5 Important Things I Have Learned During Self Quarantine

Life lessons come in many shapes and sizes and often in times in which we least expect it. On my own personal journey across the world, I am constantly faced with new lessons (some harder than others).

As I am traveling, my mind is constantly being exposed to new ideas and beliefs, which is why traveling is so addicting for me.

I have had many realizations throughout my travels, but what I have realized is that the BIGGEST and most transformational lessons that I have had until this moment have been when I consciously took time to “disconnect” a bit from the world and connect deeper within.

When I say “disconnect,” I refer to just a slight change in pattern from my normal digital nomadic life, where my computer and phone are always in hand, and my mind is constantly in motion, thinking of new ways to earn money while on the road, so that I can continue to live my dreams of traveling the world.

As a digital nomad, the amount of time you spend connected to your computer, creating content and pitching ideas to companies, highly depends on the amount that you will make (or not make) at the end of the month.

Just a disclaimer: I would NOT trade my nomadic lifestyle for the world. Everything in life has its pros and cons.

I do admit however, that a little disconnection from time to time is not only healthy, but absolutely necessary.

Since 2015, I have traveled extensively across the world, trying to experience as much as humanly possible while I have no significant other or family to answer to.  Traveling is not a vacation for me, but rather a lifestyle. It has become my norm so much that even the though of “settling down” or staying in one place for a short amount of time makes me feel a bit claustrophobic.

SO far from the normal right?

Most people my age, especially from where I am from in the USA, are looking for stability, a promising job, a good husband and eager to start a family.

And me….

Well, I am an odd ball and definitely the black sheep of the family, BUT that’s okay. We all have to live our own dreams, although it might be off the wall, right?

My life as a traveler is everything but isolated and quiet. However, in the midst of the world Covid crisis I am forced into solitude. All my travel and life plans have been completely turned upside down and we are all left to wait and see just what happens next.

In this article, I wanted to share 5 lessons that I have learned (or better said, just realized to a greater scale) during this isolated time in self quarantine.

1. IMPORTANCE OF CONNECTION TO SELF

 

We are meant to connect and share with other human beings. For many people, these human physical/emotional connections are everything and without them, they feel completely empty and alone.

In a time of strict isolation, it is normal to feel disconnected, and even a slight feeling of loneliness. 

I think we have all felt it at some point or another, no?

Sure, we live in a technology age and in just a click of a button we can connect with our family and friends all the way across the globe, although its just not as good as human to human contact (in my opinion).  The crazy part is that many people say that this global crisis has actually caused them to connect more than they ever have in their lives with others.

I have to admit, this has not been my case.

You would think with a person that is constantly on the go and meeting and talking to new people every day, like myself, would be going a bit crazy and reaching out to as many people as possible.

But no…..

It has been very strange for me.

I am an extroverted person, but this quarantine has caused me to walk in the shoes of an introvert. I have spent hours a day reading books, going on long silent walks/runs, and just keeping to myself. I have been trying to full engage myself in my own personal growth and development journey and just simply living in the moment.

While it is great to have community and connect with others, it is even more important to first be truly connected with yourself, on a deep and unconditional level.

This sort of deep connection to self (where the mind is not at work) is hard to reach in the midst of chaos, noise and constant motion. This is the still, calm part of us, that has no connection to time. Some people call it God, others call it pure energy or self.

But why try and put a label on something so deep and beyond our understanding?

Once you tap into this space, it does not matter if you are in complete isolation and quarantine, or you are in the worst moment of your life, you are still able to enter into this timeless space and find the infinite joy, peace and love that is there and accessible to everyone.

The easy thing to do is fill that quiet space with noise and the emptiness in your heart with excessive materialistic possessions, fancy houses, cars and relationships, with the hope to find some sort of fulfillment in those things.

Unfortunately, those things will never truly satisfy you in the long run. 

Connecting with yourself in a deeper way and feeling a sense of peace and satisfaction with being alone is not something that comes over night, but rather a journey that you can choose to take that will absolutely transform your life forever.

