Travelling solo can always be a challenge and a daunting experience. The sense of nervousness can be heightened when you are a female travelling going solo. While the world is a beautiful place, it can also be scary and you shouldn’t take security lightly as a female traveller.

Nonetheless, when the travel bug bites you need to answer to its call and you don’t need to be too afraid of travelling around the world as a girl. Here are some of the destinations you should keep in mind when looking for places to go.

Reykjavik, Iceland

If you want to see gender equality in action, then you should consider flying out to Iceland. The country has had its fair share of kick-ass women and you can be expected to meet plenty of great people in the Land of Fire and Ice. The natural beauty of this country is just breath-taking, but there are plenty of other things going for the country too. Reykjavik has quite a good nightlife and the culture on display is vibrant and fun. We also like the Icelandic food – don’t worry, it isn’t all about fish either!

Barcelona, Spain

Skyline view of Barcelona, Spain, one of the best destinations for solo female travelers

While Barcelona is a vibrant and big city, which means you need to be careful when travelling alone, it’s such a friendly and welcoming city as well. You simply can’t go through life without experiencing Barcelona. The city has plenty of shopping options from small boutiques to big brands on Las Ramblas. The architecture is stunning; thanks to Gaudi and the Spanish food is just a magnificent experience. The waterfront restaurants offer some fantastic paella, which you can enjoy while taking in the vibrancy of the city.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

You should get in on the latest tourist trends and find yourself in the beautiful coastal city of Dubrovnik. Croatia is a country with a low crime rate and the tourism industry is continuously developing, adding more excitement and opportunities for you to enjoy. The medieval city has plenty of amazing artisan shops to explore, as well as activities to enjoy. For instance, snorkelling is just a fantastic way to take in the crystal clear sea.

Okinawa, Japan

Japan is one of those countries that you just have to experience at some point in your life. While there are cities and town to explore on these magical islands, Okinawa is among the best for a solo traveller. The hustle and bustle is less confusing and chaotic, with the city offering super accessible and safe public transport. The city itself has anything from sandy beach to a market with stunning solo dining opportunities.

Seattle, the USA

Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, one of the best destinations for solo female travelers
Pike Place Market in Seattle via michaelrighi

Solo travel can sometimes seem extra costly, but Seattle is a town that has understood the value of solo travellers. Therefore, you can find plenty of places in the city that offer special deals and entertainment for solo backpackers. There are plenty of exciting things to see aside from the fine dining and going out. You have the Space Needle, the EMP Museum and the Pike Place Market with its fantastic offerings.

Taipei, Taiwan

For technology-lovers Taiwan offers plenty to see. Taipei is a slightly less consuming and overwhelming city to some of its major Asian counterparts and therefore a great destination for a female solo traveller. The city even has a Safe Waiting Zone system on the metro platforms, making travel feel a bit less daunting. The city offers plenty of shopping opportunities, not to mention the amazing cuisine you can explore from street food to fine dining.

Washington D.C., the USA

Another great solo destination for women is Washington D.C. The place of political power has the right amount of iconic and historic buildings and places to explore, as well as modern establishments to visit. The city has a funky atmosphere to it that on its own is worth checking out. The public transport works well and finding a safe cab is never an issue in this welcoming city.

London, England

London, England is one of the best destinations for solo female travelers
London was one of the 14 most popular destinations in 2015

Finally, you could explore the charm of the British capital city. The age-old city should keep female travellers on their toes, but when you know where to be and when, you can explore some amazing things around the city. London offers culture and entertainment. If you utilize sites like Attractiontix.co.uk, you can get the best deals and options without breaking the bank. You must eat out at the 1,000 Borough Market and if you snack yourself through smartly, you won’t even spend a penny for the feast. You also must check out the pub life, which can guarantee you won’t need to sit in a corner all alone.

When you travel alone as a woman, you do need to be smart at where you stay and when you explore the venues around you. But if you keep a cold head and plan your actions in advance, you can explore the world and have fun while doing it. Hopefully, the above destinations will inspire you and help you get over the fear of travelling solo.

