One of my best friends (who I love dearly…Angie…ahem) always sends me (and other victims) these crazy ‘chain’ emails. She always begins the email by apologizing for sending it…which I find a little weird. You know the kind, the chain emails where you need to fill something out about yourself and send it one to 5 other friends else you’ll have bad dating luck the rest of your life. I really dislike this…I already have a bad dating life – do I really need to tempt fate and make it worse…is worse even possible? Regardless, even though I love my friends who send these (Angie…ahem), I’m not fond of the concept of e-chain letters; in fact, I hate them. So when my travel friends started ‘tagging’ me in a game of virtual tag, I had the same feeling of irritation.
I tried to ignore it at first. But soon I started getting ‘e-tagged’ so many times that I couldn’t really ignore it. I finally looked at the details of this ‘game’, and to my surprise I found out there were no doomsday consequences; my dating life wouldn’t be ruined, my luck wouldn’t run out, I wouldn’t get fat, I wouldn’t turn into a bad cook, my friends wouldn’t leave me, and I wouldn’t have bad travel karma. After realizing that this wasn’t a typical virtual chain game, instead it was a virtual tag game where travel experts shared their best travel secrets. I was intrigued.
Soon I started reading all of my peers (and taggers) posts about their travel secrets. There was some great travel advice out there from my fellow blogger friends such as Barbara from Hole in the Donut, Jodi from Legal Nomads, Shannon from Travel Tips and Secrets, Heather Cowper from Heather on Her Travels, and Donna from My Itchy Travel Feet. Ok – maybe I should jump into this game…there are no consequences and you, my readers, get to benefit; what the hell.
The Tag game was started by Katie at Tripbase. The rules are that you are to write a post giving 3 travel secrets, and then tag 5 other bloggers to do the same. I can only bring myself to do the first thing…write the post. Considering how I feel about ‘tag games and chain letters’, I can’t go thru with tagging other people…so the buck stops here for my travel secrets I guess. If you want to see other bloggers secrets, then go to the links I put above; they offer some super travel advice!
Since lots of bloggers are sharing travel secrets, I felt like I needed to tackle tips that were a bit different so I decided to focus my travel secrets on unusual tips for women. Men – sorry, you can surf to some sports site if you want now.
1. Leave Your Vanity Behind
Since I’ve been back in NYC after being on the road for 15 months, I’ve been reflecting a lot on how I’ve evolved. 3+ years ago I was a hip business professional working for international retailers. I had more shoes, clothes, and handbags than there were days of the year to wear them; my life was about vanity. When I started traveling I had a hard time accepting my new backpacker style. I tried to hang on to my vanity; I had a hair dryer and make-up in my backpack for the first few months…then I just let it go…and it felt great. I know it’s easy for me to say to not pack your hair straightener or makeup or 5 pairs of shoes…but trust me, you will be happier without these things if you are doing long term travel. You may find yourself feeling more free than ever – I did. I got comfortable seeing my face without make-up, my hair without hair products, and flat shoes instead of heels. If you feel like you still want a bit of ‘flash’ when you travel, then I suggest that you add flash to an average outfit by accessorizing – jewelry is small and can be the focal point of an outfit. So are pashminas. Both of these things are plentiful in many developing countries for cheap…so just buy them there and don’t carry them in your bag! Plus, it supports the locals – win/win for everyone!
2. You WILL find Tampons in Other Parts of the World
This tip comes from a recent conversation I had with Amanda and Jen from The Lost Girls World and my biz partner Michaela of Briefcase to Backpack. We were chatting about common questions that we get asked and talk turned to tampons. I’m here to tell you that you can find tampons in other parts of the world – so you don’t have to take a year’s supply. Sure, some places are harder than others…so check out your itinerary and have some extras available (but not a whole year’s worth!). I lived in SE Asia for a year and you could find tampons in grocery stores for expats. You may need to ask someone where the expats shop, but that will get you pointed in the right direction. For travel, you can’t beat OB tampons – they are super small and barely take up any space. Yeah – some people aren’t comfortable with the lack of applicator – but the compact size it worth it!
