Travel Guide: Europe for Women

Travel Guide: Europe for Women

There are some tips that can be applied to travel anywhere in the world but others that specifically work well in Europe and for women. My first tip before taking a trip is always to research as much as humanly possible and the information below is a great way to start. Read on and get ready!

Why I Love Solo Travel

I remember on my first trip being terrified out of mind. I began the adventure with one of my best friends. We had a blast that first week together and I couldn’t stop crying when it was time for her to leave. I thought for sure I’d never survive on my own. I was so wrong.

After she was gone, I learned that I am much more capable than I realized. I could find my way around new cities and learn new public transportation systems without getting lost, I could make new friends easily and best of all I could do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted.

It didn’t matter if I felt like sitting in a park, exploring a museum, going out to eat or staying in to cook, party all night or stay in to read. I could do whatever I felt and usually was able to find someone to join me on any adventure if I decided I wanted a buddy. That kind of freedom is quite amazing. I thought for sure I would feel lonely and it turned out quite the opposite; I often couldn’t get enough alone time!

One of the more noticeable parts was that I realized I was taking everything in more when I was alone. If you’re with someone it’s easy to get caught up in each other and your conversation. When you’re alone all of your senses are focused on taking in every detail of a new city, it’s pretty beautiful.

Things to Keep in Mind…

  • Go Slow: It’s easy to try and pack in a bunch of cities and activities quickly. This will only lead to burnout and not enjoying things to their full potential. Pace yourself.
  • Plan Ahead: Sometimes showing up in a city without a hostel reservation works out fine, other times it doesn’t. It’s best to book ahead to keep yourself out of a bad situation.
  • Forget the Selfie Stick: These are becoming ever so popular especially in Europe, don’t do it! It’s so much better to ask someone else to take your photo as this often leads to a nice conversation at the very least and possibly even a new friend!
  • Find a Buddy at Night: Europe has huge cities and huge cities anywhere can get less safe at night. If you want to go out, stick with a friend.
  • Avoiding Getting Hit On: People will try to hit on you anywhere in the world but many places in Europe are especially open about this. Wearing a wedding ring can deter people as can sunglasses so that you don’t make accidental eye contact with someone you’re not interested in.

Traveling with friends can be a great experience but solo travel can also be great if not better. The only difference is when you’re alone you have to look out for yourself more. If you can do that, you’ll be great!

Safest Destinations as a Solo Female Traveler

Safest Destinations as a Solo Female Traveler

While there are many things that can be done to stay safe on the road as a solo female traveler no matter where you are, many people want to know if certain destinations are safer than others. Of course! Some places are much more traveler friendly especially for women. Here are some of my favorites.

Iceland: This country has become a popular destination for many travelers and with good reason. The city of Reykjavik is known to have a great music scene and nightlife. With something always going on, it’s easy to go out and make new friends. Not only that, but Iceland has some of the most stunning natural beauty in the world including glaciers and the infamous Blue Lagoon.

Scandanavia: This includes the countries of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. While it can be a little chilly, these countries are filled with beautiful architecture. Norway and Denmark have even been ranked as some of the happiest places on earth!

New Zealand: This is the place to go if you’re seeking outdoor adventure. It’s got beaches, fiords, and glaciers all at the tips of your fingertips.

Dubai: This one may surprise you seeing as it’s such a large city. However, Dubai is full of people from a plethora of backgrounds, religions, and nationalities. There’s so much diversity and everyone gets along well so you will fit right in. It’s still important to respect the culture and cover up anywhere other than the beach.

Canada: A country full of breathtaking landscapes and some incredibly fun and happening cities. Canadians are known for being some of the friendliest and you’ll see why quite quickly.

Belgium: One of my favorite countries I’ve traveled to, especially the city of Ghent! You’ll encounter friendly locals who will take you out to some of their favorite pubs and then wake up the next morning and see castles. You can’t go wrong in Belgium, especially with a beer in one hand and chocolate in the other!