2. IMPORTANCE OF MAKING YOUR HEALTH AN ABSOLUTE PRIORITY

 

During quarantine it is SO easy to fall into a love relationship with the couch or comfy bed. They are both so warm, cozy and welcoming.

To be honest, it can be very hard to not say NO.

It brings great comfort to be all wrapped in your favorite blanket, watching Netflix, with some Oreos, brownies and/or your favorite bag of potato chips and popcorn.

Sounds pretty magical no?

Now don’t get me wrong: I am absolutely a firm believer that it is absolutely necessary and healthy to set aside certain days to just splurge, chill out, and not take yourself too seriously.

However, some people turn those “occasional days” into a very frequent encounter, especially during a time in which they are stuck inside, with no set schedule.

During the first days of being trapped indoors in a small apartment in Ecuador, (where I was originally quarantined) I was totally relaxed. I just chilled in my pajamas, ate when I wanted and allowed my schedule to be all over the place.

However, as soon as I realized how bad the crisis was becoming and fully grasped in my head that the quarantine would not be only a week or two long thing, I decided to get serious about taking control of my time and life.

It doesn’t matter if it is only 20 minutes, prioritizing your health is KEY, not only for your physical health, but to your mental and spiritual.

 

Ideas for getting a jump start on your physical health:

  • A quick 20 minute exercise Youtube video (cardio, abs or strength training)
  • Guided yoga video
  • Simply putting on your favorite jam and moving your body in a hidden place (if you are bad dancer, like myself)
  • Jumping (with our without a jump rope)
  • Running in place
  • Strength exercises with a gallon of milk or some heavy product in your house.

There are millions of free resources online that you can use. If you do not take advantage of that, then you are making excuses.

Do not sacrifice your health during this time and allow yourself to come out of quarantine undisciplined, more out of shape and heavier than ever.

This is your chance to take control of your health. If you have not made good choices until now, it is never too late to start!

 

3. IMPORTANCE OF ONLINE JOBS AND STRIVING TO CONTINUALLY BECOME MORE DIGITAL & SELF RELIANT

 

While it seems like this is the polar opposite of what I mentioned in #1 about the importance of disconnection, it is really not.

There have been a tremendous amount of jobs lost during this Covid crisis, which has affected millions of people across the globe. While I feel empathy for everyone in an unfavorable situation, I feel equally a sense of gratification for having random online jobs during this time, which have not been affected by the crisis.

Sadly, most of the jobs that have been affected are the ones in which you physically have to go into an office, while many online businesses have skyrocketed.

This realization has helped me to see the importance of not putting all of my eggs into one basket, especially as a self employed person. It is more important than ever to continue to explore the vast options that are available online, whether it be writing, teaching, translating, marketing, managing, coaching, or whatever it may be.

This also has waken me up to see how much more I can do with my own client base with coaching, online courses and projects. We are moving very quickly into a more digital world and the more on board you are with that movement, the more you will be able to profit from this now and in the future.

 

4. POWER OF OPTIMISM

 

As a nation, now is the time to practice optimism. Not when things get better and the crisis passes.

No, NOW…

Everyone has their own story of how Corona has destroyed their plans and has left them to worry about how they will get by. Many have been forced to cancel their big travel plans, wedding or even honeymoon as well.

It is all VERY frustrating and disappointing.

If you would’ve asked me in January 2020, I would’ve told you that I was going to spend the whole 2020 year on the road traveling. In fact, I did get to spend from January-March in the Caribbean and South America, so I am thankful for that time that I did have.

All the big plans that I had for the rest of the year have been placed on hold, and no one knows what is going to happen in regards to future travel, especially international travel.

What kind of new restrictions will they have once the virus gets better?

When will we be able to travel again, without the high risk of getting sick?

As I mentioned, traveling is not just a vacation for me, like most people. It is my life and what I do year round. Like everyone, I am not able to travel and at this moment I do not even have the option of going back to my home to Spain, where I have my residency and apartment.

With all of that said, it is so important that we do not sit around and focus on our own LOSS during this time.

If we dig deep enough, no matter how bad things may feel at this moment, we can all find something that we are grateful for and some way in which we can benefit from this extra time we have to stay home.

