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Women Writers Worldwide Share Travel Secrets 2008...

Three tips from a British travel writer...

1. Keep soap in the string bag that was originally used with laundry tablets. You can shower using it as an exfoliator and then hang it up to dry so you don't have mushy soap in your backpack.

2. When travelling in a country where you don't speak the language, keep photos of essentials on your digital camera so if you need directions you can show people what you are looking for.

3. The humble hot water bottle can be an essential addition to your luggage. Taking up little room and adding barely any weight to your luggage, it is easily carried and the benefits far outweigh any inconvenience in taking one. On a cold night a hot water bottle makes sleeping a lot easier. On a hot day, fill it with cold water and it can offer temporary relief against the endless heat.

Louise Wates is author of A Girls' guide to India, a survivor's handbook published July 2008. Website:


Carry helpful notes when you travel...

Be sure to carry the name and address of your hotel with you when you leave the premises, so you can show it to the taxi driver or perhaps to a policeman or passerby if you need directions. This is especially important in foreign countries because you may not pronounce the name correctly or, if you're traveling a lot with many changes of hotels, you may not even remember what it is. By the way, the older you get, the more likely that can happen. For the same reasons, before you set forth into an unfamiliar city, write down the name, address and telephone number of your destination -- the restaurant, museum, whatever---and put it in your pocket. And hey, while I'm at it, don't forget to make a note of where you've parked the car. I once mislaid my car in Washington, D.C., and spent a frightening and frantic hour searching for it.

Joan Rattner Heilman is the author of Unbelievably Good Deals and Great Adventures that you Absolutely Can't Get Unless You're Over 50, 2009-2010, McGraw-Hill, $16.95. This is the 18th annual edition of this bestselling guidebook for 50-plus travelers.


Go to a spa with someone you love...

Here's my Journeywoman writer's tip for 2008. If you're a female planning a spa getaway - whether for a day or a longer stay - go with someone you love. Mother, sister, daughter or best friend will 'notch up' the experience immensely.

Anna Hobbs is a Toronto Star columnist and an Ontario freelance journalist with a passion for wine.


Guess where you’re going for dinner?

Ever wanted to break bread with the locals in a foreign city, but were unsure how to meet them? Contact Amsterdam-based company Like-a-Local ( and 'invite yourself over for dinner' in a private home in one of several European cities, including Madrid, Amsterdam and Lisbon. You’ll spend the evening enjoying a home-cooked meal. You can also arrange to meet locals for a typical meal in a restaurant. Expect to pay about €40 per person. Similar services include the fledgling Dine with Locals (, with hosts in several cities in Europe and North America, and Home Food (, where you can sign up for dinners in private homes in Bologna, Italy.

Ottawa-based travel writer Laura Byrne Paquet shares other tips on “travelling like a local” at her website,


Seek out the local library...

Need to get some work done away from the noise of a bustling hotel lobby or café? Try the local library. An added advantage in addition to the usual Internet service -- there are English newspapers, clean washrooms and friendly, informative staff who are happy to answer questions about their city/town. You'll generally find benches or comfy chairs for cosy reading and sometimes books or magazines in English that tell you what's on in town. Even if the magazine racks offer only information in Swedish, Italian, Chinese, etc., the photos in these local publications will still undoubtedly give you a lot of valuable information about the place you're in. Head for the library, ladies!

Kate Pocock is a Toronto-based family travel writer and photographer, and teacher at Ontario's Fleming College. Website:


Tips for travel journaling...

If you want to keep a travel journal but tend to have difficulty keeping one going, before setting off, assign yourself a project. Make it your goal, for instance, to publish at least one brief extract from your journal in a magazine (Transitions Abroad is always a good bet) or on a Web site ( or Even a letter to the editor or a post on a popular travel blog will suffice to inspire you to write. If you're artistic, you might promise to paint a watercolor for your nieces and nephews in each town or country you visit. If you're a photographer, volunteer with your local library or elementary school to give a slide show upon your return—this will force you to keep notes to accompany the photos.

Lavina Spalding is a San Francisco professional freelance writer and editor. She is the author of "Writing Away: A Creative Guide to Awakening the Journal-Writing Traveler" (Travelers' Tales, Spring 2009). Website:


Pile all your travel clothes on your bed...

I mean it -- ALL on your bed. One of the tricks to packing wisely is to put everything you plan to take with you on your bed before you start putting it into your suitcase. This helps you to eyeball the towering pile of 'stuff' you want to take versus the size of your suitcase. Now you're forced to make some tough decisions. Plus if you have to weed something out, you don’t have to dig into the bottom of your neat piles to remove it. Finally, pack everything that's left on your bed all in just one go. Bon voyage!

Martha Chapman is Global Television (Ontario) Morning News resident travel expert.


Galeries Lafayette wine & champagne tastings...

The Grand Magasin is now offering wine and champagne tastings. Fun, hour-long sessions led by expert sommeliers include a comprehensive explanation and tasting of three different wines (or champagnes), 3 cheeses and 3 breads, for only 20 euros. Representatives from the wineries are often on hand to explain their offerings. A memorable experience! Make a reservation in advance by calling Held every Thursday (wine) and Friday (champagne) at 5:30 PM in Le Chêne Vert, behind La Bibliotheque Des Vins in Lafayette Gourmet (on your left-hand side immediately after getting off the escalator for the Gourmet store).

Karen Henrich runs her tour company NuitBlanche Tours and is the author of Practical Paris, Everything You Need to Know About Paris But Didn't Know to Ask. Also featured prominently in National Geographic's Best Girlfriends Getaways Worldwide.


See New York with a local...

Experience a slice of New York City you might miss unless you were lucky enough to have a friend or relative in town. The Big Apple Greeter ( program provides visitors with a free volunteer free guide for a two to four-hour informal, unscripted walk through his or her favorite areas of the city. This is a great opportunity if you're traveling alone and want to make a personal connection. You’ll meet your guide at a predetermined spot and go by public transportation to explore pockets of the city that reflect New York’s cultural and ethnic diversity. Greeters can welcome visitors in 22 lanuages, and there’s a no tipping policy.

Carol Pucci is a travel writer for The Seattle Times. Website:


Water buffalo roam Vancouver Island...

Forty minutes north of Victoria on Vancouver Island, there is a Shangri-la with the warmest average annual temperature in Canada. The fertile 35-mile-long Cowichan Valley deserves its nickname, Canada’s Provence. About mid-valley sits Fairburn Farm Culinary Retreat and Guesthouse, a period-renovated 100-year-old house surrounded by a tranquil farm hosting the country’s only herd of gentle, steel-gray water buffalo. Breakfasts are laced with smooth, healthy water buffalo yogurt and cheese, served up by world-renowned Slow Food pioneer, Mara Jernigan. She is not only your hostess but also a chef worth shadowing. Sold out months in advance, Mara offers Saturday cooking classes in the spacious guesthouse kitchen where participants go from picking ingredients out of the one-acre organic garden to preparing several dishes and enjoying a bang-up meal. Several times a year, she also offers five-day culinary boot camps that make creative, fun vacations for the truly committed gourmands.

Alison Gardner is a Canadian travel journalist, editor of Travel with a Challenge website:


Finally, always look out for other women...

Look out for other females when you travel. Return The Good Sister Karma. Spread the love. Be nice to female travelers you encounter at home, and try to help out your local sisters abroad. Make it a point to support female artisans, vendors, tour guides, and taxi drivers wherever you wander. Your money will almost certainly go where it is needed most.

Stephanie Elizondo Griest is the author of 100 Places Every Woman Should Go, website:


Bonus Book Box #8
China for Businesswomen...

Written by Tracey Wilen-Daugenti this is a smart practical guide for any woman who does business -- and needs to suceeed -- in China. A western businesswoman in China confronts all the obstacles her male counterparts do. But the challenges in China for a woman on business are unique. In addition to covering crucial business-related protocals, this book also provides essential insights for women only: how to make sure your authority is recognized, how to avoid social awkwardness, how to rise above traditional gender-based distinctions to lead your team, and a whole lot more.

Publisher: Stonebridge Press ISBN 978-1-933330-28-0 Website:


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Women Writers Worldwide Share Travel Secrets 2007

Women Writers Worldwide Share Travel Secrets 2006

Women Travel Writers Share Personal Tips 2005





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