My Three (Girlie) Travel Secrets

December 15, 2009 16 Comments »

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!

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