If you capable of shifting your focus and directing it towards what you ARE able of to change, such as your health, keeping your inner peace and strengthening your relationships, you can come out of this quarantine feeling more empowered than ever.

 

5. THE IMPORTANCE OF PRODUCTIVITY

 

I have woken up between 3:45 and 4:45 in the morning every single day of this quarantine.

Seems quite crazy right?

At this point, waking up early is such a normal habit that it does not even cross my mind. I love the sense of getting a head start on the day and finishing so many things before most people wake up. During this time of being forced to stay inside, I have realized just how many things you can do by waking up at an early hour and then going to bed around 10 or 11 o’clock at night.

That is a lot of hours of daylight, even if you do add a small nap in there.

Most of the the successful notable people of today (and in history) all work with the same amount of hours as you and I do.

Your lack of productivity is not the fault of a lack of time, but rather how you structure and organize that time.

Do you hit the snooze button five times and then just roll out of bed?

What motivates (or discourages) you to start each day?

Do you wake up with a strong intention for the day?

What are the first thoughts that go through your mind when you wake up? Excitement, dread, fear, anxiety…..

How we start our mornings and the decisions we make first thing highly impact how the rest of our day will go.

Getting a head start on the day and setting strong intentions will energize and set you up to move closer to your goals, whether it be personally or professionally.

I have heard it more times than I can count…

But Sarah, I wake up, set good intentions, but shortly after something happens and I completely lose my motivation.

If I relied strictly on how motivated I am to get things done, I would probably never accomplish anything.

Emotions highly affect our motivation, which is why it’s key to set good habits and standards for yourself. This way you do not need to depend on your motivation in order feel good enough to get moving and reach your goals. Your strong habits and standards will take over and dominate when you just don’t feel like doing what you know you need to do.

Other suggestions for productivity:

    • Write down any mental blocks and limited thoughts that stand in your way.
    • Take a shower and get dressed and pretty (even if you are at home in quarantine). This will make you feel much better and more productive!
    • Try setting aside blocks of undisruptive time (1-2 hours with small breaks) in order to take on a big task
    • Move your body and stretch first thing when you wake up (with a big glass of water).
    • Outsource any work that other people can do for less time. This will free you up for more creative things!

 

Don’t be a prisoner to time and let it take over your life.

Take advantage of this time that you have in quarantine to strengthen yourself: mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

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Don’t forget to also check out: 

5 POSITIVE ACTIONS TO TAKE DURING QUARANTINE

SURVIVING MALARIA COMPLETELY ALONE IN LIBERIA

IS SOLO TRAVELING WEST AFRICA WORTH THE EXPERIENCE?

 

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5 Positive Actions to Take During Quarantine

People are constantly complaining about being overworked and needing personal time for themselves.

In fact, if you ask the average person why they are not reaching their own life goals outside of work, you better bet that the excuse is a lack of time.

Why do you not exercise? Well, I have long work hours and I’m EXHAUSTED when I get home.

Why do you not learn another language, like you have always desired to do? I work 6 days a week and my mind is fried at the end of the day.

Why do you not spend time with your family? My boss asks me to stay late and I can’t say no….

We all have our excuses and reasons for not taking actions towards our dreams and goals.

However, at some point in our life, it is important to stop and take time to reflect on WHY we are not achieving the results that we desire.

In the case of many, it takes something life changing to get their attention and wake them up to the point that they take action. I am sure that you have met many people that are out of shape, consuming fast food on a daily basis and told they should change their habits, but they ignore the advice. This person might be told this over and over again, but the real action takes place when something more serious happens, like a heart attack, or news from the doctor that they have a serious case of diabetes or high blood pressure.

Many of us wait for something huge to happen before we take action, when we have the opportunity TODAY to be proactive and make changes in order to create the life we desire.

Right now, the whole world is in a state of panic with the Corona Virus. Thousands have lost their jobs and the price of this tragedy in our world is well over the billions. A large percentage of the world is being placed on strict home quarantine, unable to go to work, and with an unlimited amount of free time on their hands.

I want to first say that I am by no means trying to lighten the situation and tell everyone that all is okay and that we should all just be happy and positive during this time.