Published in Travel Tips

Whether you’re building libraries in Zambia or adventuring around Madrid, any trip warrants a first aid kit. While it’s hardly the sexiest of travel topics, having basic first aid items on hand can mean the difference between a minor inconvenience and a major catastrophe. Here’s how to build a travel first aid kit for maximum health and safety—no matter where you are in the world.

1. Prepare personal medications

If you have a preexisting condition, be sure to pack all medications in their original containers with the labels intact. Pack enough medication for the trip as well as some extra to cover unforeseen circumstances. The CDC recommends bringing along copies of any prescriptions as well as a note from the prescribing physician on letterhead stationery—ideally, translate these materials into the language of your destination. In certain countries, some medications are simply not allowed—contact the appropriate embassy or consulate to find out if this is an issue

2. Consider your needs

Take stock of the length of the trip, the destination, and any planned activities. A remote trekker in the Himalayas will face a very different situation than a Berlin tourist, for example. The more remote or physical the trip, the more comprehensive a first aid kit should be (more on that later). Another big consideration is whether you’ll be traveling solo or going on a family trip, as kids are all but guaranteed to have accidents that may result in cuts or bruises (more on this later, as well)

3. Gather documents

In addition to medications and first aid supplies, a quality kit should include a contact card, proof of insurance coverage, and an immunization record (particularly if traveling in areas where infectious diseases are common) for every traveler. The contact card is meant to be used in case of a medical emergency and should include:

  • The name and contact information for an emergency contact back home
  • The name and contact info for your health care provider
  • The address and phone number for wherever you’re staying
  • The address and phone number for your country’s embassy or consulate
  • The emergency contact phone number from your travel health insurance provider, if applicable

Additionally, people with preexisting conditions (such as diabetes or severe allergies) may want to wear an alert bracelet and carry a card in their wallet that explains the condition—ideally, the card will be written in the language of your destination.

4. Select a container(s)

Choose a hard, waterproof, and durable container for the first aid kit so as to ensure the items don’t get ruined in transit or bad weather. Choose a larger container for longer trips, and a smaller container for shorter trips. It’s also a good idea to pack a small first aid kit in a carry-on and a more comprehensive kit in checked baggage. Once you’ve unpacked at a destination, carry the small kit with you at all times and re-supply from the large kit if necessary.

5. Pack the basics

At a minimum, any first aid kit worth its salt should include the following:

  • Band-aids
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Gauze pads
  • Medical tape
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors (keep in mind that these will need to be packed in checked baggage)
  • Painkillers/fever reducers (ibuprofen or acetaminophen)
  • Ace bandages
  • Digital thermometer
  • Disposable, latex-free gloves
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (make sure it’s less than 3.4 ounces if transporting it in carry-on luggage)

Other handy items include:

  • Antihistamine medication
  • Anti-motion sickness medication
  • Antidiarrheal medication
  • Mild laxative
  • Cough suppressant/expectorant
  • Cough drops
  • Antacids
  • Sunscreen
  • Moleskin for blisters
  • Lubricating eye drops (again, remember the 3.4-ounce rule for liquid carry-ons)
  • Aloe gel for sunburns (ditto the 3.4-ounce rule)
  • Condoms

6. Up the ante where applicable

Remember when you took stock of the trip’s specifics (#2)? Now it’s time to apply that information to your first aid packing list. Anyone traveling to the tropics, for example, should be sure to consider insect bite precautions (such as bed nets) and pack anti-malarial medications. If traveling in a remote area, consider bringing water purification tablets and electrolyte replacements. Spending time in high-altitude areas might warrant packing medication to combat high-altitude sickness. If traveling in a developing country, it’s a good idea to pack oral rehydration salts and medications to treat food poisoning, giardia, and/or amoebic dysentery.

Consult a medical professional to develop the ideal packing list for your needs and destination.

Finally, if traveling with children, consider packing kid-friendly first aid items such as Band-aids featuring popular cartoon characters, kid-sized bandages, a couple of disposable instant cold packs, and a tooth preservation kit. Since children will be exposed to new foods and objects while traveling, read up on how to administer first aid in the event of choking. The ability to respond quickly to any hurts a child experiences may have the added bonus of preventing tantrums on vacation.

