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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org