This crisis has been a been traumatic for many of us and getting motivated and proactive during this time is not exactly the highest on the priority list for lots of people. The easy thing is to lay in the bed, go deep under the covers and just give up..

I think many of us have felt that way at one point or another during this time, especially ones that have lost family/friends, have had a reduction in their income, have lost their company and simply have no idea how they are financially going to survive.

As much as we all hate it, there is nothing that we can do to change what is happening right now. We must all have patience and know that this will eventually pass. If we start to program our mind in a different way, we will actually be able to see this down time as an opportunity to pause and reflect on all the things that we want to accomplish in our lives, the goals and dreams we have in our hearts and our personal life vision.

Being as sensitive as possible to people in all walks of life, I wanted to to write this article to inspire you on 5 ways that you can raise your vibration and create positive changes in your time in quarantine, so that you are able to take advantage of this time and feel more accomplished in your own life.

MAKE A POSITIVE MORNING ROUTINE

It is easy to lose your normal routine and fall into some bad habits, especially the more free time that you have on your hands.  If you are in quarantine and see that you are not being intentional about your time and actions, I really want to intervene and challenge you to try something different.

A few months ago, I came across a book that truly shaped my life, called the “Morning Miracle” by Hal Erod. This book has been read by millions of people across the globe and the teachings in this book are used by many successful entrepreneurs and leaders.

This book talks about the importance of waking up early in the morning, setting positive intentions, which in return will give you a huge advantage on starting off your day and reaching your own personal and professional goals.

The book challenges readers to use the 6 SAVERS each morning to power their morning and get their mindset in the right place. How you wake up, the thoughts that you think and the actions you take will set the foundation of your day, so we must be intentional about making our first minutes count.

S — Silence (meditation)

A — Affirmations

V —- Visualization

E —- Exercise

R —- Reading

S — Scribing (journaling)

If you start your morning off by just doing just 10 minutes of each of the SAVERS, that is equal to just one hour of your whole entire day–that is NOTHING, especially if you are home all day.

After the quarantine, if you want to implement the SAVERS in your routine, but you do not feel like an hour is humanly possible, even one minute of each of these can be a game changer. Sometimes all it takes is just waking up with this intention, even if it’s only 6 minutes of your time. This will force you to break the “autopilot” mode and get you more conscious of what you are doing and feeling in the first part of your day.

GET INSPIRED

It is easy to get caught up in to the negative talk about what is happening in the world right now, the financial crisis, the falling economy and all the rising cases of Corona Virus all over the world.

While it is important to be up-to-date on what is happening around the world, it is actually more important to take care of your mental health and to create a positive space for yourself.

As I always say, your mind is like a computer. If you’re constantly downloading junk into your computer, it will run slow and contract viruses. Along the same line, if you’re always absorbing the negativity of the world, your performance and energy will be hindered.

During this time of being locked inside, it is absolutely fundamental to take care of your mental health and stay motivated. There are so many resources out there that can help get us inspired, whether it’s interesting self-help book or video on Youtube.

PRACTICE INTERMITTENT FASTING

There is no better time to practice intermittent fasting than during a time in quarantine, where you are stuck inside the house and less active. Some of the most common benefits of intermittent fasting include:

      1. Loss of body weight and belly fat.
      2. Reduction of the risk of diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
      3. Lowered blood insulin and sugar levels.
      4. Increase in energy (from my personal experience).

There are many different options for the ones that want to practice intermittent fasting.

The fast that I LOVE and recommend to everyone is 16:8 fast.

I use an application called Zero in order to check in on my phone when it is time for me to fast (and when my time is over). This makes it easier to remember when I can eat again so that I get my full 16 hours in. In addition, this application keeps track of all my past fasts in order to measure my progress, which is extremely motivating. It is absolutely free and I could not recommend it enough!

During the 16:8 fast, one practices withholding food during a 16 hour time frame and only chooses to eat during the 8 hour window. I have to admit, I am not strict about this 8 hour window, as long as I am getting a full 16 hour fast each day. I like to stop eating between 1930-2030 and start eating the next day around noon ish.

