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Just For Women

Always carry a copy of your documents in your carry-on bag. And don't carry all your money in the same bag. Put a little in your carry-on bag and a little in your bra.

Ladies, pack your earrings in one of those lipstick carriers with the little mirror in it. Makes your earrings very easy to find, and keeps them from getting lost.

Don't wear clothes that make you stand out. I usually try to wear jeans, sweatshirts, and try to stay away from bold colors, logos and definitely anything sexy.

If you are traveling to a foreign country, learn the customs. In other words, don't travel to Iran and wear hot shorts and a tank top.

If you decide to rent a car and need to drive to a location or want to be adventurous ...great! Lock the doors to that fabulous rent a car! Hide any road maps which might tip off a car jacker you are not local to that area. I like to also make sure that there isn't a huge car rental sticker to announce that I'm a visitor either. Contact your car rental company before you arrive regarding that policy and what they might be able to do to help. Most have scaled down their advertising on their cars, specifically to take you off the target list!

Ladies ... loose the purse! Find a cute bag that looks great around your waist. I use an old ugly bag if I absolutely have to have a purse and keep my valuables hidden in my underwear or bra.

Make sure you let people know you are not alone. I know this sounds a bit crazy, but it helps. Check back at the hotel and leave yourself a message for "John", or if you get a voice mail ... leave "John" a message that you'll be back to get him in 15 minutes. Don't do this unless you feel you're being watched or you want the illusion of a travel partner.

Hotel Safety. This is really an important tip which I need to use and do so frequently whether I am traveling with someone or not.

  • Use only a first initial when checking in.
  • Try not to get a room on the main floor.
  • Always use the elevator...save the stairs for your workout at the gym!
  • If there is someone watching you or following you ... by all means, return to the front desk and get a security guard.
  • Leave a television or radio on in the room ... even if you're not there.
  • Never leave your key where someone can glance and get your room number.

Concierge. My favorite word when I travel. First thing I do is call the hotel once it's booked and talk to the concierge. Why? Because they are a bevy of information about the area and what it has to offer. They not only make reservations for you at incredible restaurants, but can also send you maps on the area and point out danger zones. If your hotel does not offer a concierge, then by all means, do your homework. I always buy a book on the local area, or use the web or contact a local police station.

Try storing valuables in a tampon or maxi-pad box when staying in hotels. No one really wants to go digging in those boxes. I just leave about half tampons, and half jewelry, etc.

In the corner of my travel-kit, I put a brush with a couple of little hairbands on the handle, and a little plastic wide-tooth comb. Also, I pack a little tube of sunscreen and a bar of soap to wash my hands in public toilets.

When a man comes up and asks you - "Is this your first time in _______?", it is the first step in sizing you up. Say, "NO. We visit often." - and go on.

To bring a selection of earrings on your trip, get a 25-cent felt square at a fabric store (they sell them pre-cut) and simply fasten earrings through the felt, and fold, fasten and fold. This allows you to bring lots of accessories, protects each pair from damage, and takes up almost no space! Fasten roll with rubber band to keep it from unrolling.

Try to take beauty products with you that will double up for 2 or more uses. Elizabeth Arden's 8-hour cream works as a facial moisturizer, lip balm, hair tamer, and sunburn soother all in one. Shampoo can double up as travel wash, and those new chubby make up pencils from Clinique can multi-task for lipstick, eye colour, and blush.

Cutting down on the amount of bottles and cosmetics that spill is always important. Use a stick foundation instead of a liquid. The texture is light, and many if the new sticks are oil-free. Discount store brands are the same quality and much cheaper than popular brand names. The foundation can also double as a concealer and an eyeshadow base. Look for perfume in a solid form as well. The containers are small enough to fit in a purse, yet smell strong. Kiss my Face makes a great peach-scented shave lather in a tube that eliminates aerosol cans. Invest in a good lipstick palette with a variety of colors. The palettes are small, and give you a good variety of colors for all skin tones - and cut down on the number of bulky tubes. Victoria's Secret has an excellent one which isn't too expensive. (It is only available through mail order or online order.)

How does the woman traveller deal with the problems in Middle East countries? Strict moral codes make the life of women travellers more difficult. East and West cultures have their own perspectives, and varying viewpoints toward the gender issues.

For all of you women who haul around those heavy purses, but have valuable "stuff" in them, well I've got the travel tip for you. When you're carrying your purse, be sure that you carry it diagonally so that when thieves try to steal it, they won't be able to because of how you are wearing it.

Instead of travelling with pads or tampons (or having to buy them) consider trying a reusable menstrual cup called The Keeper. A site full of information about this and other products is www.eco-logique.com. They also have a line of funky washable pads called Lunapads. I've been using The Keeper (yes, yes the same one) for 7 years now and I just love it. I recommend it highly. Nothing to pack, nothing to buy.

