Dear Woman on the Road,
Do you get fed up with flying? Or even taking the train or the bus?
I do, so I'm game to try out new and unusual modes of transport. I've traveled by camel and by donkey, and I now have a kayak. How about you?
Women on the Road News keeps you informed of what's new on Women on the Road and in the big broad world of women's solo backpacking. I send it to you on the first Tuesday of each month.
Women on the Road News: Contents for Issue #7
- It's not just about flying, you know!
- What's New: Women on the Road website
- Travel News: 7 Top Spots for the Solo Traveler; Malaysian Women Hold Onto Travel Rights; Saudi Women Travel Rules Loosened
- Cause of the Month: Cyclone Nargis, Burma
It's not just about flying!
Of course flying is the easiest way to travel, especially with discount airlines cropping up everywhere.
But many people choose not to fly if they can avoid it, either for environmental reasons or just because they don't like to. Instead, they seek out different, and often unusual, modes of transport.
1. By donkey
No, I'm not kidding. You'll find donkey travel everywhere - along El Camino de Santiago, as pilgrims make their way across the north of Spain, or in the adventures of super-nomad Dervla Murphy, who wrote a book about her donkey trek through the Andes. And this article recounts the travels of two women across the Cevennes in France, in the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson's Travels with a Donkey. Don't get too excited though - most donkeys carry your pack, not you! Not exotic enough for you? Try a llama.
2. By camel
Camels used to be common for travel and they're still used today across the Sahara, in parts of the Middle East, India, Mongolia, or for organized safaris in South Africa - and this list is far from complete. Up for long-term camel travel? In that case, why not buy your very own camel? If you're in Al Ain, in the United Arab Emirates, just drop by the camel market and pick one up (only kidding!) Piqued by the idea of camels? Read up a bit about these quadrupeds.
3. By recumbent bike
You've seen these before - bicycles you almost lie down on? In France where I live cycling is incredibly popular, and not a week passes by without one of these pedaling up my road. They're faster and more comfortable than normal bicycles (except when climbing hills, because you can't stand up). But on flat surfaces, you can go further and if you're not an expert cyclist, there's a tricycle version too. Try the Recumbent Blog to learn more.
4. By kayak
The first time I saw a long-distance sea kayak, I was sleeping on a Zanzibar beach. Two women appeared almost from nowhere - they had kayaked from the mainland. I was hooked! Now I have my own kayak and I'm seriously thinking of paddling down the Rhone River to the Camargue wetlands on the Mediterranean. And just so you know, I can't swim more than a few feet (I always wear a lifejacket), so it doesn't take a huge amount skill. Intrigued? Search for 'sea kayaking' to find literally hundreds of trips, or browse a more technical site for great facts.
5. By dogsled
Granted, mushing through snow and sub-zero temperatures may not be the typical backpacker's dream, but you may be someone who prefers cold to hot. In that case, Scandinavia, Greenland, the Alps and the Arctic North are lying in wait to be discovered by you. Get inspiration from the epic Iditarod dogsled race in Alaska.
6. By hot air balloon
You don't have to be Richard Branson to travel in a hot air balloon - but given the cost, it might help. Hotairballooning.com is a good starting point if you're interested but not yet sold on the idea of seeing the world from above.
7. And the rest!
Apart from flying, lets not neglect the more mundane modes of transport - train, ship, sailboat (you can crew on these for your passage), horseback, bus, car, and yes, why not travel on foot?
Do you have any interesting stories to tell about your favorite mode of transport? If you do, we'd love you to share them here!
What's New at Women on the Road Website
Money Saving Travel Tips
The ABCs of saving for that backpacking dream.
Should you stay away or pack your bags and run towards the drama?
Backpacking Tips for the Beginner
If you've never taken a long backpacking trip before and things seem a little daunting.
Why not Trace Family Roots as you Travel?
Use your next trip to find out more about your family.
Travel on Foot
Get up close and personal!
Not that common, but not as rare as you might think, either.
Travel News for Backpacking Women
7 Top Spots for the Solo Traveler
according to Frommer's
1. Istanbul (I was just there and I can vouch for this - and don't forget the Turkish baths!)
2. Austin, Texas
3. Mexico City
6. Southeast Asia (I spent more than a year backpacking solo through this region and it most certainly is solo- and woman-friendly)
Malaysian Women Maintain Right to Decide on Travel Abroad
Malaysian women have won their battle to continue traveling abroad without permission from a male boss or relative. Until recently, they feared they would lose that right when the government suggested written permission from families or employers would be needed to travel outside the country.
Why? Because a number of Malaysian women abroad were duped into smuggling drugs, and prosecuted. The government thought travel permissions would be a good way of guaranteeing their 'safety', on the assumption that women couldn't take good enough care of themselves...
Women's Travel Rules in Saudi Arabia Loosened
In a similar vein, a woman no longer needs the permission or company of a male relative to stay in a Saudi hotel (although her personal information will be sent to local authorities). And if she wants, there's now an all-women hotel in Riyad. While this increases segregation, it also allows Saudi women greater freedom of movement. A small step for womankind?
Cause of the Month: Burma's Cyclone
On 2 May Cyclone Nargis cut a path of destruction through Burma, killing tens of thousands - there is no final count yet, but at least a million people are homeless. Initially the Burmese military junta blocked humanitarian aid, deepening the crisis.
Foreign aid workers are now in Burma, but survivors remain in dire need of food, water, cooking equipment, shelter, clothing, health services and burials. Hundreds of organizations have geared up to help - here are a just a few that would welcome your donations.
Foundation for the People of Burma
International Rescue Committee
Disasters Emergency Committee
International Red Cross and Red Crescent
American Jewish World Service
Even before the aid came in, intrepid travelers Nora Dunn and Kelly Bedford were pitching in from Northern Thailand.
How to communicate when you don't speak the language.
Readers love to hear about your experiences on the road so please, share your stories and thoughts with the rest of us.
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Happy travels! Leyla