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Darcy
02-24-2012, 12:00 PM
The question posed to Jodi Ettenberg in this New York Times interview (http://travel.nytimes.com/2012/02/26/travel/jodi-ettenberg-on-her-life-as-a-long-term-traveler.html) - "You’re a woman traveling alone. What precautions do you take?" - made me curious. What's your travel philosophy as a woman, traveling solo (or even in a group or as a couple?) Do you place some level of trust in the universe and go with your gut? Do you take precautions? And if so, what are they? Has your consideration of the risks of a trip ended in your decision not to go?

More examples women traveling solo: Vespa Vagabond (http://vespa-vagabond.blogspot.com/2011/05/got-email-from-chica-who-is-planning-to.html) (cross country road trip on a Vespa) and Kimberly Snyder (http://www.kimberlysnyder.net/blog/about/), who "embarked on a three-year solo journey spanning over 50 countries and six continents". And there's the She Travels Solo section of Journeywoman (http://www.journeywoman.com/SoloTravel/SoloIndex.htm). I'm sure there's other great examples out there... feel free to share them!

WhiteStar
02-24-2012, 12:14 PM
This is a question I think about a fair amount as I do travel quite a bit by myself. All by car and a lot of it is in farly remote areas. And I tend to stay in a lot of cheap hotels. Many of my friends think that I place way too much trust in the Universe, which is probably true. I am always traveling with several dogs, so that does offer some level of "built in" protection. Although how threatening can a 6 month old Samoyed look?

True story - I was in Phoenix, at a Motel 6. A number of the guests did seem a bit questionable. I was out walking 10 year old Icer and a couple puppies. The lights inthe parking lot were off and it was pretty dark. As often happens, a couple guys approached with the ususal comments... "Cool dogs!" What are they? How old? Are they friendly? Can we pet them?" To which I answered... "Thank you. Samoyeds. 10 and 6 months. Very friendly!! Sure, they love strangers." As soon as the words left my mouth I thought "How stupid am I???", so I quickly added, totally lying "The big guy is kind of protective of me." The big guy was at that very second sniffing aoround behind a bush totally ignoring everything, the puppies were straining at the leash for attention from the strangers. As they approached, Icer suddenly stopped his sniffing, came up beside me standing stiff as a board, AND STARTED GROWLING. In his entire life this dog had never growled at a person. The two guys gave the pups a quick pat and quickly retreated. So I do feel safe when my dogs are around....

darbs
02-24-2012, 01:55 PM
I do lots of travelling for my job, almost all by car, and also to the middle of nowhere. I go to the same small towns often and have found that you really just have to be aware. I tend to stop at the same gas stations and restaurants along the way as well as stay in the same hotels. If you are familiar with your surroundings, then you will notice when something is not right. I am also sure to give a quick look around before getting out of the car. I will often make 2 trips into the hotel with any bags or luggage so that my arms aren't always full (hopefully making myself less of target). I think they key to travelling alone as a women is just to constantly be on alert and trust your instincts. Oh, and I carry pepper spray with me at all times. :)

backpack
02-24-2012, 07:08 PM
A great trip starts with preparations at home, while we all know about pratice packing and fun Tom Bihn stuff to order, below are a couple of practical things to do before going to increase safety during travel.

The Hotel:

Choose mid price hotel chains where you know there will be snacks available inside, a shuttle to pick you up at the airport and a reliable internet connection to plan the rest of your stay.

While attending a conference, if the hotel cheapest conference rates are still too high, get the closest mid-price chain hotel room you can afford.

Read the reviews of each hotel in many forums and rating sites. Beware of reviews artificially inflated by staff and owners.

Do your homework beforehand by finding out how safe the neighborhood around the hotel is, where the nearest restaurants, grocery stores, bus/metro stops are located.


At your destination, while outside in unfamiliar areas,

Congregate around other women.