Other fasting options out there include:

      • 18:6 Intermittent: 18 hour fast, with a 6 hour feeding window.
      • 36 Hour Fast (aka: Monk Fast).
      • 20:4 Intermittent: 20 hour fast, with a 4 hour feeding window.
      • Custom Fast: creating a fast that suits your lifestyle and schedule. Get creative!

I absolutely SWEAR by intermittent fasting.

Without a doubt, the thing that I love the most about fasting is that fact it puts me in control of my health and habits, instead of giving full control over to my human desires and cravings.

When we are constantly eating throughout the day, without regards to the time of day, or what we are actually eating, we lose a sense of control. When you give yourself healthy restrictions and are more conscious about your eating habits, the life transformation can be HUGE (I am a witness to this statement).

Even if you do intermittent a couple of times a week, it is still better than nothing! If you do not feel like you could fast 16 hours a day, start with something small and then work up to more.

START TO LEARN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE OR SKILL

If I could pick one lesson to share with others that I have learned traveling around the world and living all of my 20´s abroad, is the importance of taking time to learn a second language. I recommend this to all ages, but I LITERALLY cannot stress it enough for younger people.

We live in a world with so many free resources and online tools that can help give us a jumpstart to learning a new language from the comfort of our home. Being stuck in the house all day is a perfect opportunity to form a habit of dedicating time each day to learning the basics of a foreign language. Starting with the basics and memorizing some of the most common words and sentences is an excellent place to start.

I learned my first word of Spanish in 2013, so I know that feeling of learning a foreign language TOTALLY from scratch. I dedicated my 20´s to study Spanish each and every day and finally got to the point that I can comfortably speak on stage in front of thousands of people.

However, in order to get to that point, I had to start with the basics and create a consistent habit of studying Spanish each and every day.

The exciting part about learning a foreign language is that it is a life long process. I am fluent now, but I understand that there is so much more that I have to learn, even in my native language.

With that said, I still continue with the habit of sitting down each day to strictly read Spanish books, articles or listen to podcasts. I always have my phone on hand to write down words that I have never heard of before and different ways to structure my sentences.

Learning a language is SO much fun. Hands down, my Spanish learning time is one of my favorite times in the whole entire day!

MAKE A BUCKET LIST AND VISION BOARD

I am a huge fan of positive thinking and creating our own personal reality. There is no better time than being stuck inside for weeks on end to really sit down and think about your goals and take time to reevaluate your plans and the direction that you want to go in your life.

Do you have a written bucket list?

If not, this is a good place to start. Sit down in a quiet place and let your imagination run free about all the things that you would like to achieve in your future, both personally and professionally.

Do you want to travel the world?

Do you want to start your own company?

Do you want to create an inspiring blog?

A nonprofit organization?

Attend the university or a trade school in order to learn a new skill?

What exactly is it that you want to do?

Maybe you are like many people out there and simply have NO idea. That is totally find as well. In fact, the more you dive into your bucket list and become absorbed in your dreams and desires, the more likely you will find a path or dream that is right and inspirational for you.

Once you create your bucket list, then you can start using that information to create a vision board. I have a full vision board on the wall of my house in America from years back. However, now that I am traveling the world, I use a digital one in order to have a visual of the goals that I would like to achieve in my future.

Visualization of your dream life is very important as you are working and striving to make that goal become a reality.

 

Get creative with your bucket list and do not put any limits to your imagination

 

Take advantage of this time in quarantine do not forget that no one is alone. We are ALL in this together.

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Don’t forget to also check out:

SURVIVING MALARIA COMPLETELY ALONE IN LIBERIA

IS SOLO TRAVELING WEST AFRICA WORTH THE EXPERIENCE?

SUAN MOKKH: 10 DAY SILENT & MEDITATION RETREAT IN THAILAND

 

 

 

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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

admin10 Most Common Questions & Answers on Traveling Alone to Saudi Arabia
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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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Surviving Malaria COMPLETELY Alone in Liberia

If you ask most people out there, the thought of traveling alone is NOT exactly the most appealing idea. Many like the idea of exploring the world, but with the comfort of a friend, family or significant other by their side.

However, COMPLETELY ALONE…..that raises too many fears and doubts, right? 

