The Best Newsletter Tips of 2009
Posted Fri, Dec 18, 2009

Over the years it’s become our tradition to pick ‘the best of the best’ travel tips our readers submitted over the last year. It’s always such a hard job to decide which tips will have the ‘prestige’ of being posted on our site for posterity. As you’ll see these are all travel suggestions ‘by women for women.’ They are all (to the very best of our knowledge) authentic, culturally correct and tested by females.

Once again we’re encouraged that these tips are truly international. They’ve been submitted by women close to home in North America as well as from our Journeywoman members all over the world — from New York City, USA to Melbourne, Australia and from Drammen, Norway to Toronto, Canada and many other destinations in between. Each bit of advice we chose is designed to keep you safe, healthy, comfortable, budget-conscious and having fun as you go out to explore our great big world.

Here is a sampling of the best tips our members read in 2009. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy, and thank you to everybody who helps to make our Journeywoman Network the largest and the juiciest in the world.

WHAT’S COOKING IN PARIS? — writes Jennifer in Almos, Mexico — On a recent business trip to Paris, I had a free day to myself. Perusing the Web in advance, I found a cooking school that gave short one to three course classes. I signed up for a 90 minute class in which we made a crab/avocado/grapefruit appetizer, chicken stuffed with beet roulades, and an apple crisp dessert. All this for 54 Euros. The best part was the group meal afterwards where all 16 students sat around and ate what we had just created. A great way to meet people and learn something about French cooking. Check out their website: http://www.atelierdeschefs.co.uk/

GOOD PLACES TO STAY IN STRATFORD AND LONDON, UK — writes Elizabeth in Vancouver, Canada — I just got back from a solo birthday trip to Stratford and London, England. In Stratford I stayed at the Broadlands Guest House, a Victorian home built in 1901. In 2008 this B&B was chosen one of the 100 Best Places to Stay in England by the Sunday Times Travel Magazine. The hosts, Jeremy and Tamara are so very thoughtful. On the morning of my birthday there was a ‘Happy Birthday’ banner in the dining room, a big ‘Birthday Girl’ plaque at my table and later in the day a cake with candles, cards and a bit of hoopla. What a sweet surprise!

Then, in London I stayed at the 4-star Copthorne Tara superbly located in Kensington close to transit, and Marks and Spencer and Whole Foods for great produce and quick meals. It’s an 835 room hotel but with the smiles and good service of a much smaller establishment. The breakfast they serve is superb. P.S. I also came across a pleasant little London chain of sushi restaurants called, Wasabi. It’s very popular with the locals, reasonably priced and super clean. All highly recommended.

ENGLISH BOOKSHOP IN BARCELONA — writes Sandra in Victoria, Canada — I’m a solo traveller so I don’t tend to go out that much at night. That has both its drawbacks and its benefits. What I may miss in nightlife, I gain in reading time (which I don’t have scads of when I’m at home). I’ve just returned from Barcelona and while there, found a wonderful second-hand, English-language bookshop. It’s called Hibernian Books and it has a great selection. They also have a ‘buy back’ policy so once I’d read them I returned them and bought more. Mind you, I didn’t get much money back for the ones I returned but, frankly, I was happy to be able to keep replenishing my reading supply. P.S. Thanks for all of your great tips.

SAVE MONEY WHILE TRAVELLING — writes Judi in the U.S.A — I have a couple of tips. (1) Go native. Instead of ordering your favorite and expensive glass of wine at dinner, order the local beer. It’s cheaper and you’ll get to experience the local culture. For entertainment, try visiting sights that are free. Many museums in the U.S. and Europe have a ‘free’ day. Also check with the hotel or local newspaper for nearby street festivals - you’ll end up spending more time with locals than with tourists and have more fun, spending less. (2) Think Thursday and Monday when making reservations. This is probably the most important money saver when flying or booking a hotel. If you can depart on Thursday and return on Monday, you’ll definitely get better prices.