In urban areas, coffee shops, bookstores, malls, indoor markets and department stores are good places to stop for a while if "something doesn't feel right", the weather is iffy, you are not sure about directions or you feel tired. Use that time to recharge your electronics and yourself by sampling a local treat or buy it to go and get your bearings.

Don't be afraid of being rude, what I mean is there no need to be nice, questions need not to be answered, somebody trying to get your attention need not to get it.
Always keep aware of your surrounding and be prepared to go somewhere safer even if that means taking a taxi instead of the cheap public transportation.


To that effect, add the TaxiMagic App to your smartphone and always carry cash in small bills equivalent to a couple of taxi trips to get you back to your temporary HQ.

Some fares might be more expensive than that and to that end, you need to bring 2 credit cards.


I know that thinking about expenses that might mess the budget is not pleasant.

But... your life is worth more than what ever it will cost to get you where you are going, safely.


This is a very important post on Jodi Ettenberg's blog, LegalNomads.com

On December 5, 2010 at 10:38 pm Sharon H Miro said:

If you are looking for a whistle, why not check out your local county Search & Rescue–every county has one, and some even use whistle drives as fund raisers. Search & Rescue units are ALL volunteer, and can survive only by donations.

TavaPeak
02-24-2012, 10:05 PM
I sometimes travel solo, mostly to places where there is good public transit. I've been inspired by Alice Steinbach
Amazon.com: Educating Alice: Adventures of a Curious Woman (9780812973600): Alice Steinbach: Books (http://www.amazon.com/Educating-Alice-Adventures-Curious-Woman/dp/0812973607/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1330149865&sr=1-3)

and Lia Lane Sololady.com (http://www.sololady.com/). (Love her story about the shoes on the cruise ship.) These gals remind me to just get out there and explore. Do your homework, be safe, but don't just stay home.

DQBunny
02-24-2012, 10:41 PM
I travel solo a lot and moved myself from Maine to Arizona in 2006 (thankfully, I had help when I moved from there to Pennsylvania.) I also like traveling into New York City for the day by myself, etc. A lot of these tips are good ones.

I do my best to try and not act like a tourist, even when I am one. Wear your purse or bag (my go-to purse for three years now has been a small café bag) with the strap across your body. Don't wear it over one shoulder and especially do not dangle it in one hand. Keep the opening of the cafe bag turned toward your body, not away from it.

Be aware of your surroundings and try not to rely on your iPhone too much for directions, because that is a clear giveaway that you're a stranger alone. If you need to consult it for directions, duck inside a shop or a doorway. Walk with your head held high and somewhat briskly. Keep a hand on your purse/bag if you do want to slow down and look at something closer.

Keep money spread out - tuck a couple bills in your sock, in your bra, in your front pocket, etc. Some place it's damn hard for a thief to access. If you want to buy something from a street vendor, access money from a pocket and not your wallet.

And ironically, I was rude in San Francisco when this street hawker got up in my face and tried to make me buy his CD. I took a large step to my right, ordered him to back off and kept walking without looking back. He yelled, "Bitch!" at my back, but at least I was a safe bitch.

Moose
02-25-2012, 02:02 AM
A lot of good suggestions here. I love the Journeywoman web site!! I always carry my purse, as small as possible, cross body with the flap/access next to me not to the outside. If its small enough to fit under my jacket even better. I think a good bit of saftey is being aware of what's going on around you and not being, well, stupid. Don't walk dark city streets at night. Take directions from a woman at the hotel front desk. Always act/walk like you know what you're doing and where you're going, even when hoplessly lost.

