1. I WAS PICKPOCKET-ED IN A WASHROOM -- writes Nancy in Buffalo, USA -- Remain alert at all times! It doesn't have to be a big dramatic scene to distract you. Here's how I was pickpocket-ed in a women's restroom in the Hamburg train station five years ago. I had the strap of my zipped purse over my body as I washed my hands. A woman jostled me slightly as she washed her hands next to me at the crowded sinks. I looked at her for maybe one second and went back to washing my hands. As I turned to get a paper towel I saw my purse was unzipped, and I berated myself. Did I leave the zipper open after looking for something while in the toilet stall? I closed the zipper, caught train and only when I reached Copenhagen did I discover I no longer had my little change purse (with only 5 Euros but two credit cards inside). It took me many days to piece together how and when my change purse had gone. Lesson: Now when carrying a bag across my body it always stays in front of me, never to the side or back. And, of course, the tried and true rule - keep an extra credit card somewhere else, like suitcase, shoe, or bra.
EDITOR'S NOTE: A purse that has a flap over the top zipper is excellent. Wear your purse with the flap against your body and it will be very difficult for a pickpocket to get in.
2. AN iPHONE APP THAT KEEPS CABBIES HONEST -- writes Katheryn in San Francisco, USA -- It's called Taxi TurviŽ and this is how it works. When the cab ride begins, riders simply open the app on their iPhone and press the "Start" button, and when they get to their destination, they press "Stop." Taxi Turvi records the entire journey, draws the route that was taken on their mobile phone map, and also draws the route the cab driver 'should' have taken - showing both routes side-by-side. The consumer can easily compare at a glance whether they were taken for a ride or taken directly to their destination. Taxi Turvi also rates the driver for effectiveness, and recommends a tip. The app is free, and it works in virtually every city in the world. Website: www.taxiturvi.com
EDITOR'S NOTE: If anyone does test this app, please drop us a note and tell us how effective it is. Thanks!
3. PACKING TIP FOR EGYPT -- writes Amy in Cairo, Egypt -- Don't forget a decent jacket. Nights are cold in Egypt, even in spring. A lightweight windbreaker or fleece vest would be good. If you have something that can tie around your waist it will save baggage space AND provide you with another pillow on the flight over. If the weather is a bit colder than you expect, you can always purchase a beautiful shawl or scarf to add warmth and then you have a wonderful memento as well.
EDITOR'S NOTE: For another 20 packing tips, etc. about Egypt, click here
4. GLUTEN-FREE IN REYKJAVIK, ICELAND -- writes Mary in Seattle, USA - I thought some of your readers would appreciate this dining tip. I was in Reykjavik for only a few days, but everywhere I ate was aware of gluten-free eating and very able to deal with it. I had a particularly delicious meal with three kinds of fish at the Grill Market at Laekjargata 2a, 101 Reykjavik. The staff seemed to be delighted to deal with my dietary needs. P.S. If you go, check out the great lighting in the restaurant. Click here for more information.
5. BIGGER SPLURGE HOTEL IN FLORENCE, ITALY -- writes Helen in Winnipeg, Canada - For a bigger splurge, I must recommend Hotel Alessandra in Florence, Italy. It was truly the highlight of our trip. Owned and operated by a mother and son team, this hotel has the most friendly and professional staff I have ever encountered. The rooms were huge, the breakfast (and breakfast room) spectacular, and the travel advice unparallelled. The hotel itself is situated in a beautiful building from the 1500s and is a stone's throw from the Ponte Vecchio. Website: www.hotelalessandra.com
6. SOME THOUGHTS ON PEOPLE BEGGING IN INDIA -- writes Aisling in Kota Kinabalu, Borneo -- Children and women begging for money on the street often don't get to keep it for themselves. They usually have to hand it over to a man for whom they work. It is better not to give cash. I often give food to children instead but be sure to open the food first. Because they are hungry, they will always eat it if you have peeled the fruit or opened the cookie box. However, if the package is unopened they will sell it back to the merchant so they can meet their 'quota' of cash for their boss.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Looking for more information on how to treat beggars in any part of the world, click here.