AN ENTIRE FLOOR FOR WOMEN IN OSLO HOTEL — writes Anne-Sophie in Drammen, Norway — Located right in the centre of Oslo, the fabulous 130-year-old Grand Hotel has reserved an entire floor for women guests. Named after contemporary Norwegian female personalities in the arts, sports and business, the 13 rooms are designed to fit the needs of women travellers. En route to the rooms is a portrait corridor and the Ladies Floor Path, featuring paintings by local artist Trine Folmoe. The rooms have toiletries from L’Occitane, plenty of books and magazines, a CD and DVD-player, a yoga mat and a Ladies Floor room service menu (without the service charge) www.grand.no and www.ladiesfloor.no

FREE WALKING TOURS IN BUENOS AIRES — writes Mei Ling in Melbourne, Australia -There’s a small company called BA Free Tours run by a brother and sister team (Gaston and Sol) in Buenos Aires. They are actually ‘free’ tours, one starting at 11:00a.m. at the Plaza de los Dos Congresos, and the other at 5:00p.m. at Plaza San Martin in Retiro. Gaston and Sol are extremely friendly, they conduct their two hour tours in either Spanish or English, and though the leaders rely on small tips to make their living, tipping is not mandatory. I personally enjoyed the 5:00p.m. tour. The Retiro and Recoleta areas are absolutely fascinating.

WE DIDN’T WANT TO LOSE OUR RENTAL CAR — writes Sandy in Collingwood, Canada — My girlfriend and I went to the market in Sienna and parked the car ’somewhere’ but we had little idea of where we actually were. Being true JourneyWomen we took digital photos of the parking lot address and then signs along the way so that we could find our way back to the car. It was a little like Hansel and Gretel in the forest. After much walking and consulting our photographs we did indeed find our way back to the car.

SHE TRAVELS WITH A TIMER — writes Sandra in Roxboro, Canada — When staying at a hotel and you are worried about whether or not the front desk will really give you that wake up call (and you can’t figure out the alarm clock or don’t trust it either), you have a few neat options. (1) You can always use the alarm feature on your cell phone. (2) And, here’s an even better way: for about $5.00 you can pick-up a digital oven timer. You can set it for the number of hours you want to sleep and ding! it will get you up at the right time in the AM.

CHECK OUT THE OPERA HOUSE IN BUCHAREST FOR BARGAINS — writes Danielle, in Edinburgh, Scotland — Hi, just wanted to pass on this little gold nugget to other JourneyWomen. If anyone is traveling to Bucharest, be sure to find time to check what’s playing at the opera house. You have to buy the tickets at the opera house itself, but they are an incredible deal. We sat in the balcony for Swan Lake ballet. It was an excellent place to be, for only 14 RON (about 3 Pounds or 5 U.S. dollars). Just be sure to dress light (that’s my second tip). We were there in January and the opera house was really quite warm. But, all in all, well worth it to see Swan Lake nonetheless. I hope someone in our Network can use this tip and enjoy it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is what I love about our Journeywoman travel tips. Not only do you hear about great deals you also find out what to wear when enjoying that great deal. Gorgeous!

FREE LOCAL GUIDES IN PARIS — writes Teena in Sydney, Australia — On my last trip to Paris I found a fabulous service called Paris Greeters. Contact them in advance, state your preferences of things you’d like to see, and you’ll be appointed an English-speaking local person as a guide for a few hours (or a guide speaking one of 9 other languages). They’ll explore a district with you, show you art galleries, find the fabric district, have a coffee - you name it, they’ll do it - all for free. http://www.parisgreeter.org/PdJ/ Evidently this is in other cities too like New York - what a great idea!

CREATE TRAVEL TOILET PAPER — writes Eliza in Baltimore, USA — On an ongoing basis I replace rolls of toilet paper when there are about five uses left. I flatten each nearly used-up roll and save it. When going on a trip, I pack these flattened rolls in a zip lock bag. They take little space, weigh next to nothing, cost a minimal amount, create very little waste, and are always there if I need them. In Third World countries where toilet paper is often non-existent I bless my little stash.

