Sun, Sand and Sex
Females beware! Crowded tourist beaches are notorious pick-up joints. In Jamaica, the Gambia, Aegean Turkey and Brazil a well-developed gigolo culture has emerged. Women arriving alone are assumed to be on the lookout for a holiday boyfriend, someone to share a good time and holiday cash with. Don't be fooled by the lyrical sweet-talk, your replacement is probably arriving on the next plane.
Natania Jansz, London, England
Ed. note: Natania is the editor of More Women Travel (Rough Guides), an indispensable guide for females on-the-go. This journey woman knows her stuff and we're delighted that she's part of our network!
Allergy Sufferers Take Note!
If you have allergies to dust mites or mold, travel with a light sleeping bag that has a tightly woven synthetic outer AND inner lining (no flannel). When sleeping in a strange bed, sleep on top of the open bag, ideally with your own pillow. That should insulate you from dust mites and mold in the mattress.
Cleo P., Montreal, Canada
Avoid Squishy Soap
If you don't want your bar of soap to go all oozy and squishy, wrap it in the plastic wrapper found inside any box of cereal. It keeps your soap dry at all times, even when it is packed inside a plastic soap box.
Patricia Ross, Montreal, Canada
Ed. note: Great tip! I tried it and it works.
Free Tissue in Japan
In Tokyo's city core there are people handing out free tissue. You'll see some Japanese people refusing to take it. That's because the companies offering freebies are advertising "escort services." My advice is for women travellers to take the tissue and pretend you don't know what's being advertised. Because, when you get to a Japanese washroom you'll find that many of them do not have tissue and then you'll think...what a thoughtful freebie!
Carol Duborg, Osaka, Japan
My husband and I are both wheelchair users. My travel tip is check your wheelchair immediately after getting off the plane. It may be broken and need to be repaired. Airlines usually pay for fixing of wheelchairs that they have broken, but it is important to notify them of the problem right away. But even if you have only noticed the problem when you get to the hotel, call them right away. Don't agree on a price right away either, you need to get an estimate from a wheelchair shop. It may be a lot more expensive that you think. United Airlines totally wrecked my husband's chair and replaced it with a comparable brand new one the next day. Never, never sign a waiver allowing the airline company to forfeit responsibility for fixing your wheelchair. They break wheelchairs every day.
Pat Israel, Toronto, Canada
U.K. Paradise for Book Lovers
I wonder if North American women know about the British village called Hay-on-Wye? It is located close to the border between England and Wales. What makes this U.K. spot so special is that there are close to thirty used bookstores in town. I always come home with my suitcase stuffed.
Eleanor by e-mail from London, England
Ed. note: And, according to the Eye Witness Travel Guides, Hay-on-Wye hosts a prestigious Literary Festival in early summer. Anybody ever been? Tell us about it!
My Auntie Drives a Motorhome
My great Auntie Irene bought a motorhome in her 70s and drove it by herself all across North America into her 80s. She always travelled with a man's hat on her passenger seat to give the impression that she was not travelling alone.
Shelly Sabo, Edmonton, Canada
Ed. note: Auntie Irene-- a true JW!
Venice - Big Splurge Pension
Pensione Seguso, bordered by two canals, is a wonderful pension located in a quiet yet central part of Venice. Half-fare was required (breakfast plus one other meal) but the food was fabulous. I was there with a partner, but I think this meal arrangement provides a perfect solution for a woman traveller. Dinners are served quite late in Italy (8:00 P.M.) and dining alone can be a problem just in terms of getting to a restaurant (remember there are no taxis in Venice). A wonderful late dinner in one's hotel solves all of that. Buy a bottle of wine from their excellent cellar and put it on your table each night. Room rates? A double is 270,000 lira. For single rates, fax: 041 522 2340. When I was there, I felt I was in a black and white art film--a very good one!
Sandra G., Toronto, Canada
Indulge Yourself in Dublin
Treat yourself to a fancy lunch. If you want to join the scene of some of the movers and shakers (not to mention "beautiful people" and celebrities) make for La Stampa. In Dublin, our gossip columnists thrive on who is seen here--and the food is good too! There is a set lunch for 10.95 (pounds) - very reasonable by Dublin standards. Booking is essential (Tel: 353-1-677 8611). 35 Dawson Street.
Brenda Weir, Dublin, Ireland.
Women's Prague Practicalities
If Prague, is an upcoming destination for you, try to pick up PragueWalks by Ivana Edwards (published by Henry Holt and Company in New York). It's an excellent guide to have with you.
And, I'd like to recommend Cafe Italia on Prague's main old city square. They feature a medium priced pasta menu and their expresso is excellent. Only drawback for a tourist? They have no washroom. We used the one next door -- very clean but they charge 3 kronin, so have your change ready, ladies!
Lynda Gould, Montreal, Canada
Bags, Bags, Bags.
Self-sealing plastic bags, and lots of them, are the best possible travel item for a woman to pack. They have a million uses: packing damp laundry/bathing suits; saving the last 6 inches of your mid-day baguette for later; safeguarding important papers or guidebooks from the elements; packing bulk items (cotton swabs, bandages, etc.) in such a way that you can leave large boxes at home. Bags are available in every size from sandwich size to multi-gallon size. They take up almost no room when packing, but REALLY come in handy when you need them!
Carolyn Meier, Charlottesville, USA
Mother-Daughter Hotel Discovery in N.Y.
Another great New York hotel for those on a budget - The Pickwick Arms, close to Rockerfeller Plaza, is on East 51st between 2nd and 3rd. . The rooms are small but clean. I stayed there between Christmas and New Year with my 15 year old daughter . We found the staff friendly and helpful which helped us get our bearings as this was our first trip to this city. The hotel has even less expensive rooms than the one we were in but I believe the bathroom would be shared - European style. A coffee shop is located on the premises (also with friendly staff) and there is a rooftop terrace.
The Cramner Women - Winnipeg, Canada
Say "Bon Voyage" With Slippers
I'd like to tell other JW to always pack slippers to wear when flying.
Denise Taylor, Campbell River, Canada
Ed. note: You're so right, Denise! Not only do your feet swell when you fly, wearing slippers also reminds your body to relax and enjoy the flight. Bonus tip: Remember that travelling slippers make an inexpensive but excellent bon voyage gift.
Thieves Hate Diaper Pins
You can secure the zippers on a backpack with diaper pins. When I traveled to Europe and Turkey recently, I used a miniature backpack as a purse, and a regular size backpack for my clothes and effects. I secured all zippers by putting a diaper pin through the hole in the zipper tab and pinning it to the backpack fabric. I definitely felt more secure for the safety of my belongings. Any tampering with zippers--I would feel it right away!
Karen Stewart, Washington, USA