From Our Authors

Luxor, Egypt
Ancient Egyptian myths debunked
Published 2/18/2018 in Living among the locals Author Yasmin Helal
Intrigued by the pyramids and other outstanding landmarks, the world has been captivated with solving mysteries and finding answers pertaining to Ancient Egypt. But most of the stories you read are based on either outdated research or historical misunderstandings. Here are a few myths debunked and clarified: 1. Slaves built the pyramids Because the Pyramids of Giza were the highest buildings for almost four millennia, it is almost hard to imagine how an ancient culture with no technology that we currently understand made them happen. One of the common myths is that the Pharaohs enslaved an army of laborers to build them. But, thanks to recently... read more ❯

The Journey Inside
Published 2/12/2018 in Shoes of a Nomad Author Melanie Kitzan
And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself? ---Rumi Since I have started sharing more of my solo traveling, many friends have asked me how I came to venture out on my own, and have said I am courageous for doing so. I feel a bit like an imposter when I hear that, because as much as I love my solo adventures, I still am afraid sometimes. I have just learned to move forward anyway, to reach out to others and get outside of my own head. I thought I would share the backstory of my solo adventures, which... read more ❯

Travel Resource
Published 1/25/2018 in Shoes of a Nomad Author Melanie Kitzan
Shout out to a travel resource where I have met so many members of my tribe. It excites me to share traveling with so many (especially solo) women. This is a positive group of women. Check it out!     I love the GoWonder Community (, it is a supportive community for women who travel with more than 50K members globally & their website ( has a library of resources to help you prepare for your next trip. read more ❯

A Camel, Flattery, and Lots of Mud
Published 1/20/2018 in Shoes of a Nomad Author Melanie Kitzan
I was only going to be in Israel for two more days. I had heard that the US government was going to make an announcement to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, and the local Israelis I spoke with said that they expected violent backlash in response to the decision. I decided to visit Jerusalem and Bethlehem the day before the announcement, rather than wait. My hotel concierge asked me if I would like Tour Guide Barry again, the tour guide I'd had the day before. I said yes, and when he greeted me after breakfast that day, he held his... read more ❯

Visiting the Unburied Past in Northern Israel
Published 1/12/2018 in Shoes of a Nomad Author Melanie Kitzan
Haifa I booked a tour guide (named Barry) to take me north of Tel Aviv along the coast. We started with the city of Haifa, where we saw the B'hai hanging gardens on Mt Carmel. The gardens are part of a Shrine to the Bab, and overlook the Mediterranean Sea. It's a UNESCO World Heritage site and a holy place for the members of the B'hai faith. While we were there,... read more ❯

When I Found Myself in Israel, Wearing New Socks
Published 1/7/2018 in Shoes of a Nomad Author Melanie Kitzan
I had never been to the Middle East before, so when I had a business trip to Israel come up I was giddy with excitement. I had never flown anything but coach class on international flights before, either, and the man that sat next to me in first class wasn't hiding his smile at seeing me pushing buttons on the map of my chair. I couldn't help myself, I would poke and hold each button and wait to see what happened. The I would giggle uncontrollably. I punched a button, the motor in my seat whined and my body was... read more ❯

elephant riding in sri lanka
The elephant riding debate
Published 12/28/2017 in Living among the locals Author Yasmin Helal
Who wouldn’t want to go on an elephant safari? Roaming the jungle on the back of this magnificent animal is every novice traveler’s dream. And even if it doesn’t cross your mind, the opportunity will be right there, waiting for you, asking you, to seize it. This is what happened to me. When I visited the Chitwan National Park in Nepal and Sri Lanka’s middle belt, elephant riding opportunities were almost unavoidable. So I went for it, and I enjoyed every second of the experience and of being surrounded by all the wildlife. At the time, I wasn't aware of the plight... read more ❯