3. You Don’t Have to Answer Every Question
As a solo female traveler – safety is always a concern for me. So when I was in Bali and a local guy asked me where I was staying, immediately my ‘safety radar’ switched on and said “I’m not going to tell you that!” As I continued to travel, I realized that being questioned is part of being a traveler. I was constantly being asked very personal questions,
How old are you?
Where are you from?
Where are you staying?
Are you traveling alone?
Are you married?
Are you with friends?
These questions tend to happen more frequently in developing countries for some reason. I think the culture and personal space issues tend to be quite different than our western culture. Plus – many of these locals don’t know much English and these types of sentences tend to be the first and only thing they learn – so that’s why they ask them. I can remember teaching all of my ESL students the phrases “Are you married?” and “How old are you?”…yet these are things I generally don’t ask people personally! Regardless, if you are traveling alone and you get grilled with personal questions…you DON’T HAVE to answer these questions. In fact, assess the situation and use your head, if you don’t want people to know where you are staying then don’t answer the questions. Instead, start asking the person other things about their country or area, they are normally happy to share information about their country and culture; and you’ve changed the subject.
Hope you enjoyed! Please leave a comment with your girlie tips – I’d love to hear them. Plus I promise you it won’t hurt your dating life!
By Katie, Tripbase December 15, 2009 - 7:13 am
A great take on the game, thanks for sharing your girlie secrets!
My top tip for female travelers is to use your sex to your advantage!
If you want an upgrade, a discount, something for nothing always approach the guy not the girl, you’ll have more luck I promise!
By Stephanie December 15, 2009 - 8:09 am
These are great tips. I always wonder about the tampon thing so it’s good to know they can be found.
I love using travel as an excuse to stop wearing make up. My vanity goes right out the windo. I do love buying cheap jewelry in other countries, it polishes an outfit and then you have a great souvenir!
By Barbara at Hole in the Donut Travels December 15, 2009 - 9:22 am
Great tips! And a different angle on the topic than I’ve seen before. Thanks for not putting me on your “spam” list for tagging you. 🙂
By Michaela Potter December 15, 2009 - 10:19 am
I also like stripping away from makeup when traveling (though I don’t generally wear a lot to begin with). But if I do want to spruce up a little, tinted chap stick and a little mascara can make a big difference. And they don’t take up much room!
And although OB is prevalent throughout the world, it should be noted that if you are not comfortable using that brand, it can be difficult to find an alternative.
By Heather on her travels December 15, 2009 - 11:09 am
I’m afraid that even when I was staying in the rainforest in Ecuador, I still had a bit of eyeliner & mascara on each day – Vain I know, but my excuse was that my friend was filming us and I was photographing everything so I didn’t want to look too washed out for posterity.
By Angela December 15, 2009 - 1:43 pm
Great tips, thanks.
I’m going travelling early next year – the longest trip I’ve taken without being settled in one place – and I’m really worried about the amount of different outfits I’ll want to take vs have the space for!
Makeup – i think I can survive with just mascara.
By Heather Heintz December 15, 2009 - 2:52 pm
GREAT ideas thanks! I have to say really watch what you tell people, you are right. There are some really horrible things happening to women around the world with regards to Sex Traffic. They will ask you where you are staying, or ask if you need a ride somewhere.. ALWAYS watch out. There are zome amazing people just being curious that I am still friends with to this day, but go with what you feel!!
By admin December 15, 2009 - 5:10 pm
Ladies – some great additional tips! Yes, if you must put on make-up then mascara is a good choice. Michaela – I like your idea of tinted Chapstick as I always have Chapstick with me anyway…so nothing additional to pack!
@Katie – totally agree…sometimes sex appeal can get you much further – hmmm – the question is can I be sexy without make-up?!
