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Traveling Essentials for Women on International Travel
Hotels vary from country to country and from hotel chain to hotel chain, so investigate and then select a hotel that best meets your personal and business needs. First make sure the hotel is within a reasonable distance of your business meetings. If you are far away you may have to deal with traffic, congested public transportation, and unexpected delays that can add stress to your day. If you are staying over a weekend, you can move then to a hotel in the downtown area for a change of location and to be closer to the cultural centers. If you are traveling with a portable computer, make sure the hotel has a data line in addition to the phone line in the room. If you like to exercise, check for a hotel that has a health club or facility near by. If you like to have room service late at night or very early in the morning, check for late-night or 24-hour room service. Most businesswomen report that they prefer to use a U.S. hotel chain because of the consistency of services that they offer worldwide. However, you will find that most major cities offer exceptional hotel options that may provide the basic services you desire and even more.
Keep in mind:
• Dry-cleaning services are generally very efficient in most four- and five-star hotels. Consider using them if you are on a long trip and you need to pack efficiently. Check with the hotel on the pick up and return times. In some modern hotels there are now 24-hour dry cleaning services with a turn around within hours. In others it may take up to two days.
• Many hotels offer massages and other personal services that are welcomed by the business traveler.
• When in foreign countries, be cognizant of cultural customs and religious differences. For example, many hotels disapprove of shorts or uncovered shoulders in the lobbies and restaurants.
• It is usually best to wear a one-piece bathing suit if you’re using the hotel facilities for a swim. In many cultures women are expected to be more modest than in the U.S. For example, in some hotels that have pools and health clubs, bathing cap and pool slippers are required. These items are often provided in the pool area.
• Wear a robe and slippers when walking from your room to the spa or pool.
The reality for many businesswomen is that you are on the road frequently, for long periods of time, and alone. If you are traveling for an extended period of time, it can get tedious to eat alone. Many women express some degree of discomfort about dining out alone, and report that they may resort to ordering room service every night. Also, many women report that some restaurants are not prepared for women to eat alone because there are few local businesswomen in the country.
Here are some tips that may help make dining alone easier while on the road. Most hotels are accustomed to business travelers so you can certainly dine in the hotel restaurant with ease. Many American businesswomen tend to stay in American business hotel chains (Hyatt, Marriott, Westin, etc.), so if you stay there you will see more women like yourself in the lobby and the hotel restaurants. However, don’t always limit yourself to your hotel. Venture out to restaurants in other hotels in the area.
If you want to try some of the restaurants around the city, ask your hotel concierge where you can eat as a solo diner without creating attention. Usually there are popular business restaurants. Some women suggest that if you want to try a new trendy restaurant, and you are alone, request early or very late seating. This way the restaurant won’t feel that you are taking up valuable table space. Also, many trendy restaurants offer dining in the bar so you can sit at a counter with other solo diners or you can sit at a small table out of the limelight.
Some women suggest that you ask the restaurant staff if they can seat you in a corner or more private area so that people don’t stare at you or, worse, approach you. Others suggest that you ask the restaurant to face you looking out the window to ensure privacy (but then some have had outsiders staring in at them). Some women recommend that you bring something to read so that you are not distracted by your surroundings and others say that in the finer restaurants this activity might be considered rude. Women have been reporting that more and more restaurants offer to seat business travelers together if they so request. Some businesswomen have found this a good alternative and a way to meet other businesswomen.
Here are some recommendations for solo dining:
• Dine in other business hotel restaurants in the area. Usually they have many types of restaurants and are accustomed to individual diners. Large, five-star hotels tend to have more restaurant options.
• Many upscale hotels have dining/lounge areas, some with a piano player, that offer seating for one and a menu of light snacks at all hours.
• Many hotels offer night dining tours so you can take a city tour and dine with other people while enjoying some culture. These tours usually go to a restaurant that features local cuisine.
• Some cities have dinner theater shows so you can dine while watching the theater.
• Many cities have flagship department stores that have late hours (for example, Harrods in London) that offer everything from clothes to hardware to food galleries and multiple dining facilities. Many of these restaurants will have solo seating for shoppers making a dining stop.
Toilets and Personal Amenities
When you are traveling in other countries, you will find that most hotels and the better restaurants usually have basic flush toilets. Once you are out in the suburbs, however, you may find only “squat toilets.” This is especially true in Asia and even in the more rural parts of Italy. These are basically a trough in the floor, with or without a ceramic fitting, over which you must squat. Carry pocket-sized tissue packages with you since paper is usually not offered. Handiwipes are good to carry too.
In addition, bring personal sanitary items with you from home. You may not find the kind you need or will be unable to ask for them in the local language, especially in more rural areas. Also, don’t assume that you can buy your favorite brand of shampoo, conditioner or hair products while you are on the road. Many cosmetic companies offer travels kits and sample sizes of hair products for when you travel. Some perfume brands sell very small travel size bottles. Many of these items can be purchased in the duty free area of the airport.
It is important to check in advance to see if any shots are required for travel to your particular destination. You can find out by calling the International Traveler’s Hot Line at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at (404) 332-4559 or you can locate information from the Centers for Disease Control on the World Wide Web at: www.cdc.gov/travel/ Make sure that you get information about all the countries you plan to visit, including the stopovers. Check with your company to see what medical coverage you have for overseas travel. Some companies may have an overseas medical hot line, while others may have specific hospitals or travel doctors with which they network.
• Bring any prescribed medication for allergies, urinary tract infections, diarrhea, respiratory and skin infections, etc. in clearly labeled prescription bottles.
• Bring enough prescription to last you for the duration of your trip. It may be difficult get prescriptions renewed while you are traveling.
• If you become ill while overseas, ask your hotel to recommend a doctor who speaks English. If you are alone with a male doctor, insist that a female nurse be present during any check-up.
• If you become ill while in another country, be aware that many cities have all-night pharmacies. However it may be difficult to get a prescription filled or anything other than an over-the-counter symptom remedy.
About the Author: Tracey Wilen is Author at http://www.globalwomen.biz/