Published Sept 23, 2019
HERE ARE THIS MONTH'S TOP 15 JOURNEYWOMAN TRAVEL TIPS This month, we received more tips than usual and they are all so amazing we thought "why not?!" Our Journeywomen have been busy this summer! These female-friendly bits of advice cover all parts of the world, from Vietnam to Thailand to - one of my favourite ones - the Isla Mujeres (The Island of Women) in Mexico. Several of our ladies have been travelling to high altitudes so there are some tips for climbing mountains and volcanoes! Enjoy and get ready to be inspired!
1) FOLDING TREKKING POLES: Faith from, Nice, France, writes I bought a set of montem trekking poles which fold up and fit in a 22 in piece of luggage. They would probably also hang on a back pack. Great for travel particularly anyone who has joint problems. MONTEMLIFE.COM. It comes with the bag, poles are very light. When I am in a city I just carry one pole folded. easy on buses. It is adjustable for height as well.
2) LARGE GROUP SEATING BY THE WATER IN COPEHHAGEN: Wendy of Toronto writes I visited Copenhagen with a large group of ladies—9 in all. Finding a restaurant to accommodate us and all our eating quirks can be a challenge. The restaurant Studio did a superb job. Our server suggested a 7-course sample menu that covered many different kinds of foods and left even the pickiest among us satisfied. It was served family style with plenty to eat. Best of all, it's on the canal so you get a great view with dinner, but it's set away from the hustle bustle of being right in Nyhavn.
3) A SECRET HIDEDAWAY IN PARIS: Amanda from Toronto writes I'll never forget the time my friend Stevie led me down the winding streets and stairways of Paris in pursuit of 'the best duck you will ever taste," found in a tiny gingham table-clothed basement. Ten years and many mallards later, Le Domaine de Lintillac still holds up as a singularly perfect meal, and she is still right.
4) GELATI WITH A VIEW OF SURFING DOLPHINS AND WHALES: Sam in Brisbane, Australia, writes If you ever get the chance to travel to North Stradbroke Island, Australia, make sure you do the gorge walk. The beauty of North Stradbroke is that fifty percent of the Island is a national park allowing its natural beauty to maintain its alluring presence, and the gorge walk nothing short of alluring! An easy 1.2 kilometer (one way) walk around the northern point of the island will take you past an array of animals such as sea eagles, turtles and kangaroos. Opportunity to wander off the trail invites you to explore the white and tuscan colored cliffs that overlook the Pacific Ocean. The crystal clear blue water makes it easy to spot surfing dolphins and migrating whales. Afterwards, make sure you stop by the Oceanic Gelati and Coffee Bar for some homemade Italian ice creams, smoothies or juices.
5) TACO, ANYONE? Tamara from Toronto says During our summer trip to Tofino, BC, we found an out-of-the-way food truck called Tacofino. They served incredibly fresh, mouth-watering and well-priced tacos. The tacos were so good that our family ate there every night for the duration of our stay. Although the line-up can be long, their outdoor seating area turns the wait into a social experience.
6) EXPERIENCE OLD FLORIDA IN STUART: If you want a taste of the way Florida used to be, stop in Stuart, just north of Palm Beach, writes Carolyn of Toronto. I've tried the large hotels at the beach, but prefer the personal touch of the family-owned boutique hotel Old Colorado Inn, built in 1890, now updated with several cottages and charming rooms which accommodate families and solo travelers. There are many restaurants and shops in the historic Osceola Street area, including the Tiki Bar downstairs with live music. My favourite is the Riverwalk Café and Oyster Bar and the beach is a 20-minute drive from the downtown.
7) GLUTEN FREE IN SOHO, NEW YORK: Amy from New York writes If you're gluten-sensitive and visiting NYC, you likely feel pangs of remorse over all the amazing Italian cuisine options you're missing out on as you pass them seemingly on every corner. Well, miss out no more, dear gluten-free friend! Head on down to SOHO for dinner at Senza Gluten. This Italian restaurant caters specifically to gluten-sensitive constitutions, and is even acceptable to the most cautious celiac. Not only do they ensure the food is free of gluten and any cross-contamination, everything tastes fantastic, leaving you feeling fulfilled, satisfied, and like you've spent the evening at your favorite old school gluten-full Italian joint. Try the fried calamari and the chicken parmigiana, especially if you're used to staring at them longingly at those gluten-full restaurant's menus. Even my Italian stepmother from Long Island loves this place. Senza Gluten does not disappoint!
