Q&A with a Muslim Influencer: Ellie Quinn

Updated: Jan 8



Our guest influencer for this issue of Battuta is Ellie Quinn ( _equinn ), a digital creator - a travel and lifestyle influencer. Join us as we try to learn more about Ellie.


Ellie, welcome! We are all so curious to know more about you. Please feel free to introduce yourself more to our readers.


Hello! Thank you for having me as your guest influencer for this issue! I’m 31 years old, I’m from the UK and although I grew up between the Midlands and South Wales, I am now living in Manchester.


I have worked for myself travel blogging full time since 2018 which I still have to pinch myself about sometimes!



My blog is called The Wandering Quinn and my travel Instagram account is @thewanderingquinn. I became Muslim in 2020, Alhamdulilah and I’ll talk about this more later as travel had a huge impact on this decision.


I love visiting new places, even if that is an area near my home I haven’t been to before, and I am a lover of the small, beautiful things and moments in life.


The HalalTravels Team believes traveling starts with inspiration. How about you, when did you start traveling, and what inspired you to travel?


I did my first big trip in 2010 when I was 20 years old. In my late teens I was desperate to get out of where I was living in the UK and see more! Back then social media wasn’t that big so I only knew of a few people who had travelled via Facebook and I was so amazed by the places they were visiting which were mainly Australia and South East Asia, and I used to order lots of travel magazines to browse through.



On 1st January 2010, I remember thinking that I didn’t want to spend another summer in the UK, I wanted to do something fun and memorable!


I searched Google for ‘how to work abroad’ and Camp America appeared. This seemed perfect for me, it was the chance to go far away to the USA, (a dream place to me then after all the American TV I grew up watching!), a chance to work and earn money so I didn’t need to save as much, and a chance to do it with a company so it was all organised and I was supported. I applied that day, got a confirmed placement a few weeks later and I started that summer teaching Horse Riding at an all girls summer camp in North Carolina.



This experience really opened up my eyes and gave me the travel bug. Especially after backpacking some of the USA after I finished Camp. I loved visiting these huge cities and was happy and confident travelling by myself and staying in hostels which opened up a lot of possibilities for me.


A year later after working at home and saving money, I went to Thailand for a month which made me fall in love with South East Asia, then I started my working holiday visa in Australia which quickly turned into 2 years working and living there!



How many countries have you visited so far? Any favorites, and do you still get excited every time you are about to travel?



I’ve been to 61 countries. Most of them I’ve been to just once but Thailand, India and Indonesia are countries I have returned to multiple times. I really love South East Asia, South Asia and the Middle East!


I still get excited before I start to travel, yes. Depending on the trip, I do also get nervous, especially if I’m travelling on my own but I do really love the mixed feeling of excitement and nervousness. I really hope that feeling never stops.



When did you start blogging? Have you blogged about all your trips? Any essential travel tips that you would like to share with our readers?


I started blogging in 2014 documenting my first trip around South East Asia after living in Australia. I was using travel blogs to help me plan this backpacking trip, they helped me so much that I decided I wanted to share my experience to help others too. Unfortunately I didn’t start out on the right platform so they didn’t get read by many people and it wasn’t until 2015 that I started to learn how to actually write a blog so it will be viewed by readers through Google.



My biggest travel tips are to pack as light as possible, even though I know it’s incredibly hard! I am a huge fan of planning and researching but many of my best and most memorable experiences have come from surprise moments so I do encourage people to not over-plan and to leave room in the itinerary and trip for something spontaneous to happen.


I am a big fan of hostels and I’ve met so many amazing people in them. Hostels offer good value accommodation with friendly and helpful staff and they are a brilliant chance to meet other travellers. These days hostels are pretty fancy so I encourage people to forget any negative stories or opinions of hostels they have and give it a go next time to travel, even if it’s within your home country!



Covid 19 travel restrictions have allowed you to discover the United Kingdom more. Any surprises?


I have really enjoyed seeing more of the UK this year and it has made me love Wales even more. I’ve done so many hikes in South and North Wales this year and visited so many beautiful beaches, I also didn’t realise what a diverse city Cardiff was and I really recommend it for a UK city break.



Do you prefer flying or going on road trips? What are your travel plans for the rest of the year and 2022 insha’Allah?


I haven’t done that many road trips, especially outside of the UK as I’ve never been confident driving by myself abroad and the cost is usually more, so I’d say that I prefer flying. There are many big countries like Canada and New Zealand that I’d love to road trip around in the future though!



