Tag Archive: solo travel


UPDATE February.  

NOTE. Any of these tips are based on my own experiences, you should always follow-up and use your own advice.

This will be my fourth trip to Mexico. Different considerations, because of a long and interrupted flight connection and because rules have changed. I’ll stay 4 weeks and need to be prepared. Let me say that in all of those visits I never met any Mexicans who were not friendly, accomodating and helpful. They  definitely do not deserve a “wall”.


I will have three stops and long layover times at each, requiring hotels for overnight in Los Angeles. Meaning that any checked in suitcase will never arrive at my final destination. Decision, take one small carry-on suitcase and wear most of the clothing on my body. Coming from Canada is cold, arriving southern Pacific Huatulco is hot. Best, not to wear any winter clothes for the four hours it takes for me to get to Vancouver Airport. Instead, wear multiple layers of summer clothing and hoodies on my body. Pack only the most necessary items, like First aid Kit, couple summer tops, sun screen, and vitamins. [NOTE. All creams, liquids in plastic outside thru security check.] Leave space when arriving south to peel off your clothing and put into carry-on suitcase. Also, when traveling I always wear my special vest for wallet, passport, during trip toothbrush kit. The hotels will have everything I need.


I do not take mine this time, although it is unlocked. Reason: As per January 2018 there are new rules for immigration and customs controls. Like, customs agents can take possession of your phone, check data, download files or other stuff, for no reason whatsoever. Or, maybe just keep your phone. They now have the right without telling you why. Instead, if phone is needed the hotel may help. [NOTE. Easy to get SIM card on arrival Mexico City Airport, largest service provider in Mexico is Telcel. I usually buy call package only for international calls, if I take my phone.  Check it out:   [ http://extras.telcel.com/en/international-calling ].

Should have taken my mobile phone for at least emergency.


Will take my iPad, camera kit and chargers. Hopefully get some decent network somewhere down there. Mexico is not exactly North America. Huatulco Marina Hotel Resort , no WiFi in my room, need do my business in the hotel lobby in the heat and noise.


I am just going by my own experience in many travels, not browsing thru hundreds of travelers’ forums on this subject.

You can buy foreign currency in your bank account, then pick up at your branch (+/- 5 business days). Of course there is always gouging compared with the actual currency rates (C$ to Mex. Peso).

Example: RBC Canada has an online foreign exchange calculator site. These rates are the current 2018 rates for non-cash purchases. Buy cash foreign exchange thru your online bank account you will pay more for Pesos. It’s for the extra work to send and pickup the cash. When ordering Pesos at your Bank branch and you pick up you’ll get the rate as of that day of pickup. When buying Pesos at an ATM machine in Mexico, you may get better conversion rates. Problem is, how reliable are those machines ? Two things can happen: (1) The machine is physically out of cash, you get nothing except for charges to your Bank account. Therefore, always use ATM machines during the banking hours, not weekends. * (2) Your Bank can cancel your bank card (happened to me multiple times). Forced to use a credit card costs a bundle in those machines. So, best to buy expensive Pesos before leaving. US$ don’t help much, Mexicans prefer Pesos, and small bills. Nobody changes MXN 5,000 bill for you. *[NOTE. Machine out of cash, happened to me in Alberta, I was lucky I get my money back next business day from that Bank.]

UPDATE Huatulco Mex, RBC again cancelled my bank card, as they always do. Something wrong with their security programming.


Careful, mostly not potable nor even suitable to brush teeth. Use bottled only or dilated juice or whatnot. Food: I like my veggies and fruits, only fruits I can peel.  UPDATE. Hotels provide bottled water.


I would never book any shuttle bus before trip start from a website. And be charged for it immediately. Because, most of these websites service airports and locations all over the planet. Don’t expect your pickup is there when you arrive after a lengthy flight way south in Mexico. Taxis, inside airport are double price than outside. Best get airport map ahead of time to know where you are when arriving. 2018 taxi maybe max. MXN 300 from HUX Huatulco to Santa Cruz resort area, if shared bus or more if private car. 

UPDATE. Huatulco, Bus from airport to resorts only 140 Peso.