Integrating refugees while breaking bread
Published 12/14/2017 in Living among the locals Author Yasmin Helal
By: Worldpal* Food is a universal language that knows no grammar or words, channeling its information over all our five senses. To me, it represents love, happiness and comfort. Food connects people the way that peanut butter and jelly bring two slices of toast together. This is exactly what the German city Potsdam is going for. At an event called Buntes Essen, which translates into Colorful Food, Berlin’s sister city attempts to bring Syrian refugees together with the locals. During the event, refugees prepared local dishes from their home country, creating a warm atmosphere to get us all together over the bread... read more ❯

The bad travel days
Let’s talk about the difficulties of life on the road
Published 12/9/2017 in Living among the locals Author Yasmin Helal
By Amanda Bensted* I had been in Singapore less than 24 hours when I got a text message from home, telling me distressing news about a loved one. I got straight on the phone and spent the next half hour trying to calm the inconsolable. I was already sleep deprived, overwhelmed, and suffering the onset of the flu; this news sent me over the edge. I curled up in my bed in my windowless room and wondered why the hell I did this constant traveling thing. It’s not easy to tell the truth about travel. We’re all so obsessed with painting the idyllic picture... read more ❯

Interviewed on Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust
Published 12/8/2017 in Shoes of a Nomad Author Melanie Kitzan
The following interview was originally published by Tamlyn Amber Ryan on Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust – Travel Writing and Photography As part of the next installment in my international version of Guests’ Corner (previously a local South African travel interview section on Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust), I chatted to Melanie Kitzan, travel blogger at Shoes of a Nomad. Melanie Kitzan grew up in North Dakota, and during her lifetime, she has been a scientist, attorney, mother, writer and vagabond. She lives in the House of She, near Seattle, with her dogs and daughters. Follow her global travel adventures and stories on her lovely travel blog,... read more ❯

Travel writing tips
5 Simple tips for travel research [Infographic]
Published 12/3/2017 in Living among the locals Author Yasmin Helal
Given how oversaturated the market of travel writing is, your really need to come out with innovative ways to research your destination read more ❯

Rasta Village Ethiopia
A day in Rasta Village – Shashamane, Ethiopia
Published 12/3/2017 in Living among the locals Author Yasmin Helal
Walking around the Rastafari quarter of Shashamane, a small town in southern Ethiopia, I saw buildings adorned by the three colors that the Rasta culture had famously adopted from the Ethiopian flag. In these buildings, settlers originally from the Caribbean with dreadlocks and a genuine Jamaican accent live precisely by the Rastafari doctrine, worship in a Rastafari church, and study in a Rastafari Jamaican school. “Ganja is grown in the soil with the will of God. Who is the white man or the government to tell me that I can’t touch it and that I can’t smoke it?” artist Ras Hailu... read more ❯

The Mind inside the Chador: Female Vanity in Iran
Published 12/1/2017 in Stan Lee Pengelly's Travels Author Stan Pengelly
When I saw the third or fourth Iranian woman woman with a bandage on her nose, I asked my guide, "Do Iranian women get nose jobs?" He said yes, many do because women are required in Iran to wear a chador which only allows the face to be seen in public and women's vanity dictates that the they have to look good. Many young women get a nose job to fix the slightest imperfections. In fact, Iran is second only to Brazil for cosmetic surgeries. I had to... read more ❯

Meet the locals of Nepal
Meet the locals of Nepal
Published 11/27/2017 in Living among the locals Author Yasmin Helal
Bhakti Devkota, tour guide and former porter from Lumle Growing up, Bhakti watched the tourists trekking everyday on his way to school. He saw the tour guides chatting to the tourists and hoped that one day he will be like them. At first, he started working as a porter in 1997, but it wasn’t until a decade later that he managed to become a tour guide. “Behind every porter, there is a long story; he needs to support his family and children etc. But I was never tired with my job, you know, because I know that I will learn more and... read more ❯