I've driven cross country alone, except for my three and half pound yorkie, four times. Each time I was hauling a 12 foot uhaul trailer. My job transfered me back an forth. It was, to say the least, an experience. No matter how hard I tried I got misplaced in St. Louis each and every time. I got the trailer tangled up in a parking lot once. A older gentleman offered to help back it out for me. It made me nervous but I made an (thank heaven correct) instant judgement about whether or not to accept assistance. He turned out to be just a nice guy that wanted to help. I think we all have a "sense" if something isn't right. I've learned to listen to how I "feel" if something's not right you'll know it.
Take care,
Moose

notmensa
02-25-2012, 08:34 PM
Hi everyone,

I travel a lot for business, both domestically (in Australia) and internationally. Backpack & DQbunny's suggestions are great and are things I do regularly. I'd add two things:

- know how you'll get from the airport / train / bus station to the hotel (if there's no shuttle). I always have the hotel address printed out and have a map showing the route. A map of the local area around the hotel also helps. Looking at the hotel and surrounds on Google street view is very useful - helps me to know I'm in the right place!

- pack light. I travel with either the Western Flyer or a slightly larger (carry-on) backpack, and another small bag for 'quick access' to small amounts of cash, one credit card, and my phone. I try to keep my bags with me at all times, and not put them in a trunk of taxis or buses. It makes moving around much easier and means I can get off quickly if needed.

bchaplin
02-26-2012, 05:47 AM
I've traveled alone to a few places, including a recent trip in Hungary where I was challenged with an unfamiliar language, and had to figure out the subway, buses and trains to get around. I always find I'm more nervous planning for a trip then once I actually arrive, and my first-day jitters ease.

A few times I had to be brusque in shrugging off offers of 'help' from Roma in the subway, and quickly learned not to make myself a target by studying the maps in public. But the same pretty much applies in my home city. It's taken me a while in life to learn that the best thing to do if I am in doubt is to break off a conversation and walk away without agonizing over whether or not I'm offending someone.

I wasn't shy about asking for directions if I got lost. People were incredibly helpful despite my marginal language skills.

I had access to wifi and an 11inch Macbook Air, so that I could plan the next day's excursions in the privacy of my room. I left the laptop in the safe during the day. If I was traveling to a less-safe area of the world, I might not have brought it.

I stayed in a small B&B rather than a hotel. It had an overall homey feel, I knew all the employees by the end of my visit, and they offered all sorts of assistance in planning.

I'd like to say I traveled light, but actually there's a lot of room for improvement there. However I did bring laundry supplies so I never had to hit a laundromat, and this make the week more pleasant. I ended up using one city as a home base, and taking daily excursions to other places. If I had less stuff I might have moved around more.

lauragayle
02-26-2012, 07:27 AM
Yes, don't consult a street map in public! You may want to consult a small subway/public transit map in a large city -- many of the locals do that too. It's worthwhile to go to a cafe, preferably inside if possible, buy a drink, and consult your map there if you have to. Depending on where you travel, having instructions on your phone or iPod isn't too obvious, as long as you don't look at it every 5 seconds and you just look like you're looking for messages. Even then, use common sense and don't draw attention to yourself.

WhiteStar
02-26-2012, 08:09 AM
Gee I look at my phone constantly for directions when I'm in home territory! ( I have NO sense of direction AT ALL!)

LegalNomads
02-26-2012, 09:42 AM
Hi all! I'm Jodi, the Legal Nomads person Darcy mentioned at the beginning of the thread. I tend to travel primarily in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and South America, so my tips are more geared toward solo travel in those regions. I always keep a doorstop (in case anyone is coming into the room), a safety whistle (gotten me out of being chased by a pack of monkeys in Burma (http://www.legalnomads.com/2010/12/my-safety-whistle-worth-its-weight-in-gold.html) and got attention when stranded on a boat later on in the same country) and a headlamp (never know when the power will go out).

In South America/Central America, I often carry a mugger's wallet as well.

Another great solo female site: A Little Adrift (http://www.alittleadrift.com)

ncb4
02-26-2012, 10:18 AM
This is a question I think about a fair amount as I do travel quite a bit by myself. All by car and a lot of it is in farly remote areas. And I tend to stay in a lot of cheap hotels. Many of my friends think that I place way too much trust in the Universe, which is probably true. I am always traveling with several dogs, so that does offer some level of "built in" protection. Although how threatening can a 6 month old Samoyed look?

