind with the sound of the waves and deep breathing exercises and mediation.

Each day I went downstairs to the breakfast buffet in order to enjoy a delicious healthy breakfast with amazing ocean views.

Given that I travel a large part of the year, it’s very important for me to have healthy options for each meal. Most people travel and skip their diets, but given that travel is my lifestyle, I make it a rule to eat healthy when on the go, just like one would do in their regular day to day lives.

In the evening, after returning to the hotel, I finished each day by a nice workout in their gym and soaking in the spa. I was so impressed with all the amenities of the hotel. I HIGHLY recommend this hotel to anyone traveling to Mallorca!

Click here to read more about Hotel Nixe Palace.

GASTRONOMY

Mallorca is an island known for its gastronomy. The food has a rich history, with African and Roman influences.

I tried many different restaurants during my stay in Mallorca, ranging from classy sit down places, to stand up tapa bars.

In my first visit to the island, I found a place called Urban Food in Calvia. It has a very modern atmosphere that attracts many international tourists and is perfect for trying different types of Mallorcan food and tapas.

I loved this area because of the different options of food available and for its young, hip environment. This area is also perfect for shopping, night life or just simply an evening stroll.

Restaurants:

Lume & Co

This was the very first place that I visited after getting my rental car and starting my adventure through Mallorca. This was recommended to me by others and they have excellent reviews on Trip Advisor.

It is located in Genoa, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Palma, about 10 minutes by car from the center.

Upon entering, I fell in love with their cozy and romantic atmosphere. It is located in a 15th century historic building, next to the castle of Son Berga, which was restored and modernized from stables to a beautiful location to dine.

Their speciality is quality meats (without hormones, antibiotics and additives). However, there are many vegetarian options, as well as wild fish.

It was a perfect place to start off my trip through Mallorca: good food, romantic atmosphere and excellent service!

Click here to read more about Lume & Co.

La Cuadra Del Maño

Strolling through the old town, near the Plaza Mayor in Palma, a strong smell came over me that reminded me of my days back in USA when I used to have barbecues.

I followed that smell down the street until I found La Cuadra Del Mano, which was absolutely FULL of people. They had long lines of people waiting outside to enter, but I decided that given the amount of people there, that it must be a place that was popular and that I should not miss.

Although the restaurant was packed, they still managed to find a small place for my guest and I. We told the owner that we wanted to try a little bit of everything in small portions so that we could try out many different things that they had on the menu.

Within 10 minutes, the waiter started bringing large plates of food out, ranging from olives, cheese, morcilla, meat and home made bread with olive oil. Once we got started, it was very hard to stop eating.  We stayed there for 2 hours and we left feeling very full and satisfied!

I am not a meat eater, but there are other options to choose instead. However, without a doubt the best part of the experience was feeling the lively environment and the staff (its a family run business) that will treat you just like one of the family.

Food&Friends

This is a perfect place to hold business activities, events, special occasions or just a good night out with a group of friends. After the MICE event, the organizers and speakers went out to have a unique gastronomic experience, where we learned how to make new delicious dishes together.

This is an excellent way to learn about the local gastronomy and have a fun interactive experience for everyone!

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Apart from the delicious gastronomy, there is so much to enjoy in Mallorca, such as its coastal towns and cute traditional villages. I would of have liked to spend more time on the island in order to explore much more, but given that time was limited, I only had the chance to explore the following:

Porto Colom

This is an adorable fishing village where you can enjoy beautiful post card views and see small colorful houses and fishing boats. Many historians claim that this is actually where the famous explorer Christopher Columbus was born and for that reason it got its name, “Port Colom.”

I enjoyed walking through the town and seeing all the gorgeous views around sunset time. For those who have lots of time, boat trips are available, something that is highly recommended by others.

The ride from Porto Colom to the hotel was absolutely breathtaking. The sky ended up turning pink and yellow and I couldn’t help but stop the car and get out and take some pictures in the hay field.

Santayi

Walking through the old town you can see many cute shops and charming houses. Every Saturday there is a local market and its a great place to find traditional local products, homemade cheese, wine, fruit, jams and all kinds of different souvenirs.

If you are a wine lover, there are different places to stop along the way way to try different wines and to find a good quality bottle to take back home with you. One of the places worth mentioning is the Son Alegro Wine Cellar. They are known for making organic wine and highly respecting the environment.

