What do travel writers talk about when they get together? Travel, travel and more travel! And because they are on the road so much of the time they figure out shortcuts to problems, they learn to use their ingenuity and they keep their eyes and ears open for juicy tips. Here are some things I learned from them and now share with you.
1. Carry a letter of introduction -- When safety is an issue or you don't want to haggle over prices, get a letter of introduction. For example, when we needed to get up the Saloum River in Senegal, the manager at our last emcampement wrote a letter to give to a friend at the base of the river asking him to treat us as family. That saved us a couple of hundred dollars (and ensured our safety!)
Writer: Sandra Phinney Website: www.sandraphinney.com Twitter @SandraPhinney
2. The chicest neighbourhood in Mumbai -- Most tourists to Mumbai head to Colaba and the crowded, touristy area around the Gateway arch and the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. My advice is to get on the train at Churchgate Station and travel to Bandra, the chicest, safest and most cultural suburb in the sprawling city. It's a relaxed oasis, part fishing village, part upscale shopping mecca, dotted with tony cafes and bordered by sweeping seafront promenades. Stay at arty Le Sutra Hotel - each room inspired by a yoga sutra. www.lesutra.in
Writer: Mariellen Ward Website: www.breathedreamgo.com Twitter: @breathedreamgo
3. Scan important documents -- That means (driver's license, passport, credit & debit cards, airline tickets, hotel confirmations, travel insurance, eyeglass prescription) and email them to yourself, using a free online email account such as gmail. In an emergency, you will be able to access your important documents from any Internet cafe. Also, scan receipts for any equipment you are carrying, as airlines require copies of these receipts before reimbursing you for lost luggage.
Writer: Barbara Weibel Website: holeinthedonut.com Twitter: @holeinthedonut
4. Pack light -- Packing light is the key to a safe journey. When you are not bogged down by too much luggage, it allows you to be more aware of your surroundings and to get yourself out of a potentially bad situation that much more quickly.
Writer: Beth Whitman Website: www.wanderlustandlipstick.com Twitter @wanderluster
5. Pack a small emergency kit -- Because you never know when you'll (literally) run into trouble. Cuts, blisters, bites, sunburns and minor ailments do happen when you're travelling. With a quick fix at the ready, you can spend more time exploring and less time looking for a drugstore. I include bandages, Q-tips, tweezers, nail scissors, headache/fever medication, Aloe vera, sunblock, a remedy to treat digestive woes and always antibiotic ointment.
Writer: Pam Dillon Website: www.writewrds.com Twitter: @writewrds
6. Compressibility is key -- When you need to maximize space while packing, choose items that will compress down to take up as little room as possible. In addition to a sarong and a bandana, I always try to pack Squishy Bowls They come in bowl, cup and shot glass sizes and are made of silicon so you can pack them squished flat (hence the name). When you need them however, they pop back into shape and their regular size. This makes them perfect for picnics in the park and carrying in smaller backpacks for longer adventure trips.
Writer: Myscha Theriault Website: trekhound.com Twitter: @myschatheriault
7. Don't let pickpockets ruin a good night -- When visiting busy nightlife spots in European cities always carry a small bag that can be worn across your body with a zipped inside pocket that holds your mobile phone, money and anything else valuable that you need to carry. This way you will be able to keep an eye on your belongings and avoid pickpockets.
Writer: Fiona Hilliard Website: blog.arguscarhire.com Twitter: @FionaHilliard
8. Taking 'visual' notes -- If you'd rather not lug around a heavy DSLR camera, the benefits of having a small compact camera with you or smartphone with a camera while traveling can't be extolled enough. Not only for capturing those memorable travel moments, but also for taking what I call quick "visual" notes in a certain order: sign names, details from menus and plaques, name badges, street signs, and all other minute information you'll need later for scribbling in your travel journal or penning an article that needs all those juicy details. It keeps me free from trying to scribble things down quickly in a notebook/notepad, allowing me to focus on fully taking in my surroundings.
Writer: Lola Akinmade Website: http://www.akinmade.com Twitter: @LolaAkinmade
9. Large shoes in Amsterdam -- Are you blessed with a size ten shoe size? Are you heading to Holland? Then this shop in Amsterdam will be heaven for you. The woman who owns it specializes in comfortable shoes starting with size 10. The shop name is Big Shoe and it's located at 12 Leliegracht. Happy shopping ladies!
Writer: Evelyn Hannon Website: www.journeywoman.com Twitter: @journeywoman