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Adventure Guide


Travel tips for the Woman who Travels Alone.
By Doreen Kerby*

Just recently I met a middle aged woman travelling alone in Mexico. We were in a grocery store in Acapulco buying food for our travels, exchanged a few words and soon discovered that we were solo travellers.

Mťxico  - Come feel the warmthRecovering from the initial jolt we began to talk seriously about why we chose to travel on our own. What we agreed on was that there are times when independence is a plus. Come and go as you wish. You donít have to talk someone into doing what you want to do, nor do you have to wait for anyone to get ready.

There is a sense of freedom in being able to set your own pace. Safety is always a concern for those you leave back home but neither of us had any bad or uncomfortable experiences to share.

Here are some of the rules I follow:

Travel light. Only take what you can handle yourself. A small suitcase on wheels and a backpack is all that is needed. If you canít get on and off a bus or train unassisted, repack. Take an extra light bag for souvenirs and gifts but leave your shopping until your last stop when you could get a taxi to take you to the airport.

I donít lock my bag. Nor do I keep the essentials in it. If anyone wants to get into todayís luggage, all they need is a sharp knife. Tip the housekeeper each day and keep your valuables near your body in a fanny pack or in the hotel safe.

A Visa or Master Card reduces the need to carry large sums of money in countries that have reciprocal banking. Have a cache of American $1s on hand for tips. Get money from ATMs in daylight hours when there are lots of people around. Conceal those items that are not replaceable and that are crucial to your holiday. Passport, credit card, medical prescription, large bills, health card and contact numbers should be carried in a cotton money belt close to the body or left in the hotel safe. Make a duplicate copy of important travel documents and store it in your luggage and leave a copy with someone at home.

Leave your purse, expensive camera bag, good luggage and jewelry at home. Carry your camera in a back pack. Cheap costume jewelry can be a good conversation piece. 

Donít wear clothing that draws attention to yourself. Slacks or loose fitting dresses are better than shorts. In some cultures bare arms and legs are unacceptable. Carry a light scarf for a head cover in case you want to enter a mosque. Only take comfortable shoes. For protection from the sun, bring a hat. Use a good sun block.

Knowledge is power. Make sure you know a lot about the country you are visiting and what you want to see. Avoid sightseeing in isolated places. Look like you are part of a group if you feel uneasy. Choose your accommodation wisely. Small hotels and B&Bs generally allow for caring personal service. Travel early in the day and choose your hotel before it is dark. Ask to see the room to make sure it meets your approval. Feel good about both the accommodation and the location.

Travel with lots of pencils and note pads. Children who are begging are so pleased to get them. Carry pictures of your family. Newly acquired friends will enjoy seeing them.

If you have trouble making yourself understood in the local language, write the address down. Your hotel clerk can be a big help. Avoid being hassled to buy by avoiding eye contact. In countries where you look very different, expect to draw attention. Smiles are a universal language and do a lot to make your trip fun and enjoyable.

Bathrooms are not always up to our standards. Carry a supply of Kleenex. and some antiseptic wipes. You can always count on MacDonald's Double Arches, no matter where you travel.

The older traveller has it made. In most cultures age brings respect. Children trust you, local men and women try to be helpful and kind. 

For the businesswoman abroad, business cards should be printed in English on one side and the language of the host country on the other. In the Orient, business cards are given with both hands, printed side up and readable. In the Middle East never use the left hand as it is considered unclean.

Keep healthy. Use bottled water if the water could cause illness. Avoid salads. Only eat fruits that can be peeled. Hot foods should be very hot. Tea, coffee, beer and soft drinks are safe. Cheers, Doreen.

Doreen is a retired school teacher who lives in Western Canada. Her many travel stories have been published in magazines across North America. You are invited to contact her at: dkerby@quadrant.net

 

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