CASA ROVAI B&B IN FLORENCE IS UTTERLY CHARMING — writes Claudia in Hollywood, USA — I wanted other JourneyWomen visiting Italy to know about this bed and breakfast in Florence. An oasis of comfort, this charming place is up three flights of stairs and offers everything a Journeywoman would need. Comfortable rooms with modernized en suite bathrooms (I stayed in La Passione), good price, an attentive hostess (Arianna), excellent breakfast, solitude, and security. It’s easy to find, and near the Church of Santa Croce, a 15 minute walk from the Santa Maria Novella train station. I know where I’ll be staying on my next trip to Florence and hope other Journeywomen will discover Casa Rovai’s charm as well. Website: http://www.casarovai.it

SUBWAY ADVICE FROM A NEW YORKER — writes Gina in New York City, USA — Here’s how women in NYC stay safe. As your train pulls into the subway station, and is slowing down, if you notice any empty or near-empty cars in an otherwise packed train, don’t get into them. It means something’s amiss. Tourists will pile in only to regret it during the ride, but natives know better. In the summertime, a near-empty car means the air conditioning is not working. In the winter time, (unfortunately) it’s base camp for street people; other times, maybe you’ll encounter unsavory characters or an unrelenting wheel squeal. Ladies, if a subway car is empty, make the counterintuitive move and join the throngs in the next car.

A SHORT TRAVEL TIP FROM THE U.K. — writes Jill in Cheshire, England — I love to travel light. On a recent trip to Japan I bought a bunch of cheap knickers (panties). That meant that I could throw the worn underwear out every evening. No washing. No drying. Pure luxury. It was worth every penny I spent.

TRAVELLING BY PLANE IN VIET NAM — writes Beth Marie in Saskatchewan, Canada — My tip is about reservations. If you plan on taking a plane from one part of Viet Nam to another, don’t make reservations until you are actually in Viet Nam. A fare from Hue to Ha Noi is around $250-300 outside of Viet Nam and if you make reservations while there it is about $60. I have never had difficulty getting the flight I wanted. One time I had a group of 13 women and we had to go on two different flights, which was perfect as some women wanted to spend the day where we were and others were ready to move on.

SO GOOD THIS TIP DESERVES TO BE REPEATED — writes Leslie in Toronto, Canada — Sew a money hiding bra pocket. While browsing the internet I found this great way to keep your emergency money hidden. It requires some simple sewing but it is so easy I think that most Journeywoman readers will be able to handle the five short steps. Take a look and give it a try. I told all my friends about it and they loved the idea.

SOUTH AFRICAN BED AND BREAKFASTS — writes Ginny in Atlanta, USA — When traveling to Pretoria I recommend staying at the Rosenhof Guesthouse. The accommodations are lovely, the staff is helpful, breakfast on the patio is luxurious, and they have lots of great tips to keep you safe while visiting. They also have wireless connection for a small fee. Website: www.rozenhof.co.za Also if you are visiting the Eastern Cape area of South Africa near Somerset East, I suggest you stay at the Blue Crane Lodge B&B. Every room is very large, secure, filled with lovely antiques, nice big bathrooms, the price is very reasonable and the breakfast is huge. Email: bluecrane@jabama.co.za

A CHATEAU CLOSE TO PARIS — writes Colleen in Galway, Ireland — While in Paris, I visited the Chateau de Vaux le Vicomte which was the inspiration for Versailles. I wanted to see it because the gardens were the subject of an essay I wrote in university. Vaux-le-Vicomte is a fully restored, splendid example of 17th-century Baroque art, architecture, and neo-classical gardens. Well worth seeing. From central Paris, I took the metro, then RER D train from Paris (Le Chatelet) to Melun station and from there a taxi to the chateau. I spent a happy day wandering the gardens, touring the chateau, and trekking up the wooden stairs to the little walkway around the dome. There’s a gift shop and restaurant on-site. Seasonal opening from March 15-November 8. Website: http://www.vaux-le-vicomte.com/en/index.php

PLEASE NO PAINKILLERS IN JAPAN — writes Erica in Beltsville, USA — I’d like other women to know that it is illegal to bring narcotics (which include painkillers like Percocet and Vicodin) into Japan without a permit. Some U.S. over-the-counter medications are also forbidden. However, it isn’t too hard to get a permit for a 30-tablet supply of painkillers; I have done it twice, once with a tight deadline. See http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-medimport.html for more information. I was able to get the correct forms faxed to me by the Japanese Embassy in Washington, DC, and submitted my request (along with the required letter from my doctor) by fax to the appropriate office in Japan. There is a different permit-granting office for each city of entry.