Ireland: It would be easy to spend night after night in the pubs of Ireland. The music and the energy is intoxicating, you can’t help but to have fun. I’ve also truly never seen greener grass or breathed fresher air. Keep Ireland at the top of your list!

Bali: With temples, yoga, and beaches you’ll feel relaxed and right at home. It doesn’t hurt that the food and accommodation are incredibly cheap! The culture here is great and with so many travelers being drawn here, you’ll make friends quickly.

Amsterdam: It’s reputation holds true, Amsterdam is a place of happy care-free people. It’s easy to spend the day sitting at cafes or strolling in parks, you’ll never want to leave!

Cruise: These are great with so many organized activities it’s easy to make friends. Not only that, but it’s a stress free way to see many places without having to plan your own itinerary.

This list only names a few of many places to go. No matter where you go just stay smart, be wise, and enjoy yourself! Travel on!

Packing List for Women in Europe

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Packing light can be hard especially when traveling to Europe when the desire to look stylish is quite strong. Putting everything in one bag is hard enough and isn’t any easier when you have to pack nice clothes on top of the necessities. Here are some great ways to make this task less daunting!

How to Choose Your Clothing

  • Mix and Match: Never pack any clothing that can only be used with one other item. Everything you pack should match each other so that you end up having limitless options. It also helps so that you can layer and be comfortable to matter what climate you’re in.
  • Easy Care Clothing: It’s best to bring clothing that doesn’t wrinkle easily or need to be dry-cleaned.
  • Nothing You’ll Wear Once: Anything you bring you should be able to picture yourself wearing it on multiple occasions; otherwise it’s not worth the space.
  • Accessorize: Small accessories can be the perfect way to change up outfits and keep it interesting like a lightweight scarf.
  • Purchase There: You know you’ll end up shopping anyways, so save room in your bag to buy clothes abroad. You’ll be looking as stylish as the locals fast.

Tops

  • Four Shirts: It’s best to bring both short and long sleeve shirts depending on the weather of where you are headed.
  • Cardigan: Even in the summer it’s a good idea to have a sweater to put on when it gets cold at night.
  • One or Two Dresses: A great idea is to bring ones that could be worn casually during the day but with the right necklace and make up could be appropriate to go out at night as well.
  • Tank Tops: A few of these are a good idea as they are the most versatile. They can be worn as undershirts, a pajama top, or out on the town on hot days.

Bottoms

  • Dark Jeans: These are stylish any where in the world and great because we all feel great in them!
  • Skirts: I prefer bringing about three skirts since they’re so comfortable and I know that I always like to wear them.
  • Shorts: These are not as common in Europe so I wouldn’t suggest bringing too many, besides of course active ones for hiking and bumming around in at the hostel.

This list could go on and on but you’re getting the idea! There are also a myriad of other items that are needed and we mustn’t forget. Keeping all these clothes clean be tricky but a flexible travel clothesline, laundry soap, and stain remover can help with that.

A sleep sheet, ear plugs, and eye mask will help ensure that you feel clean wherever you’re sleeping and will help you take naps in the middle od the day when you’ve stayed out too late the night before.

My personal favorite, a notebook. I’m not much of a journal person but for some reason love to write when I’m on the road. I like to paste in ticket stubs or photographs and write a few precious memories from the places I’ve gone. I find that these journals are my most favorite thing I bring back from my travels.

Make sure to follow this short guide and you’ll be sure to tackle Europe like a pro!

Packing for “Girly-Girls”

Packing for “Girly-Girls”

Maybe we have this idea of travelers as being rough, down-to- earth hippies or earth lovers who don’t care about make up or material things. True, this is some people. But not all! There are plenty of us out there who, whether we’re on the road or not, enjoy getting dolled up and don’t want to sacrifice that in order to travel. Believe it or not, you don’t have to. It may not be the exact same as when you’re at home and have your full arsenal of products at your disposal but it’s still possible to pack your bag in a way that will keep you feeling like yourself during your travels.

Shoes

While packing for style is a priority so is packing for safety. It will be necessary to bring a pair of boots for any outdoor activity to be sure you don’t end up with a sprained ankle or worse during any hiking or horseback riding. In order to save space it’s a good idea to buy a pair that can be worn in the city as well. These are the ones you’ll want to wear on the plane as well since they will be your heaviest.

For hikes that are a bit less difficult you could wear running shoes which can be quite stylish. If you plan to be in warmer climates then make sure to have one pair of flip flops (you’ll especially want these in hostel showers!) and also a dressy pair to wear at night.

Large Plastic Bags

These are great for separating your clothing. I’m sure you’ll be bringing along some of your favorite clothes so you can look your best in all the places you’ll be visiting. The worst is if your nice clothes start to smell like your dirty socks that you’ve also got in your bag. To avoid this, keep your clothes in separate zippered bags.

Pack your Worst Clothes As Well

You’ll likely be doing some shopping while on the road so it’s a good idea to bring some of your older t shirts and clothes that you don’t want anymore. That way once you wear them you can donate them wherever you are. This makes space in your bag and also helps avoid making your bag quite stinky!

Travel Towel

These are a lifesaver. Some hostels will have towels but you will usually have to pay. It’s much better to have your own but make sure it’s a quick drying one. There’s nothing worse than carrying a damp towel in your bag.

Accessories and Makeup

Us girly-girls are not ones to go without these things and there’s no reason we should have to. It’s completely feasible to still bring some makeup and your must-have accessories and products to keep your hair manageable. However, it is important to be realistic and bring only what you truly need.

On You Go!

This list should help with your packing and show you that it’s completely possible to maintain your girly ways while on the road. But the best part, you’ll probably be enjoying your adventures so much anyways that your looks will be far from your mind.

Not So Happy Truths About Traveling Solo as a Female

Not So Happy Truths About Traveling Solo as a Female

I’m all about empowering women to travel solo because I believe it is one of the most amazing things you can do for yourself. However there’s no point pretending it’s all rainbows and butterflies. Acknowledging and being prepared for some of these unfortunate facts will only make you more prepared. If you’re not shocked by some of this then you will be able to handle it better and know that it is not just you, it is common for many women!

People Might Label and Pity You

Not always, but it can happen. There will be times when you are going to eat a meal alone and that’s something many of us are not accustomed to. People may stare at you and wonder why you don’t have someone to eat with.

Friend and family back home may also see your choice to travel as the wrong one. They may personally value a career and having a family first and therefore pity you for not having those things. Ignore it all. Shrug it off. You are learning and experiencing so many things that having a family would not allow you to do. To each their own.

You May Be Held Back

There are certain things that you either can’t, shouldn’t or simply don’t want to do alone. Certain hikes may not be safe for just one person and while you can normally find a buddy, it’s not a guarantee.

It’s also easy to get lazy. You can have big plans for a day but without someone else to push you, it can get easy to let the exhaustion of traveling get to you and just hang out at the hostel for the day. Keep in mind, this isn’t always bad. Your hostel is a great place to meet people and giving yourself time to rest is important while on the road.

Oh, The Rules

As an American, I’m used to a pretty free life as a woman. No, everything is not equal yet but we don’t have as many restrictions as women do in other places in the world. It can be hard going to a country where you are expected to cover your body or behave in a certain way. Let it make you grateful for the freedoms you enjoy and try to not be judgmental of these differences… even as you’re sweating your butt off wearing pants in blazing heat.

Piropos

This is a Spanish term for the compliments received in many Latin American countries. In other words, it is cat calling. In some countries it’s worse than others and if you’re in a country where your skin and hair look different from the locals then it’s easy to be picked out and harassed. I had a terrible experience in Turkey with this. It was so frustrating walking through the markets that we just ran home immediately. It can be taken as being flattering but eventually it’s just annoying.