If you are travelling alone and don't want any company, there are certain things you can do to dissuade unwanted attention. If on a coach or train, sit on the outside seat, placing your handbag, coat and jacket on the window seat. If in a bar restaurant, place your coat on the back of the seat opposite to make it look as if you have company. It may seem anti-social, but sometimes it's the only way.

Hermail.net is an international directory of women willing to help other women with travel information. For example: Travelling to Japan and not sure what to pack? Just log on to Hermail.net and request a connection with a woman in Japan who can offer you the info you need. Instantly, an e-mail message box pops up, you write your request, send it off, and the recipient answers you directly. Already 1,000's of women have made connections. Read their positive reviews at the site.

If you like to wear dresses, especially the longer lengths, try wearing a pair of cotton bike shorts to which you have sewed pockets on the outer leg. They need to be large enough to hold your passport and extra documents or money. Secure the pocket with some Velcro and you should have a safe place to keep your personal things. The same can be done with a camisole or regular slip.

Ladies, when travelling to Buddhist countries such as Laos and Thailand, please pack with you an awareness of monks. After an experience in Laos I would like to make fellow female travellers aware of the potential dangers of association with monks. As we understand it, monks are reputable people with a highly commendable goal. Being a monk in these countries carries much virtue and respect. However, a minimum service as a monk is part and parcel of being born a son in many of these countries. In order to give thanks to his parents for being born a boy, a boy must serve a minimum of two months in a monastery before the debt is repaid (this figure varies cross-culturally). Let it be said then, that a monk could be anyone. In fact, many monks are ex-convicts. So ladies, give credit where it is due, but remember that monks should NOT associate with women, regard it wearily if they do, and travel smart. After all they are only human.

A small roll of electrical tape has a myriad of uses for the female traveller. A skirt hem come down? Tape it up in a pinch. Leaving your luggage at the hostel for a few days? Tape everything closed so nothing can be slipped in or out. Shipping a box home, want to put souvenirs into your journal, need to take fluff off a black sweater? Hurrah for electrical tape!

Because airports can be an easy place for others to prey on unsuspecting travelers who are unfamiliar with their surroundings, money/credit cards that will not be immediately needed should be secured until you leave your destination airport. Cut off a leg of an old pair of panty hose, put the money/credit cards in the leg, and tie the leg around your waist underneath loose-fitting clothes. Keep a small amount of money in your pants/skirt pocket for necessary expenses or in the hopefully unlikely event that a stranger demands money.

When packing makeup for your trip, think about the items you actually use. Honestly, if you never use that cute turquoise liner at home are you really going to use it in Singapore (or Paris or wherever). Bring the basics in compact form - a GOOD foundation (especially a compact), a stick eyeshadow, a lipstick, and a highlighter is about all you really need. If you don't know what a highlighter is, it's a shimmery substance that comes in either stick, gel or powder form and usually comes in silver, gold and bronze. It's especially good for giving you that 'holiday glow' when you don't want to wear makeup (blend around the cheekbones, brow bones and eye sockets. Also remember that your skin doesn't change when you're on a trip - you'll still need your cleanser, toner and moisturizer. You should probably lay off the exfoliation. You're likely to be stressed from travel, and using a mechanical exfoliant can only stress your skin further.

Bras with removable demi-pads are great for carrying money. Just remove the pads and slip the money inside the pockets. The money may move around with strenuous movement (it won't fall out but the contours may show under a tight top) but keeping it in place requires no more than the usual daily bra adjustments. I travelled alone through remote parts of Russia recently and felt perfectly secure.

To instantly calm down static-electric flyaway hair, slide a dry fabric softener sheet over it.

Ladies, two reasons to carry tampons that don't have an applicator (plastic or paper) They take up half the space Customs may open each applicator up (and then they are useless) looking for drugs. Not a big deal until YOU are the one standing in line while they tear them all apart!

Women traveling alone, whether on long or short drives, should ALWAYS take a cellular phone or car phone. You can always find cheap prepaid phones that are good for traveling at most retail stores. If you don't have time to get a phone before your trip, take something that LOOKS LIKE a cell phone. If you ever feel that you are being followed by a stranger or if anyone, especially a strange man, on the highway attempts to flag down your vehicle, DO NOT PULL OVER! Instead, get out your phone and call someone, or even PRETEND to call someone. This is a major deterrent to would-be attackers who think you are able to call the police. Also, NEVER pull over to help a hitchhiker or a person with car trouble. Instead, call the police from your cell phone or from a phone in a safe BUSINESS in the next town.

Packing with a color scheme in mind eliminates having to take several pairs of shoes or other accessories. One week I had two business trips back to back, with no time to do laundry in between. For the first trip, I used black and white as my scheme and for the second trip, it was navy and taupe. I was surprised at how easy it was to pack. I only needed one pair of shoes for business and one for relaxing/playing. Also, a nice white T-shirt can be worn with a suit, with jeans, with a skirt, with pearls, or a number of other ways. I rarely pack without one; it fits in any color scheme.