True story - I was in Phoenix, at a Motel 6. A number of the guests did seem a bit questionable. I was out walking 10 year old Icer and a couple puppies. The lights inthe parking lot were off and it was pretty dark. As often happens, a couple guys approached with the ususal comments... "Cool dogs!" What are they? How old? Are they friendly? Can we pet them?" To which I answered... "Thank you. Samoyeds. 10 and 6 months. Very friendly!! Sure, they love strangers." As soon as the words left my mouth I thought "How stupid am I???", so I quickly added, totally lying "The big guy is kind of protective of me." The big guy was at that very second sniffing aoround behind a bush totally ignoring everything, the puppies were straining at the leash for attention from the strangers. As they approached, Icer suddenly stopped his sniffing, came up beside me standing stiff as a board, AND STARTED GROWLING. In his entire life this dog had never growled at a person. The two guys gave the pups a quick pat and quickly retreated. So I do feel safe when my dogs are around....

When I travel alone by car, which I do quite a bit, I'm afraid I'm a bit obsessive about only staying at certain motel chains, even if it does cost me more. One of the key things I look for is rooms that only open onto interior hallways: no direct access outside via a door or sliding window. (I once had to stop at a very iffy Days Inn because I was driving through a gale and the interstate was flooding. The door opened right onto the parking lot, and the locks didn't look too strong, so I pushed a heavy chair against it when I went to sleep that night.)

I don't travel with my dogs as often as you do, Whitestar, but they do make me feel safer, too, even though they also attract attention. Especially the time I was driving with my parents' 170-pound Landseer Newfoundland. Truckers kept coming up to me at rest stops to ask about Jonesy, so I lied and said he was aggressive. (In reality, he was a big teddy bear.)

I do think our dogs have a sense of who's okay and who's not, just like your Icer. Once at my home a man came to the screen door to ask for a handout; very, very unusual in the small rural town where I live. He was quite insistent about it, wanting both money and food, acting strange and changing his story constantly. I had a seven-year-old son in the house with me at the time, and I was starting to get nervous. Whether she was responding to that, or to the man, my Saint Bernard, Shiloh, started to growl and growl though the door and wouldn't stop, even when I reprimanded her. Then she completely disobeyed me and burst through the door and chased the man out of the yard. I kept calling for her to come back, but she ignored me. She stood on the sidewalk, just at the edge of our property line, and glowered at the man, who was now across the street. Every time he tried to come back, she started growling and barking at him again, in effect keeping him at bay and out of our yard. And she refused to come back into the house until my husband came home about twenty minutes later. We found out later when talking to the sheriff that the man was a drug addict who had just been released from jail that day on a burglary charge. Needless to say, we rewarded Shiloh for being disobedient that day!

bchaplin
02-26-2012, 12:11 PM
Gee I look at my phone constantly for directions when I'm in home territory! ( I have NO sense of direction AT ALL!)

I do too, even at home! I'm constantly thankful for Google maps, and it's a struggle when I travel overseas and can't use my iPhone without incurring expensive data charges.

The only time I got into (mild) trouble in Europe was in approaching a large map on a subway wall, in a heavily touristed area. The guy that started to approach me was obviously stationed there, waiting for tourists so he could offer unsolicited help and ask for some money. I found it annoying, so I walked away. After that I got my own map to carry, and no one bothered me, even if I opened it on the street, which I had to do occasionally. If I had felt less safe maybe I would have been more discrete; I guess it really depends where you are.

I'm enjoying reading these tips -- some of you are far more widely traveled than me. I will have to read the Burmese monkey story...

lonestar6
02-26-2012, 03:01 PM
Hello everyone. It looks like there are a lot of smart people travelling solo on this board. Most of my truly adventurous solo traveling was pre-computer or cell phone. and it would not have helped me anyway (bicycled Canadian Rockies from Jasper to Banff alone; solo hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail). My solo travels now are more business related. I agree with everything offered here with an extra vote for being aware of your surroundings (situational awareness) being important, a flashlight and whistle are valuable and I do like the idea of a doorstop if travelling in places where door locks may be lacking.

