Archive for the 'Packing Pointers' Category

Ten Tips for Women’s Travel Health

(photo credit:

Women, if you’re like me, when planning to travel, you’ve got your agenda planned, your wardrobe to match the adventure you are about to embark upon and a child-like smile plastered to your face thinking about the sites you are about to see. Health issues while traveling could put a serious damper on your anticipated plans.  We asked Founder of Women’s Travel Club, Phyllis Stroller, to share a few health tips for women travelers:

1.     Menstruating Overseas:    Tampons are not sold in many countries. Pads, which come in a long roll and are cut by a pharmacist, are NOT sanitary. Bring your own supplies.
2.     Yeast infections and UTI’s:   Women get urinary infections due to skimping on drinking water.  Yeast infections also occur after one has taken or is taking an antibiotic. Carry Monistat, Canestan cream, or a single dose tablet, Diflucan. Eat yogurt if available.
3.     Safe sex, even with your husband:    Carry birth control pills, do not pack them. Lock medicines in the hotel safe.  If you use a diaphram, do not wash it in iffy water. Bring trustworthy condoms; local products may be harmful.
4.     Medical records:   Always visit a travel doctor before taking a trip, especially to an exotic locale.  List all vaccinations + medicines  (the latter in the generic).  Bring your eyeglass prescription.
5.     Dress modestly:   Notice and adhere to local customs.  Scarves, that cover shoulders and heads, are invaluable and light. Pack socks for walking shoe-less in temples and mosques.
6.     Protect your skin:  Carry a foldable hat. Sun-proof clothes with RIT Sunguard Laundry Treatment. In insect  areas, slather on high SPF lotion, spray yourself and clothes with DEET.  Remember the higher the DEET, the longer the protection-make sure to read the labels!
7.     Proof of parentage:   If you plan to cross borders with children, be prepared with proof of parentage or guardianship. Single parents need a letter from the absent parent with permission for children to leave the country. If separated or divorced, have copies of legal documents regarding custody rights for minors traveling with you. These are important if children need medical treatment abroad.
8.     Wedding rings and jewelry:   Ward off unwanted male attention by wearing a wedding band.  Make sure it is not tight; many women find feet and hands swell on long flights.
9.     The bathroom:    We’ve all hovered over filthy toilets. Welcome PMate, a nifty light invention (fits into an envelope), made of a sturdy disposable coated cardboard- very discreet.
10.  Clean water and avoiding buying water:   Consider purchasing a simple water filtration system. SteriPEN  has many options at

Useful Health Tips for Women Travelers provided by Phyllis Stroller. For more women travel tips please visit:  

How to avoid airplane germs

I admit that I”m a germ freak. I wear an air purifier around my neck for ion technology clean air, and use a

Germs on an airplane

tissue to touch anything in the bathroom.

What else can you do?

  • Don’t put your head down on the food tray to sleep, or put your bread or snack directly on the tray.
  • Use hand sanitizers often and wipe down the remote in your hotel room.
  • Buy a portable air purifier. This is the model I have used for years  Ultra-Mini.


“Four out of six tray tables tested positive for the superbug methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and norovirus, the highly contagious group of viruses that can cause a miserable one- or two-day bout of vomiting, diarrhea and cramping, was found on one tray. Most of the bathrooms he swabbed had E. coli bacteria. Thirty percent of sinks, flush handles and faucet handles had E. coli, as did 20 percent of toilet seats, according to his research.”

In case you missed this article in the New York Times Travel Section, March  2011.

Check list. Day before travel overseas.

Why don’t I follow my own advice, and pack and finish all preparations early? Tomorrow I leave for Mexico in a few hours and I”m still crossing things off my list. Here’s my pre-trip “Don’t Forget To Do” list.

1. Call my credit card company to add a “Travel Alert” to my account. When they see ATM debits and Credit Card charges from Mexico they’ll accept them. I am careful to give the exact dates so they know when I’ll be home.

2. Call my cell phone carrier and add the International Plan. With ATT it cost $4.99 for a month. The charge can be pro-rated, so I make a note to call and cancel it as soon as I get home. Most importantly, I ask how much each minute will cost if I call from Mexico to the USA. How much will text messages cost? I learn that I should turn the phone off, (use Airplane Mode) or I’ll be charged minutes for every phone message and text sent to me.

