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

My story:

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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 to explore the Arizona desert and visit family in California. Or we’d spend Saturdays at the library where I checked out piles of ballet books and 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 is now my home base to explore this fascinating and underrated region.

I love travel that goes beyond the photo ops, 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.

That means thick Victorian novels, weekend city breaks and nights dabbling in watercolors.

I’m learning to slow down and live more intentionally.

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

I want to inspire others to get off the beaten path, slow down, have more authentic experiences and discover hidden gems.

About Vanilla Papers

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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 looking for more than just a tour bus itinerary.

I give readers all the tips and advice that I wish I knew when I first started travelling.

Vanilla Papers is about slow travel around the world from my experiences in Dubai and Taipei to Johannesburg.

Though it focuses especially on Egypt, the American Southwest and Europe – the places I’ve called home for decades.

It’s about embracing slow travel and authentic experiences in a world obsessed with appearances.

Vanilla Papers is also about slow living and topics like journaling and creativity.

My travel style:

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  • I love to explore hidden gems and artsy destinations. I’m an introvert who loves to dive into the quiet, less-known and more local parts of well-known cities.
  • I usually travel on a mid-range budget and I love to treat myself to luxury stays and resorts – especially when they’re surrounded by nature.
  • I love independent bookshops, art galleries, chic boutiques and local history and culture.
  • My happy places include Eco lodges, protectorates and rustic hiking trails.

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 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

Want to travel slower and more authentically, but don’t know where to start? Start here for tips on travel journaling (and getting off your phone), finding the best boutique hotels and more.

Slow living

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 work.

Let’s stay in touch!

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I share my daily slow life in Cairo on YouTube. 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.


You can email me directly at dee [at] vanillapapers.net.

Features & collaborations:

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