8) A MORNING OF HEALING IN HOI AN, VIETNAM: Heather from Toronto writes I am an overtired woman, too used to giving up on finding time to breathe in my day, let alone my week. On a recent family trip to Vietnam (my first) I was lucky (and smart) enough to take time for a solo morning and a class at Nomad Yoga. My walk through the old city as shops and cafes animated in the morning light was almost as restorative as the class itself. The class was well-led and well-attended by a few tourists like me along with mostly ex-pat locals. A very human feeling of "otherness" wove alongside a sense of connectedness among the women populating the class. I recommend the spot, the vibe and the experience. And I recommend carving out moments for yourself, to look and see and smell for just yourself, as it is so, so easy to get lost in the lovely mob of a family and miss the moments that can help make us whole.
9) PREPARING FOR HIGH ALTITUDES: Alice from California writes I've just been to Chimborazo volcano in Ecuador, climbing to 5100m. I'm familiar with altitude, however I went from sea level to this height in 24 hours and it hit me! Tips for altitudes. Take a hot flask of coca tea with lots of molasses and it's amazing how it helps with the altitude. Also, it's not just in the moment when the altitude can hit you. It can creep up on your hours later when you're home. To avoid this, walk very slowly, small steps, slowly. And rest. Don't exert, then rest. Keep a gentle pace on the way up and down. You'll thank yourself for it!
10) HIKE THE INCA TRAIL to MACHU PICCHU: Leslie from Guelph writes On our recent trip to Peru my family and I did the 4-day Classic Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu. You can get to Machu Picchu by train and bus but I would highly recommend doing one of the hiking treks as it really is an experience of a lifetime. The scenery along the way is absolutely breathtaking. You get to experience and see views and Inca ruins that are not accessible any other way. Although the journey is long and challenging there is no way to describe the exhilaration you feel after completing it. If you're up for the challenge then start training as early as possible and make sure to break in a good pair of hiking boots before you get there. I would also suggest being prepared for possible altitude sickness issues. We carried plenty of advil, gravol and imodium with us to combat the headaches and nausea that are common symptoms of altitude sickness. We went with a local company called Alpaca Expeditions. We opted for a private tour so we would have the freedom to go at our own pace and not have to worry about whether or not we could keep up with a larger group. It was more expensive but we found it to be money well spent. It was a great way for us to spend quality time and tackle a tough challenge together as a family.
11) SURPRISES IN PARIS My daughter and I recently took a trip to Paris and we stayed in the best boutique hotel – La Maison Favart. It is an old house in the Opera District and it has been converted with such attention to detail and drama. The hotel itself tells the story of Charles Simon and Justine Favart Ronceray, the famous couple at the heart of the Opera Comique heyday in the 18th century. As is custom in the boutique hotel world, each room is unique – but this place really goes above and beyond.
The hotel includes a lovely parlour, the most beautiful little café (with a complimentary rotating selection of desserts served each afternoon at 4pm – a must have for my 9 year old daughter), amazing staff who were able to get us reservations at truly local restaurants, and is in a fantastic location – walking distance or just a very short cab ride to almost anything in central Paris. Oh yes, and a lovely little swimming pool located in the basement – a big, yet welcome surprise.
We were able to get a good rate on the room (as we booked early) and it really added to the experience and romanticism of Paris. I would definitely stay there again. They also have a signature scent candle that we purchased to take home and every time we light it we're taken back to that wonderful trip!!!
12) EXPLORE OFF THE BEATEN PATH... Tara from Orillia, writes: Isla Mujeres (The Island of Women) is a hidden little gem off the coast of Cancun just a short 25-minute ferry ride from Mainland. This quiet quaint little island filled with a friendliest of locals has a lot to offer and one of my favourite places to travel solo or with a few friends. This gorgeous tiny Island boasts several white sand beaches surrounded by the calmest of turquoise waters. It's filled with a wealth of authentic Mexican Cuisine all signs of history and traditions passed from Mayan heritage and generations. Exotic smells and aromas fill the air along the narrow cobblestone streets in Playa Norte.
Don't be afraid to rent a golf cart as its one of the main means of transportation around island it takes about one hour make sure to stop for a custom cocktail and live music at "The Spot", take a walk through the Punta Sur Sculture Garden stunning view of the ocean and check out the sea turtle sanctuary.
