Njoud Al Mahfoodh: Saudi Wanderlust

A 25-year-old solo traveler.

Who is the Saudi Wanderlust?

I began my travels in 2013, and since then I’ve visited about 27 countries. But I’m not looking for quantity as much as I’m looking for quality. I love throwing myself out of my comfort zone. I like to find out how other people live and realize that the world is much bigger than the town we live in. And when I come back home I feel a whole new person, I learn a lot! Not only about the place I went to but about myself and the world around me. Something in my mind shifts, and that changes everything.

After all those trips my friends and family started asking if they can join me. From there the idea of creating a travel group started. The name comes from my soul’s constant urge to travel.

I’m trying to change the Saudi girl’s prospective about traveling alone and where to travel; meaning I don’t want people to go to London or Paris and shop, sit in cafes all day and restaurants all night. I want show them that there are at least 150 countries that are worth the visit!

At the Grand Canyon.

At the Grand Canyon.

Wanderlust’s local insights:

Locally Al Qassim is my favorite destination for those who are looking for historical places to visit. Al Ulaa is a very promising future destination. It’s a hidden treasure and a must see for those who live is Saudi. Taif and Al Qarah Mountain in Al Ahsa  are also highly underrated.

I was told you arrange trips for people as well. Can you tell us a bit about the kind of tours you arrange? Who are you catering to?

In Saudi Wanderlust we are looking for experience rather than a tour or sightseeing.

In each trip we dress up in the national costume we are in, we meet locals, break bread with them and ask them questions, celebrate their functions and festivals. Sometimes we go for a safari, a husky ride, dive, or just mediate and do yoga. It all depends.

Visiting Pena Castle Sintra, Portugal.

Visiting Pena Castle Sintra, Portugal.

What are the challenges of being a Saudi female wanderlust (if there are any)? How do you overcome them?

Coming from an understanding and supporting family, I don’t have challenges myself per say. The only challenge that we face while organizing a trip for girls is the approval of their parents, due to local customs. I think we will soon overcome this challenge with the shift in mentality we’re coming to terms with.

Discovering a temple in Udaipur, India.

Discovering a temple in Udaipur, India.

What advice would you give to people who want to wanderlust themselves but don’t know where to start?

Start planning now! Explore new destinations instead of just copying other people’s routes. What suits others doesn’t necessarily suit you. Remember: No matter what your budget is, you can make it work.

“My next travel destination is my favorite one. I’m always looking for something new.” – Njoud Al Mahfoodh

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