Still Go

None of this should hold you back. Traveling alone or with friends is a beautiful thing. When you go home you will not be thinking about the uncomfortable or bad times that you had. You will only remember the amazing parts so just focus on those in the present as much as possible!

Las Vegas Travel Guide for Women

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Vegas is probably one of the hottest destinations for Americans and travelers abroad alike. It’s impossible to compare it to anywhere else in the world. Which means… you might be looking for some tips before heading there! It’s a great place to visit and this guide will help ensure you have an excellent time.

Bring Your Walking Shoes

You will definitely be walking around Vegas quite a bit. For me, this is a major plus in a city. In so many places in the US it’s necessary to rent a car to get around but Las Vegas is not one of those places. You can get a taxi if need be but mostly you’ll be walking, so bring good shoes! It’s also blazing hot but the misters on the street help keep it manageable.

It’s Sin City for a Reason

This is not a good place to go if you’re feeling judgmental. You’ll see things happening in Vegas you wouldn’t normally see and people doing these things that probably would be better off somewhere else. It’s okay, take it for what it is and just enjoy the experience. It’s a good time to learn to focus on yourself and not others!

Common Sense

Las Vegas is compact but still a big city and in any city it’s important to use your street smarts. Never go somewhere isolated with a new friend, don’t walk home alone at night (sober or drunk) and hold tight to your valuables at all times. Play it safe and you’ll be fine.

Smoking?!

This may not shock other travelers but normally in the states it is illegal to smoke indoors. This law does not exist in Vegas, which can be quite off-putting to some people. Casinos can get especially smoky so if this bothers you, choose where you spend your time carefully.

Get Outside the City

So many beautiful nature areas surround Las Vegas. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the intensity of Las Vegas; it’s hot, expensive, noisy and bright. If you get there and realize this isn’t quite for you, no big deal. It’s not too hard to take a day trip (or three) outside the city to see some other areas. Even if you are loving and embracing Vegas for all that it is, you should still consider this! It’s always nice to diversify a trip. Las Vegas is sure to be a trip that you will not be able to forget. Whether you’re there to celebrate a special event or just wanting to check it out, you will be sure to leave with some interesting memories.

How to Travel Safe as a Woman

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As a solo female traveler I cant begin to count how many times people have warned me that I shouldn’t be traveling on my own, worried for me, tried to guilt me out of going because of how much my family back home would worry, and overall just tried to stop me. No way did I listen to that. Traveling can be dangerous… as can riding a bike, driving a car, or going to the grocery store for men and women alike anywhere in the world. The world is a dangerous place but it’s also full of kind and helpful strangers. Anything can happen anywhere and this should never stop a woman from traveling on her own!

That’s not to say we shouldn’t be smart about it. There’s no reason to take unnecessary risks and it’s always important to use common sense to stay as safe as possible. Read on to see some of my top tips for staying safe on the road.

1. Research, research, research!

It’s so important, and fun, to research your destinations before you get there. As you’re looking up the best places to eat, sights to see, monuments to stand in awe at, you should be looking up what neighborhoods to avoid, how to pick out a safe taxi and where a good medical center is. When picking out accommodation there are tons of sites nowadays to read reviews from other travelers like yourself to make sure you’re staying somewhere that you will feel happy and safe. The more you read, the better off you’ll be.

2. While on the move, keep valuable close

Realistically, you should be bringing as few valuables as possible but certain things such as a passport are unavoidable. Your passport, camera, phone, wallet, laptop and any other items such as this should be kept in a purse or day bag which you keep with you at all times. These items should never be in your checked luggage on a plane, placed in the luggage storage on a bus or out of your sight in general.

