I'm a woman of color who travels alone. I rarely saw travelers like me, so I started hosting meetups around the world.

The author and a group of women in a bar smiling for a photo
Although I love solo travel, I also really enjoy meeting new people.Nabila Ismail
  • I'm a South Asian American solo traveler and I don't see many women like me traveling alone.

  • Eventually, I began planning meetups and gatherings with people like me around the globe.

  • I've made so many connections during my travels and I've loved meeting new people.

At 18 years old, I moved to Madrid, Spain, to become an au pair for the summer.

As a South Asian American woman, I only told my parents after I booked my flight because I knew they'd never approve. They said I couldn't go because no one in our community had ever traveled like that before — it wasn't the norm for a woman in my culture to travel alone to another country.

But I went, and what they said began to really register with me once I began sharing my adventures online as a photo diary and gained followers who weren't just friends and family. Often, South Asian people, mainly women, would comment on my posts to ask how I got my parents to let me travel.

As I explored, I came across locals and other travelers who'd never met a Pakistani woman before — and I realized that I hadn't met many South Asian folks during my travels, either.

I knew they were out there and that many South Asian people travel alone and travel in general, so I began posting online even more to try to connect with the community. In February, a TikTok I posted looking for Desi girls who wanted to travel went viral — and it led me to plan a group trip to Bali.

Two woman cheersing parfaits on a beach
I've been able to connect with people on small and large scales as I've traveled.Nabila Ismail

I also started connecting with new people everywhere I went on small and large scales.

In Australia, I spent time with two South Asian women who invited me to cook dinner and see a new Bollywood movie with them. I felt like I was at home with friends as we bonded over how home-cooked Indian/Pakistani food is unmatched and spoke in English mashed with Hindi.

Over 140 people RSVPed to one of my New York City meetups and I got to connect with people who wished to travel despite not having familial support, had faced similar cultural struggles, and didn't have friends to travel with.

So many people reached out to me in each city that I started planning more official meetups and group trips, eventually creating the Dose of Travel Club for South Asian travelers.

Building a community around the world has been the best part of my travels

I've been to many countries but what makes travel so special is the people I meet.Nabila Ismail

I've now officially spent the past 15 months planning group trips and meetups while traveling the world solo.

Since I began posting online, I've met dozens of people who also want to travel the world and seek out more South Asian friends. My travels have been so much better because of the community I've found along the way.

Although I love traveling on my own, I've thoroughly enjoyed meeting like-minded people wherever I go and I feel joy uniting people in their hometowns. I hope I can continue to inspire more women of color to go outside their comfort zones and create meaningful friendships around the globe.

Read the original article on Insider