The Prophet Mohammed (PBUH): “Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled.”
Welcome to Safara Concierge. Safara is an arabic word which means 'to travel'. This is a meet up for discerning Muslims and non-muslims, who seek like minded folks to explore and discover the world around them. Watch this video to see what I mean
My name is Yasmin Choudhury. I will help curate the quirky, to the wild to the luxury while helping you access Muslim friendly destinations. Without compromising on style or quality (unless forced to e.g when required to access authentic experience or to keep it inexpensive.)
From UK, across Europe (Spain, Bosnia, Germany), whizzing past the seas, mountains and oceans e.g Iran, Bangladesh to USA. From trains, planes to ships.
Specialist holidays will be upcoming e.g. men only, women only, families, single parents etc.
All are welcome to join. Male, female. liberal, progressive or practising. Convert or revert. Maybe you want to explore Islam with other Muslims, while travelling. Single, married or divorced. With kids or no kids. Any age. There will be a trip that will suit you.
Mark Twain: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
WHY JOIN THIS MEET UP?
Often you want to travel but your friends can't join the dates you want. Or destinations you want. Also, maybe you are the one who always ends up organising that holiday but now want the headache removed? Perhaps, you are new to your area and seeking to make friends. A holiday is often the best place to start to meet like minded people. Next. It's hard finding destinations and travel experiences that cater for the Muslim diet. Add to that, a need for authentic, boutique experiences where you get to connect with the locals. Phew! A tall order. Well do not worry. That is why I am setting this up in my spare time. I wanted to share my experience and contacts within the travel industry. MY TRAVEL EXPERIENCE I have personally travelled to Jerusalem, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Austria, Turkey, Sweden, Croatia to San Francisco. I have crossed from suspicious Israel into Jordan - by local bus (but wearing a pretend wedding ring to stave off male attention). Drinking mint tea in Jerusalem with a kind Austrian man who told me he was working out the guilt of his family's Nazi heritage. From slumming it (sleeping on the floor) to luxury stays (Bali) and then sailing a boat in the Isles of Scilly. I slowly learnt to dig out the local folks (from persuading a tuk tuk driver in Sri Lanka to show me where he buys his sarongs) to planting rice in a paddy field while chatting with the farmer. I have driven alone around Ireland's Ring Of Kerry to exploring a stone theatre that has been cut into the high cliff rocks with the Atlantic Ocean as it's backdrop. I have been to John O'Groats to Penzance. And even jumped on a helicopter to visit lesser known British islands. As well as Aran and Isle of Wight. Best of all was going on the trail of the Royal Bengal Tiger in Bangladesh. To watch honey collectors who let me eat honeycomb oozing from freshly picked harvests. I gobbled up fresh prawns collected the ancient way by fishermen and their troupe of otters from a river blowing along in gentle warm winds through the world's largest mangrove forest. So, when it comes to wonderful, authentic travel, I am hoping that you can trust in my knowledge of rooting out similar experiences that will enlighten and entertain you.
IN THE PRESS Incidentally, my day job is founder of Lovedesh®, a new philanthropic travel brand that is aiming to get the whole world exploring remote, poorest nations. My work there has been featured in the media: The Guardian (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=574372172638555&set=pb.346130572129384.-2207520000.1399734896.&type=3&theater), BBC Radio (https://soundcloud.com/yasmin-choudhury/bbc-radio-asian-network) and in April 2014, Conde Naste Traveller (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=634084943333944&set=pcb.634085666667205&type=1&theater%20#O2SmartaBiz), a top global, luxury glossy travel magazine named me as an 'expert' for 'undiscovered destinations'. Read a foreign newspaper interview, on how I want to help the world to explore remote destinations. here (http://issuu.com/dhakatribune/docs/140110010617-45843cd34a174aae8f7ce5e5da4c5321). Due to the work I do for Lovedesh, I come across many excellent tour operators, who offer boutique tours. It puts me in the position to to help create experiences and holidays that is Muslim friendly. SPECIAL EVENTS I will often be on the hunt for special events with a travel theme for my Safaras. Offering humorous, fun travel advice at our dinner meet ups that showcase some of the more exotic or unusual cuisines from around the world (halal of course). To talks from intrepid travellers and experts as well as discussions hosted on this forum about being a Muslim and travelling. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Two types of holidays will be on offer. TO (Tour Operator Run) - especially for more specialist, far, luxury or remote destinations where as a group, it is not viable or safe to book without the help of a ATOL or ABTA bonded tour operator.. You will book directly with them and pay all monies to them. MUR (Meet Up Run) - A more cheaper option. This is where either I, or other fellow members, offer to arrange a group trip/experience from scratch to a certain destination. I may or may not necessarily attend. You then book the supplier directly after having paid a non refundable reservation fee to this Meet Up site. RULES You are all expected to be responsible, show up and keep to the itinerary. All aspects of a MUR booking are directly booked and reserved by you (so unless the supplier is at fault, any other problems e.g getting late - is yours). To book a place onto the MUR trip, you must pay a non-refundable reservation admin fee (this will depend on the destination) to help cover time spent legwork, research, flight links, negotiating discounts etc to create a document that is in an easy format ready for you to book (and save money). This is to ensure only people serious on travelling join the trip, to ensure your fellow travellers are not left abandoned. My theory is, should someone pull out, they will have to think twice first (because they paid a non refundable reservation fee). Some holidays will be for mixed groups but those who prefer to maintain segregation can attend the holidays for same sex. My curated holidays are designed to simply cater for the Muslim diet or interests (not to judge on or manage an individual's religious practices). I cannot host or lead all the tours as I work full time. Sorry :( But tour leaders will always be chosen who empathise and respect a Muslim traveller's requirements. Will do my best to ensure any tours or experiences or holidays are sustainable. So they contribute positively to the folks on the ground. I can arrange philanthropic donations so if you have zakat - you can disperse this via Amcariza Foundation's FFABB project. (http://amcarizafoundation.org/) More on that to follow.
I urge you to attend my meet ups rather than leaving online messages and questions for me. Any meet ups I arrange are also face to face Q&A times to find out more detailed information or answer the FAQs. Diet will be strictly halal - and when the trip involves no meat i.e. vegetarian/seafood diet - I will inform you.
From time to time, I may post my own Lovedesh curated holidays (be silly not to) but currently these have very limited spaces and for everyone - Muslim or not. No judgment please on religion. Wear your hijab - or not. Practice as little or as much as you want. This is a holiday where you simply travel with other Muslims. The option will always be there to allow you to read Namaz in those destinations where it is possible. Any profanity, prejudice, gender/sectarian (Shia, Sunni)/racial discrimination. spamming, abuse or intolerance towards me or any other member, will not be tolerated and result in immediate banning. Goes without saying but you must respect the local culture, folks and religious or cultural practices. Which may be very different to your own. Anyone travelling with under 18s must be responsible for them. If you have never travelled alone, in a group or without family, please know patience, open mindedness and respect is a pre-requisite. But do not let that put you off because we all had to start somewhere. I will help you all you can to get travelling. If this Meet Up is successful, I reserve the right to to charge membership dues at a future date. Anyone booking a holiday is responsible for their own behaviour and conduct. And to follow tour operator's and local guides' guidance. I cannot follow up on complaints about fellow travellers on MUR trips on how they behaved or should have - (unless it is a criminal or offensive nature). This is what travelling is all about. Comprehensive travel insurance must be booked prior to any travel.