Sometime's it's all too much... The world is so full of delicious destinations it can be almost impossible to choose!

Should you go to Asia or Africa? Two weeks or six months? Overland or fly RTW? Solo or with a group?

Unless you've already mapped out your dream itinerary, you might still be undecided.

Asking these questions may help you narrow things down a bit.

Women on the Road NEWS: Contents for Issue #30

15 Questions to Help You Choose Your Destination

1. Are you a loner or a groupie?
If you're the kind of person who loves meeting people on the road and making new friends, you might be better off trying solo travel. But if you cringe at the idea of walking up to a stranger, teaming up with others might make more sense - at least for the early part of your journey. Hooking up with other female travel companions may be the answer.

2. Where do you have friends, family or friends of friends?
Discovering a new destination is often best done through the eyes of someone local, so where do you know people? Do you have a long-lost cousin in South Africa, or did you share a class with an exchange student from China? Perhaps your family is from another country and you still have relatives there. You could always start in a country where you know someone, and then move on.

3. What about the language?
If you're an experienced traveler this probably won't matter - you'll throw around a few Dankes and Mercis as though you were born to. But if you're a novice, you might be more comfortable in a country where you'll be understood. These days you'll find English speakers in most countries, and in some countries it's either the official or one of the official languages. If communicating is important, make this one of your criteria for choosing a destination.

4. How much time do you have?
You can't compare a two-week European holiday with a gap year or a round-the-world backpacking trip. Often, your destination will be dictated by how long you have. Spending two days getting to Australia makes little sense if all you have is a week or two.

5. And what about money?
Whether you're flush will have an influence on where you choose to go. Flights can be costly. You'll find very cheap international flights between common destinations - say Paris-New York or London-Sydney - but prices will climb steeply if you're headed for unusual travel destinations, say Khartoum or Papua New Guinea.

6. What is your comfort level?
If you can't imagine sharing a hostel dorm with a dozen others, you may have to opt for a shorter trip, to a more comfortable destination: Europe rather than Africa, Paris instead of Cairo, not to mention a more expensive place to stay.

7. What about security?
Safe travel and peace of mind go hand in hand. If there is a risk - and look at how Thailand veered from absolutely safe to on the brink of civil war in just a few short weeks - calculate it wisely. Stay away from dangerous places and stick to the safest destinations. Crises pass, and countries eventually reopen for travel. You'll get another chance to visit.

8. When are you going?
At home a bit of rain is easily kept at bay with an umbrella or poncho, but try that in India during the monsoons or Thailand in the rainy season! Make sure the weather is welcoming - what qualifies as spring-like or autumn-like back home are the most comfortable travel periods (and don't forget seasons are reversed in the northern and southern hemispheres).

9. City or countryside?
If you're a city girl and the moo of a cow makes you jump, you might not enjoy tracking gorrillas in Central Africa or swimming with manta rays in the Red Sea. On the other hand, you'll feel perfectly at ease strolling through Paris, Rome or London, discovering the bustle of Hong Kong or Shanghai, the raw energy of Cape Town, the nightlife of Buenos Aires or Beyrouth, or the sheer beauty and vibrancy of Barcelona.

10. Are you a culture vulture?
If so, your idea of a dream trip could include exploring the pyramids of Cuzco, Chichen Itza or Egypt. You probably dream of visiting the Parthenon and the Prado, or catching an opera in Verona. Paris won't be about food or shopping, but about art, literature and design.

11. What if it is about food?
I love trying out new cuisines, and have been known to make a detour to sample a particularly delectable morsel. If you're a food explorer, you may want to visit the source and inspiration of your favorite cuisine: Italy, France, Japan, Thailand, Egypt, Mexico, India...

12. Maybe you're sporty and athletic... which case you'll feel perfectly at home climbing in the Alps, Himalayas, Andes or Mount Kilimanjaro. Or snorkeling off the Egyptian Coast or along the Great Barrier Reef. Or bungee jumping or trekking in New Zealand. Or rafting in Canada or Costa Rica. Or surfing in Sumatra or Central America.

13. Or are you the beach bunny type?
You could circle the world from beach to beach and never see the same thing twice... the Bazaruto Islands of Mozambique or the coasts of Zanzibar, the islands of Thailand and Malaysia, the South Pacific or the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean - just don't forget your sunscreen, especially in the more tropical areas.

14. Do you have a strong spiritual life?
Many parts of the world are sacred to specific faiths - Mount Zion, Mecca, Varanasi, El Camino to Santiago de Compostela. Following a sacred path or visiting a sacred site is one way of combining your beliefs with your love of travel.

15. Are you a vagabond at heart or would you rather stay put?
Travelers often like to linger in a country for weeks or more, settling down somewhere, getting to know the locals and becoming a part of their daily lives. Others like to pack as much as they can into their time away. Two styles, two different joys. Which one are you?