The talk about fears as a solo traveler comes up ALL the time in my conversations, especially when people find out how much I actually travel.

Just to get the perspective from other women, I like return the question and get their personal opinion of travel, especially in regards to going alone, and find out what holds many of them back.

When I ask non-traveling women, or ones that have the desire to venture out on their own (but are too nervous to make that decision, I typically hear three main fears:

    1. Getting abducted by some crazy stranger
    2. Being stuck abroad, completely alone, with a sickness, disease or hospitalised.
    3. Feeling overly lonely.

I hear these three common fears ALL of the time. They are very normal and most women travellers have had at least one of these fears at some point or another while on the road, whether it was before they started, or during the time that they are gone. I have had all three of these fears many time throughout my time abroad.

Unfortunately, in April 2019, one of these three fears actually happened to me.

Without a doubt, I can say this one experience (until now) has been one the scariest things that has ever happened to me as a traveller…

 

So, let me start off with how it all started……

In early 2019, I was looking for a new kind of experience. I was going through a stage where I was completely bored with European travel. I had finished a long trip through Southeast Asia about 6 months prior and was saving South America and the Caribbean for another moment.

My adventurous side was calling out my name. I searched endlessly for a wild experience that I had never had before and something most solo female travellers would never think about doing. I had no idea what I was looking for, but I just knew that there had to be some sort of exciting adventure that I could have that was totally off the beaten path.

I looked up routes all over the world and FINALLY ended up finding my next adventure: Overlanding West Africa.

Traveling West Africa has its own share of challenges. When I made this plan, I had just finished 6 months of physical rehabilitation, due to a bad motorcycle accident I had over the previous summer in Thailand. The doctor had just given me approval to get on the road and the pain was finally under control to the point that I could carry a backpack again on my newly healed collar bone.

I bought a one way ticket to Nouakchott, Mauritania and started making my way south by public transportation. All I wanted during this time was pure adventure: staying with local families in their homes, public transportation (some hitchhiking) and an authentic immersion into the African culture, that would place me WAY outside of my comfort zone.

During this time, it was was just me, myself, and I.

No plan.

No expectations.

No time frame.

No travel partner

Everything was truly going PERFECT….

I was having a genuinely great experience, meeting incredible people and visiting places that I did not even know existed on the map.

I continued on with my positive experience into Liberia, visiting a beautiful Eco Lodge right outside of Monrovia, called Libassa. The location of the lodge was perfect. My cozy eco cabin was located on in the middle of the woods, only a short walk from the white sandy beach. I literally had the best of both worlds!

I quickly unpacked my bags and anxiously walked around to get familiar with the area, which would be my home for the next three days.

Out of no where, the first symptom hit hard: an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion.

I had just traveled hours to get to the lodge, in the hottest part of the day, so I blew it off and took a small nap. I woke up shortly after feeling unrested, so I took a brief walk and decided to call it a night.

I woke up feeling better the next day, just knowing that all I needed was a good night’s rest in order to feel myself again.

During the day, I relaxed and then visited their private animal sanctuary. I was able to see the rescued animals and learn about all the positive work they are doing to save and protect wild animals in Liberia. I felt completely normal!

As the evening crept in, the new symptoms appeared: bursting head ache, a thirst that felt like not even 100 bottles of water could quench and absolutely no appetite (which is not normal for me).

I laid down in the bed and felt anxious and restless. I tossed and turned and continued to drink water, telling myself it was ONLY dehydration. On the second night I was unable to sleep. I felt all of the muscles in my back aching and no matter which way I turned, I could not get comfortable. I went through moments where I felt like I was on fire, followed by uncontrollable shivering and chills.

On day three, I woke up so weak that I could barely walk. I knew something was seriously wrong at that point and it was WAY more than just dehydration.

After days of ignoring the signs and thinking I would just get better on my own, I decided I couldn’t go on any further.

I could literally hold myself up to get to the reception of the hotel.

Everything from that point was an absolute blur. My knees were weak and shaky and I urgently called a taxi to take me to the international hospital. Honestly, I barely remember that long ride there. All I remember is stepping foot in the hospital and collapsing on the floor the moment I walked in.