Never go by those beautiful elegant pictures they show you on a hotel’s website. Minimum, expect noisy air conditioning. Who knows it may be just wonderful. Never forget ear plugs.

Always be prepared, and GOOD LUCK.


Vacation Rentals

Trying to find vacation rentals anywhere for one person ? impossible if going over the Internet. My son who lives in Europe cannot find me anything, although he should know people living there actually. I must always try myself, from Canada, over the Internet. Ever attempted to find one single little studio situation for one person to rent for let’s say (extended stay) three months ? Tough luck, I say. Going thru Google, the normal list of links includes millions of vacation rentals for people sharing: Four, six, one dozen or more. Nutcase situation: that people who like to return to their home countries in Europe actually are being forced to share some rentals with total strangers. Just so, that the owners (or in most cases the large Internet companies representing some owners) can ask exorbitant rental fees. There are likewise lots of companies specializing in the rental business, and nothing else. So, you can go thru lists and or pages of Internet data trying to find: Studio for one person (or if nothing else, for max. two). One single room, small kitchen. What’s so difficult about that ! Of course, if I were in Europe, I would call around, get on the phone, look at classifieds in local newspapers. Impossible for some people to think about that. Must always be the NET. “Forget about it”! Web-based businesses ask more money. For the past few years I found some good stuff over the Internet, though: Rental w/small kitchen for $500 a month. Or for Euro500 a month. Sounds OK to me. But this is rare. However, lots of hours spent getting frustrating about “sleeps 12” or some derogatory remark about “single” people. Yet, incredible how many people travel solo nowadays. Trying against all odds to fight against a stereotype system of travelling (double occupancy) or vacation rentals.

[NOTE. Today found an excellent website, secured, on “vacation rentals Barcelona, Spain”. Prices in Can.$; homes – either by room, apartment, shared, or entire house – rented by mostly private owners. Price ranges are doable.]


Food for Thought: In the 19th and into the 20th century, a woman traveling alone would be considered having questionable morals. Today – the opposite, a woman traveling with men may be looked upon as having questionable morals. I STRONGLY BELIEVE IN TRAVEL & LEARN.

ADDENDUM March 27/13, Taxi services.  On occasion when it’s necessary I use a cab. For example, when arriving late in an unknown place, unknown country. Even once arriving Flughafen Tegel Airport Berlin, to negotiate the trip to my rental building. One amusing story about this cab driving: Arriving in Mexico last year for an extended visit at Aeropuerto Pto. Vallarta late in the evening. In Mexico it is dark at seven each night, and dark meaning within couple of minutes. I arrived late and usually one has to cross the highway overpass to the other side of the Airport exit to catch a cab. But cabs stood ready right by the exit. They also have fixed rates. To Sayulita (m/l one hour north) it’s 50 US$. The cab drivers work with an organization at the airport whom they must also pay, and usually cannot take less than this rate. But I like to haggle, and offered 40 dollars. To a young Mexican driver. Off we went. I was apprehensive, being alone, sitting in the back seat. The trip takes you to pretty isolated little villages and largely through jungle both sides of the road. Plus despite my maps that I had prepared beforehand, I could not see a thing in the dark. Shortly before the turnoff to Sayulita the driver stopped at a shopping centre (OXO – the largest grocery chain and open all night) said he needed some money from the ATM machine to buy some gas. If I want to do some grocery shopping there? NO. I stuck to my rear seat, and would have never got out of this car. That’s how paranoid I was. He found this amusing. Well, we made it to Sayulita, trying to find this rental Casa compound uphill. The gate was locked and there was a security lock which needed a code. By that time it was after 9 pm. Luckily, the young man could phone on his cell phone the owners from the papers I had on me – who just happened to have visited their property from California – and they gave me the entry code. This young Mexican cab driver was so nice and helpful, he helped to carry my two small suitcases up the steep hill to my casita (apartment). So, I gave him some more money. This whole thing again proves, that often when we are worried travelling alone, there is no need for it. In fact, the opposite. More people are helpful than people want to hurt you.