Ladies, always bring a sarong on trips, in your carry-on. It can be used as a sheet, towel, skirt, dress, headdress (for mosques, etc), beach coverup, curtain, just about anything. Use your imagination!

I always purchase a small ringed notebook, such as school children use - size determined by the purse I will be carrying. I use the front part as a daily diary & the back part to register expenses as well as purchases. Makes it most easy to fill in the customs slip when returning home. Also delightful to read through later & reminisce.

Mary Kay makes a compact that carries everything you could need - two eyeshadows, a blush, a lipgloss, and application brushes. The compact is relatively small - just perfect for travel - and you can pick your own colors. I NEVER travel without it, and I still look like I brought my whole makeup kit. You can add mascara and an eyelash curler for a truly stare-worthy look.

So that you don't worry about losing any hair bands when putting make up on, use a bread bag tie; that way you don't have to worry about losing your good hair bands while traveling.

No reason to go completely makeup-free, even when roughing it! Before your trip, use a penknife to shave off a bit of lipstick from your favourite tube and mix it with some Vaseline in a little plastic pot (you can often get tiny ones with screw-top or snap lids in drugstores). This can be used as tinted lipgloss (with the intensity of tint determined by the amount of lipstick you use) as well as blusher. A tiny bit lasts forever and it's not really affected too much by extremes of heat or cold.

Don't have time at home to spend on beauty rituals? When visiting department stores, stop by the cosmetics counters and ask for samples. Keep all your free "beauty goodies" in a ziploc. When packing for a trip, take along your goodies bag. While relaxing at the hotel, or working on your laptop, take advantage and try that new special mask or the new deep hair conditioning treatment. Small indulgences like this make your trip extra special!

When travelling abroad I always pack a very long oblong chiffon scarf. It is the most versatile item. It can dress up a simple black dress draped backward around the neck for evening; it is useful as a head covering for visiting shrines and temples and being appropriately respectful, even if you're not quite sure of the local protocols and traditions; in a pinch it can be an evening wrap and it takes up no space in a bag.

So that you don't have to pack lots of underwear (panties), just pack a small box of panty liners (or slip the right number of them in a ziploc plastic bag) and line your panties with a new one each day. A fresh panty liner makes your panties feel totally clean again - after all, the rest of the panties don't get dirty.

Roll up your money and put it in a tampon tube. Not many are willing to invade such intimate privacy to find it. (Don't forget to keep it in your carryon.)

Panty liners. Great for days when you're out and about in a country where toilet paper is as rare as a snow leopard. They are also great for when you're out hiking and don't want to bother carrying used toilet paper out with you (as all good hikers do).

Single women traveling on their own might consider buying a cheap gold band to wear while out and about. When approached by men you can either say you're 'waiting for your husband' or profess undying faithfulness and say you could never stroll down the deserted beach with another man. Of course there are plenty other more direct and to the point comments you can make to fend off unwanted attention, but I've found the wedding band trick provokes less ire.

Security is of utmost importance when traveling alone. I wish someone would do a feature 60-minute-type program on this issue. As a B&B owner, and as a single female traveler, here are some tips I've learned throughout my travels:

  • NEVER take a room in which the desk clerk has mentioned your room number out loud. Make them write the number down.
  • NEVER open your room door to ANYONE. i.e., maintenance, FLOWER delivery, etc., until you have called down to the front desk to verify the service. You may even ask that two people, one female, be sent should you be expecting anything.

All those bottles of cleanser, moisturizer, astringent, etc. take up too much room. So ... use samples given out by cosmetic counters at department stores. Usually the contents are plenty - even for a two-week trip.

Many B&Bs are run by single women, who will be exceptionally helpful if you are another woman traveling alone. Always ask for special rates for a single, too.

There is a relatively new invention as a replacement to tampons and pads - when backpacking for extended periods of time, I always hated having to calculate/ration/carry lots of bulky tampons. One time, I even saw a customs officer open up each one, checking for drugs - then you are stuck with whatever you can find in whatever country you may be in. There is a reusable menstrual cup called "the Keeper" - It is made by a company in Canada, and they have a website. I bought one, and have used it for two years - it's super convenient, and there's no worry about toxic shock.

Conveniently forget to pack certain necessary clothing - that way you will not need an excuse to buy it when you reach your "end" destination. It then becomes a necessity. It eliminates any guilt feelings. A bit abstract, but it works for me!

Buy a ladies rayon dress (flower print or one color) and roll the dress endwise. Keep the dress from unraveling by tying the ends with rubber bands and place in suitcase. After arrival at destination, untie and unravel the dress and notice the crinkle pattern the dress now has; not only is this pattern desirable, it remains care free and will not wrinkle.

Article by Anne Thomas

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