3. Take as little as possible

When you’re walking around the city there’s no reason to bring your entire wallet with you. It’s better to only carry as much as you need and leave the rest locked up at your hostel. Some may have safes but many also have lockers that you can use. Usually you need your own lock, so bring one along!

4. Don’t be too trusting

Unfortunately, there are con artists out there who make it a point to befriend travelers and you must be wary of them. It’s great to make friends and most people out there are genuine, but never put yourself in a vulnerable situation. You should always know where you are and how to get home, avoid isolated areas and never leave your valuables with a new friend at the bar while you run to the bathroom.

5. Stay sober(ish)

It’s great to drink while out exploring a new place but you should never drink so much that you lose control or are unable to keep your wits about you.

6. Blend right in

Normally, great to stand out if you like. But on the road that just makes you a target and there’s no need to do that. Dress as the locals do and make sure that if you’re looking up directions you don’t do so obviously or in a crowded area.

7. Don’t be too cheap

We all want to save money while traveling so that we can see and do as much as possible. But when it comes to the cheap hotel in the scary neighborhood or the slightly more expensive one in a safe area, spend the money.

8. Copies of everything

Things can get stolen unfortunately, it happens. That’s why you should be smart and keep extra copies of important documents like your passport in different places as well as with a friend or family member back home. Following these tips and you’ll be sure to stay as safe as possible. The safer you are the better so you only come home with memories of good times!

Girls, Time to Head to Washington D.C.

Girls, Time to Head to Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. is not only a place full of history; it’s also a place full of fun. If you’re in the US and have the time it would be a shame to skip this city! It’s so easy to get around and there’s truly an endless amount of things to do to keep you busy. Here’s just a few!

Historic Sites Galore

When you’re in D.C. you will pretty much always be surrounded by history, which is pretty awesome. There are a few places you have to be sure to see. The Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool is a beautiful place to take a stroll or have a seat and people watch. Right nearby you’ll find the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial as well. Of course, when you’re in the city you can’t pass up going to the White House, it’s a D.C. must!

Some other great options include doing a night tour to see the city in a different light (haha!) and also taking a bus tour. This can be great for those of us that forgot to pack our comfy shoes or simply just want to kick back!

If you want to leave D.C. for a little bit, it’s easy enough to do a day trip to Gettysburg. The history here is astounding and not only that, it’s quite beautiful.

Fun Time

Washington is also a great place to have a good time. If you’re not too tired after exploring all of the history the city has to offer, there’s plenty more to do.

Rasika is a great place for Indian cuisine and Charlie Palmer Steak on Capitol Hill is a can’t miss. Not only that but you’ll find several lovely places with bottomless mimosa brunches, you can’t go wrong.

For all you sports fans out there, going to see a Washington Nationals baseball game is a great time. They say that baseball is America’s pastime so what better place to see a game while eating a hot dog and having a beer than the nation’s capital?

If you’re looking to have a drink at the end of the day there are plenty of bars to choose from. Penn Social, Chez Billy, and Red Derby are all as fun as their names sound. If those don’t tickle your fancy, there are always more to be found.

On You Go!

This city is just limitless. One of the best parts is that it’s a city but doesn’t even really feel like it. It’s not full of skyscrapers like most cities, which keeps it from feeling overwhelming. It can get pricey, but worth every penny. There’s so much to do here that no matter what you’re looking for, you will find it.

Girls: Go to Southeast Asia

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Thinking about taking your first solo trip? Southeast Asia may not be the first place that comes to mind but it definitely should be. It’s one of the cheapest destinations currently and it’s also a really easy place to make friends to journey with if you’d like. Here are some tidbits to convince you!

Easy on Your Wallet

Solo travel is my favorite travel but it can get kind of expensive since you don’t always have a buddy to split hotel rooms and cab fare with. Southeast Asia is great because everything is so cheap anyways that you won’t even care you don’t have someone to split things with. A day is SE Asia can be as cheap as $20 USD if you want it to be.