About all I can think to add is that I do not stay on the first floor of a hotel (or the second floor if the exterior walls are easily scaled, and I make sure I pick the taxi I get into and that it 'looks' reputable. I try to blend in with my surroundings (don't over or under dress) and don't look outwardly confused or distracted. I don't mean act like superwoman here, I mean don't act like an easy hit. Finally, listen to your 'gut', or instincts, if your instincts tells you there is danger keep moving.

Entertaining story: I travelled overseas recently and was sitting alone at a hotel bar when a gentleman came and asked me if I would like to join his group at a table. I politely said no, finished my beer and paid my bill. The whole time something was nagging me in the back of my head. I realized this was the leader I had met once brielfly and his team; which I (and they) had travelled to meet at this location and work with over the next few days on a local project. oops. I did not know they were staying at the same hotel and with the exception of meeting this fellow once and briefly; I did not know anyone on his team. So, I walked over and introduced myself and apologized for being distant and there was no harm done. There would have been no harm done had I not had this epiphany either. Better safe than sorry.

My two cents - Lonestar6

snowbot
02-27-2012, 06:16 AM
My work travel typically involves conferences in cities and visits to universities, both in the US and abroad. While I typically vacation travel with a partner now, I used to travel around Europe by myself.

I'll reiterate that one should reconsider traveling with more than one can easily pick up and carry. This is why I avoid roll-aboard suitcases. They're hard for me to carry up stairs. Try to keep one hand free.
Get plenty of rest, or recognize that you're tired and plan accordingly. Travel is tiring, especially if you're dealing with a foreign language. People are more likely to make unsafe choices if they are tired.
Don't be too cheap. Especially when you're traveling on a budget, saving a few bucks can be really tempting. Take a certified cab if it might not be safe to walk back to your lodgings. Pay more for a legitimate airport shuttle. Don't take the bargain room if doesn't seem secure. Never take deal that seems too good to be true.
Don't take anything with you that you couldn't afford to lose (passport and credit cards, excluded). This is more advice for leisure travel and probably best applies to electronics, jewelry, and creative works. This might mean picking up a cheap MP3 player instead of taking your iphone or wearing a simple gold band instead of your wedding ring if you cannot afford (monetarily or spiritually) to replace the items if they are stolen or broken.
Let friends know where you plan to be and when you get there. (Depending on your travel experience, this might be a weekly check-in or a daily check-in.)
Worry just the right amount. If you worry too much about your safety, you might not have fun. If you don't worry at all, you might be an idiot.

snowbot
02-27-2012, 06:26 AM
Entertaining story: I travelled overseas recently and was sitting alone at a hotel bar when a gentleman came and asked me if I would like to join his group at a table. I politely said no, finished my beer and paid my bill. The whole time something was nagging me in the back of my head. ... Better safe than sorry.

I love this story!

Darcy
02-27-2012, 08:45 AM
Hey everyone! Please welcome Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads to the forums. We were inspired to start this thread because of her and now she's here to participate and answer your questions-- way cool. I did have to "approve" her post before it showed up, so some of you might not have seen it.


Hi all! I'm Jodi, the Legal Nomads person Darcy mentioned at the beginning of the thread. I tend to travel primarily in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and South America, so my tips are more geared toward solo travel in those regions. I always keep a doorstop (in case anyone is coming into the room), a safety whistle (gotten me out of being chased by a pack of monkeys in Burma (http://www.legalnomads.com/2010/12/my-safety-whistle-worth-its-weight-in-gold.html) and got attention when stranded on a boat later on in the same country) and a headlamp (never know when the power will go out).

In South America/Central America, I often carry a mugger's wallet as well.

Another great solo female site: A Little Adrift (http://www.alittleadrift.com)

dorayme
02-27-2012, 09:08 AM
I haven't had a ton of opportunity to travel solo recently. I did as a college student though. Thank you Darcy for starting this thread, and others for your comments. It's good to be reminded to be safe.