3. I go into the bank and get lots of crisp, clean $1 bills to use for tips and shopping (when the vendor doesn’t have change). I also take a couple hundred dollars in US currency, which I keep in my money belt or lock in my suitcase in my room, if a safe isn’t available.

4. Check my list of last minute items I’ve forgotten in the past:

  • cell phone charger,
  • night gown, toothpaste,
  • washcloth (many hotels overseas do not provide them),
  • large safety pin or clothespin to fully close hotel drapes,
  • a rubber door stopper for added security in hotel rooms.

Good luck. I hope you can learn from my mistakes.   Au Revoir.

What apps are best for overseas travel?

With the help of modern technology – i.e. smartphones – traveling to a new country or city has never been easier. Here is a great list of travel apps to check out.

1.  Viber
There’s a wide range of apps out there that offer travelers and expats an opportunity to keep in touch with their friends and families back home. One such example is Viber, an application that allows iPhone users to make free phone calls to fellow iPhone users no matter where in the world they are. Providing you and the call recipient both have iPhones, then international calls using Viber or Wi-Fi are completely free of charge.

2.  iMetro
iMetro is a handy app that provides metro/underground transport maps for 28 cities throughout the world. Each map is scalable and you can manipulate the screen to zoom in and find your way.

3.  HiConverter
Can’t quite get used to the measurement systems in place abroad? HiConverter is a very handy app that quickly converts measurements from one system to another. Temperature, shoe sizes, distance, currency; you name it, it can convert it. The app also has the added advantage of being integrated with Tiptulator, an app that allows you to calculate the tip on a restaurant or bar bill.

4.  iLingual
ILingual is a fun app that steals your lips and transforms them into multilingual speakers. You simply take a photograph of your lips (or someone elses’ for a more comedic effect), choose the phrase you would like to say in the foreign language and then hold your iPhone over your face where you lips are to create the effect that you are speaking the words. At the very least it will get a few laughs! The app is currently only available in French, German and Arabic.

5. XE Currency
XE Currency is a very popular app because it allows for very quick currency conversions and is capable of performing multiple conversions at the same time. The currency rates can refresh every 60 seconds meaning that you have the most up to date rate available at your fingertips. You can also program the app so that it automatically tracks the performance of a number of different currencies over time, great for expats who are investments in a variety of locations.

6. Word Lens
Word Lens is one of the newest apps on the scene and it has caused quite a stir. The app offers a new approach to translation that is based on images and goes significantly further than many other translation apps have been able to go. At present it only offers Spanish to English translations but more languages are planned in the future.

7. Weatherbug
Weatherbug is a great app to save, and track, the weather conditions in up to 20 locations throughout the world and offers live webcam views of the weather in action.

8. Tourcaster Walking Tours
For travelers or newly arrived expats who are interested in exploring on foot without being armed with an attention-grabbing tourist book, the Tourcaster audio walking tours app offers walking tours in popular destinations throughout the world. Load your virtual map and follow the onscreen instructions to explore the city and learn more of its history. Each tour is categorized according to difficulty, length and distance so you can fit your tours in around your schedule and explore at your own pace.

Thanks for the information, George Eves, serial expat and founder of Expat Info Desk, a comprehensive online information resource for expats worldwide.

Spring Break Beach Trip in the Planning. Mexico?

Lousy winter weather and a pent up demand for a vacation in the sun are my reasons for heading south to Mexico.

The top international destination for Spring Break is Cancun, along the gulf of Mexico and that’s where I’m going next week. Actually I’m going to an area an hour south of Cancun called Playa del Carmen.

Luckily I used airline coupons to pay for the airfare months ago. United Airlines bumped us from a flight last May and the coupons had to be used within a year, so after tedious phone calls to United, I finally turned the coupons into plane tickets to Cancun.

TRAVEL TIP: Check the expiration dates on free travel coupons. Travel must be booked and begun before the expiration date which is usually 12 months from the time the coupons are issued.

Despite a continuing string of negative headlines from Mexico, including recent decisions by three cruise lines to cancel port calls in Mazatlan, the country remains popular with vacationers: Cancun, San Jose del Cabo and Puerto Vallarta were among the top five international destinations in Orbitz’ recent spring break survey.

According to USAToday’s Laura Bly.

How to get a deal? Consider an all-inclusive resort. You’ll know what you’re going to spend before you go because all food, and often all drinks and evening entertainment are included.

