We hung out with Bassi Hamid, one half of the dynamic traveling duo over at Ole Travels. Dubai based travel consultancy Olé Travels specialises in organising themed trips to Europe on budget.
Passionate about travel and all the growth that travel experiences can bring, Ole Travels go to great efforts to make sure that all trips provided by them are enriched with activities that will leave us feeling more connected to local culture than we believe possible.
Bassi has been regularly traveling to Europe since 2007 visiting over 30 cities in the continent alone. During this time she gained massive experience in traveling on a lower budget. Infatuated and inspired by the city’s streets, we find out why Bassi intends to inspire us all to travel more and achieve our dreams of experiencing different cultures whilst having fun.
Hey, Bassi, can you introduce yourself to us?
I’m Bassi, an Egyptian who spent most of her life in Dubai, UAE. An MBA holder with more than 10 years of experience in multinational companies and who chose to leave it all to pursue things that I love and excel at – photography and travel. Since 2012 I have been a full-time wedding and lifestyle photographer and in 2015 I decided alongside my fiance (now my husband) to launch Ole Travels Consultancy.
Can you tell us a little bit about you and Ole Travels?
My passion for travel started in 2007 when I traveled for the first time to Europe, Paris to be specific, where I fell in love with the city and the rest is history as they say.
Since then I have been traveling regularly to Europe and some parts of Asia, visiting more than 35 cities in 13 countries. With my planning and organizing skills getting better, I started planning trips for friends and acquaintances. In 2015, we launched Ole Travels offering themed tours and retreats to Europe such as photography tours, food tours, girls getaway, as well as yoga and wellness retreats.
How has the journey been since launching?
This has been as wild a ride as it can be! So many ups and downs, valuable lessons learned, wonderful people met. It is much more than I expected it to be and I look forward every day to what this experience will bring me.
What was the concept in mind when launching Olé Travels Consultancy?
Travel to me has always been about the experiences and the growth we go through while we leave the familiar behind. Traveling can be inspiring and challenging, prompting us to step up and discover ourselves while we discover the world.
Our main aim at the time when we started Ole Travels was to help as many people as possible see how they too can afford to travel. In the Middle East, the notion of travel implies luxurious living. And hence, most people thought traveling was not for them. We realized how outdated this notion is in this day and age with the rise in technology and accessibility of information and we wanted to raise awareness in this regard through Ole Travels.
Did you ever think that Olé Travels Consultancy would amount to becoming as popular as it is?
We honestly didn’t know what to expect. We were excited about sharing our passion with the world and helping more people travel. Having said that, we are extremely grateful for how far Ole Travels has made it and the goals we managed to achieve.
You launched Olé Travels Consultancy, alongside Amr your husband. What do you look for when it comes to creating an equally balanced business partnership/relationship?
Working with your life partner can be challenging at times. Yet, defining roles makes things a lot easier. So it is clear to both of us, who is in charge of what!
Since Amr is an Art Director by profession, he is in charge of all the art aspects of our brand such as the actual brand design, creating videos and leading photography tours, while I take care of the strategy, business development, content creation, and planning.
Mutual understanding is essential and crucial in business as it is in life.
How are you inspiring us to travel more and achieve our dreams of experiencing different cultures whilst having fun?
When my husband and I decided to launch Olé Travels, it was mainly to inspire and help people in the Middle East region to travel more. To show them that travel was affordable and one didn’t need to spend a fortune to be able to explore different parts of our beautiful world. So we decided to achieve this in different ways, one of which is organizing themed tours and retreats that allowed travelers to have more authentic local experiences, to interact more with the local culture, to change perspectives and stereotypes that have long been engraved in our minds generation after generation about different cultures that inhabited foreign lands. We coupled this with starting our YouTube channel, where we post travel tips, mini travel guides, and recommendations.
Having visited over 30 cities, can you us where has been the best place you have visited so far?
That’s a tough one since I have several favorites! The Amalfi Coast in south Italy, Ronda in south Spain and Paris remain to be on top of my list. Each has its own feel, a unique way of inspiring me.
Best local or street food tasted?
Arancini from south Italy is so addictive!
What are you learning about in different cultures?
Seeing how different people lived in the world, the most valuable lesson I learned from traveling and interacting with different cultures is that we have so much more in common than we think. The similarities greatly outweigh the differences. And this led me to think that we are all connected in some way.
What outlets do use to market the Olé Travels Consultancy brand?
Mainly social media such as Instagram and Facebook as well as word of mouth. We have had many travelers join us after they heard from a friend who has been on our previous trips.
Are you looking to monetise your company at any point by adding sponsorship or partnership opportunities?
We are definitely on the lookout for interesting partnership opportunities as well as sponsorship that falls in line with our main vision in Ole.
What is the best piece of advice you have received to date?
Trust the process. We tend to obsess over results, worry about whether we have done enough, and totally overlook the fact that there is so much that is out of our control and we need to consciously let go of that need to have everything go our way. Whatever happens is exactly the best thing that could happen at this point in time.
Where do you feel most inspired?
Nature and coastal cities seem to do the trick for me!
What are your top 3 tips for those who travel on a lower budget but are still looking to have an amazing time?
1.Make your bookings as early as possible (at least 3 months in advance)
2.Spend time on research and knowing exactly what you want to gain out of your travels. This will save you the hassle of spending money where it is not needed.
3.Be flexible with your standards and plans. This is the tip that helped me travel for years to so many beautiful places.
What does success look like in your eyes?
Peace of mind is a success for me, and knowing that through pursuing my passion I helped others achieve some of their dreams.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
Be your own best friend. Love and accept yourself fully, flaws and all. In the end, this is who I am living with from the time I’m born until I die.
Lastly, what is next for you 2018?
I’m ecstatic about what 2018 will bring me. I am exploring ways in which we can offer more unique experiences in our tours that will make a difference into each and every traveler who joins us. I’m looking forward to visiting new countries, meeting more interesting people, developing partnerships, facing new challenges and growing into a better person.
Instagram: @olelot @bassi81