Known for her pen name Muslim Travel Girl, Elena Nikolova helps Muslim and non-Muslim travelers on everything from women’s legal rights when it comes to wearing a hijab in the airport to the best halal restaurants in London. “My main element of why I do what I do is to show Muslims that everything’s possible, and you should travel and experience because you don’t want to be marginalized. And to non-Muslims, [I want] to show them that we are actually cool people and that we want everything that any other human being wants.”
Born in Bulgaria, raised in Greece, and a resident in the U.K., Ms.Nikolova converted to Islam seven years ago and started the blog in 2013 when she noticed a lack of information available to millennial travelers.
Travel + Leisure talked to the traveling expert and here are some snippets from the interview:
— About 30 percent of my audience is non-Muslims and visit because they like a different perspective.
— [Being a Muslim woman wearing a hijab] can be very challenging, especially going through the airport. A lot of women have had issues being asked to remove their hijab, when in reality they don’t have to remove their hijab.
— There are a lot of girls starting out now to travel to more non-Muslim countries, but because it feels more comfortable, usually Muslims go to Muslim countries.
— I get a lot of questions about how I dress. In places that I know are dominantly Muslim, I’ll potentially wear a turban instead of a scarf, but not always. Like in the morning I just wore a headscarf, the same as a hijab, and I just walked out, and I think it’s great.
— I’ve traveled in several countries and I’ve never had an issue finding a halal restaurant anywhere I’ve been. There’s at least one halal restaurant.