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Women who travel

Debbie Nicol shares her extraordinary travel insights in this interview with VakanShe. Travel is her prime antidote to any overwork or out-of-balance situations in her busy work life as the Managing Director of a Dubai-based business consultancy and learning organisation.


She is an entrepreneur, a global citizen and someone who craves nature and connectivity. She is the author of ‘Travelling Embers’, a book (yet more appropriately described as a reflection tool) with lessons that she gathered from her travels around the world and that have contributed to her personal evolution within the changing world. If ever she can’t get away and travel, she will retreat in the world of writing.


What does traveling mean to you?

Travelling is freedom. It’s really that simple! The very nature of travel means we free ourselves of routine, escaping the familiar and known and re-position ourselves into fresh perspectives, with new people, in new surroundings.


There is no better way to learn. There is no better way to recharge. There is no better way to transport yourself into a phase of renewal other than travel.


I learn because I am off automatic pilot, with every sense awakened. From the gentlest whispers of the wind against my skin to the loudest orchestra in a city center square,  I learn, feel and explore. I recharge or reboot because every task in a new environment will face a lack of knowledge or skills, so the energy runs high in the face of change and challenge for me. I can find the tiniest amount of excitement and gratitude in performing the most mundane of tasks in a new environment.  I have to listen to each new word, home in on each plate of indescribable food and absorb the antics behind each new behaviour. It’s like creating a new jigsaw puzzle!

Interviews with globetrotting and adventurous women with wanderlust

Why do you travel and what do you search for when traveling?

My primary purpose of travel is adventure, as it brings such bliss, joy and accomplishment to me. Whether I’m trekking Mont Blanc, sledding in the Arctic, sea-caving in Cyprus, swimming with whale sharks in Oman, exploring Annapurna, sharing nature with gorillas in Rwanda, detoxing in Thailand, I’m ‘under process’, growing, exploring, learning – and accomplishing ‘being’ just that little more with each new experience.


Have you ever experienced something extraordinary while traveling that you would like to share?

Every trip has unique-ness. All adventure is extraordinary. In fact, the definition of ‘extraordinary’ differs for every individual. For me, this word transports me to a place of wonder. Is it the people who add the flavour of ‘extraordinary’, the sights and sounds of the landscape and culture or the very interactions and connections themselves. Personally, I believe all three contribute to the degree of ‘extraordinary’.


In the book ‘Travelling Embers’, each and every short reflection in the book carries with it the essence of ‘extraordinary’ travel; otherwise, if not extraordinary, would it have morphed into a written form for others to reflect and learn from? The avocado head rubs in Indonesia, the children on the train in Vietnam, the goats in the wadis of Jordan, the near-miss in Khan El Khalili souq in Egypt, the isolation in the slums of Bangladesh, the goose bumps from the gospel singers in Africa, the antics of the mid-winter swimmers of Sweden, the amazing coincidence in New York, the fauna’s habits in the desert of the UAE, the ‘bathroom’ techniques of the sled dogs in the Arctic, the 2004 tsunami of South-East Asia – ‘extraordinary’ is all around us all the time!  


What is your favourite destination?

I often say I need to be running six lives at any one moment. It is simply impossible for me to name just one.

Which country is according to you a ‘must go’ destination for women?

Any and every country. One that offers serenity and the highest level of safety (and much acceptance of women) is Oman.


Do you have a bucket list and if you do what is on there?

My bucket list consists of more and more life! I still want to navigate Macchu Picchu along with so many other places. I really don't want my travel journeys to ever stop.


After returning from trekking Mont Blanc recently, I visited a chiropodist as I had a strange feeling in one of my feet. I was relieved to receive the chiropodist’s verdict: ‘with those feet you’ll be trekking until you are 100!’ Little did I know that a chiropodist could get so excited nor did I know that there was such a condition as ‘healthy feet’. Yet, I’m happy to hear that my bucket list will likely extend for many years to come. There’s simply too many corners of the world yet to explore.

Do you have any tips you would like to share with other women who travel?

I represent the ‘single travellers’ club regularly! My main tip: Immerse yourself in every new culture, yet at the same time never ever shut down the senses that keep an eye on what’s happening around you.


One last thing: Finally the world is waking up to single travellers, so do be on the lookout for hotels that will ensure you are not paying the same for a room as do a couple. It may not be a proportionate saving, yet it’s a sign of understanding the reality of travel in the world of ‘singles’.

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Do you feel inspired by Debbie's stories and would you like to read some of her Travelling Embers? Click here for a sneak peek into her book.

If you wonder how Debbie has incorporated her travel experiences into a corporate business model, check out the leadership model that she developed.

To get in touch with Debbie, please email her on: