Travel tips for women

Here is what I wrote on the forum. I don’t feel like repeating myself but the short version is that after arriving in Prague (by train) this evening, I have decided I like men more than ever, particularly strong silent types who typically lack the foresight to pack food ahead of time AND I have three travel tips for women which are:

First, please do not douse yourselves with perfumes and colognes. If you are going to be on a train (or in close proximity to others in public) and otherwise innocent victims people will be subjected graced with your presence, please pass on any smelly topical applications. Please. All of them. ALL OF THEM. I mean it! No perfume. No hairspray, no other sprays, it makes some of us quite ill. A shower before traveling will suffice; it’s all the freshness you need.

Second travel tip: SHUT UP. Please. Sometimes you can shut your mouths, no words can pass between you and your seatmate for fifteen seconds and the world will not fall apart. Honest. I swear. Enjoy the silence. Take a break. Other people go out of their minds if you do not shut up for four straight hours of non-stop blather. Don’t your ears hurt? I’m wearing ear plugs but mine do if you don’t shut up. It is one thing for those who know you to dislike you but quite another matter to inspire hatred from perfect strangers. If in doubt, SHUT UP. Thank you.

Third: if you must bring food, it should not smell. If it is something that is oily and can turn rancid, omit it, particularly if it can get toasty in the compartment; you can give heartburn to others just from the heavy cloying smells. Fruits, crackers, baked goods are much less offensive than salami and pepperoni.

I’ll write tomorrow; by then I will be much chipper and recovered from the perfume+blather induced migraine and heartburn. On a positive note, the Czech Republic, while noticeably much poorer than Germany, is just as clean as the latter, no trash anywhere. No whiffs of you know what either, unlike the Paris subways. And all the men are wearing suits and sportcoats! What’s up with that? I will tell you more tomorrow once I figure out the mystery…

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  1. Lisa B. in Portland says:

    I wouldn’t want everyone to know my side of a 4 hour cell phone conversation and I don’t want to know yours!

    I heard in some countries, mostly Latin ones, to wear a wedding ring even if you’re not married, so the single guys will leave you alone. Alone more. I don’t know if it’s still the case but I always heard they’d try to grab your butt and flirt shamelessly with you (a single woman) if you didn’t have a ring on. Yeesh!

    A lot of the older Russian/Ukrainian men here wear suits or sports jackets all the time. A lot of the young women (not of the ones that always wear scarves on their heads and long skirts) wear shorter skirts and high heels all the time (they’re already tall so why the heels??) and I don’t know if they know how to wear pants. Nothing against it, just commenting.

  2. hannah says:

    Oh, this is what I go through every time I ride the trains in NYC! I bought an Ipod and it saved my life — my brain was atrophying from the senseless blather — and the smells of perfume, cologne, and god forbid, mcDonalds, that people bring with them….Now I work within biking distance and I’m a much happier and more patient person.
    That said I am still an avid fan of public transport….

  3. Eric H says:

    There were two women who made the train ride memorable: I refer to them as Chicken-woman (the talker) and Pig-Woman. Another couple brought in sandwich ingredients featuring some really smelly salami and then the woman ate it open-faced style. I thought this had been banned somewhere, but the closest I can find is a ban on “fragrant meat”, a euphemism for dog, during the Olympics. Also, Kathleen’s advice on shutting up reminds me of the Chris Rock segment on how to avoid trouble with the police.

    You could see Pig-woman coming a mile kilometer away: big, mirrored, wrap-around glasses, harshly short bleached hair, large earrings, large rings, LARGE patent leather purseS, large coat, artificially tan, ….

    * blocked the aisle in the train (Kathleen had to kick her ankle to get her to move her leg so she could get by);
    * got into an extended and loud argument with the ticket checker;
    * left her enormous suitcase in the aisle, forcing poor backpackers to have to climb over it;
    * held loud cell-phone conversations that drove 4 people out of that cell

  4. Leslie Wiberg says:

    In general, I think Europeans dress up more; at least compared to the wild west. Women generally wear skirts or dresses; even during the most dire weather. And, men wear sport coats/jackets regularly. Although I haven’t been in a few years, until 1999 it was that way. Seems like it might still be. I noticed a trend in the younger crowd toward a more western (meaning USA) look; jeans and T-shirts in the late 90’s. But absolutely NO TENNIS SHOES were to be found. The Austrian women liked their feet to look small and tennis shoes were absolutely verboten! Oh, the Austrian wools were fantastic and the selection was mind boggling. I miss the european fabrics!

    Hope you are having fun, Kathleen. Hopefully you have recovered from Pig and Chicken women.

  5. Penny says:

    I once sat next to a woman on a train that smelled like she had taken a bath in gorgonzola. OMG, I get sick just thinking about it!

  6. Lisa Versaci says:

    Perfume is the worst on an AIRPLANE! Even hand cream can be nauseating!

    Here are some other good ones for both men and women:

    Brush your teeth!
    Don’t blast your iPod so loud that your neighbors hear the thumping bass.
    Don’t talk on your phone (obviously). If you have to – whisper.
    Bring cough drops if you have a cold! Or take some medicine prior to boarding.

    I often keep lozenges with me and offer them out of “concern”.

  7. Marie-Christine says:

    I’ve had all these problems with people I knew more than travelling. I’m thinking of coworkers. And really, the worst examples that leap to mind are male, so let’s not have sexist assumptions from just the one-time ‘blond’.

    I have however found that the best way to deter loud cell conversations is to join in. After all, if they’re screaming loud enough for everyone to benefit, it’s because it’s a public conversation, right? I like to say my bit loud enough for the other party to hear, it’s more effective that way :-).

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