My mental over simplification of all of this is to be aware everywhere and think 3 steps ahead.

Lani
02-27-2012, 12:12 PM
What a terrific thread. Some great tips, too.

I don't travel solo nearly as often these days (not a lot of budget at work for business travel), but I'll add a few as well.

LegalNomads said she travels with a headlamp. I do, too. Once in a while I'll stay in a room where the lamp isn't by the nightstand, or it requires that you get up to go turn it off--how incovenient! Times like that, headlamps come in handy for reading in bed... but it's also good to have and not require that you hold it with one hand. My favorite is the Petzl Zipka Plus-- You can buy it at REI and it's made by the company that makes a bunch of hiking headlamps, but the Zipka has a retractable strap so you don't have to deal with the mess of straps (Petzl Zipka Plus 2 Headlamp at REI.com (http://www.rei.com/product/829552/petzl-zipka-plus-2-headlamp)).

As much as I like the TB Cafe Bags, its one main drawback is that you can't zip up the opening. Instead, I wear the TB Packing Cube Shoulder Bag as my cross-body, and keep all my valuables in it (except my passport, which I keep next to my skin if it's not in the safe in the hotel room). The Dyneema fabric is basically slashproof. And to prevent pickpockets from trying to worm their grubby fingers into the bag, I use an S-biner carabiner from NiteIze (S-Biner | Nite Ize (http://www.niteize.com/collections/s-biner)) and clip all the zipper tabs together, and then clip the other end into the D-ring of the bag or the strap hook. My favorite size #2 or #3 of the black steel version. It's less clunky than their plastic ones, and the black blends in well with the zipper tabs.

2110

It's not a locking mechanism, but it's an inconvenience that a pickpocket isn't gonna want to bother with.

If I'm playing tourist, I also try not to walk around with a travel guidebook in hand. I either just rip out the chapter/section I want, and tuck it in my purse, or I put an innocuous-looking book jacket on the outside of the book so it's not so obvious what I'm reading. Especially if I'm visiting touristy places (in places known for scammers and pickpockets), I don't need to stand out. I'll avoid wearing any shiny jewelry or expensive watches (not that I have one, but I'm going with a cheapo watch) and try not to look like an easy mark.

gmoskal
02-27-2012, 02:35 PM
LegalNomads, what's a mugger's wallet, if you don't mind me asking?

Moose
02-27-2012, 02:44 PM
Hi Lani, I too clip my zippers together like you do. Someplace on the forum there's photo of my Synapse clipped like yours. I also carry a head lamp with me. It clips on the strap of my Synapse or its on the elastic band it came with and around my neck. Makes for some good reading or stitching. It seems a bit less silly around my neck than around my forehead. I've got a Timbuk2 Shagg bag on my Synapse strap too. Great place for a bit of cash, a key or credit card. Makes them eaiser to get to without having to open up my whole bag.
Take care,
Moose

Lani
02-27-2012, 03:15 PM
LegalNomads, what's a mugger's wallet, if you don't mind me asking?

It might be different, but I think Rick Steves has recommended it in the past. You get yourself an old billfold with store loyalty cards and expired gift cards and stuff, and add a few bills in there. This is your decoy. If you're ever needing to give up your wallet, you give them this decoy one. You keep your real stash and IDs in your security wallet.

Lani
02-27-2012, 03:16 PM
It seems a bit less silly around my neck than around my forehead. I've got a Timbuk2 Shagg bag on my Synapse strap too.

That definitely sounds more elegant than the cyclops look, for sure! On the other hand, your method won't let you zap bad guys with your third eye laser beam. Schwaaaaaaaaaaat!

LegalNomads
02-27-2012, 07:52 PM
LegalNomads, what's a mugger's wallet, if you don't mind me asking?

