Wanderlust Diaries with Ahlam of Straight Up Bananas

Wanderlust is defined as a strong irresistible, impulsive desire to travel or longing to wander. This segment features a Q&A with wanderlusters from all around the world who have explored this beautiful earth and have very interesting and valuable insights to share with us. Hoping you will be inspired to go out there and wander…

Meet  Ahlam Altaamare,(aka Straight Up Bananas)  a fellow foodie and travel blogger who I met at a Bloggers meet up, Ahlam is such a free spirit, so witty,funny, gorgeous and an awesome cook. Ahlam has  traveled extensively and has given up her job to travel full time. I only wish I had the courage to that. Girl you’re inspiring ..Read more about Ahlam’s incredible journey and follow her on social media on links at end of post.

Tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from, what you do etc

Hey guys! I’m Ahlam from Straight-upBananas.com

I’m half Puerto Rican and half Palestinian and I grew up in the States and in Jordan…and now I live in Dubai. Confused yet? Tell me about it!I’ve recently quit my job to pursue my passion as a fulltime food and travel blogger. I’ve also just recently started my own online freelance copywriting business. So to say I’ve got my plate full, is an understatement. But I’m happy. I’m healthy. What more could I possibly ask for?


A beautiful sunset and a beautiful Ahlam at Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy

What one thing do you enjoy most about travelling? I hate routine. So travel is the best way to force yourself out of the ordinary, out of the ‘known’, and in turn, out of any routine. Oh, and the food…I love the food.


Ahlam loves her food 🙂

Weirdest/ most fun thing that has happened to you on a flight. Well, on our way to Goa, we had a connecting flight in Mumbai. Apparently, the airport there is a ‘silent airport’ (whatever that means). We had no idea and so we stood right in front of the boarding gate. Our flight was delayed 15 minutes and then again another 15 minutes. After getting tired of asking the staff when we’d be boarding, we decided to just hold our horses and wait till they announced that the flight to Goa was now boarding. We waited about an hour and a half…we saw countless planes begin to board and kept a close eye on the screens the whole time. Almost 2 hours later, we realized the people that were lined up in the gate behind us were heading to Goa and the announcement was made in Hindi (the screens didn’t say anything). Long story short, we missed our flight and ended up spending the night on the cold floors of the Mumbai airport, sharing a blanket with some other folks that were as confused and livid as we were. It’s funny now when I look back; but, it most certainly was not a laughing matter at the time.

Favorite destination and why? That’s really a tough question. There’s so much I want to see before I choose one place. But, at this particular point in my life, if I had to choose only one place, it would be Marrakesh and Chefchaouen, Morocco.


Gorgeous views in Chefchaouen

In Morocco everything is just amplified. Food isn’t just good, it’s spectacular. People aren’t just kind, if you form a bond with them, they’ll give you the clothes on their backs, invite you to their homes for dinner and talk you into spending the rest of your life in Morocco. Every corner, you’re surrounded by absolute beauty and color. If Morocco isn’t on your Bucket List, it NEEDS to be right now!

Chefchouen streets - Morocco - Copy

Streets of Chefchaouen

Most memorable/ fondest/funniest travel memory? Each one of our trips has its own memories. But if I had to choose one from the top of my head, it would be in Thailand. After enjoying the hustle and bustle that Patong Beach in Phuket had to offer, we moved on to the outskirts of the island to Panwa Beach and then later to Koh Yao Yai island. Not a soul in sight for a good 5 days. Our villa was right on the beach. I didn’t have to wear shoes or makeup the entire time. It was heaven.


Ahlam in Phuket

What Top three travel tips that have proven valuable on your travels? 

  • Less is always more in terms of packing. You’ll always be tempted to over pack, don’t do it. It’s always a pain in the behind.
  • Never, ever let petty arguments or negativity get to you. Sometimes, when you’re out of your comfort zone, you’ll be tempted to argue with whoever is traveling with you. Do not do it. Deflect any negativity–both of you. It’ll only leave you with a bitter taste during your trip and a blemish in your memory—there’s plenty of time to bicker when you get home J
  • Always buy that special handicraft when you see it. Don’t convince yourself that you’ll go back and buy it. That’s never worked with me and I’ve always regretted it each time.
    Thailand - Floating Market

    Floating markets in Thailand

Do you prefer planned tours or making your own plans. What works for you? I like making my own itinerary. I go full-on crazy, obsessive research mode before each trip. I read reviews, look through photos and research places and activities like crazy. So far, it’s always paid off though.

Petra - Jordan

Petra Jordan

What is your biggest fear about travelling? Wasting a trip by worrying about trivial things like taking the “perfect picture” or wasting the day at a popular landmark just because it’s the proper touristy thing to do. Does that make sense at all?


Ahlam at the Elephant Seal Rookery in Carmel Valley, California

Where’s your next destination? Next week we’re going on our third Euro trip this year. We’re going to start in Amsterdam, then take the train to Bruges, Paris and then Auvergne.

Best dish so far on your travels? Lamb, prune and almond tagine in Morocco—hands down!dscn0252

Some people think travelling is a waste of time and money how would you convince them otherwise? Honestly, I wouldn’t even bother trying to convince them. They just wouldn’t get it. All I know is I could end up going homeless from traveling and I’d still be happy.


Santhiya Koh Yao Yai Thailand.


Do you prefer travelling alone or in a group? Why? My husband and best friend is my travel buddy of choice. We always end up learning more about each other on each trip.

What do you do in your spare time? Plan my next trip 🙂

Carmel Valley - California - Copy

Ahlam stayed in this gorgeous Air BnB in Carmel Valley

What is your motto in life. Inspire us 🙂 Life’s a trip. Make it a good one.


Climb to the top of the Duomo in Firenze, Italy.

Thank you Ahlam for being our featured wanderluster and inspiring us…keep on travelling and living your dream…


Ahlam at the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco

Follow Ahlam and her adventures on links below 🙂



Face Book Page





  1. August 28, 2016 / 5:51 pm

    Winnie, you must take me to one of these blogger meetups so I can meet such lovely people!

    • August 29, 2016 / 8:20 am

      Hey Aneesh…it was actually a zomato meetup 🙂 a while back …did they stop them btw?

      • August 29, 2016 / 9:02 am

        I think they had a change in marketing strategy, so it doesn’t happen anymore! I think they only hand out vouchers and the like now.

        • August 31, 2016 / 12:14 pm

          Oh ok sigh…we still need to hang out…at a healthy spot. I am on that healthy eating tip again *hahah

    • August 29, 2016 / 8:21 am

      Thank you dear. I will let her know 🙂

  2. September 19, 2016 / 4:49 pm

    I can’t believe I just got the chance to read this! Thank you so much for thinking I could be remotely interesting enough to write about, Winnie. P.s. I think you’re absolutely gorgeous (think I already told you that though haha)

    • September 23, 2016 / 7:48 am

      Hahahah wait what ..you are uber interesting and an inspiration fro reals 🙂 plus youre gorgeouser hahah keep shining dear xx

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