Best Ever Travel Tips
Tom Hall, Editor
Travel Tips offers ten sections, including "Money," "Health," "Safety & Security" and even "Eco-Travel." Some of the suggestions are obvious. Hide a few dollars in your belt in case you get robbed. Backpacks can get ripped off, but even more tempting is your laptop. The best advice is to disguise it --- wrap it up in a paper bag or one of your articles of clothing. Crucial documents --- passports, visas, licenses --- should be scanned and uploaded to a "web-based email or file hosting service."
This book weighs in at a modest 100 pages, and all of the pages have a hole at the top. In fact, the whole booklet looks like the tag wired to the handle of your grandfather's trunk just before it got turned over to Railway Express.
Here are some of the more interesting suggestions to be found in Travel Tips:
- The CIA world factbook is an accidentally great reference tool for every country in the world. Find it at
- Try for free wi-fi at airports by finding a wall adjoining an airport lounge --- you can often pick up wi-fi signals intended for elite flyers inside.
- The cardinal rule [on street food] is that heat makes things safe. If it's hot food then it matters much less what else is going on .... If you've seen it come out of the fire, it may be more reliable than what comes out of the kitchen of a five-star hotel.
- Seeing movies in foreign countries is better than taking a break watching sport on TV back in your hotel room. How else will you know [for example] that if only a few people show up in some Vietnamese cinemas they will be expected to sit in the same row, side by side?
- And this revelation by Frances Gordon, Lonely Planet author, on travelling alone: After a friend backed out on a journey considered by her father to be "too dangerous for two young females,"
I went and I learned a secret I have never forgotten: solo female travellers attract far many more kindnesses, invitations and favours than sole male travellers or groups.
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I have a lovely young friend who travels alone in Mexico regularly. Although she is quite comely, she dresses in dark, dumpy clothing, jeans and light cotton long-sleeved shirt, no lipstick, no rings, no fingernail polish. Often when she has to go somewhere, she will borrow one of her friends' children to accompany her.
She is rarely bothered, but once, when she was in Oaxaca, she crossed a busy street and heard a bevy of noisy whistles and catcalls. She turned to face the machos, to ask them "¿Porqué Ustedes hacen éste ruido?" She found herself face to face with a tall ficus, filled with sonates --- boat-tailed grackles --- whose evening settling-in cries don't sound all that different from rutting young Latino males.
One piece of advice in Travel Tips I found to be not so bright: "It's perfectly feasible to call your doctor at home for a diagnosis or second opinion over the phone." Right. When I am home, I have to book this guy six to eight weeks ahead of time: he'll be just sitting in his office there at the in-patient clinic waiting for my call from Ouagadougou asking why I can't hold down my latest meal of fried plantains. Good luck.--- Lolita Lark