Travel Tips for the Single Woman Traveler

So, you’ve finally decided to exchange your armchair dreams for the real thing. You have the funds, you know the destination. The only hitch is that if you’re going to make this trip, it must, for various reasons, be on your own. This seems a rather daunting prospect for first time solo travelers, but it needn’t be. With adequate planning, in-depth research, and sensible precautions, solo traveling can be an enjoyable and growing experience. You learn to rely on yourself, and it is always a very pleasant surprise to find that the things once considered ‘beyond my scope’ are, in fact, well within achievable range. Another perk, no less important, is the chance for some much-needed self-indulgence, to reconnect with yourself―the self that had somehow got overlooked in all the daily details of living, working, managing family responsibilities, friends’ expectations, and so on. You also get the chance to interact with different people from different backgrounds and cultures, and some of these meetings may lead to delightful, life-long friendships. Others, although more temporal, may yet stay in mind for having opened up a whole new and different perspective on the world.

Tips When Traveling Alone

Today, there are tour agencies, travel guides, and travel websites that, if not devoted entirely to the solo woman traveler, at least have special itineraries, information, and tips intended for such. If you’re going on your own, here are some common-sense things to remember, gleaned from personal experience and a variety of on-line sources.
Research your destination and the safety thereof, and book hotel rooms in advance. Make sure the hotel is in a good neighborhood.
Check that your travel documents are in order, and keep extra copies handy. Store copies in your e-mail account that can be accessed from anywhere.
Pack light, as you will have to carry it all yourself. Keep money in a secure and hidden waist-pouch.
Dress conservatively―some cultures require this and, whether you think this fair or not, be mindful of local customs―you’re going on a visit not on a make-over mission―so, as they say, in Rome, don’t be a smart Greek. You will also prevent a lot of unwanted attention and harassment.
If you have a penchant for expensive jewelry, squash this penchant for the trip duration. Forgo even expensive-looking jewelry. The kind of petty thief I’m inferring here is a petty thief because he’s not smart to begin with―and he’s not likely to be able to tell the difference between the real thing and the fake. I’ve heard of cases where, having discovered it was fake later, the man actually returned and hit the person he had robbed―for having cheated him!
Wear sensible shoes. Not just for running away from Robin Hood, but also because it will be kinder to your feet if you’re going to be doing a lot of walking.
Carry a whistle with you. It’s great for drawing attention to yourself―whether the situation warrants it or not.
Keep someone regularly informed about your whereabouts, and also keep a mobile phone with you, along with the phone numbers of local police-stations, hospitals, railway and bus services, your embassy, etc.
Don’t travel alone at night. No point in being unnecessarily brave.
Try to sit next to another woman while traveling on public transport, and, if asking for directions, ask a woman or a man with children.
Trust your intuition about people, but it’s wiser not to tell strangers you’re alone or divulge travel plans or personal information. If you feel uneasy about somebody, don’t stick around to test your intuition. Even if it seems rude, better safe than sorry.
Think twice too, before asking a total stranger to take your photo―they could very well run away with your precious camera. Never take food/drinks from strangers―it might be drugged. And even if it’s not, there’s the remote possibility of ending up with the Delhi-belly or Montezuma’s Curse.
Now, take a pinch of salt and don’t become paranoid. While it is always a good idea to remain vigilant, you will realize as you travel that the world is really a far better and friendlier place than is generally assumed. There are plenty of good folk out there that will reach out to you in friendship, transcending the barriers of nationality and race. People who have nothing themselves will joyously offer you something―a part of their life as you pass along their way. It is enough to restore anybody’s faith in humanity.

Five Helpful Tips for Traveling with Kids

Most adults enjoy traveling and looking forward to vacations. But for a real adventure, try taking a child with you. Children have a unique way of noticing things you may not see, asking questions you may not think to ask, and suggesting side trips you might not have considered. A trip can be educational and exciting for everyone involved when a child comes along. But traveling with kids is different in many ways, so it’s best to be prepared and plan ahead to ensure the trip is a success.