Transport is Easy

There’s nothing worse than being somewhere new and being so lost that you can’t even begin to figure out where you are. SE Asia has great public transportation that runs pretty much anywhere and it’s also pretty comfortable. It’s even pretty common to have a bus pick you up at your hostel and take you to the bus station or airport. No more getting lost with your huge pack on your shoulders!

Travelers are Everywhere

This may not be a plus to everyone but especially on your first trip you’ll probably be happy to be somewhere that many travelers flock to. Once you start traveling you’ll also notice that there’s a certain type of backpacker in each area of the world. SE Asia definitely has ones that are ready to meet people and usually party so making friends is a piece of cake.

Rest Assured, You Are Safe

Of course you still need to be cautious no matter where you are since no place in the world is crime free. However, SE Asia feels incredibly safe and most of the time you probably are. It’s all about using your common sense and if you don’t put yourself in a bad situation you probably won’t run into any trouble.

Great Locals

Southeast Asia is incredibly different from the Western world, which makes it fun and interesting. The street food is delicious (and once again, cheap) and the locals are the best. Even if you don’t speak the language they’ll still try to strike up a conversation. I can’t think of a good reason not to go to SE Asia. Whether you’ve got a week to spare or an unlimited amount of time, it’s definitely worth it to get yourself there to experience a brand new culture that is sure to leave an impact on you.

Dances Around the World

Dances Around the World

Dance is one of the most beautiful expressions of art that is out there. It is also a great way to get to know a culture. Local dances can represent so much about a country and their people. Here are just a few.

1. Hula
This dance is quite common in Hawaii and was brought over by the Polynesians partially as entertainment but also as a way to worship the gods. The traditions of hula have changed over time such as the lei and the costume. It has become more of a form of entertainment for tourists but that doesn’t mean that it has lost its beauty.

2. Bon Odori
This has been part of Japanese Buddhist culture for more than 500 years. They are apart of Bon Festivals, which are known as Obon which usually lasts for three days and is a time where deceased ancestors visit to check in on their family. Bon odori welcomes the ancestors and while there are many varieties of the dace they are usually performed during street parades.

3. Irish Stepdance
While it can look quite complicated, Irish stepdance can actually be performed at many levels making it a suitable dance for many. This dance dates back to pre-Christian times in Ireland but it is now quite common at Irish festivals or St. Patrick’s Day celebrations all over.

4. Ghoomar
A folk dance of Southern India, Ghoomar is a graceful dance that includes twirling colorful skirts which makes it even more enjoyable to watch. Women are the only ones who dance but men and women will sing together during this performance. It is a dance used to worship religious deities as is common with many folk dances.

5. Maypole dance
This dance started as a pagan custom in the United Kingdom in which women would dance around a wooden pole to celebrate sex and fertility. Nowadays, it is more common for children to wrap ribbon round the pole while dancing and singing.

6. Samba
In Brazil, the Samba is much more than a dance. It is a huge symbol of their culture and people. There are more than seven different kinds of samba but they are always danced with traditional samba music. A lively event with guitars, tambourines, and colorful headdresses makes it a great time!

7. Harlem Shake
This popular dance in New York actually came from Eastern Africa in the 1980s. It mostly incorporates a lot of shoulder shaking and movements of the head. The best part is how easy it is to pick up!

8. Flamenco
A dance that truly evokes emotion. It is known for its passion and intensity due to the exquisite body language of the dancers as well as their hand clapping and foot stomping. The costumes are important as well since the long skirts are often used to highlight the movements of the dancers.

9. Haka
Coming from New Zealand, this dance was originally more of a war cry. Overtime it has transformed into a dance but still with many variations. It includes much chanting, chest beating and stomping. It has become most popular as the rugby teams began to perform it in 1905.

10. Salsa
This Cuban dance has become especially popular in the last few decades. It consists of many different styles as it has spread all over the world which is probably partially due to the fact that it is quite easy for many to learn.