Last updated on April 17th, 2020
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 encampment wrote a letter to give to a friend at the base of the river asking him to treat us like 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 relaxing oasis, part fishing village, part upscale shopping mecca, dotted with tiny 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 silicone 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 travelling 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’s name is Big Shoe and it’s located at 12 Leliegracht. Happy shopping ladies!
Writer: Evelyn Hannon Website: journeywoman.com Twitter: @journeywoman
Pick a theme …
When taking travel photos it’s fun to pick a theme that you’d like to explore rather than taking random shots. This heightens your perception of the world around you, it’s an interesting activity when travelling solo, and you have a wonderful body of work when you get home. When I travelled to China, one of my themes was, “The Things the Chinese Carry on Bicycles.” Guaranteed your friends will look forward to sharing your themed photos when you return.
Writer, Ginny, Lakewood, USA
One of my favorite restaurants in Florence
I am a Tuscan chef but naturally I don’t like to cook all the time. Here’s one of my favourite places to enjoy a meal. In my city, Giorgio and his wife came from Sardinia 24 years ago and opened La Biritullera Trattoria and Garden where they still serve traditional Sardinian food. Giorgio will greet you with a smile and lead you to the nice small garden at the back of the restaurant. He will suggest the menu of the day — mainly fresh fish as well as simple traditional dishes, prepared by his wife who works in the kitchen. The atmosphere here is nice and relaxed and the prices are very honest. Address: Via Cironi 4/r. – closed on Sunday. Tel. 055-496225. Take bus #28 from the train station to Piazza Leopoldo, then ask for Via Cironi.
Writer: Silva, Florence, Italy
10. Rely on Your Brother in India — While, as a feminist, this tip doesn’t suit my world view, it does have value. I used it when travelling in India last month. If you are being harassed by a man who wants to act as your guide or offer some other service, to be rid of them simply say “my brother does not allow me to talk to strange men”. I’m 55 and have grey hair yet this still worked like a charm.
11. Hiking in and around Paris — writes Marlys in Paris, France — Did you know that you can also indulge your love of hiking and walking even on your visit to Paris? There are a number of easy hiking trails in and around (less than an hour away) Paris. One way of finding out where to go is to join the Paris Hiking group. Not only will you get to see Paris from a different angle, but you’ll also get to meet like-minded folks. Amusez-vous bien!
Writer: Marlys Schuermann Website: parismoviewalks.co.uk Twitter: @ParisBuFF
12. Carry a hotel business card — I always carry a business card of the hotel I’m staying at. If hotels are new or have changed ownership of taxi drivers and people on the street may not be aware of them. I have been in countries where I slightly mispronounced a hotel name in another language and have received blank stares but a business card always gets me where I need to go.
Writer: Ayngelina Brogan, Website: www.BaconisMagic.ca Twitter: @ayngelina
13. Don’t be afraid to get lost and wander — When travelling I often find that its the moments I’ve gotten lost in a city that I have my best experiences. I now intentionally get lost when I travel however I only do it in the day time and after I have gone over a map of the city I am in and have tucked it away in my bag for later when I need to become ‘un-lost’. Do some research to prevent walking to the “wrong side of town” and I bet you will be surprised at the parts of a city you will see and stumble upon that you might have otherwise missed.
Writer: Cailin O’Neil Website: www.TravelYourself.ca Twitter: @cailinoneil
14. Leave an ‘In Case of Emergency’ file — Always leave an ‘In Case of Emergency’ file with a trusted friend or family member when you travel. I believe you should always expect the best and plan for the worst when you hit the road. When I go on a trip (especially internationally), I leave my file with someone I believe in and can reach 24/7 in case of an emergency. This includes copies of my passport (hard copy and PDF), copies of credit cards (front and back of cards) and emergency customer service numbers, and any travel insurance (trip or medical). If any of these items are lost or stolen, it’s easier to have them replaced. I also carry an extra copy of my passport with me as well, but having a backup copy with someone who can assist you in an unfortunate circumstance is a great comfort.
Writer: Marianne Schwab Website: www.best-travel-deals-tips.com Twitter: @TravelProducer
15. Pack a sarong — Take a lovely sarong/large cotton wrap with you wherever you travel. Light, easy to carry and versatile, it’s a woman’s best friend on journeys. It’s a skirt in a church, a shoulder wrap in a mosque, a blanket on a desert night, a pillow on a long flight, a beach cover-up in the heat of the day, an emergency cocktail frock for a late date, a table cloth for an al-fresco picnic and so, so much more. Choose natural material and make sure it is in a colour/pattern/design that makes you happy when you look at it.
Writer: Zoe Dawes Website: www.thequirkytraveller.com Twitter: @quirkytraveller
16. Large Zip-lock bags are a must — I label them with a permanent marker and use them to keep all electronics chargers, batteries, etc., organized, and to keep cords and plug prongs from damaging or getting damaged in the bag. The zip-locks double, at the trip’s end, as a place for dirty laundry, a wet bathing suit and more.
Writer: Vivian Vassos Website: www.zoomermag.com Twitter: @vivianvassos
17. A small rolling bag doubles as an overnight bag — If you’re travelling with a computer, consider investing in a rolling bag that can double as an overnight bag. On a long trip, I pack my computer, jewelry, camera, magazines, snacks and an extra set of dainties. I also stash my purse inside as I move through the station. Once you’re there, if you need to take a quick trip from your central spot, just take this bag and check your bigger one.
Writer: Micheline Maynard Website: www.michelinemaynard.com Twitter: @mickimaynard
18. When I’m staying in a reasonable hotel — I always have room service for breakfast so I can start my day relaxed and read the local paper to get the flavour and rhythm of the town or city I’m in; and still, in the hotel, I make friends with the room stewards and hotel staff – it’s from them I get the best info on what’s happening at a grassroots level as to what travellers are doing. And if you’re lucky they’ll tell you their favourite eating place/view/attraction/bus trip etc.
Writer: Bev Malzard Website: http://getupandgomagazine.blogspot.com Facebook: www.getupandgo.net.au
Go to bakeries in Jordan…
When in Jordan, go to the bakeries and get the behind the scenes tour! When you go in and are even the slightest bit interested and have a camera most bakers (always men) will invite you in the back to see them bake bread. Sounds shady, but GO! In my experience, Jordan was the safest place I travelled as a solo female. And I took a lot of photos of bakeries and always got samples! People will shower you with attention.
Writer: Sherry Ott Website – www.Ottsworld.com & www.MeetPlanGo.com
Tall women shop in Holland …
If you’re a tall women travelling to The Netherlands, make sure to do your trouser shopping there. The people of The Netherlands are today’s tallest people in the world — the average Dutch man is just over 6 feet, and the average Dutch woman is just over 5 foot 7 inches. That why if you pop into any clothing store in Holland – they’ll probably stock your pant length in any style and color you choose. I know, I’m Dutch and though I work in New York, I wait until I go home to do my shopping.
Writer: Irma in New York City, USA.