7. AN EASY PACKING TIP -- writes Janet, Raleigh, USA -- If you are traveling for leisure for a few weeks (not just a business trip) pack a suitcase with a thin layer of bubble wrap both on the bottom and the top of your clothing. Add a mailing tube at the back (you can fill the tube with undies, socks etc). You'll find them very useful if you buy something fragile or buy a print to take home. Plus, if your suitcase is caught in the rain (I've seen mine out on the tarmac being transferred to my next plane) your clothes will arrive dry as a bone. Once you get home and unpacked simply leave those two extras in your bag for the next trip.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Want to know what to pack for a trip to Italy? Click here
8. EXCELLENT BOOK TO READ BEFORE VOLUNTEERING IN AFRICA -- writes Maria in Ottawa, Canada-- Written by Robin Wiszowaty, 'My Maasai Life: From Suburbia to Savannah' is a memoir of a girl's choice to leave childhood comforts behind to live in her adoptive country of Kenya. I read this before my first trip to Africa and again before making my first volunteer trip (in my 50's). I have recommended it to others interested in volunteering in Africa, and also those who are trying to understand the 'changes' in their friends who come back from volunteering. The perspective of a young middle America woman in an environment with different women's standards was so very enlightening. See: www.dmpibooks.com/book/my-maasai-life
EDITOR'S NOTE: Looking for packing advice for Africa? Click here
9. WOMAN-OWNED ELEGANT RIAD IN MARRAKESH, MOROCCO -- writes Aurélie Resch in Toronto, Canada -- If you are looking for a secluded, quiet and elegant getaway in Marrakech (yes, it does exist!), I recommend you stay at the Riad Flam where I recently spent a couple of nights. In the very heart of the medina, Riad Flam is an intimate, peaceful yet luxurious spot to relax, unwind and indulge. The owner, Flam is a wonderful woman who created this place and who will make your stay more than memorable. She will provide you with exceptional care and will perform an authentic full hammam experience (sauna+scrub+envelopment+massage) to help you relax at the end of a busy day of sightseeing. She can also teach you how to make a tajine and is a great resource for the best places to find out about everything you are looking for in Marrakech. I'm pleased to recommend this spot to other JourneyWomen in our Network. Website: www.riadflam.com
EDITOR'S NOTE: Heading to Morocco? For more female-centered tips, click here.
10. BAGELS TAKING BANGKOK BY STORM -- writes Amit in Bali, Indonesia -- Yes, bagels have taken Bangkok by storm! If you're longing for a smoked salmon bagel, drop into the closest chain of restaurants called Au Bon Pain, where you can choose among new bagel flavors including: Red Brown Rice, Tomato Parmesan, Maple Walnut & White Chocolate or - are you ready for this: Apple Crumble! (I went with whole wheat). Or set aside time to savor the New York-style décor and tastes at the Bangkok Bagel Bakery. With two locations to choose from, and a large assortment of bagel sandwiches and spreads available, you can't go wrong. especially if you crave that Sunday morning bagel fix!
EDITOR'S NOTE: Check out GirlTalk Thailand, a mini cyberguide for women. Click here.
11. FOODIE FOR A DAY IN BOLOGNA, ITALY -- writes Susan in Silver City, USA -- For foodies traveling to the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy - and to Bologna specifically - I highly recommend 'Italian Days' food tours. Alessandro is a delightful guide, and offers tours to Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Modena ham, and Modena balsamic vinegar producers. And the lunch at the country inn is not to be believed! Check out the tours at www.italiandays.it, and plan on an entertaining and food-filled day. Well worth it!
12. STAY ACTIVE DURING A LAYOVER -- writes Debra in Toronto, Canada -- Get those ear buds or headphones out, turn on your iPod or MP3 device, and take a good 30 to 60 minute (or longer) walk around the airport while listening to your favourite tunes. Make sure you have a very light carry-on or a bag on wheels to push around. You'll have plenty of time to sit once you board your connecting flight.
BONUS TIP -- WONDERFUL ECO LODGE IN KHAJURAHO, INDIA -- writes Maggie in London, England -- We had a truly wonderful stay at a stunning eco lodge, the Sarai at Toria, half an hour from Khajuraho airport in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Six independent cottage rooms, all powered by the sun, set amongst fields in an upspoilt landscape on the banks of the River Ken. Project created by Joanna Van Gruisen (a wildlife photographer) and Dr Raghunandan Singh (a wildlife biologist). Close to the famous Panna Tiger Reserve. Wonderful river trips to bird watch. A responsible tourist destination enchancing the local economy and community. Website: www.saraiattoria.com
LOOKING FOR TRAVEL DEALS, PRODUCTS, AND INTERESTING TOURS THIS MONTH? Click here.