My upcoming plans over the next few months are to visit a few countries in Europe as travel from the UK starts to open up. I’m going to Norway this week and hope to visit some countries like Spain, Morocco and Turkey again soon inshaAllah.


Right now I’m not planning any trips much further than Europe but I hope that the end of 2022 will open up that possibility.



In addition to your various travels, I know you have embarked on a spiritual journey. Tell us more about your journey to Islam? Did the countries you visited have any impact on your decision to become Muslim?



Yes, I’ve been on quite a journey recently in more ways than one. I became Muslim in August 2020 Alhamdulilah. My travels definitely impacted this and enabled me to learn more about Islam. I’ve always loved visiting Mosques when I’ve travelled and for many years I’ve loved Muslim Countries but it wasn’t until I went to Saudi Arabia as a tourist at the start of 2020 that I got interested in learning about Islam as a religion.


I loved seeing people in Saudi stop everything to pray and after living with a Saudi family for a few weeks I felt like I saw Islam in practise which is something I hadn’t seen before.




Whilst I was in Jeddah, I decided to go to Madinah as I saw online that non-Muslims could go, so at the last minute I got on a coach from Jeddah to Madinah and spent 2 days seeing Madinah which had a huge effect on me. It was amazing seeing Muslims from all around the world in one place and Madinah does have such a serene feel to it.


Madinah really made me interested in learning more and not long after my visit the Pandemic started. I was in Indonesia on an island that I loved called Gili Trawangan, it’s actually an Islamic Island and I ended up staying there for 4 months during the start of Covid and the first lockdown. It was a great place to learn about Islam as I had a mosque outside my villa and could hear the Adhan 5 times a day, and as a travel blogger, my work came to a halt which gave me time to learn. I fasted for Ramadan in these 4 months, learnt to pray and left Indonesia knowing I wanted to do my shahada which I did a few months later back in the UK in London Central Mosque.


How has the journey been? Exciting or challenging? Congratulations on your engagement, by the way! Masha’Allah, we wish you all the very best.


The journey has been really lovely, Alhamdulilah. I do feel lucky that Covid gave me the chance to spend time learning and researching. I had some Muslim friends to turn to and ask questions to but because of the situation of not being able to meet people, I didn’t have any outside opinions or pressures on me which I still really appreciate.



I started my second Instagram account @_equinn in September 2020 after doing my Shahada and moving to Istanbul for a few months. Via this channel I have met and connected with so many amazing women who have really helped me, supported me and given me a sense of community even though it has been online up until now. I know a lot of New Muslims feel lonely but I haven’t had that thanks to an online community.


I started my second Instagram account @_equinn in September 2020 after doing my Shahada and moving to Istanbul for a few months. Via this channel I have met and connected with so many amazing women who have really helped me, supported me and given me a sense of community even though it has been online up until now. I know a lot of New Muslims feel lonely but I haven’t had that thanks to an online community.



I get comfort in the Hadith that says, “the most beloved of deeds to Allah SWT are those that are most consistent, even if it is small.” (Bukhari) Have you experienced the happiness associated with taking these small, consistent steps along this beautiful journey?


That is a really lovely Hadith and I can really relate to it. Whilst I was looking into Islam I watched and read many revert stories and realised that many reverts come to Islam and suddenly change their lives - how they dress, how they socialise, how they are around their family and non-Muslim friends, and often this can result in loss of identity.


Therefore, when I started this journey I was aware that I didn’t want to suddenly change into a new person, I still wanted to be myself but with different beliefs and Alhamdulilah, I feel like I have done this well. I have made changes slowly and I have noticed how my mind has changed a lot too in the last year which I thank Allah for.



I know you are currently on a “seacation” onboard a cruise, and I would like to thank you for taking the time to respond to our questions. Any final thoughts you would like to share?


Thank you! The cruise has been really wonderful although it has left me wanting to look into Halal Cruise options so inshaAllah I will experience this soon!


Like you, I am just a huge advocate of travel. I think it opens our mind in such a lovely way, enhances our character and gives us a wider understanding of the world, as well as many beautiful memories.


Like you, I am just a huge advocate of travel. I think it opens our mind in such a lovely way, enhances our character and gives us a wider understanding of the world, as well as many beautiful memories.



I also know a lot of people don’t travel as they don’t want to travel alone and don’t have friends or family to go with. In this case I really recommend group tours! I love group travel and group tours because they offer full support before and on the trip, and best of all, pre-made friends!


Before Covid, I started running group trips for women in India and I plan to continue these when the situation improves inshaAllah so be sure to follow me for updates on this if you want to travel with me and an amazing group of women!




@halaltravelscom

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