HOTEL WITH COMMUNAL DINING IN VARANASI, INDIA — writes Mariellen in Toronto, Canada — I was very glad that I stayed at the Hotel Ganges View, Assi Ghat, in Varanasi. Aside from being a comfortable and safe place to stay, it also features a communal dining experience in the gracious dining room. At dinner, I met other women traveling alone, and a couple of us went on to Delhi together, sharing some of the expenses. Read other reviews: http://tinyurl.com/nd5ojh

NEWS ALERT: Mariellen is a passionate Indiaphile who has traveled extensively in the country she loves. Check her helpful article, 10 Tips to Prepare Women for a Trip to India. It’s a must read whether you’re experienced or a first-time visitor.

EXCELLENT HOTEL AND EXCELLENT GUIDE IN ISTANBUL — writes Sandra in Rome, Italy — I just spent five days in Istanbul and I loved it. I’d like to recommend the hotel I stayed at to the other JW readers. The Ottoman Imperial is a very lovely boutique hotel with a good price to quality ratio. It was originally both a school and hospital in the mid 1880’s and today has a place in tourism. I also want to recommend our guide Sermin. I found her address in Journeywoman’s Best Guidessection and by email she assisted me in organizing the program of my visit. We spent one day together on the Bosphorus and it was great but the tour of Chora with the detailed explanation given by Sermin was really astonishing. She is a very cultured person, kind and sensitive. My daughter and I spent a wonderful day with her. Thank you, Journeywoman.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you’re looking for a guide there is nothing like having a recommendation from another woman. Click here to find over 50 guides that JourneyWomen around the world have used and enjoyed. Email: editor@journeywoman.com with your favorites and we’ll post them for everybody else to consider. That’s what Journeywoman.com is all about.

WHAT TO WEAR IN SHANGHAI CHINA IN SPRING AND SUMMER — writes Toni in Virginia, USA — If you go to Shanghai at this time of the year, be prepared for extreme heat. Fortunately, I brought many light things and planned on dressing in layers if necessary. I ended up wearing capris and gauzy blouses a lot. Comfortable sandals were great. Just make sure yours are broken in as you will do a lot of walking. Pants for evening and light sweaters (for the air-conditioned places) are a good idea. I also brought along a raincoat just in case. P.S. I found the tips from journeywoman very useful before my trip to Shanghai. Now I’m adding mine to the list and hope this helps other travellers.

FEMALE TAXI SERVICE IN MUMBAI, INDIA — writes Pauline in Montreuil, France — I arrived in Mumbai in the middle of the night, asked an airport security agent for help with transportation and he found me a female taxiwallah (driver). The lady drove me to my hotel and got out of the cab to accompany me to the main door. She gave me a flyer and I discovered Priyadarshini Taxi Service. These taxis (pink coloured) are driven by women trained for self defense. Their slogan is ‘Of women, for women, by women’. The service is available 24 hours.Priyadarshini Taxi Service. You can call - 9323208277 or 24324161 or 24324162 to reach them.

THE PERFECT TRAVEL SOUVENIR — writes Astrid in New York City, USA — When I travel I love to spend time looking for the perfect souvenir in all the towns I pass through. I’m always making mental notes about what I want to bring back with me that will remind me of this place or that. I also like to buy something new to wear like earrings or a scarf really early during my holiday so I can wear them and spruce up my not-so-new travel outfits. These items often become treasured souvenirs that bring back memories of where I bought and wore them and why.

THE COVERED MARKET IN BUDAPEST, HUNGARY — writes Sunny from Tel Aviv, Israel — My girlfriend and I just returned from Budapest and we’re happy to report that from our ‘woman-centered’ experience we felt safe there and could walk everywhere without being harassed. One of the things we truly enjoyed doing was visiting the covered market at the Pest end of Liberty Bridge (Monday AM is a quiet time; Saturday AM allows you to shop with the locals). Of course being in Hungary you must have goulash at least once during your stay. We ate our fill at the large restaurant on the second floor of the market (there is only one large restaurant there). The price was right and the goulash delicious. Have fun, ladies!

ENGLISH SPOKEN AT THIS B&B IN MILAN — writes Roberta in Italy — Coming to Milan for business, pleasure, or a bit of both, and want to live like a local? Then Casa Broggi is for you. Located in central Milan, close enough to the action but far enough away to allow you peace and privacy, this palazzo residence is perfect for short or long stays. Two bedrooms accommodating four adults, with a fully-equipped modern kitchen for when you don’t feel like going out to eat, living area with satellite TV and DVD player plus WiFi broadband for when you want to keep in touch. Your host is Jane Wilson, a British woman who’s married to an Italian, and who has lived in Milan for many years. Website: www.casabroggi.com

KOSHER B&B IN ROME — writes Debra in Toronto, Canada — Cheerful comfy digs with an Israeli-style breakfast are served up at The Home in Rome, a kosher B&B in Rome. There’s a computer with free internet in the living room, and guests are also loaned a cell phone to use during their stay which is very helpful. Owner Eva Gerbi Naccache is a pleasure to deal with and her husband Avram is there every morning to give suggestions and directions.