I have to admit, out of all the places that I visited in Mallorca, this area was by far one of my favorites, because it is just a few kilometers away from the famous Cala del Moro. It is a small hidden beach, with beautiful blue waters and surrounded by rocks and groves.

There are many places to explore, but this is the most recognized area. There was not a single person in sight, which was the perfect opportunity to fly my drone and get some amazing video and footage.

Pollença

One of the things I quickly discovered walking the streets of Pollencça is that they actually have their own dialect. This is a great place to go and learn more about the culture of Mallorca, interact with locals and have an authentic type of experience.

This is also a nice place to relax and watch people. The environment is relaxed and good for taking a nice stroll and checking out the artsy places around. There are different areas that you can visit, but if you like to hike, I highly suggest you visit the Mountain Puig. You can walk it in about an hour and the views are lovely.

Strolling through the village was a nice way to end my time there. I found a very romantic restaurant that I fell in love with called FOGONEU

It is perfect for a chilled out evening, enjoying the good cuisine and wine with their tasting menu.

Valldemossa

This is a lovely place in the mountains of the “Serra de Tramontana”, a quiet and relaxing place with incredible views. You can visit different art galleries, enjoy delicious food, visit the monastery and walk through its artsy streets.

For all nature lovers, there are many trails in the area for hiking, with neat spots that you can stop and get nice panoramic views of the sea and Mallorca.

Foto: Domingo Vázquez

Deià

This is a coastal town in the western part of the island, known as the village of artists. It is a great destination for art lovers and those love to walk aimlessly though art galleries. Many claim that this is a great place to live if you are looking for a calm and relaxed way of living. There are many fantastic outdoor areas, with good hiking trails and excellent opportunities for photographers.

Mallorca is truly a hidden gem that one needs to discover and explore. I really believe that this is one of those places where you can visit countless times each year and still never run out of exciting places to discover.

Don´t forget to also check out: 

HOW I GRADUATED WITH HONORS IN 1 YEAR WHILE TRAVELING FULL TIME TO 20 COUNTRIES

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THE PERFECT DAY GONE WRONG: MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT IN KO SAMUI, THAILAND

PaquiExploring the Island of Mallorca, Spain
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Most Common Travel Mistakes: Part 3

As you all now know, if you have been reading this three-part series, that there are many travel mistakes that travelers can fall into that could be the difference between a beautiful experience across the world, or a total nightmare.

There are so many precautions that we can take and lessons that we can learn from other travelers that have personally had terrible experiences. Given that I am the queen at making lots of travel mistakes, I desperately seek to help and inform other travelers so that they don’t find themselves in the same problems that I have been in multiple times throughout my journey across almost 100 countries.

With that said, let’s continue on to the last part of this series of “Most Common Travel Mistakes.”

28. Traveling with your Normal Habits and Patterns

When my parents traveled all the way across the world to visit me in Ireland, one of the first places we went to was an American restaurant to have ribs, something that they had eaten for dinner at home just two nights before. It is so important to break your routine and try different things while traveling. 

Experiencing new things is part of the travel experience and adventure. Get with a local and see how they live their life, try something new, and make new memories through new experiences.

29. Not Taking Time for Exercise and your Health

I know many travelers that gain weight while traveling, simply by just not caring about what they eat or taking time to exercise daily. Traveling and finding that balance is not an easy thing, but believe it or not, I have lost weight while traveling and have come to find a good balance, with healthy eating and exercise while on the road.

This may be something difficult for new travelers, but it’s something you must be aware of, so that you can take positive steps towards a more healthy future. 

30. Depleting your Budget Due to Alcohol Consumption

This has to be one of the biggest problems I have heard from backpackers from all over the world. Keeping up a nightly drinking pattern can get very expensive, even in the countries that have a reputation for being cheap to travel to. Many claim that alcohol is their biggest expense and something that sends many of them home early and totally broke. 

This is an easy fix: find enjoyment and a life outside of being drunk.

31. Eating Near the Major Touristic Sites

Want to get ripped off in just one second?  

Find the nearest major attraction and eat at the restaurant next to it. This is a guarantee way to get ripped off. Instead, take a five minute walk away from the site and have lunch, especially if you are on a budget. Not only will you save money by leaving the touristic areas, but you are more likely to find more local restaurants and people. 

