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Woman Writers Worldwide Share Travel Secrets

Let your books go free...

Want to free up some extra room in your luggage for souvenirs? Plan ahead. Instead of bringing heavy, expensive hardcover books to read en route, bring paperbacks you don't plan to keep. Before leaving home, sign up with, a web site whose members leave their used books in public places for strangers to find and enjoy. Put a BookCrossing sticker (available free on the Web site) inside the book, which encourages the finder to go online and record his or her impressions of the book. Then leave the paperback in a cafe, train station or airport lounge. Your book may become even better travelled than you!

Laura Byrne Paquet is a freelance writer from Ottawa and the author of the 2007 book "Wanderlust: A Social History of Travel."


Save on your credit card...

If you're traveling outside the country beware of something called 'dynamic currency conversion,' a system that lets merchants or rental-car agencies convert your Visa or MasterCard bill from the local currency (euros, Canadian dollars, Mexican pesos, etc.) into dollars on the spot. This is marketed as a 'service' to customers who won't have to bother 'with messy foreign exchange calculations,' according to one promoter. But it's mostly a money-making scheme for merchants who set the exchange rate 5-6 cents on the dollar higher than the official bank rate, then pocket the difference as a service fee. What to do to avoid this? Read the fine print, of course. There's a note on the sales invoice that says by signing, you agree to have your charge converted to dollars. Refuse to sign. If the merchant protests, walk away. This is one 'service' you can afford to do without.

Carol Pucci is a travel writer for The Seattle Times.


Age matters in car rentals...

Age matters when you want to rent a car abroad. Many countries and rental-car agencies deny rental vehicles to drivers over a certain age. In Ireland, for example, it's doubtful you can find a car to drive if you're 65 or more. Other places where age can be an issue include Italy, Israel, Britain, and Egypt. So if your stay is going to be more than 17 days, think about leasing instead of renting. No age problem there and it can end up cheaper besides.

Joan Rattner Heilman is the author of the bestselling guidebook for older travelers, Unbelievably Good Deals and Great Adventures That You Absolutely Can't Get Unless You're Over 50, 2007-2008 (McGraw-Hill) Now in its 17th edition.


She looks for absolute best spa value...

Savvy women look for a spa that offers lots of free extras. For instance, some offer workout facilities, wet and dry saunas, hot and cold plunge pools, aromatherapy rooms (for inhaling such essential oils as eucalyptus for energizing, and clearing the respiratory system), comfortable and quiet lounge or waiting areas, and complimentary classes such as yoga or Pilates. When you’re still in the research stages ask a spa receptionist how long a one-hour treatment really is. Yes, when it comes to spas, one hour is not universally 60-minutes. At many spas it’s just 50 minutes with 10 minutes left for the therapist to clean up and turn-over the room. At other spas it is a good 60 minutes with 15 minutes between treatments to prepare the room for the next client.

Anne Dimon is a Spa & Wellness Travel Writer and founder/editor of, the online-magazine for the wellness-minded traveller.


She visits the Hammam in Paris...

The Paris Mosque, located in the 5th arrondissement near the Jardin des Plantes, is excellent for first-time Hammam ('spreader of warmth') experiences. Here, all nationalities and religions are welcomed, as well as all shapes and sizes! Arrive on a 'womens’-only day (Mon, Wed, Thurs and Sat 10 am—9 pm; Fri 2 pm—9 pm) for a sensuous trip through five warm-to-scorching steam rooms ending in an all-over (and we mean all over) massage in a room lavishly decorated with mosaic tiles and carved woodwork. While you wait, recline on couches, watch sunlight dance through stained glass and filigreed lanterns, sip mint tea, nibble on pastries, whisper to a friend or drift in and out of sleep. After the baths, stop for honey-soaked pastries and Turkish coffee under the fig trees in the leafy courtyard tearoom. A four-hour visit, including soap, robe and towels, steam rooms, exfoliation and massage costs 48 Euro (about $68). Web site:

Kate Pocock is a Toronto-based family travel writer and author of a future book on Paris.


Bonus #5! The Best Women's Travel Writing 2007...

Any book title that includes the words 'best', 'women' and 'travel writing' makes Journeywoman sit up and pay attention. We're glad we did! Published by Travelers Tales this compilation of 32 stories written from a woman's point of view is guaranteed to inspire, excite and educate. You'll laugh, learn, cry, empathize and delight in tales like "Learning to Dance (Cuba), 'Flirting in Paris' and 'A.K. Phone Home' (Bolivia/Chile). This is a perfect book to give to any woman who loves to travel -- especially those university grads setting out on their first tour of Europe, Asia or just plain anywhere. Enjoy!



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