This week we have the pleasure of sitting down with the enchanting Aurélie Bouti, travel and fashion creator on Instagram @aureliestory.
In this captivating interview, we delve into her remarkable journey to becoming an influential voice in the realm of globetrotting. Over the past decade, she and her husband have transformed their post-wedding honeymoon escapade into a mesmerizing adventure that has captivated audiences worldwide.
From capturing the essence of picturesque getaways to curating a digital tapestry of awe-inspiring destinations, their evolution as travelers and storytellers paints a vivid portrait of wanderlust and dedication.
Join us as we explore the origins of this remarkable odyssey, gain insights into their daily routines, uncover the allure of the Middle East, and glean wisdom from their enchanting experiences.
FIRSTLY, WE WOULD LOVE TO KNOW HOW YOU BECAME A LUXURY TRAVEL BLOGGER AND GET TO WHERE YOU ARE TODAY.
I started this adventure 10 years ago just after my wedding. My husband and I went on our honeymoon, then we went again and again and again until today. At first, we just wanted to take beautiful holiday photos for our albums, then over time, we tried to improve to make it more and more beautiful. My Instagram account started to grow a little more every day.
I created my blog and started writing articles to be more efficient in my work. I spent hours answering all my followers' questions and it was getting unmanageable! It was much more practical for me and for those who follow me to gather all the information concerning my travels in one place.
I think it's time, but especially age that has oriented us towards more and more luxurious travel. We still keep a fist of honor not to take a liking to it and vary the standard of our trips to inspire all budgets.
TELL US WHY YOU LOVE WHAT YOU DO.
For many reasons, you can imagine. Of course, the trips and the unforgettable experiences. We have the impression of having already lived a thousand lives! And then the encounters. In recent years it has not been uncommon for us to create sincere friendships during our adventures.
Finally, having the chance to share my work with my husband Youssef is one reason why I love my job. It must be said that we spend most of our time traveling away from our families, which can sometimes be emotionally hard. We miss a lot of important family moments, celebrations, and births and we don't see our nephews and nieces growing up, unfortunately. His presence by my side for the past 15 years confirms to me that all this time away from our families is not in vain.
WHAT DOES YOUR DAILY WORK ROUTINE LOOK LIKE?
I always start my day with an iced latte, then I read my emails and I manage the emergencies of the day. I work an average of 12 hours a day, mainly in front of a screen. Youssef, for his part, sorts the content of our previous trip to choose the best videos that will integrate our future montages. Around noon I do my 40min of daily sport (well, I try) then I take my lunch. I generally spend the afternoon and evening doing video editing with Youssef.
FOCUSING ON THE MIDDLE EAST THIS MONTH, WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN EXPLORING THE MIDDLE EAST AS A TRAVEL DESTINATION?
In recent years the Middle East has opened up to tourism and the world has been able to observe all these wonderful treasures which have been secretly well kept until today. After that, I think the Middle East has not only aroused my interest but also that of the whole world.
Gulf countries are evolving at breakneck speed! Every year I witness major changes that would take 30 years to observe in the rest of the world.
Finally, the security that some of these countries offer me is the reason why I like to go there. Being a woman and being able to go out at any time without worrying about my safety is priceless.
WHICH MIDDLE EASTERN CITY OR DESTINATION WOULD YOU RECOMMEND AS A MUST-VISIT FOR TRAVELLERS, AND WHY?
I will never say it enough but go to Saudi Arabia!
The tourist visa was inaugurated only 3 years ago. The country is still quite a virgin in terms of tourism but not for long. The country aims to become one of the most touristic countries in the world and I think it is an achievable ambition. So, trust me, and get there before the country becomes totally taken over by a horde of travellers. Among the must-see places, is the city of AlUla, known for its breathtaking landscapes, and I loved visiting Jeddah.
I unequivocally recommend the Emirate of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. Sharjah is much less known than Dubai and Abu Dhabi but conceals very impressive treasures such as the archaeological site of Mleiha, the Sharjah Museum of Islamic civilization, and the city of Khorfakkan. It has been considered the cultural capital of the Emirates, much less ostentatious but just as luxurious as the rest of the country.
If you are in Egypt, let yourself be tempted by the oasis of Siwa. It is a place known for the beauty of its otherworldly salt pools. The population is very welcoming, and the food is delicious. The city also has a large cultural heritage like vestiges of the ancient Egyptian civilization.
DO YOU HAVE ANY EXCITING TRIPS COMING UP AND COULD YOU TELL US MORE?
Yes, we have! I always reserve the months of July and August to visit Europe. I have a trip planned in the south of France, and 2 trips to Italy including a road trip. And nothing has been decided yet, but it is highly likely that I will go to Saudi Arabia again in August. It's going to be a very busy summer, but I can't wait to live all these experiences!
LIST THE TOP 3 COUNTRIES ON YOUR BUCKET LIST AND WHY?
So, of course, I have many more destinations on my bucket list but if I must choose 3, I will definitely put Oman there. This destination has been on my mind for a while now. I had already planned to go there a few years ago but unfortunately, for various reasons it never happened. This emerald-colored water and the Sultan Qaboos mosque made me dream for a long time.
In the second position, I would say Qatar. I must admit that the World Cup has put an unprecedented spotlight on this country, which did not leave me indifferent. The beautiful city of Doha has been highlighted and I hope to be able to visit there in the near future.
Finally, I would like to tick the Lebanon box on my bucket list. This country has been eyeing us for a while now. My husband dreams of seeing the Baatara Gorge waterfalls in Tannourine with his own eyes and he managed to convince me too. And I must be honest, the Lebanese food plays a crucial role in our desire to go there.
LASTLY, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE PLANNING THEIR FIRST TRIP TO THE MIDDLE EAST TO ENSURE THEY HAVE AN ENRICHING AND SAFE EXPERIENCE?
The Middle East has one of the richest cultural heritages in the world. Prepare your trip in advance to be sure not to miss the unmissable. Some activities are so popular that you have to book them in advance. Keep in mind that your plans can also change on the spot so leave room for spontaneity. Believe me, I speak from experience!
Security in the Middle East differs from country to country. The Gulf countries, for example, are extremely safe. Crime rates are among the lowest in the world. Other countries in the Middle East are not so lucky, find out and read the recommendations of your government before going there.
Keep in mind that this region of the world is predominantly Muslim. Some areas are more conservative than others, so plan some modest outfits (for women but also for men). These outfits will also be used to visit mosques where a dress code is mandatory (as in churches in Europe). I think taking a guide is a very wise choice in this region. However, if this is your first visit to the Middle East, expect all your prejudices to be shattered and discover an example of open-mindedness and tolerance in this part of the world.
Finally, and above all, bring sunscreen!