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Best Tips February 2018

Compiled by Evelyn Hannon

HERE ARE THIS MONTH'S TOP 12 JOURNEYWOMAN TRAVEL TIPS -- As usual, your many female-friendly bits of advice from all over the world continue to inform, inspire and amuse. This time, from wonderful travelling women across the U.S. and Canada to those in Wellington (New Zealand), Tel Aviv (Israel) and San Miguel (Mexico), what follows are this issue's top twelve travelling tips. Enjoy, everybody!

1. WHAT TO WEAR IN BURMA -- writes Molly in Burlington, USA -- I just got back from a three month stint in Burma. It is one of the most conservative Buddhist countries, so dressing appropriately is really important. Even though the weather can be quite hot, you should definitely cover your shoulders and avoid shirts that show cleavage. Your everyday pants or skirts should cover your knees, and shorts are not culturally appropriate except at the beach. For swimming, wear at least a conservative sports bra and ideally a t shirt to swim in, and over your bathing suit bottoms you should wear shorts that come down to mid-thigh. I recommend buying an inexpensive traditional Burmese skirt known as a "longyi", as that's what locals usually wear. If you think you might want one, bring a few safety pins from home to avoid any "oops-my-longyi-fell-off" scenarios.

2. ANYBODY HEADING TO LONDON, UK? -- writes Laya in Tel Aviv, Israel -- I would like to recommend Rhodes Avenue Homestay. This is a perfect B&B located in Muswell Hill in north London, which has excellent transport links to central London. Elli & Haya are the most gracious and friendly hosts. My room was spacious, the bed was very comfortable and the bathroom was spotlessly clean. And the breakfast...well...the breakfast is quite amazing!! There was such a great variety of food and beautifully presented. There are several reports on Tripadvisor and everyone is excellent! Their website is: www.rhodesavenue.com

3. CHECK OUT THIS TRAVEL SKIRT -- writes Margaret in Hamilton, Canada -- This skirt is made for adventure. It is a breathable nylon, resists wrinkles, drys quickly, has loads of big pockets, and can be transformed into shorts or haram pants by a few hooks and loops. But most importantly, it is like a tent over ones private parts when having to squat and pee. This adventure travel skirt is my go to hiking apparel. The Macabi skirt also helps a women honor and respect those foreign countries where a women's modesty is expected, as was the case when I trekked the Tibetan Himalaya. Website: macabiskirt.com

4. MCGILL UNIVERSITY OFFERS SUMMER ACCOMMODATION IN MONTREAL -- writes Debra in Toronto, Canada -- Each year in Montreal from May 15 until August 15th, Student Housing and Hospitality Services opens its doors to the public and offers a variety of lodging options that cater to every budget and taste. I stayed at the Carrefour Sherbrooke last August, and it was as good as any hotel. Beds were super comfortable. We had a mini fridge and there's a microwave for use in the public dining hall. WiFi was complimentary, and so was the full hot and cold buffet breakfast. You could even enjoy it on the patio on Sherbrooke Street and watch the people go by. Website: mcgill.ca/accommodations/summer

A toilet trick...

5. CHOOSE THE BATHROOM STALL AT THE END OF THE ROW -- writes Paula in Grass Valley, USA -- If you are concerned about sanitary conditions in public restrooms (but a girl has got to do what a girl has got to do) then my rule of thumb is as follows. Go to the toilet farthest away from the door because it probably gets the least use and is therefore perhaps less prone to being yucky. P.S. Check this link for research done on this bathroom topic PPS. One thing I do know for sure is if there is no soap in said bathroom be sure to use the hand sanitizer every savvy Journeywoman carries in her backpack.

6. DO YOU KNOW ABOUT HOSTALS IN SPAIN? -- writes Kathy in Boston, USA -- My key to budget travel in Spain is this. I look for Hostals which is a Spanish term used to refer to small, basic accommodations similar to pensiones or guest houses (these are not like youth hostels). The Spanish government sets the room rates at these places and they are very reasonable. For example, I stayed at Hostal Venecia in Valencia in a large king bedroom with beautiful bathroom and a balcony that overlooks the Plaza de Ayuntamiento (City Hall). It has a view of the enormous fountain, wonderful architecture and is near multiple bus stops. Cost: $US70.00 per night. It is gorgeous and only three blocks from the train station. I consider it the best hostal in Valencia. P.S. Valencia is a beautiful city and extremely reasonably priced.