A few notes on packing choices

Whenever possible, choose tablets instead of liquids, gels, or creams. If that’s not possible, be sure to adhere to the 3.4-ounces-or-less rule for carry-ons in order to breeze through security.

To save space in baggage, opt for sachets and flat-packed tablets in lieu of bottles and tubes. Also look for travel or sample-size packaging whenever possible (your doctor may be able to help out).

The Takeaway

No matter where in the world you’re traveling, it’s worth taking the time to build a quality first aid kit that’s tailored to your destination and activities. In an ideal scenario, the kit will remain untouched during the entire vacation. But in the unfortunate event that you or a companion needs first aid? It is really, really nice (and potentially life-saving) to have proper supplies on hand.

  This article was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog on August 28th.

Published in Travel Tips

This coastal metropolis is India’s Gotham City. Home to more than fifteen million people, Mumbai shows extremes of both debauchery and deprivation. Do not be surprised to find a custom-made Jaguar navigating its way through a street saturated with bicycles, foot-traffic and a variety of animals. The disparity of the city is as striking as it is omnipresent.

Formerly known as Bombay, the city was rechristened with its original moniker of Mumbai, derived from the Hindu goddess Mumba Devi, a few years ago. Mumbai has a lot to offer for the eager traveler. The city is full of ancient temples and places of worship for all religions from Judaism to Zoroastrianism. It boasts of striking colonial era architecture, scenic locales, walkways, parks, as well as a wide assortment of malls, bars and pubs.

But one of the first questions usually asked by anyone travelling to Mumbai is how safe the city really is? The city thrives on chaos; like in all metros in India, Mumbai has a vast migrant population often blamed for the ills of the city. The recent spate of rape cases in the country has once again shifted the spotlight on the safety the city offers to travelers. But contrary to most opinions, Mumbai is one of the safest cities for solo female travelers in India.

Thousands of tourists visit the city each year, on business or for pleasure. There are always certain precautions you need to take when travelling to a foreign country. With Mumbai though, these precautions become a little more specific.

Research the City   India can be a sensory overload to a novice traveler. Much unlike other countries India is diverse, ancient and exists in a precarious balance of traditional values and modern understanding. Knowing as much as you can about the culture, traditions and values espoused by the people of the cities you are visiting will hold you in good stead.

There will be places that you will visit, like the Leopold pub and café, made famous by Gregory David Roberts’ seminal novel on Mumbai, Shantaram, which will feel much the same like any pub back home. But a few hundred meters away you will find yourself in dense lanes, packed with people and wares from wall to wall.

Finding out which area the hotel you will be living in is situated will help you get a better idea of measures you need to take. Check out important numbers like police stations, ambulance services and hospitals close to your place of stay or locations you want to visit.

Understanding the city will take time, coming to terms with the disparity it presents, even more so. Doing your research before you land is the best weapon you have against getting any more culture shocks than necessary.

Play It Safe   India is currently on the cusp of a massive change. Centuries old traditional values exist here alongside modern understanding and the latest technology and often find it hard to maintain a balance. This is not a run-of-the-mill tourist destination; you can’t do here what you will do in, say, Italy.

For example, kissing your wife or companion on the street in Bombay may not only earn you a lot of uncomfortable stares but also a reprimand by the police for indecent behavior in public. Avoid wearing revealing clothes and being overfriendly with unknown men. Your nicety might be interpreted as a come on. Something as simple as walking into a temple with your footwear on, or stepping into a mosque without your head covered can get you into trouble.

Mumbai is the safest city in India for solo female travelers

Project Confidence   Many people travelling to India, specifically to Mumbai, have said that projecting a certain amount of confidence in your dealings with the locals will help avoid you getting taken advantage of. Walk briskly and know exactly where you want to go.

Do not indulge beggars or street urchins; ignoring them, while seeming heartless, is the best way to protect yourself against losing your purse or getting groped. This is one of the most basic tips of travelling to Mumbai. Being polite does not work in this city, it requires a firm hand and a confident demeanor to ensure you are left alone.

