Tips from Travel Expert Beth Whitman of Wanderlust and Lipstick

Travel writer and intrepid adventurer Beth Whitman's Wanderlust and Lipstick website and guidebooks are indispensable resources for any woman (or group of women) planning a trip, offering everything from travel tips to gear reviews to tales from female travelers who've traipsed around the globe. For anyone with the urge to wander, this is the site for you.

Here are some of Whitman's top tips on everything from traveling green to staying safe to where she'd like to jet off to next. Visit Wanderlust and Lipstick at –Erika Lenkert

What gave you the idea to start Wanderlust and Lipstick?
I've always wanted to write about my travels in order to get the word out to other women to show that they, too, could have amazing adventures. I really began traveling and writing in the early 90's and there weren't quite as many of us out there, particularly women. So, writing gave me a way to encourage other women to find their path and realize that they weren't alone in their desire to travel, whether solo or with others.

I started the Wanderlust and Lipstick guides and website because I knew there was information lacking for women travelers. There have been some great gals out there writing guides and tip books for women travelers, but they just didn't speak to me. I wanted to create a guidebook series and website that would truly inspire women, drawing not only from my experiences but many other women travelers as well. I include stories, anecdotes and tips from many women because I realize I don't know everything there is to know – I bring limited experience to the topic, as we all do. I've just created a venue to get those stories to a wide audience of women.

What are some of your top tips for women travelers, in terms of being safe and prepared in foreign countries?
There are two keys for being safe in a foreign country. The first is to always look and act confident. It's the women who are unsure of themselves who tend to be the target of thieves and sexual deviants. If you have an air of confidence, you're saying, “Don't mess with me.” If a woman hasn't traveled previously, I recommend that she get her feet wet by visiting a friend in her home country, first. This will give her a safety net and give her some confidence to take bigger steps. Also, take a self defense course. Whether you ever have to use it or not, it will give you additional confidence.

The second thing I recommend is to always trust your gut. If a situation doesn't feel right, bow out. Most of the women I've spoken with who've been in potentially dangerous situations say, “I knew something was wrong, but I didn't want to be impolite.” Forget being polite, do what you need to do to stay safe!

Lots of travelers are interested in traveling “green.” Do you have any tips for more eco-friendly travel?
Absolutely. The first thing is to get yourself a water purifying system like the SteriPEN. Don't buy bottled water. Instead use the SteriPEN to treat your water. I've traveled all over India drinking tap water and simply purifying it. It doesn't taste any better but at least there are no harmful germs or bacteria in it.

I also recommend traveling “close to the ground”. In other words: stay with the locals; walk or take public transportation rather than taking a taxi; and eat at food stalls rather than high end restaurants. Ultimately all of these things will save you money, but they have the added benefit of allowing you to tread lightly on the earth and support the locals.

What was one of your most inspiring travel moments recently?

Earlier this year I led a group of people through Bhutan for two weeks. Not only did we have the most amazing group of individuals participating, but I was completely touched by the people of Bhutan and the beauty of the country itself. It's almost beyond words. All I can say is that I was so moved that I'm going to lead a couple more groups back there next year. Even though I promote independent travel, Bhutan is a country where you can only travel with a group, so I'm happy to be the one bringing together some amazing women (and men) for these adventures of a lifetime.

What destinations are on your must-visit list over the next few years?
My list includes Bhutan, Papua New Guinea and the Brazilian rainforest. I've never been to the latter two and these have always been on my list.

All photos courtesy of Beth Whitman.

[Tags] Travel, Wanderlust and Lipstick, Beth Whitman, travel tips, travel safety, travel tips for women, women travel, green travel, travel sites, travel blog, Bhutan, Papua New Guinea, Brazilian rainforest [/tags]