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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

March 8 is International Women's Day! Let's Talk about Women's Travel Issues!

In Honor of International Women's Day March 8, what better topic than Women's travel Issues?

Women have unique concerns when traveling.  Of course everyone should always think security first, and while that is one of the issues we discuss, there are many others that most of us do not think of right away.

The top Women's travel issues when LTD followers were polled were:

1.  Security
2.  Sleep deprivation
3.  Transportation of medications
4.  Self Advocacy
5.  Traveling with Children
6.  Health


LTD has done many posts on security concerns for everyone when traveling.  Those posts include how to be secure what traveling internationally, when staying at short term rental rather than a hotel and special security concerns of the Millennial traveler.

Security should always be your number one concern, whether you are male or female, but let's face it - women especially are vulnerable.

Keep current on international threats with instant notifications from the US Department of State Smart Traveler App.  Register your location with them for notifications and added level of security in a crisis.

Pickpockets are a threat almost everywhere because travel sites are becoming more crowded every year.  Our most useful travel gadget is a security messenger bag.  This helps to keep your hands free and lets you enjoy your location more!

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is a problem for all traveling women, but is particularly worse for women as they age.  The effects of jet lag usually are greater if you are going from West to East than from East to West.  Susan Stevens of Hickory, North Carolina is looking for ideas to reduce jet lag when traveling.  She says "Lack of sleep makes feel ill and achy!"

How to avoid Jet Lag?  Let's start with the basics:

  • Several days before your trip, gradually adjust your sleeping habits to the time zone of your destination.
  • As soon as you board your flight, reset your watch for the new time zone.
  • Avoid blue light such as on cellphones or tablets for at least 1 hour before bedtime as this can affect melatonin production!
  • Read from a paper book or magazine rather than a tablet before bed.
  • While on board a plane, try not to sleep too much.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration makes it harder for your body to adjust to the new rhythm.
  • If you feel the NEED to nap right after you arrive, limit it to 2 hours.
  • Try taking melatonin. This hormone can help you reset your body’s internal clock so you can fall asleep at the right time. Take a dose before bedtime at your destination every night until you adjust but more importantly START melatonin 3-4 weeks before you travel to get your body used to it in higher than natural doses.  Melatonin seems to work best for travel with doses of about 5 mg but check with your doctor before using melatonin.  Doses range from 1-10 mg, and always take the lowest effective dose.  
  • Melatonin should be taken two hours before your desired bedtime if you are trying to adjust your sleep pattern for an upcoming trip.  Just as important is that you expose yourself to sunlight if possible about 12 hours after your desired sleep time before a trip to begin changing your sleep cycle.  As above, take several days to gradually adjust your sleep cycle before you travel.
  • Daylight can help reset your internal clock. Try getting some exercise outdoors, like a brisk walk, as soon as you get up in the morning.
  • Limit caffeine or alcohol, and avoid tobacco.
  • Try to keep yourself busy and engaged with other people.
  • Practice good sleep habits while you’re away.

When you do sleep, make sure it is GOOD sleep by doing some simple things:

  • Bring your own pillow or blanket if you can fit it.  If you travel business class, it is not difficult to put your pillow in a suitcase!!!  
  • Check your room for anything that could keep you awake, including light shining through the drapes.  Bring along a sleep mask to block out any light.  Bring some large paper clips or hair clips to keep the curtains of your room closed.
  • Request a room in the quietest section of the property, and make sure it’s away from any entrance areas or elevators. Use a fan (using the A/C fan is easiest) or other "white noise" to cut down sounds of hotel neighbors or street traffic. Use soft earplugs from the hardware store (LTD recommends cutting the external end smaller by about 1/4 for better comfort)
  • Check your room's thermostat. You may not sleep well if the room is warmer than 75 F or colder than 54 F.

Self Advocacy

Women's self-advocacy is commonly defined today as a woman's ability to communicate effectively and to negotiate or assert her own interests, desires, needs, and rights.  This is process that takes time and practice to understand and utilize.  "That is a quality that hasn't historically been valued for women in our culture," says Christian Broyhill Swan of Denver, Colorado.  Problems with self-advocacy skills are even more concerning when traveling internationally because many cultures do not empower women equally to the United States.  Do you worry about your self-advocacy skills?  How often have said to yourself:  "I wish I had said this or that?"  This is a simple example, but lack of self-advocacy can lead to severe consequences and risks.  Christian says that certainly counseling helps if you're really struggling with self-advocacy, but practice would be a good place to start:

"Practicing assertiveness within your own culture before a trip can be beneficial. Take the time to  notice how it feels in your mind and body after being assertive.  This can start with even something small...if your husband usually orders for you, order the food for the evening...if you don't usually return items because you don't want to offend someone, try returning an item and asking for your money back."

LTD suggests Pushback a book by Selena Rezvani, a popular Washington Post columnist and noted leadership consultant, who argues that self-advocacy is critical for success.

Transportation of Medications

LTD has written a post about traveling with your medications.  This is important for all traveling individuals and is not unique for women.  But there may be some unique issues for women to consider and for which you should be prepared.

1.  Motion sickness is more common in females.  Be prepared with your motion sickness aid of choice pressure bands, ginger, Dramamine, or scopolamine.  
2.  Birth Control pills or method of choice.  Do not forget these as it may be very difficult to find these internationally!  
3.  Melatonin (see above)
4.  If you frequently get UTI's or yeast infections, you may want to be prepared with the medication of choice for you to not ruin your vacation at the ER!
5.  Probiotics can be particularly useful with changes in diets since women are so prone to gastrointestinal upset!
6.  Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory drugs for menstrual cramps or headaches!

Of course since women live longer than men (Sorry guys!), we may be traveling with elderly women. The elderly can become confused with changes in their surroundings, and it is good to provide them with a good medication dispenser that keeps their doses on track.  This is good option as seen on TV and available at Amazon.

LTD keeps a kit of travel medication needs packed and ready to go for frequent international travel. Be aware of expired medications and replace them as you need to.

Traveling with Children

Always unique to women, but hopefully the men will help with this issue too!!!  LTD has a post called "The BABY DILEMMA" which many of our followers contributed to.


LTD always reminds you that travel should be healthy.  General tips are:


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