Plan Ahead for the Confines of an Airplane
When adults have to fly for a couple of hours on a plane, they can keep themselves happy and distracted by reading a magazine, listening to the radio, or just taking a nap. But unless there’s a kid-friendly in-flight movie playing, kids will need something to distract them from having to sit in their seats for the entire flight, especially if it’s a long one. Pack a carry-on bag for in-flight distractions such as books, favorite toys, and healthy snacks (check with your airline to be sure any drinks you take are allowed). Pack at least one change of clothes in case of spills or accidents, and anything that might help them get to sleep, such as a favorite stuffed animal or a blanket.

Consider Sleeping Arrangements
Depending on which family members are going on the trip, you may need to plan ahead of time who’s going to sleep where. Because of economic concerns and tight vacation budgets, you need to save as much as you can on the sleeping arrangements, so you can spend that money on vacation activities. For instance, parents traveling with two children can easily share one motel room that has two double beds. Sure, four people sleeping in the same room won’t be as private as separate rooms at home, but the cost savings can be significant. Make it an adventure by taking along a game you can all play before going to bed, or if the hotel has pay-per-view movies, buy one and make it a movie night.

Be Prepared for Accidents
Taking first aid supplies along on a vacation is always a good idea for people of any age, but children in particular seem to be prone to cuts and bruises. There’s no need to take an entire medical kit along, but it is a good idea to pack a small bag with bandages, antibiotic ointment, gauze pads, tweezers (for splinters), and any medicines you think might be needed, such as Pepto-Bismol, acetaminophen, or cough drops. And it never hurts to have some kid-friendly insect repellent as well. A citronella-based insect repellant is the best choice for younger, sensitive skin.

Plan your Packing Based on your Destination
If your trip is going to be outside the continental United States, be sure to research what kind of vaccines may be needed for your kids. Lonely Planet travel guides are chock-full of useful information about what you’ll need for each region or country. Doctors or local medical centers can also give you information. Some families choose to buy a homeopathic travel kit to take with them, so they can use natural organic alternatives to vaccines. But be sure to learn as much as you can before you leave, to find out whether there are specific diseases you should protect yourself and your children against.

Travel Games Make for Fun Between Destinations
If you’re traveling by car, a road trip can get boring for kids unless they have something to do that occupies their minds, especially if all the driving is on Interstate highways. Think about taking a local road or a country highway now and then, just to keep things interesting. The extra half hour it will add to your trip will be worth it. But when you’re on one of those long stretches of highway, travel games will save the day for your kids.

Most folks know how to play ‘ABCs’―picking out letters on billboards from A to Z, and whoever gets to Z first wins. Try putting a spin on that old favorite by pointing out items that start with each letter, from A to Z. Another good travel game is called ‘2 Truths & 1 Lie’. Each player says three statements aloud, one of which is a lie and the others are true. Other players guess which statement is a lie. If they guess right, they get a point; if they guess wrong, they lose a point. Play to a predetermined score to see who wins. And then there’s the old standby ’20 Questions’―one player thinks of an object and the other players ask 20 yes or no questions to figure out what the player is thinking of. Whoever gets the object right wins that round.

Whenever you need a getaway holiday that’s fun, educational, exciting, and memorable, be sure to plan carefully and pack sufficiently, and don’t forget the most important ingredient for a successful trip―your kids!

How to Make Bus Travel More Comfortable

Throughout the world, bus travel is one of the cheapest ways to get around. Taking a bus from country to country or in between cities can be a very budget-friendly way to travel, but there’s a reason that bus travel is not popular. Unlike flying, bus travel is quite slow, and unlike train travel or renting a car and driving, buses can be uncomfortable. The uncomfortable aspect of bus travel is a reason that many people cite for not taking buses more often.

When Nature Calls
Those who have traveled long distances by bus will know, that while on a bus, passengers are largely at the mercy of the bus driver or drivers. Airplanes are equipped with beverages and clean, usable restrooms, but bus travelers often don’t have access to these luxuries. Yes, most coach buses have bathrooms on board, but in many cases they are not exactly pristine, and you wouldn’t want to use them if you could avoid it. So, when nature calls, or if you run out of water and food or need to stretch your legs, you have to wait for the drivers to decide it’s time for a break. Although the drivers probably wouldn’t mind stopping more often than they do, they are usually bound by tight schedule to arrive at the destination as soon as possible.

