Walking Guide of Historic Old Town Cottonwood, Arizona

Old Town Cottonwood, affectionately still known as Downtown or Main Street, is a little town with a lot to offer in the heart of Arizona.  Cottonwood is part of the Verde Valley, and close neighbor to the Ghost Town of Jerome and ever popular Sedona, each accessed from the 89A highway.

Old Town is a few shorts blocks along Main Street, perfect for a few hours and up to a few days!

Come hungry!  Cottonwood is building a reputation for fantastic local restaurants, with new ones opening every time I visit!  The “new” bakery smelled divine and received glowing recommendations from everyone I spoke to in town. Continue reading “Walking Guide of Historic Old Town Cottonwood, Arizona”

10 Travel Safety Tips

TravelI love traveling to new places and exploring new things.  Here are my top 10 tips to stay safe while traveling.

  1. Have a designated check in with a responsible person not travelling with you. Determine how often you will contact and what method, via phone call, text, or email.  Confirm when your next scheduled communication is.
    • New travelers should confirm arrival at the destination.  If there is a long layover and/or multiple transfers, add a quick email or text check point.  Start with daily communication, then reduce to every other day or once a week as you are more comfortable.  Communicate any changes to your return trip and any major changes to itinerary or scheduled locations.
    • Experienced travelers should confirm arrival and communicate any changes to return travel.  I still make a phone call and notify my contact person when my flight is cancelled or I decide to stay longer in a foreign country.
  2. Have a map and a plan.  Know where you are going and how to get there.  If you do get lost, go inside a clean, well-lit business and ask for directions.  If possible, find a cafe or coffee shop and purchase something, then ask for directions.  Sit for a moment, write down the directions, and make sure you know how far away your destination is.  Consider having the business call a taxi cab, or use your smartphone to order an Uber car.
  3. Stay alert to be safe.  Observe your surroundings.  Where is the nearest exit or two?  Observe the people around you.  People are less likely to cause trouble or bother you if you are alert and not distracted. Watch the people, cars, animals, and the architecture – remember that ceilings may be lower, aggressive animals do not always wear a sign, and cars drive on the “wrong” side of the road, so pay attention!
  4. Avoid high-crime areas and neighborhoods.  Do a bit of research and ask around.  Make sure your hotel is in a safe neighborhood and has good lighting at night.  If you do end up in a sketchy neighborhood, stay calm, do not draw attention to yourself, and quietly move toward your destination or back to the safe area you just left.
  5. Keep your bags and luggage to a minimum, and keep it close to you (physically touching you, if possible, in your lap or across your body).  Select seating or standing against a wall and avoid your back to the front door or high traffic walkways.  When I was still a newbie traveler, my purse was stolen from the back of my chair while 4 of us ate dinner – it was a very expensive lesson!
  6. Watch your drink.  Do not leave a drink unattended, if it leaves your sight, then that drink is done.  Do not accept a drink from anyone unless you see it being prepared or brought directly from the wait staff.  Tourists are easy targets for crime and horrible pranks.  Mixed drinks are easy to alter, but non-alcoholic drinks and even water are almost as easy to tamper with.
  7. Use the hotel room safe. Store passports and any tickets for travel that you do not need for the day.  Separate your money and only carry small amounts (and small denominations) with you for activities that day.  Small electronics and jewelry should be kept in the safe when not in use.   I travel with a small jewelry case that immediately goes into the hotel safe, and stays there while I am out for the day.
  8. Keep your money out of sight. Quickly count your change, and then put your money and wallet away.  Be able to reach your wallet and access money quickly, those silly travel tourist belts attract too much attention to reach and the excessive time to get any money out.  Pay with small bills as close to the amount as possible.  Banks and the hotel reception can exchange large denominations for smaller amounts.  I travel with a split wallet to keep foreign currencies or large/small denominations separated, this allows me to quickly make payments and put my money away without extended periods of time rummaging for the correct amounts.  If you need to sort, separate, or count currency, do it in private and be discreet.
  9. Light the Way – Crime and accidents are far less likely in the light. Park cars under street lights when possible for evening arrival or departure.  Walk in well-lit areas to avoid tripping in the dark.  It is harder for people and animals to sneak up on you in the light, the bad guys always lurk in dark alleys in books!
  10. Travel with pen and paper. You never know when you may need directions from someone, or get a great restaurant recommendation.  Either way, be prepared to quickly write something down.

Bonus Tip:  Verify hurricane season and any predictable natural disasters before booking your travel arrangements.   I still travel to the tropics during hurricane season, and I buy the travel insurance.  I am prepared with back-up activity plans for bad weather and I have an action plan for emergencies.