For many people, travelling is a long-awaited dream that may never come true due to the high expenses required for transportation, hotels, and other trip necessities.
Yara Yehia is one of millions of Egyptians who used to believe this. Eventually, she learned that this was not the case when she decided to roam the world and explore as many cultures as possible.
Her first instinct was to share her experiences with her friends through videos she had captured during her explorations. However, she realised her videos were a perfect base for understanding the needs of travel for thousands of people in search of tips for low-budget trips. This understanding led to an idea that would allow Yehia to share her travels with the world.
“Hezaha wa Safer” (Shake it and Travel) is an online travelling channel through which Yehia shares her travelling experiences from the countries she has visited. Through short videos that last between four and eight minutes, Yehia, who is often joined by her husband, explains the process of preparing for travel. She starts by detailing the procedure of obtaining a visa, describing touristic places to visit, what to keep in mind while roaming different countries, and how and where you can find accommodations. She explains all of this while keeping in mind that her audience is looking to spend as little money as possible.
“When I began travelling, I used to take months to prepare for a short vacation just to save as much amount of money as possible,” explained Yehia, who further explains that she noticed there was very little information available to an Arabic-speaking audience.
“I used to search a lot online to find the best places to stay, and most of these blogs were written in English, so I was always wondering about the people who want to travel abroad and are not very good at English,” she said.
“Hezaha w Safer” is considered the first Arabic travelling channel that provides an audience with details on how to visit countries and the steps to be taken for new travellers.
With her videos, Yehia joins other travel bloggers, like Mahmoud Moustafa Kamel, who handles a famous Facebook page titled “No fixed address”, and Egyptian blogger Aya Shohdy, who writes an online diary as one of the few Egyptian female solo travellers. However, what distinguishes “Hezaha W safer” from the others is that none of the above have filmed detailed videos about their trips, but only aim to provide people with general travelling tips.
Yehia, who is only 27-years-old, works as a teacher with her husband in Malaysia. She never imagined that the videos, which she began sharing as guiding tips for a few of friends who wanted to visit Kuala Lumpur during their honeymoon, would turn into a famous and reliable source for over 33,000 followers within just three months.
“We never imagined we’d be popular or people might ever know us! We travelled around 22 countries within four years, and my husband has been travelling for ten years and we assure everyone that travelling is a lot easier that it looks,” said Yehia.
Through her videos, audiences are introduced to many countries that do not require a visa for Egyptians passport holders.
Having been born and raised in Egypt, Yara is aware of what is important in Egyptian culture, such as saving money for cars, apartments, weddings, and shopping. Travel, however, changed her perspective of how she spends and saves money. “After I began travelling, I rarely go shopping anymore. I know for sure that if I had saved the amount of money I used to spend on shopping, I would’ve had enough money to travel the whole world.”
Being raised in a certain culture makes a person an unbreakable part of it. In Egypt, its common to judge people for the brands they wear, the size of their car, and on any material thing.
Yehia said she used to be one of these people, who mock others for being from a poor background or for wearing ugly clothers. But when you travel and see different cultures, Yehia explained, you start to judge people less and less.
“Now, when we travel, we don’t stay in hotels as they cost too much, and we stay in guest houses instead. Also, we stopped using traditional airlines and go for low-cost carriers instead. This way of thinking is rarely found from where I come from because in Egyptian culture as long as you can afford it, you must stay at the most luxurious hotel and pay money to have fun,” Yehia explained. “This led me to staying 10 days in the Maldives and spending only EGP 5,000, which is unbelievable to many people.”
When Egyptians want to travel, they usually hit up the more common touristic countries, like Spain and France. However, the couple aims to visit new places and let people explore using wider options. “We want to go to new places, like Latin America. We eventually want to be the first and biggest Arab online channel that provides people with all necessary information on how to travel the globe.”