The B&B is conveniently located in Piazza Bologna, just 3 stops from the Termini rail/metro station. City bus #62 also stops in front of the door and will take you to all the major spots. Airport transfers can be prearranged for a fee, or take the train into Rome’s Termini and then take the metro. Tip: Tiburtina station is only one metro stop from Piazza Bologna and the trip from the airport costs half what it does to Termini. www.thehomeinrome.it

P.S. One of the best values in Rome is the Roma Pass. For 23 Euros you get unlimited access to public transit for 3 days, plus free admission to the first two museums and/or archaeological sites visited. Hold on to the card and use it for discounted admission to any other museums and sites visited after the two free ones. www.romapass.it

NEWS ALERT: If you’re a woman who dreams about Italy, we’ve posted a new insiders article written by women who live in Italy and know all its special nooks and crannies. You’ll be sorry if you don’t read, Experts Share Tips About Italy With Journeywoman Readers.

CONNECT WITH WOMEN IN EXPAT GROUPS — writes Carol in Rome, Italy — In most major European cities there is an expat club or group. With a little google-ing you can find one. In Rome, for example, there is the American International Club of Rome. www.aicrome.org By checking out the website beforehand, you can see if the Club has any activities going on while you are in town. It’s a great way to meet locals as well as expats and get a feel for what Roman life is really like.

IS THE CITY YOU’RE VISITING TOO EXPENSIVE TO SHOP IN? — writes Robin in Toronto, Canada — If you’re shopping in any expensive city around the world, consider seeking out the non-profit resale shops. I did and I was well rewarded. In the second hand store in Oslo I found pure wool Nordic ski sweaters in mint condition that would have been unaffordable to me, new. I’ve learned that where there is wealth, there are great thrift and consignment shops where the well-heeled deposit their unwanted finery. As a tourist one has plenty of time to browse these shops and perhaps come home with an unexpected, inexpensive treasure.

INDIAN FOOD IN PRAGUE — writes Christine in Montreal, Canada — My brother and I recently visited Prague and found the most amazing Indian restaurant. We enjoyed it so much we went there twice and also got take-out once. Every dish we had was fantastic. Himalaya Indian Restaurant, Soukenicka 2, Praha 1, Check out their website; part of it is in English.http://www.himalayarestaurant.cz/index_en.htm. Just delicious! P.S. I love the Journeywoman newsletter and can’t wait to receive it and read it all the way through with all the wonderful tips and information. Thanks!

WINE AND BEAUTY IN HO CHI MINH CITY — writes Sherry in VietNam- I want to tell women travelling to my city about Qing Wine and Tapas Bar at 110 Pasteur Street District 1. Sure, they have great wine, yummy tappas and a lovely decor; they even have fabulous happy hour specials including cocktails and free tapas. However the best thing about Qing is what’s upstairs - a lovely, quiet, soothing foot massage business. Complete with comfortable chairs, mood lighting, and English magazines. A 70 minute foot massage will run $12US (not only foot, but it includes arms, back, and head). Or you can get a mani/pedi for $12USD. The best part? You can order a glass of wine and sip it while you get pampered. Isn’t that fabulous?

Evelyn Hannon
ABOUT THIS EXPERT
A pioneer in the field of women and travel, Evelyn Hannon is an award-winning travel journalist, the editor as well as publisher of Journeywoman.com and Journeywoman Online, a FREE electronic travel tip newsletter for women Evelyn serves as the consultant to the Canadian Government on 'women and travel' and is the author of their 24-page booklet, 'Her Own Way, Tips and Advice for Women Travellers' available at all passport offices across the country. She is a member of the Travel Media Association of Canada, a key-note speaker, and guest expert on radio and TV. TIME magazine named Ms. Hannon, 'One of this new century's 100 most innovative thinkers' for the work she has done on behalf of travellers around the world.


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