Hi there! As Lani noted below, it's a decoy wallet with some cash (real cash, but not very much), expired cards or fake cards, like the ones they send you in the mail to entice you to sign up for something, and other stuff you might not mind losing. Make it as real looking as possible - as in, cut out a photo from a mag and put it in, as though you're carrying someone's photo that you miss. It's a tough piece of advice because of course it does depend on how each of us react in situations like that. I've been mugged at knifepoint and did hand over just the mugger's wallet. The mugger asked me to lift my shirt up to see my waistband, obviously looking for a moneybelt (which I never carry, for that reason, but of course this is a very subjective decision). I turned over the mugger's wallet (he went through my bag and saw it there) - my other wallet was stashed in a side pocket in my pants. The 2nd time I was mugged was in Southeast Asia and by a police officer, and was at gunpoint; luckily I had nothing on me as I was walking back to my hostel after getting food, but my dorm that mate's camera was taken - though we were able to negotiate with the mugger to keep the memory card. Probably not the wisest move ("WAIT! Can she keep her memories? Memory cards are cheap. We give you the camera, she takes the memories") but it worked.

Lani, I also use a Petzl Tikka and I've had the same one since I began my travels - love it!

I hope it's ok to post a resources page here too, for those looking for further advice? I've built a long page with packing, planning and other tips, along with resources for vaccinations, visas and how to stay positive on the road. It's here (http://www.legalnomads.com/wds) if any of you are interested.

Finally, as I said in the initial post, the way I travel differs in that it's often in developing countries and by public transportation, so as with any advice "your mileage will vary" and all that. :) Happy to answer any other questions if you've got'em!

-Jodi

Maria
02-28-2012, 07:01 PM
Excellent advice, and some interesting stories too! I don't usually travel all over the place in a single trip, so I plan the following accordingly:

I always bring printed copies of emergency numbers - family, embassies, doctors, etc. I keep copies in several locations - pocket, purse, luggage, even try to have a "photo" of it on the first image in my camera. (Not passport or credit card information - could be risky if camera is stolen.) I'll even laminate a copy before I leave.

Also on this list - phone numbers for calling from WITHIN and from OUTSIDE of the same country. (Ask me how I know!) When stressed, tired, hungry, ill, cranky, lost, when your brain is in a fog and you cannot think clearly....helps to know exactly what number to dial from your current location. Example - calling a relative in England from North America is a little different from calling the same person from within the UK.

Some hotels will have a business card with one side printed in English and the other in the local language. Take a few with you. If lost, you can show the "local" spelling to a taxi driver to make sure you get to the right place. (Think how many big cities have multiple hotels of the same chain's name....)

Cheers!

moriond
02-28-2012, 07:58 PM
Hi Lani, I too clip my zippers together like you do. Someplace on the forum there's photo of my Synapse clipped like yours.
Here's the link to the 'Locking' zippers on the Synapse thread (http://forums.tombihn.com/customer-pictures-video/2519-locking-zippers-synapse.html) with pictures by notmensa (whose photo is also featured on the blog post for this thread) (http://www.tombihn.com/blog/?p=2679). @Lani, I did try out some of the S-Biner clips. They may be OK in the fashion you use them, where they're held tight by the tension in different directions, but I find the spring-loaded clip sections to be unreliable about staying shut. Just my experience. They did look as though they'd work well to lock multiple rings. I use notmensa's option 2 locking arrangement on my Synapse.

moriond

Kinsale
02-28-2012, 09:39 PM
Great thread. I usually travel alone and just got back from a solo trip to Belgium. I think pre-trip planning is one of the most important keys to a successful solo trip especially when there are language considerations. I like to read travel forums like Frommer's, Fodo's, Trip Advisor and FlyerTalk to get tips and a feel for the area I'll be travelling to.

Another favorite planning tool is Google maps -- I love to literally take a look at where I'm going -- especially helpful for planning routes from the airport or train station to the hotel. Cuts down on getting lost en-route. It doesn't always work, I did get confused on the Belgian tram and had to backtrack two stops and start over, lol, but that's all part of travel, isn't it.