Learn the Language   Hindi is the national language of India and is spoken widely in Mumbai. Marathi, on the other hand, is the language that is predominantly spoken by the locals. Getting a handle on some useful local phrases in Hindi and, if you can manage it, in Marathi also, is a good idea.

For example, “chalo” means let’s go, “ruko” means stop and “nahi” means no in Hindi. Understanding and learning these few phrases will not only earn you the respect of the locals but also make your task of navigating through the city much easier.

Plan Your Transportation Carefully   It is never a good idea to be stranded on the streets of a strange city without transportation, especially a strange city in India. Taxis ply through the streets at all hours of the day. The night-time charges though can be steeper than the morning rates, roughly one and a half times more.

Auto-rickshaws, the yellow and green two-stroke wonder of the Indian transport system, are also available at all hours of the day. The thing to take care with autos and taxis is the meter reading; always pay according to the meter regardless of what the driver says. Local trains are one of the biggest means of public transport in the city, followed closely by buses, but are a hotbed for “accidental” touching and theft. There are women special trains and coaches, which you can use for travelling cheaply and safely.

If you are leaving a bar or a restaurant late at night, have someone accompany you to a taxi or an auto-rickshaw. Arriving in the middle of the night can pose more problems; if your flight lands at night make sure you have a pick-up arranged from the hotel you have reserved. Keep your friends and family informed of where you are through the phone or social media. Staying connected will help you ensure that someone is always informed of your whereabouts.

Beware of Pickpockets   Pickpockets are a perpetual nuisance in the crowded streets and public transport systems of this city. Avoid travelling with a lot of cash, and always be careful with your purses and wallets. Keeping your wallet in your front pocket is a good idea. If you have a back pack do not sling it over your back, instead wear it in front where you can see it.

Mumbai is a melting pot of a multitude of cultures, values and modern day thinking. One of the biggest cities in the world it is a much loved tourist destination and has a lot to offer a traveler. But as is the case with traveling to any country, follow the old adage of “when in Rome do as the Romans do.” This will not only ensure you stay safe, but also show you a perspective of the city you may not see otherwise.

  flickr   //   tataimitra   skyevidur

Published in India

Jaipur, also known as the Pink City, is the capital of India biggest state, Rajasthan. The first impression of Rajasthan is reflected by desert, camel and mustached men. The famous Thar Desert is the main cause of this perception, although people often forget that it also is home to the tiger reserved forest and a famous bird sanctuary, as well as the City of Lakes.

Jaipur during the monsoon season

Facts such as water crisis and the dry Aravali Range strengthen the feel of Rajasthan being dry and desert-like. However as soon as monsoon arrives the brown and dry looks of Arvali altogether changes to lush green mountains throughout the state. Every tree, which earlier looked dried up and withered, comes back to life again making the environment lovely.

Jaipur during the monsoon season

Monsoon also brings down the temperature, which drops the summer mercury and makes a pleasing and enjoy environment to go for picnic, outing or travel. Thus monsoon in Rajasthan is a great time to travel! Th20130809_093434e lush greenery and the wonderful atmosphere of clouds touching the low height aravalis sets a feel of being romantic. Jaipur during monsoon season truly nurtures the romance, making a perfect place to trip for young couples.

Jaipur during the monsoon season

The best precaution in the rains, as with anywhere rainy in the world, is to carry your umbrellas along with you -- even if it is only cloudy. The rains will not damper your trip or planning, although it may add some short memories to cherish in the form of little kids playing in water or monsoon rivers that come into action those days, and the feel of charm and happiness on everybody's face. You'll find there are more than a thousand reasons that will bring a smile on your face in the rainy season. The rains here definitely gives you a lot of moments to cherish. The locals wait eagerly for rain and its not strange to observe various poojas or offerings to various gods for getting good rains.

