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July 1, 2005

How To Travel Alone

When her plane lost an engine over the Andes, Teresa Rodriguez Williamson, 36, vowed to start tangodiva.com, a website to help solo women travelers. Here, her best secrets.

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In the past 10 years, the number of females traveling abroad has increased as much as 200%, especially among solo travelers.

1. NETWORK BEFORE YOU GO
Send an e-mail to all your friends saying, "I'm going to Brazil. Do you have any contacts there?" It works. Before I went there, my ex said he knew a guy who knew a guy, so I e-mailed him. He met me at the Rio airport with a cute little sign and said, "By the way, it's carnival, so all the shops will be closed tomorrow. If you want any new bikinis, we better go shopping right now!" Without him, I'd never have known that.

2. PUT SAFETY FIRST
Check government websites (such as state.gov/travel and cia.gov) to make sure there wasn't a "little bombing" in Cairo two days ago. I once went on a vacation in Fiji . . . while Fiji was in the middle of a military coup. There was lots of tension, and a military guy spat on me when I refused to dance with him.

3. BE PICKY
Our biggest commodities are time and money, so when choosing the destination, you have to decide, What do I want to experience? I have a checklist, which I call CAWS- Culture, Activity, Weather, Social level. At tangodiva.com, you can take the quiz "What's Your L'Atitude?" It will pick the five best destinations for you, based on your needs.


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