travel blogger


Welcome! My name is Dee and I write about slow travel and simple living.

My story:

vanilla papers

I was born in a small town in Poland and grew up in Arizona and California.

My family crossed the Iron Curtain for a better life in the American Southwest. And my experiences as an immigrant taught me to look beyond my own culture – and see life through a broader lens.

Growing up we’d often spend weekends on road trips. We’d pile up in a station wagon and explore the Arizona desert or visit family in California. Or else we’d spend entire Saturdays at the public library where I’d check out piles of ballet books or the latest Sweet Valley High.

I went on to get my degree in English Literature at UC Berkeley. And after some more trotting around the globe (including a few years as a journalist in Warsaw and a teacher in England) I fell in love with an Egyptian and settled down in Cairo.

I now live in Cairo with my husband and our array of rescued street cats. Though I haven’t really settled down. And Cairo has now become my home base to explore this fascinating – and often underrated – region.

I love travel that goes beyond the Instagram photo opps, whether that’s a desert oasis or an up-and-coming arts district.

And I strive to spend less time on my phone and more time doing what I really love. Whether that’s a thick Victorian novel, a weekend city break or a night of dabbling in watercolors, I’m learning to slow down and live more intentionally.

I strive to live my own version of a good life – and not necessarily what society dictates.

And I want to inspire others to get off the beaten path, slow down and live a more meaningful life.

About Vanilla Papers

vanilla papers

I’ve worked as a teacher, journalist, writer and magazine editor.

But I’ve always wanted to do my own thing – and tell the stories I didn’t see anywhere else.

I launched Vanilla Papers in 2018 after a few years working as a travel editor at a local Egyptian magazine.

I was frustrated at the cliched Cairo guides that I found online – and at the articles that recommend polyester belly dancing costumes as great Egyptian souvenirs. So I decided to write my own stories for the travelers who want more than just a tour bus itinerary.

And since my first visit to Egypt was indeed on a tour bus, I wanted to give readers all the tips and advice that I wish I knew then.

Vanilla Papers is about slow travel around the world – from my experiences in Dubai and Taipei to Johannesburg. Though if focuses especially on Egypt, the American Southwest and Europe – the places I’ve explored and called home for years.

It’s about embracing slow travel in a society that glorifies speed. And it’s about authentic experiences in a world obsessed with appearances.

Vanilla Papers is about travel off the beaten path, and lifestyle topics like journaling, creativity and slow living.

My travel style:

vanilla papers

vanilla papers

  • I love to explore big cities and their hidden gems and artsy destinations. I’m an introvert who loves to dive into the quieter, lesser-known and more local parts of a well-known city.
  • I usually travel on a mid-range budget though I love to treat myself to luxury stays and resorts – especially when they’re an oasis amid nature.
  • I love independent bookshops, art galleries, hip and quirky souvenirs that I’ll actually use and local history and culture.
  • Eco lodges, protectorates and rustic hiking trails are my happy places.

Top reads:


If you’re planning your bucket list Egyptian holiday, start here with practical advice and itineraries from someone who actually lives here. I’m an expat living in Cairo for the past decade – and I share everything I know from hidden gems to avoiding tourist traps.


I love to explore my home state and Arizona continues to surprise me with each new road trip. Start here for the best on the state’s iconic landscapes – and its quirky hidden gems.

Slow travel 

We all want to travel slower and more authentically, but how to actually make that happen? Start here for tips on everything from how to start a travel journal (and get off your phone) to finding the best boutique hotels for your next getaway.

Slow living

If you want to slow down and regain control of your time, read how to get started with slow living and how to control your time on social media for practical tips that really work.

Let’s stay in touch!

vanilla papers

I sent out a monthly newsletter and it’s probably my favorite thing to write. It includes updates on all my latest stories, along with insights into slow travel and simple living. Sign up to join nearly 3,000 subscribers and stay updated on all my latest adventures.

I’m also now doing YouTube and I’m so excited to share longer and more in-depth videos about my slow life in Cairo. Subscribe to my channel to never miss a vlog.

And join me on TikTok and Instagram for more real-time travels and slow living musings.

Features & collaborations:

seen in

worked with