    Things to remember while traveling Jaipur during the monsoon season:
  • Carry your umbrellas, always
  • Avoid cycle rickshaws and walking on street as the traffic may splash the water onto you
  • Drainage in Jaipur is good enough to drain the water in an hours time, so do not worry about flooding
  • Avoid dinner outside after sunset, particularly street food or food on the dhabbas
  • Be sure to visit various dams and hills nearby to enjoy rainy waterfalls
  • Do not ever enter a dry river in rainy season in Rajasthan, as the water may arrive at any time

Jaipur during the monsoon season

Published in India

Are you traveling to Tanzania any time soon?
Here are 5 ways you could accidentally give your phone away for free, know them and out-smart them!

1.   Gold doesn't come easy...don't lose your phone out of greed.

Recently a friend of mine came to me distressed, saying that he lost everything for a watcher of rocks. What happened to him is, he met a stranger who told him that he had gold to sell and a buyer is waiting for him in town. He would give him 10% if he lends him his phone because he had lost his that very morning. Sensing his resistance the con man suggested that they take a taxing seeing that they were both going to town, my friend hold on to the sachet of gold and give him the phone so he may talk to the buyer.

So it was done, when they reached town the con told him to wait in a certain area while he went to meet the buyer. My friend waited for hours with the gold which was actually gold colored gravels in his pockets thus he lost his phone. They play with your inner greed so check your greedometer and keep your wits about you.

2.   Goods in hand are broken or stolen...don't trade your phone for a hand deal.

While sitting in the bus a fellow passenger engaged in a bargain with a vendor through the window. The vendor was selling a Nokia smart phone almost 50% lower than the buying price and offered to take the price 25% lower if my fellow traveller thrown in his old phone into the deal. He obviously did. Concerned about the functionality of the phone he asked to check out the phone first.

It seemed to power up so he sealed the deal only to find out later that the phone had been exchanged for a similar dead phone when boxing! He had no time to recheck the phone when it was boxed because the bus was leaving.

Yeah, dishonest vendors can do quick swaps. Check, recheck and recheck before you make a purchase from a street vendor better yet stay off deals where you are in some kind of pressure, time, crowd, etc.

3.   People are poor and troubled...save your cellphone.

A few years ago, I gave away my phone to a con. A young boy who seemed troubled approached me and asked me if I was going to the hospital. Sure enough I was that's why I was queued on that side of the road. So any ways he tells me that his mum is seriously sick and needs surgery. He had got part of the money but has to go see his uncle for the other part. The surgeon has agreed to commence with the OP if he pays the first half but he must pay the second half before noon so he needs someone to deliver the money to his brother who is with his mum at the hospital while he goes to his aunt.

He hands me an envelope with the supposed money. Because its too crowded and in fear of attracting attention I just take a quick gThat's how they do it, creatively play with your emotions so be careful when helping strangers. If you feel charitable then find legit organization to offer your help.

4.   When in the club...don't give your cellphone to a stranger.

A friend of a friend came to visit him in the city and they hit a club. After they had a few drinks a chic looking female spots them and joins the meriment over. In a couple of hours she suggests they move to another spot where she guarantees is happening but asks for his phone to call her roommate because her phone is out of credit. Because the music is loud she asks if she can be excused to talk outside, he reluctantly agrees. She disappered into the dark and so did his phone. Appearances are deceiving, your mum's advice of not talking to strangers is a valuable lesson to hang on to.

5.   If it's your phone...you couldn't possibly have picked it up from the gutter!

A few weeks ago, a woman called and claimed that the phone I was using is hers and I must have picked up where her daughter had dropped it. She begged me to meet her and talk about it and that she would pay me 100,000 Tshs for it. The story was sbdurx because I bought the phone from abroad and I have proof so I told her so. When she couldn't get me to fall for it (I'm wiser now) she got her partner to call me posing as a customer care personnel from my service provider and asking me to return the phone to it's owner. I asked him when was lost/stolen claims addressed by customer care services and suggested that if the claimnant has proof of purchase then she should go to the police and let them do their job and that's how years of experince helped me save my cellphone! Don't accept suggestions for a meetup when the situation is obviously absurd.

Have you or anyone you know fall for these or similar tricks? Share the experience with us so that others may travel smart :-)

Published in Tanzania

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