7. MY HONEYMOON DESTINATION IN COSTA RICA -- writes Ariane in Gainesville, Florida -- I must rave about our recent honeymoon trip to Tamarindo, Costa Rica. The highlight was staying at Los Altos De Eros (LADE). It is a perfect six room boutique hotel and spa on a small mountain overlooking the ocean, 15 minutes from the touristy hustle bustle of Tamarindo. The incredible staff separates this resort hotel's service from any other place that I have stayed at. They are fluent in English (but will help you learn Spanish). It would be perfect for a female solo traveler (or any adults -just no young children). Cost per room is definitely fair for the experience they provide. It is semi all inclusive - breakfast is included and the many star restaurant will prepare a fabulous lunch and dinner for a fair price if you wish to stay at the hotel for these meals. You eat at a communal table with other guests as you please and throughout the week. We made wonderful new friends in this way. All meals were gourmet but with a touch of friendly home atmosphere. Food was fresh and top notch. They will accommodate any and all dietary restrictions. After the main staff leave at 8:30pm you are on an honor system and just mark down what you get from the kitchen (drinks etc). My husband and I did a cooking class with another couple staying at the hotel that was a blast. The pool is a dreamy infinity pool with a beautiful view. The spa is gorgeous and after spa hours you are free to go down to the hot tub area to watch the sun go down near trees that howler monkeys enjoy visiting. Another perk: The hotel can provide a driver if you'd like to visit the interesting towns in the area. P.S. Usually I'm not someone to write reviews, but was so thrilled by the kindness and generosity of everyone at LADE and the beauty of Costa Rica, I felt the need to share! Happy travels everyone.

8. SAVE NOTE PADS FROM HOTELS -- writes Lorraine in Wellington, New Zealand -- Lots of women who travel save the shampoo and soaps from their hotel stays and offer them to charities that collect and regift them. I suggest that you save the note pad and pens left for your use in your hotel room. I give these to the village children I meet when travelling in Cambodia and they seem to like them and make good use of them.

9. MY FAVORITE RESTAURANT IN SAN MIGUEL, MEXICO -- writes Margot in San Miguel, Mexico -- One of my favorite restaurants in San Miguel is El Pegaso located at Centro, Corregidor 6, very near the main square, or (as the locals refer to it, jarden). It has been around for years, serves wonderful Mexican food as well as delicious salads on their continental menu. Their chocolate cake is to die for, and believe me when I say it is a meal in itself. Prices are very reasonable and staff are friendly. They have a rooftop area if you wish to dine there. It also is an easy place to dine solo. Ask to be seated in the sweet little room right in the front. P.S. There are many coffee shops that serve great coffee and lattes in San Miguel, but for me the absolute best is at Buen Dia on the short street Pueblita. Have fun, everybody!

I heart books

10. I RECOMMEND READING THIS BOOK - writes Evelyn in Toronto, Canada -- The Alice Network by Kate Quinn takes place in France. Two women-a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947-are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption. Ideal for reading on a long train or plane journey. You will not be able to put this one down. One evening I read to three o'clock in the morning.

11. BOOK LOVERS CAN SLEEP OVER IN A LIBRARY IN WALES -- writes AtlasObscura.com in the United States -- Gladstone Library is the only residential library in the United Kingdom. It's hidden away in the Welsh village of Hawarden. After browsing the more than 150,000 items in its collection and spending the day snuggled atop the plush chairs, stayover guests can retire to one of the 26 boutique bedrooms on site. Guests have access to the reading rooms until 10 p.m., a full five hours after they close to the public. They can even bring a book back to their room with them (except for those in the Gladstone Foundation Collection) for a bit of bedside reading. For more information click here.

12. KEEP YOUR LOVED ONES INFORMED OF WHERE YOU ARE -- writes Barbara in California, USA -- I bought a GPS locator that I hang on the outside of my backpack. This records my longitude and latitude with an SOS emergency button if I'm stranded or in trouble. When walking the Camino (since I was walking by myself quite a bit and in a foreign country), I programmed in several people who could locate my exact spot at any time. You add their email address, give them the password and once you have it on they can locate your exact spot. The product is called SPOT and it worked for me.

EDITOR'S NOTE: We need your input. You know 'stuff' about hotels and restaurants and shops and museums and money saving tricks that other women traveller can benefit from. Don't be a hoarder, tell Journeywoman what you know. We'd love that!

CATCH UP ON 17 YEARS OF PAST TRAVEL TIPS -- Pour yourself a glass of wine or cuppa tea and click here.

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