By Cindy December 16, 2009 - 5:16 am
Great tips, I couldn’t agree with them more. I don’t know how many locals I’ve tried to explain that asking an American woman her age is a no-no – teasing them about it breaks the ice 🙂
My advice is to consider very carefully what you pack. Don’t take any clothes or even jewelry from home that you love or isn’t 100% functional. After wearing the same clothes for months you won’t love them anymore, and they are likely to get lost/left or aquire what my husband and I lovingly refer to as “permastink” – and need to be put in the trash! Better yet, pack just a few essentials and then buy the cheap local clothes – that was if you have to throw it out or lose it – it cost less than a cup of Starbucks.
By Mark H December 17, 2009 - 1:30 pm
What an entertaining angle for this viral blogging game. I’ve read some excellent contributions across the web from various folks.
By Legal Nomads December 18, 2009 - 8:10 am
Thanks for linking over to my post!
I’ve found tampons in most places, other than in the Philippines – where they are almost never sold. Thus, when I found myself on a motorcycle ride in the middle of a fishing village and unexpectedly needing one, I was in trouble. I had to go to the local store (a stand in the middle of the village) to ask for pads, except no one spoke English and I didn’t know the appropriate words in Tagalog. I essentially asked for “Lady Napkins” instead, but the man tending the store had no clue what I was talking about. Next thing I knew, the entire town of 40 people came to watch me explain what I wanted, and I will never forget how they all pointed at me as I drove away (having come behind the counter myself to find them myself), laughing “lady napkins – HAHAH!”. Good times.
So yeah, bring some tampons if you go to the Philippines, ladies!
By Anil December 21, 2009 - 5:58 am
I liked these girlie secrets, I wonder what the guy equivalent would be…hmmm. But yes, in the developing world people will ask you all sorts of things nobody would dream of in the US. From your income, personal life, religion and thoughts on politics less things are off the table than on.
By Donna Hull December 26, 2009 - 1:13 pm
Great post, Sherry. I don’t mind going without makeup. However, it’s dealing with my unruly naturally curly hair that’s a problem for me. I hate looking like I stuck my finger in an electrical socket!
By Sarah M November 23, 2011 - 9:10 am
Here is a girly tip learned the hard way…the very hard way. DO NOT trust a homemade “beauty enhancing herb” prepared by a “gifted mystic” in rural Thailand – even if she’s a friend of distant family. The brown powder (mixed with honey and made into balls dubbed “she perks”) gave me sprouting breasts after about two weeks, but came with some baggage. The beauty herbs were super doses of female hormones – and I’ve got cellulite and newfound childbearing hips to prove it! I thought – life is short! Maybe this woman has found the fountain of youth? Instead, I learn, she’s found the fountain of mega-hormones, which yes, leads to bigger breasts, but also caused a five pound weight gain. You live and you learn. No more eastern medicines in my future before doing a little research.
By Jeanette January 10, 2013 - 4:44 pm
The “Girlie” topic is a good one – sometimes it’s hard to ask or you don’t think of these things until, oops!
So, this morning I dyed my hair in a campground bathroom and lived to tell. Anyway, I’m not one for over doing it on the vanity tip either, but after 3 years and counting on the road, one must do what she has gotta do! 🙂
Anyway, I have a good tip.. the DIVA Cup, instead of tampons. You can carry it with you all the time, it’s small and there’s no waste. It can get you out of a Fishing Village style pinch! There is a down sides though. Cleaning and clean water is necessary 2x per day. If there’s no sink in your toilet stall area, it will be difficult to keep clean.
I’m lucky in that I travel fulltime on the road in a bus with a loo. Still, being away/on the go is much easier when I have this in my purse. Has anyone else used/liked/hated one of these Diva cups?
Also, here’s one on waxing… there are these small pre-waxed strips (easily found in the razor isle in most ‘western’ grocery/super stores) that you can heat by rubbing between your hands. They’re smaller then a credit card, easily stashed anywhere, and come in handy.
Sherry, thanks for the concealer tip I’m going to start using that in my bag of tricks.
By Sherry January 12, 2013 - 6:49 am
I’ve actually tried the Diva cup – a great idea – but didn’t really work for my travels at the time since as you said it required the use of a sink and clean water. However in the right situation – it is a great alternative and much lighter/easier!