By Shilo Urban for AFAR Magazine
I squeeze my lips together, holding my mouth tightly shut as a bucket of water is dumped on top of me. My left cheek is pressed against the floor of a public bathhouse. I am lying on my side nearly naked, sprawled in a lukewarm slurry of soapsuds and sloughed-off skin from the women who went before me. A strange lady with enormous bosoms holds my right leg at a 90-degree angle, scrubbing my inner thigh with a sandpaper-like rag and the force of a fire hose. A room full of local children, women and grandmothers look on in mild amusement. On the other side, an awkward group of Western women sit in a row against the wall, trying to avoid eye contact at all costs as they wait for their turns in their underwear.
Welcome to the hammam: the other side of your comfort zone. Continue reading →
The best travel experiences push you outside of your comfort zone, to an unknown place where you are a weird-looking stranger with odd habits who seems a bit lost. And you might actually be lost. But whether you’re navigating your way through an unfamiliar airport or trying in vain to find a street with no name, you don’t need to walk around like you haven’t a clue what the hell is going on. Don’t make yourself a target. Learn how to project confidence even when you are riddled with anxiety inside. Continue reading →
Can you spot the married woman? (Lombok, Indonesia)
If you are a single woman or any woman who travels alone, you will undoubtedly hear these two questions more often than you ask, “where is the toilet?” Sometimes you won’t mind answering them politely; other times you just want to scream, “IT’S NONE OF YOUR GODDAMN BUSINESS!”
Rude in one country and customary in the next, these personal questions don’t need to make you squirm. If they really bother you, wear a wedding ring, smile and just lie: my husband and six children are at home, KTHXBYE. But otherwise, try the following responses to get the nosy inquirer to leave you alone. Continue reading →
One of the hottest trends in travel right now is “Girls’ Getaways,” where a group of females get together to go on a trip just for the heck of it. Girls’ trips don’t have the stress of family vacations, the heavy romantic expectations of a couple’s trip, or the burden of planning it all when you go it alone. Girls’ trips are fun and fearless, and even if travel seems too expensive to you right now, you can make it happen. Start saving now for next year, and plan ahead to go on a girlfriends’ journey to one of these destinations that seem to be made for the ladies. Continue reading →