Be Prepared
The infrequent nature of stops on long bus trips brings us to the most important thing to keep in mind when traveling by bus: think ahead and be prepared. Bring plenty of food and water on the bus with you, and restock your supplies each time the bus stops, even if you don’t think you need to. On long bus rides, it’s much better to have too much food than not enough. In the unlikely event that you find yourself badly overstocked, you can always share with a less savvy passenger.

Watch Where You Sit
Another common problem with bus travel is that buses can be quite crowded and uncomfortable. If you’re traveling alone, you may find yourself in a situation where you are elbow to elbow (or worse) with a total stranger. There’s no telling whether this stranger will be quiet or talkative, well-groomed or strong smelling, courteous with elbow room or a space-hog. Sometimes, it’s possible to take measures to ensure that you end up next to someone tolerable. If you’re lucky enough to join the bus at a relatively uncrowded point on its route (usually towards the beginning of the route), you may be able to sit in an empty row. Of course, empty rows are nice while they’re empty, but as the bus fills up you won’t have any control over who sits next to you. If you see that the bus is getting more populated, consider switching seats to sit next to someone who seems friendly or innocuous.

Travel Comfortably With Inflatable Pillows
Many people bring pillows and blankets along on bus journeys, and this is really a good idea. The more small items you can pack to make your bus trip more comfortable, the better. You’ll want to pack light though, since there isn’t a lot of room to store luggage inside many coach buses. Luckily, many products are made specifically for traveler comfort. Inflatable pillows are a great item, because they take up hardly any room in a carry-on bag when deflated, but can make your bus ride much more luxurious once you blow them up. As far as blankets go, smaller is better, but warmth and comfort can also be issues. Consider packing a few travel towels to use as blankets. They’re small and portable, and work well as blankets when you’re not using them to dry off.

Choose Top-Quality Coaches
Of course, not all bus journeys are created equal. In many countries where bus travel is more common, buses come in different levels of luxury. Sometimes, if you’re traveling in a foreign country, it’s a good policy to get on the more ‘elite’ bus lines for safety reasons as well as for comfort. Buses that are higher up on the ranks are usually a bit more expensive, but the cost still doesn’t even approach that of an airline ticket. Best of all, the more luxury bus lines will often offer free beverages, make more frequent stops, and have cleaner facilities and more comfortable seats that allow you to stretch out.

How To Get Cheap Airfare To Paris

You should be clear with few things if you want cheap airfare to Paris. You should plan well in advance and another thing is that your schedule should be flexible. There are a number of airlines who put their tickets up for sale days in advance and that too at cheaper rates. The tickets may be there 3 months in advance. So plan early, you may get the best deal.

The rates are further lowered down during the off-season. This off-season is from mid Jan to the end of March and from early November to early December. Weekend flights usually cost more so you should try and fly during the weekdays. However there are so many people who cannot plan in advance because they need tickets to Paris at the last minute. So such people should make it a point to visit the airlines sites.

Such travelers who need the tickets quickly should also look on budget airlines like Easyjet and Ryanair. You can get good deals here. The rates may even be lower than the regular carriers. You can also get cheap airfare from travel sites like Orbitz and Expedia. They list the fares of all the airlines as well as their best fares. There are also some search based travel sites which offer the same services. You can get information about the best airfare to Paris on these sites.

Try to fly to Paris from major airports like New York. This is because there are a number of flights to Paris from here so you are more likely to get better rates than what you would get from other smaller airports and Make your schedule flexible if you want cheap airfare to Paris. You will have to pay more if you fly during the school holidays. So it’s better to travel during the weekdays. Check the price well in advance. You can save money by extending your stay for a day or two so that you avoid the popular dates. You can get good deals if you fly on Wednesdays and Saturday mornings.

Try to fly during the weekdays. This is because the weekday flights are usually not full and hence the airlines offer discounted rates in an attempt to fill in the seats. This is not the case with weekend flights which are almost always full. The discounted tickets however disappear as soon as they are released. The airlines keep on changing their fares. So don’t be too surprised if you trip price increased in an hour.

The flights are jam packed during the holiday season as in Christmas. The ticket rates usually go up during this time period. However you can get some good discount offers if you fly on Christmas or New Years Eve. There are also some good package tours. Some tours have air-only deals. These deals may turn out to be the cheapest that you can get.