The doctor gave me one look up and down and said,  “WOW, you look terrible!”

He took my blood, gave me some tests and within minutes told me that I tested positive for a bad case of malaria. Without even asking, he told me that I would be instantly admitted into the hospital.

The local doctor looked at me in shock and asked me over and over, “Why did you wait to come in? Miss, did you know that this could’ve EASILY killed you. You are so lucky.”

At that point, his words did not really sink in. I felt worse than I had ever felt in my entire life.

The symptoms only grew worse and I honestly felt like I was out of my mind. The doctor put an IV in my arm and told me to not panic and a few minutes I found out why he had given me that warning.

A strong sense shock took over my body. The medicine started to kick in all at once and it was simply too much for my small body to handle. Frightened, I called the doctor and told him that I was having an adverse reaction. I could not think or see straight and I felt so much anxiety that I thought I was going to rip off the IV and jump out the window. He assured me that all of the feelings that I was having was completely normal.

I sat up in the hospital bed, shaking profusely, while frantically looking at the clock and waiting for time to pass.

The more I let my mind roam, the more anxious I felt. I was there all alone, with no family, friends or contacts, and honestly doubtful if I was going to make it out alive from this living nightmare.

Those were some of the worst hours and thoughts that I have ever had in my life, but in the end, I made it.

I was released from the hospital and agreed with the doctor that I would finish my medications by mouth over the next three days. Keep in mind that most people that get malaria can get rid of it by just taking medication at home by mouth during three days.  My situation was more serious and I needed double dosage, which is why I had to continue taking the medications after being released from the hospital.

My Couchsurfing host was traveling outside of Liberia at the time, but he allowed me to stay at his house while he was gone so that I could continue on with my recovery.

I just assumed that I was going to get better from that point on, but I was COMPLETELY wrong….

In the middle of the night, after arriving to the apartment, my fever spiked again out of control. I did everything the doctor told me to lower a high fever, but no matter what I did, I could not seem to get it down.

I admit, I panicked.

All I could do was cry hysterically. I was in pain and I was so terrified that I would not wake up the next morning. No one was around to check on me, which only made that fear grow stronger by the minute.

During those long weeks getting over malaria, I lost all my strength and looked like a bag of bones. In a given day, I was lucky enough to force down a mango or avocado.

Despite it all, I continued to look forward and stay positive.

The day finally came that I woke up feeling better, but it was a long process towards a fully recovery.

I had to reevaluate my plan and quickly decided to end my West African trip shortly after. All of the malaria medications destroyed my body, messed up all my blood levels and left me with very bad anemia.

The road to recovery was VERY slow. Even after 6 months, I did not feel my normal self…

Traveling the world can be such a beautiful and rewarding experience, but there are some serious dangers out there, especially regarding health safety.

I’m writing and sharing my story with you the midst of a national health emergency with Coronavirus. I am trapped inside my Airbnb in Ecuador, unable to walk the streets (unless I have a good reason) and with a strict curfew of 9pm-5am.

The world is in a state of panic right now and this time being quarantined inside has given me time to reflect on my life experience and this awful health scare that I had just 11 months ago.

I want to urge you to NEVER ignore any odd symptoms that your body may be having, ESPECIALLY while traveling to a country where disease and infection are common.

When you notice a change in your body, go to the doctor and get checked, especially if you are traveling in a country with malaria.

There are more than 195 million cases of malaria each year and over 500,000 deaths.

What I learned from this horrible experience is that strange, out of the ordinary symptoms are NOT something to play around with.

The moment you these symptoms, you should immediately visit the doctor to get checked:

  1. High fever
  2. Shaking/chills/sweating
  3. Headache
  4. Unusual muscle pain
  5. Nausea/Vomiting

Unfortunately, if you have malaria and wait too long to get tested, it might just be too late.

Malaria DOES and WILL kill you…..

 

Don’t forget to also check out:

IS SOLO TRAVELING WEST AFRICA WORTH THE EXPERIENCE?

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

THE ONE THING THAT YOU SHOULD NEVER TRAVEL WITHOUT

 

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