32. Waiting to Buy all your Last Minute Gifts at the Airport

I seem to make the same mistake every time that I travel when it comes to buying gifts or postcards in a country. I end up finding the perfect gift in the city center, but then waiting and saying that I will go back and buy it another time.

Time has a way of getting away from me I find myself desperately running around the airport at the last minute trying to find something quick to buy.  The prices are much higher in the airports, even in most duty free areas. I had to pay up to 4 euros just for one postcard in Jordan in the middle east!

33. Booking your Trip too Early Without Insurance to Change your Dates.

Already planning your trip for next year?

That’s not a bad thing to do, but do not book your flight for a year out without insurance to change your ticket, because you never know what will happen.

Yes, flights are cheaper, but if something happens and you can’t go, it doesn’t matter how cheap your flight was, you will end up paying double in many cases. Many airlines offer insurance for less than 20 dollars and this can give you the peace of knowing that no matter what happens, you are covered. 

34. Paying for Rental Car Damages that you NEVER did

Ever rented a car for a week without a single problem, only to return back and forced to pay fines? How does that happen?

Not checking your car over the minute you get it.

Don’t assume that the car is without damages when the inspector finishes looking it over and taking notes. Go around and analyze the car and take pictures from every angle, especially in cheaper rental car companies.  This can save you a lot of money, and in if they try to accuse you of a damage that you did not do, your pictures will be your evidence.

35. Not Taking Time to Renew your Passport

Many countries will not even let you into their country if your passport is about to expire.  I personally had to stay three weeks in the south of India in order to wait for a new passport.  Also, make sure to pay attention to the number of pages in your passport if you are a frequent traveler and do not reach the very last page if you plan to continue traveling abroad.

Most countries will ask for a full page upon arrival for the entry and exit stamps.

36. Traveling to the UK after staying close to 90 days in Europe

This was one of my biggest mistakes that cost me over $500 in missed flights + fees.  I traveled through England on the way to Iceland after being in Europe for about 80 days. Due to the fact that they thought I was trying to live there or do a visa run, they detained me overnight for questioning (although in the end they never asked me anything).

Many people that travel in Europe for 90 days go there for a period of time and then go back to Europe. In order to prevent this or the possibility of you trying to live there without a appropriate visa, they will deport you, even if you are slightly questionable. 

My biggest tip would be to visit England only after being in Europe for a short time, or going with a round-trip ticket, showing that you will be going to a destination far away from Europe after your stay.

37. Not Taking the Proper Safety Precautions

We have all heard the obvious safety precautions:

  • Avoid wearing flashy clothes, jewelry or purses.
  • Avoid walking alone at night, especially as a woman. 
  • Avoid walking around in the evening with your camera around your neck.
  • Avoiding talking on your phone while walking through the city (especially at night).

These are pretty standard and these precautions are there for a reason. I broke a couple of these rules and had to pay a hefty price. I was in a Central American country walking alone the evening to my hotel while talking quickly to my mom on the phone.

All the sudden I looked up and saw a man in all black running at me with a gun. He yelled at me, put the gun to my head and robbed me. He was not happy to find out that I had no money with me, but at least he got my IPhone 7.

38. Passing through a Small Airport if you are in a Questionable Visa Situation or Processing a European Visa. 

I saved one my most dramatic travel mistake for last. I was detained and quickly deported out of the small Milan Bergamo Airport in Italy due to a minor mistake that I could’ve prevented.

Long story short, my Spanish visa was being processed, and while I was waiting, I left the European Union to visit Belarus. I was not aware that I was not allowed to leave the European Union during the time my visa was being processed and that I would run a high risk of not being able to enter back into the Schengen Zone.

I was stopped by Italian officials and they did a full analysis of my passport, marking on a piece of paper all of the times that I had entered and left Europe.  In the end they officially counted that I was 3 days over my maximum limit in 180 days without a visa.

What did that resulted in, besides being locked up and police escorted out of the European Union?

A beautiful X in my passport.

Lesson to learn: Do not leave the EU if you are processing a visa. Wait until you have the visa and then travel without restrictions. If you are over your 90 day mark, DO NOT leave the European Union and try getting back in without a problem.

 

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Don’t forget to also check out: 

adminMost Common Travel Mistakes: Part 3
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