Gear wise for this trip I used my Tri-Star, Large Cafe Bag, various pouches, and the small shopping bag for day trips. Perfect for the many transfers, there were 6 flights, 4 trains, a tram, taxi, bus, and a boat.

I also tried using the stuff bag folded down as a trial run for the travel tray. I'm definitely picking up a travel tray to keep all those little bits organized in the hotel.

backpack
02-28-2012, 11:30 PM
I now use split rings and Key Straps as well as a still usable long strap from the bag which was replaced by my first Cafe Bag.

Moose
02-29-2012, 02:11 AM
http://forums.tombihn.com/customer-pictures-video/4156-zipper-security-another-idea.html

Here's another thread with some more photos of S-biner clips on the Synapse.
Take care,
Moose

notmensa
02-29-2012, 04:31 AM
I use notmensa's option 2 locking arrangement on my Synapse.

Hey, thanks for the shout out!!! Love that my Synapse obsession helps others. :-)

Badger
02-29-2012, 08:20 AM
Hey, thanks for the shout out!!! Love that my Synapse obsession helps others. :-)

That photo of you and your Synapse in Sydney on the TB blog is fantastic. The stars really aligned for that shot.

Moose
02-29-2012, 02:39 PM
notmensa, your photos of the Synapse and IIRC Western Flyer are what prompted me to finally get mine. Thank you, I love them.
Moose

bchaplin
03-07-2012, 11:42 AM
Thinking ahead to a trip to the Middle East... there are places I'd like to go where joining a tour would make it easier to get to the places I want to see, and provide interesting fellow-travelers to share the experience with. Not to mention not having to worry overmuch about logistics. I'm curious if there are any tour outfits that others recommend. GAdventures (Adventure Travel & Tours - Book Your Trip - G Adventures (http://www.gadventures.com/)), which I happened to find online, looks interesting -- they welcome people of all ages and seem to have a philosophy of travel that I embrace. For instance, they specifically recommend traveling light, with a non-wheeled suitcase, and seem to be the kind of outfit that offers interesting, engaging tours that don't just shuffle people around in a monstrous air-conditioned bus every day. Has anyone used them or something similar they recommend? (In my case I want to see Jordan, but this could be more of a general question.)

Badger
03-07-2012, 11:56 AM
HF Walking Tours offers some nice options, though I don't know about Jordan. They are definitely more for people who are into rambling than sightseeing, though.

LegalNomads
05-19-2012, 08:31 AM
I'm curious if there are any tour outfits that others recommend. GAdventures (Adventure Travel & Tours - Book Your Trip - G Adventures (http://www.gadventures.com/)), which I happened to find online, looks interesting -- they welcome people of all ages and seem to have a philosophy of travel that I embrace.

Hi there. I actually do work for them because I embrace their core values too - I've sent cousins on their trips in the past (who were worried to travel solo) and my arrangement with them is that I hop on their trips once a year (last year it was to Morocco) and then write about it for their site, and also give talks to kids about how travel helps you understand the world (and maintain perspective in it). So, I'm biased in that I have a contract to hop on their trips once in awhile, but I also don't work with many companies, only the ones I believe in. I took on the G Adv contract instead of working w/ similar outfitters because I love what they're doing.

The only thing I'd warn about is that the restaurants they suggest are more midrange than I expected; I tended to wander off alone on the Morocco trip to eat street food, but I know not everyone wants to do that. An option is perhaps booking a tour then (if you have the time) staying a bit longer - I often recommend this to people so that they get calibrated with the help of a guide, get the history, etc and then have extra time to delve into the culture and food alone once they are already comfortable. Other options include doing a Planeterra trip with them (more voluntourism, but sustainably so).

Hope this helps! I know it's not purely objective advice but I assure you I'd never do work with a company I didn't stand behind :) If you do head to Jordan and stay longer, please do let me know as I'll happily put you in touch with the Tourism Board there, who is great for helping with itinerary planning and suggestions.

Best,
Jodi