In Sri Lanka
The long way home
Published 11/22/2017 in Living among the locals Author Yasmin Helal
I first moved to Dubai in 2005. I’m originally from Egypt but by then I had been living in the GCC for almost 10 years. Back then, Dubai Marina was just a couple of buildings, and Jumeirah Beach Residence was nothing but a sign in Sufouh pointing to a direction that no one knew anything about. The traffic light at Royal Mirage leading to Media City and the American University was where Dubai ended. I lived through the endless construction in Jumeirah and I was among the first to walk into Emirates Mall, or the Mall... read more ❯

azerbaijan, tea, travel
My favorite cups of tea from around Asia
Published 11/22/2017 in Living among the locals Author Yasmin Helal
UPDATE: [22 Dec 2017] Coming from Egypt, a major tea consumer, I’m a tea drinker with a passion for everything that can be labeled as tea.I know there is a lot of fuss going on out there about coffee, but we, the tea drinkers, are still the majority (unless China has switched its national drink). I was never really a coffee drinker so didn’t experiment much with that during my travels. With tea, I experimented everywhere, and heavily so. And I can honestly look back at every cup of tea and say that I have no regrets. This post is for tea drinkers... read more ❯

sri lanka, tourism, south asia, southeast asia, travel, responsible tourism, living like the locals, live like a local
The paradoxes of tourism in Sri Lanka
Published 11/20/2017 in Living among the locals Author Yasmin Helal
Being an essential element of tourism, the sector’s workers are the link representing Sri Lanka to the foreign visitors. Because of the key role that tourism plays in the island nation, these workers have become a representative of an era of change that dawned on the island shortly after the 2004 tsunami and exponentially grew following the end of the ethnic conflict in 2009. While being a critical element of the country’s economy, locals working in the tourism sector have been given a front seat to observe the wonder world of tourism as well as the fast changing local culture. Staunch believers In Romesh... read more ❯

sunset, mirissa, tropical paradise, jungle holiday, beach holiday, tourism, travel, budget travel, backpacking
Best sunset spots in Mirissa
Published 11/20/2017 in Living among the locals Author Yasmin Helal
Nature takes a new shape and form in the small town of Mirissa, located near the southernmost tip of Sri Lanka. Here, things that you would hardly notice elsewhere like sunsets are extremely scenic, attracting tourists and residents alike. Full moons are also beautiful here and they mark public holidays in the Sinhalese calendar. Yet, this comes only second to the beauty of sunsets in Mirissa. Watching sunset is so popular, with friends and couples heading to certain parts of the beach to enjoy the best view. Not only does watching Mirissa's sunset offer a... read more ❯

Sri Lanka, south asia, south east asia, backpacking, budget traveling, travels, traveling
6 ways to make money while traveling across Sri Lanka
Published 11/19/2017 in Living among the locals Author Yasmin Helal
Thanks to a few factors, like budget airways, the increase of disposable income, the rise of mid-range guesthouses across Asia and Africa, the prevalence of the English language, and the easy accessible to online information, journeying to any part of the world has become quite accessible to most of us. This also means that luxury travel is a thing of the past. Today's travelers are mostly gap-yearers and traveling students who have a limited budget. Thus, many of them seek ways to make a small income that can sustain them without draining their modest savings, all the while enjoying their stay... read more ❯

ayurvedic products, ayurvedic medicine, ayurveda, local products, thailand, sri lanka, travel
Local products to buy on the road
Published 11/17/2017 in Living among the locals Author Yasmin Helal
Whether we like it or not, products do shape our experiences. For those of us who are used to owning a certain set of products, it can be pretty hard getting by without them. And don’t pretend like you can survive without your favorite deodorant or sunblock. For me, though, the list is a bit longer than just these two items. One of the things that I learnt while traveling is that there are plenty of alternative products available across Asia that are cheaper and healthier than the usual commercial stuff. Here are a few of the products that I picked up... read more ❯