I like to pack in advance to make sure I pack lightly and efficiently. Using old lists, I’ve filled and emptied my suitcase mixing and matching outfits. Roll clothing or fold? How many pairs of shoes?A sarong for a beach cover-up? Ah so many decisions and so little space.  Any suggestions?

Packing can be such a pain!

Banish Bad Hair Days – Dos and Don’ts

Can you beat back frizz, control cowlicks and tame unruly hair when you’re traveling? Yes! Bad hair days do not have to be part of your travel plans.

Hair Beauty Dos and Don’ts

1. See your stylist and have your hair done the day before you leave. Planning, packing and closing up the house are stressful enough. You’ll need the quiet time and relaxation which having your hair done affords.

2. Get a good cut and have it styled for comfort and ease. Once you have a masterful cut, there are many ways to punch up your look.  If you have long hair, be sure to take scarves, clips, and ties. The humidity and heat in Thailand or Bali can turn normal hair into frizz.

3. Plan ahead, particularly if you are going to be gone for awhile. Purchase the correct hair formula for you hair color so someone else can do it for you without making mistakes. TAKE IT WITH YOU. If you need to  have your hair done when you’re in Tuscany or Provence, for example, take a digital photo of your hair style before you leave the salon. Carry the photos with you to show the new stylist how they like their hair, so there’s no room for error. Unless you want to try purple hair and a buzz cut.

4. Brush thoroughly before going to bed so you get all the spray and residue out.

5. Buy a silk pillow cover and use it. I have to admit that when I use my silk pillow cover my hair keeps its shape, bounce and body.

6. Consider using bottled water when you do the final rinse of your hair. Why?

My stylist told me she had a client who traveled to the Amazon and when she rinsed her hair with the water on the ship, her hair turned a brass color, due to the minerals in the water.   Don’t trust the local water if your hair is treated or delicate.

7. Hair pieces are in. Don’t miss a morning train or pass up a decadent breakfast of warm French pastries and coffee because you are hassling with hair preparation. Have you had days when you don’t have time to style your hair between afternoon activities and dinner? Here’s the solution — pull your hair back and add a hair piece or a flower. It’s simple, easy and the end result is a sophisticated look.

8. Hair gets sun burned too. Apply a spray hair sunscreen before you go sailing, tanning by the pool or golfing. The hair spray is good for your skin too.

A good hair day can help a woman (or man) ooze confidence and poise.



Stop-over in Lima, Peru Is it Safe? What do do?

Historic Distric in Lima

Lots of trips to Machu Picchu and the other South American destinations stop in Lima for 8-18 hours.  When my husband and trekked in Peru many years ago — Machu Picchu, the Cordillera Blanca — we too had a long lay-over in Lima.  Recently I returned to Lima en route to Easter Island and discovered how much we’d missed on the first visit.

The photos tell a story of what there is to do. Enjoy but beware.


There are pick-pockets, so leave your jewelery at home. Our guide told us that gold items; earrings, watches, are of particular interest to thieves who will grab and run.

Leave valuables in the hotel safe, and wear your ID and credit cards, and cash in a money belt or interior pocket under your clothing.

Remember the hour of sunset. A neighborhood that was bustling with activity during the day may quickly be deserted after dark and not be safe. Ask locals what and where is safe. Spend the extra money for a cab.

For more safety tips go to my website, Gutsy Traveler and click on the Travel Tips / Safety:

Larco Museo, Marvelous Collection of Moche Pots

What to do during a lay-over in Lima?

Mira Flores area of Lima. See all the surfers?

Again, friends asked me if Lima is safe for tourists. That depends upon where you go and how savvy you are. I recommend you hire a guide for the day.  Mountain Lodges of Peru has day guides, and Roberto, our charming, well-educated guide  was excellent.  He showed us all the highlights — Plaza San Martin, San Isidro, Miraflores, Museo Larco — and he saved us time, and ensured our safety. (By the way, Mountain Lodges of Peru’s website is awesome. You’ll want to spend more time in Peru after perusing the site).

Larco Museum, Inca Gold

About Marybeth Bond

Marybeth Bond is the nation’s preeminent expert on women travel. She is the award-winning
author-editor of 11 books.

Marybeth has hiked, cycled, climbed, dived and kayaked her way through more than seventy countries around the world.

She was a featured guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Marybeth has appeared on CBS News, CNN, ABC, NBC, National Public Radio and National Geographic Weekend.