What's New This Month on

When taking a vacation just isn't enough.

Hands On in Bangladesh
Kirsty Henderson tells us what it's like to volunteer for disaster relief.

Are you a woman on the road with a travel question?

Are you wondering...
- how safe it is to travel solo?
- the best places to go on your own?
- how much it might cost?
- what to pack?
- how to meet people and ward off loneliness?
- about the most unusual destinations?

Here are some recent questions readers have asked in the past month:
How should I carry my money when I travel?
Can you help me decide about solo travel?

If you're a woman on the road - or about to hit the road - and have a question which could be of interest to other readers as well, please post it here and I'll answer it online. Please don't ask me for job leads or recommendations for hotels or restaurants - plenty of sites out there do that far better than I ever could!

If you need to get in touch with me personally, please either Reply to this email or use this form.

Thank you for your feedback on my free travel course!

A number of you have already taken the course and I'm thrilled to hear you've found it useful.

If you've ever thought of writing to pay for your travels, you may be like thousands of others who love the road, need the money, and would be thrilled to see their name in print.

I've paid for my own travel as a writer so I've learned a trick or two about what kind of writing sells and how to make a living at it. To share some of these travel writing tips with you I've developed a free online course called the The Travel Writing Magician, available exclusively to readers of this ezine.

Just sign up and get it in your mailbox in seven easy daily installments. Work the assignments on your own and see how your writing improves after just one week. You'll never know if there's a travel writer lurking inside you until you try!

What Were Last Month's 10 Most Visited Pages on

Stay in a Monastery
Travel Packing List
Cheap Ways to Travel
Overseas Jobs
Become a Travel Writer
Solo Travel
Volunteer Work Overseas
Budget Hostel Accommodation
Unwanted Male Attention
Women's Travel Clothing

Travel News from across the Web

10 of the World's Most Impressive Subway Stations
An In-Depth Look at Volunteering
7 of the World's Best Trekking Destinations
European Train Tips for Women Travelers
How to Protect your Valuables in Flight

For food lovers...

CNN's Latest List: World's 50 Best Restaurants
Thong Lo Mangoes and Sticky Rice
Montreal: Land of Artists, Dreamers and Smoked Meat Makers
Cheap Eats in Hong Kong
Don't Leave Hamburg Without Trying One of Their Original Dishes

...and lovers of other arts

10 Best Places to Experience Music
Town of Books
Three Books for the Closeted Francophile
Listen to an Opera in Verona
Japanese Virtuoso and Self-Proclaimed Samurai Guitarist

Destination Travel

The Mountain Gorrillas of Rwanda
What Not to Do in Istanbul
Kathmandu: A Personal Tour
The Sweetness of Brazil
Roman Cities of the Middle East
The Cyprus You Never Knew
Tortuguero National Park
The Train that Goes through a Market
Benin and Togo: The Birthplace of Voodoo

And finally...

22 Most Unusual Google Earth Photos

Cause of the Month

Safe Motherhood

Much of the world celebrates Mother's Day this month, yet every minute, somewhere, a woman dies in pregnancy or childbirth. Over a generation, more than 10 million women who die, women who could have been saved.

For every woman who dies, 30-50 suffer immeasurably from long-lasting illnesses or complications. The overwhelming majority of these women - 99% - lives in poor countries.

Most deaths are caused by hemorrage, infections or unsafe abortions, all of which could be easily treated if care, supplies and medicine were available.

Here are some stark facts about dying mothers:

  • Each year, more than a million children are left orphaned because their mothers die.
  • In Africa and South Asia, pregnancy and childbirth complications are the leading cause of death for women of childbearing age.
  • In poor countries, women have 1 chance in 22 of dying from pregnancy or childbirth. In wealthy countries, that number is 1 in 7300.
  • About 35% of women in developing countries have no access to health services before they give birth.

Children without mothers are less likely to be fed properly, or receive health care or education. Girls suffer most, as usual, as they are seen as more 'expendable' when it comes to decisions about providing food, schooling and shelter.

A mother's death means children lose their main caregiver. Communities will not benefit from her knowledge or work, or from her contribution to social and economic development. A mother's death is a personal tragedy, but it is also a tragedy for her community and her country.

No woman should die giving life.

What can be done about this?

  • Provide access to voluntary family planning so women can choose when to have children, and how many to have.
  • Make sure there is skilled attendance at all births, for example by midwives.
  • More investment in family planning and in care of pregnant mothers.
For more information or to take action:

White Ribbon Alliance
Women and Children First UK
UNFPA: Safe Motherhood
Adding It Up
The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health

Next Month in Women on the Road NEWS?

Very Long-Term Travel