Women travelers have the world at their fingertips with Pink Pangea’s website

I’m usually allergic to pastels and anything labeled “women-specific,” but Pink Pangea has won me over. The new women’s travel site was launched in June, by world traveler Rachel Trager and two similar-minded female friends. The trio work for an organization that finds overseas volunteer/internship placements for young adults.

Named for the supercontinent that existed 250 million years ago, Pink Pangea is essentially a forum for women’s travel concerns, tips, experiences, and photos. As such, it contains helpful background information and advice on specific destinations and cultural mores.

Says Trager, “We were frustrated that existing travel guides presented–at best–a paragraph that dealt with women’s concerns or non-specific travel information. We know that there’s a lot more information that women need in order to have secure and fulfilling experiences abroad. The hope is for Pink Pangea to help make countries around the world more accessible to women travelers.”

Trager fell in love with travel after working on a kibbutz when she was 18. Since then, she’s traveled extensively by herself, as well as with her brother, friends, and boyfriend. It was while visiting her brother, who was studying Arabic in Egypt, that she first experienced some of the obstacles faced by female world travelers.

“In Cairo, I was scrutinized by my brother’s landlord, who was concerned I was his girlfriend, which would mean that I’d be forbidden to stay with him. In Morocco, I grew tired of the attention I got as an American woman in pants and bought a jalabiya to cover up.” Despite the frustrations that inevitably occur, Trager says, “I travel because I’m interested in seeing how and where other people live. It’s incredibly energizing to realize how large the world really is.”

Popular tags include “modesty,” “safety,” “transportation,” and “shopping.” Even I’ll admit you can’t have a site devoted to women without mentioning shopping; in this case, there are some great tips on regional-specific souvenirs, food, and bargains/rip-offs.

Because this is a public forum, the writing runs the gamut. You’ll find the odd, underage-drinking-in-foreign-country, or “I smoked too much hash in an ashram while journaling”-sounding post, but in general, entries are well-written, informative, entertaining, and often thought-provoking. Lots of cute pics, too.

Bring bourbon – International travel tip

Many countries have limited access to American-made Bourbon Whiskey, but people outside the U.S. love the stuff. With the American dollar at an all-time low, it’s a good idea to have something to barter with overseas.

Some Japanese will spend the equivalent of $40 for a handle of cheap whiskey that costs $20 or less in America. So, bring a few bottles of your favorite bourbon to your country of choice and bring back souvenirs for your whole family.

Alternatively, present a bottle to your host as a deep appreciation for inviting/hosting you.

[Photo: Flickr | Chris.Corwin]

Stay with missionaries when traveling – International travel tip

If you’re affiliated with a church group, contact the missionaries in the country you want to visit. Staying with them will offer you the opportunity to see life as it’s lived daily by “real” locals; provide a rent-free (or very inexpensive) place to live; and if you offer to help the missionaries with some projects (something as simple as babysitting to give them a day off), you will endear yourself to them forever.

Bonus: you won’t have to learn a foreign language, as you’ll have the missionaries as built-in translators wherever you go.

[Photo: Flickr | sanbeiji]

Trade souvenirs when traveling – International travel tip

That White Sox hat you’re wearing above your “I hiked the Grand Canyon” t-shirt may be a hot commodity in some countries. Many items we take for granted are both unique and highly sought-after in many foreign nations.

If you find something at a vendor’s stall you like, offer that vendor something of yours in exchange for that good. Maybe he’d like your hat, or that extra shirt in your bag. While you’re not allowed to bring a cache of items into a foreign country to sell, trading items you would normally have in your luggage is perfectly acceptable. No extra luggage room is needed — and you don’t need extra cash on hand, since you’re swapping goods.

It’s not icky to give someone the hat off your head! Trading souvenirs is fun; you get to interact with the locals; and you go home with souvenirs and a great story on how you acquired them.

[Photo: Flickr | Courtneysue75]

Travel by bus – International travel tip

Americans are used to either flying to a destination or driving on the interstate. However, don’t pass up the chance to take the bus when traveling abroad.

Many bus companies offer more luxury accommodations than the national airline. Moreover, the cost is usually comparatively low — even for long distance travel. Additionally, bus travel gives you the chance to see the local scenery and meet other travelers. Finally, there is no arduous security, so you can take your razor and as much shampoo as you like.

Just be sure to bring enough water and food.

[Photo: Flickr | E01]