All are welcome to many of the hotels around the island you don't have to be a guest so make an adventurous day and see all the beautiful properties and people. Experience a great lunch, stunning views, sunbathing and a complimentary paddleboard at Casa de los Sueños and end your day with dinner dancing live music by some of the island most talented people and don't forget to give OG the dog a cuddle at El Patio. I can't say enough about how much I love this island it feels like home every time I visit ....
13) SECRET PUB NEAR PADDINGTON STATION: Anne-Therese of Toronto writes Many travelers to London may one day find themselves at Paddington Station, a central railway and underground terminal that is used to take the express train to Heathrow airport or the Eurostar to Paris. If you are staying in the area, on a stopover or have a few hours to spare, you may walk a few blocks to visit Hyde Park or Kensington Gardens. But avoid the touristy restaurants and check out the most amazing local pub called "The Monkey's Puzzle". Just a few blocks from Paddington, this charming local pub is a hidden gem. Situated behind a high wall of trees and shrubs, you could walk right past it without seeing it, as we did on a recent trip to London. But the locals know it's there - and no wonder. Inside it's a true English pub with a charming garden patio at the back, the biggest fries I've ever seen and a great friendly and welcoming atmosphere. After three days in London it was the first time I didn't feel like a tourist and instead felt like I was just hanging out in my local pub with my mates.
14) WHEN IN LAKE COMO It is no secret that some of the most beautiful hotels in the world line the shores of Lake Como, but what is you want to find a more intimate place? Rebecca from New York discovered a charming boutique hotel, The Palazzo Albricci Peregrini, tucked safely away from prying eyes. This little gem is located right in the historical center of Como, and sits sits on one of the town's prettiest pedestrian streets, with boutiques, restaurants and bars right at the doorstep. The jetty is a 10 minute walk away, and you're also within walking distance of the funicular that travels up to the pretty hilltop town of Brunate. Como Nord is a 10 minute walk, and it's a 15 minute walk to San Giovanni railway station, with direct trains to Milan.
15) OFF THE BEATEN PATH IN KAZAKHSTAN AND KYRGYZSTAN: Carole from, Gatineau, Québec, Canada writes here are some tips for travelling in Southern Kazakhstan and Northern Kyrgyzstan (around Lake Issyk-Kul)
Those two countries are a bit like Iceland 15 years ago, a new destination for backpackers and outdoor enthusiast, not a lot of touristy infrastructures. It is much more vast, and poorer than Iceland though.
You could get a negative reaction if you address older people in English, it's best to learn to get by in Russian. In a few years, as is the case everywhere, you'll be able to use English, the younger generation is learning it.
Do unlock your smartphone, data packages are super cheap, there's good signal almost everywhere, and you'll love having access to Google translate for signs and menus in Cyrillic, as well as for conversation from Russian; for Google Maps; for the Yandex app, similar to Uber, setting the price and the itinerary for rides, in this country where anyone with a car is a 'taxi' driver and prices are very negotiable and they're all out to get you. This being said, cost of living is very low in those two developing countries.
Hygiene isn't excellent everywhere and a mild diarrhea is to be expected, an infectious one possible, so bring Immodium and Cipro (antibiotic). Also, if you pack a roll of toilet paper, you'll cherish it.
For access to all sorts of excursions, information and general organising, ask Indira at Steppe and Sky in Almaty, she knows everything or else will find it quickly for you: Indira Koshkarbayeva +7 702 379 9933. An excellent driver/guide for Kazakhstan: Vladimir Ismagulov +7 747 463 2955 And another for Kyrgyzstan, based in Karakol but will go to Bishkek: Yrysbek +996 779 443 088 It is a bad idea to rent a car there. It is a great idea to get a driver who knows everything and everyone, and will show you things you couldn't get to on your own and it isn't expensive at all. All three are easy to reach on What's App and are fluent in English.
BONUS TIP: Jodi from Toronto says when visiting Thai markets outside of Bangkok, you can skip floating market Damnoen Saduak, but don't miss nearby Railway ("umbrella") Market at Maeklong Station – the biggest seafood market in Thailand used by locals to source fresh fish and other goods. "What makes it unique: One minute there are awnings and stalls throughout the bustling market, and the next minute, all the awnings are up, people move aside, and a train leaves the station and goes right through the market (market stalls are located on either side of the train tracks). Just as quickly as the train leaves, all the awnings unfold, the market resumes, and vendors and shoppers go about their business like nothing happened." Pro tip: Make sure you check the train schedule first so that you can get to experience the market before and during a train departure and/or arrival (we got there just in time to experience the last train leaving for the day).