For the first morning following arrival after a long flight, I always carry with me instant coffee, tea, dry food to at least have a breakfast. When arriving in a certain country, be it in North America, Central America, or anywhere in Europe, the next day after arrival I find the local grocery stores and within a short time the best deals to buy food. Prices vary considerably from grocer to grocer, depending where. Even in Saint Petersburg, Russia, – in that case I took a group travel, with a guide, because the city is a treasure trove full of culture and palaces and buildings. A guide is a must. We stayed in the largest hotel, the Moskwa – it is huge. Next door was a big underground grocery store, where you could buy groceries and water for your evening suppers. Cheap. And St. Petersburg is one of the more expensive cities. Food is usually safe, water watch out. Some larger world-class cities have clean water (eg. Marrakech, Maroc), some do not. Europe’s water is always safe to drink, Mexico not. Just be careful.

Luggage. I usually only take two small carry-on suit cases, one as cabin baggage, one for checkout. Easier to handle when moving, no need for renting cars or cabs.

What I pack: most importantly electronic equipment, cables, power adapters, camera stuff with charger, phone, my net book, memory sticks for data backups, and important vitamins and prescription medication (which in most countries are not so easy to find or if, then expensive). The most necessary are pain killers, celebrex, and for skin problem, if any, and whatever anybody needs for their own medical reasons (not forget the intestinal). What else I found is expensive to buy are herbs and spices – since I do my own cooking. The minimum I take with me is a small black pepper mill, and mixed herbs for Italian cooking. Clothes – not many. Only one pair extra shoes, because they are expensive to buy. Clothing in any country anywhere in the world is easy enough to buy second hand, if needed. Since I arrive from a colder country (Canada) it is always easier for me to wear layers of clothes when leaving, carry them through the airport controls, and same when arriving back. Leaves me with a few light clothes and the most necessities. My Tilly vest has so many pockets, I always wear as one of the layers when leaving and returning, holds my passport, important documents, money belt, glasses, shades, small tooth cleaning kit, bandages, pen, a few maps. And of course, couple of canvas bags for groceries’ shopping. I usually wash laundry daily where I rent on vacation. Two things I learned: (a) each time I travel, I carry less; (b) I can pack in 15 minutes for a 3 months trip.

I try to avoid renting a taxi. Because as a woman alone, it is not safe in some locales. One looses control. And misses a lot of wonderful sights when stuffed inside a taxi cab. [note my story Sayulita taxi above]

Public transportation: I always before leaving my home research very thoroughly the public transportation system of the country to which I travel. Starting with a map of the airport (arrival), where to go to find the nearest bus station after arrival. Funny example: Spain, Alicante. I had all the information necessary to get out and get onto the bus. Upon arrival, hundreds of European travelers hanging out in the arrivals hall, trying to rent a car (expensive). The local bus was only €3 to get to Alicante, to my hotel. And fast, in couple of minutes I was out and on the bus.

Being alone, I also avoid to go out after dark. In all those years I had never experienced an attack in a city, no matter where. The odd time one looses something (theft), but I found it was always my fault.

Usually I choose a town or city as a base, from where to make trips. Mostly using the local bus system, or of course the trains (especially in Europe). Or a boat. Whatever. Mostly I walk.

Most importantly: I mix with the locals, using their language. With 4 to 5 languages, I never had a problem to get along. This cannot be emphasized enough.

Example: Saint Martin, Caribbean Islands, French. I walked, got stuck somewhere, needed a ride, found a nice local lady who drove me, I only had so many Fr. Francs in my pocket, which she accepted. When arriving back at the resort, the American tourists complained about the extreme cab prices.

I avoid too touristy spots. And if possible of course large gatherings of people. There were times I found myself in dangerous situations – as far as terrorist activity.

Destinations: Of course everybody has their own preferences. But I have chosen, not to visit countries which have a poor human rights record. Moreover, countries who mistreat their women, or do not show them the respect they deserve. Mainly countries where rape is not a crime, but has become a pastime. Likewise, I avoid travel to countries which mistreat wildlife and trade in wildlife parts on markets.

HAPPY TRAVELING !  [post created with Firefox v.19]