Saturday, October 22, 2016

Discerning Solo Female Traveler

Foreign Service Officers like to joke that we have no transferrable skills if we were to ever leave the Department. That's not quite correct. I can say that my traveling skills have become quite advanced.

As an experienced, worldly traveler, I have some practical advice for hotels seeking to lure the discerning solo female traveler.

If I could have only one wish come true, it would be for more counter space in the bathroom. Or at least some drawers. Women travel with a lot of bathroom crap and we need someplace to put it.

Hotels typically provide a hair dryer, which is great. But what about a curling iron or flat iron?

And why such unflattering lighting in the bathroom? Under no circumstances should there be flourescent or harsh white lights.

Don't skimp on the toiletries. Provide nice shampoo and conditioner.

More hangers in the closets. And a full-length mirror is a nice touch.

It's hard to believe there are still hotels that don't include free wi-fi. Especially for the 4 and 5 star hotels, charging $15/day for wi-fi is tacky, especially when all the inexpensive hotels provide it free of charge.

It would be nice for hotel restaurants to offer 1/2 portions. Normally I'm a fan of leftovers, but when traveling, it's not always possible. Large meals are often wasted.

There you have it, Heather's World Adventures tips for attracting the discerning solo female traveler. I can see a post-Foreign Service career as a luxury travel consultant!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

What I Really Think About the 2016 Presidential Elections

Redacted due to the Hatch Act.

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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Great Post for Singles

It's bidding season. That time of year when Foreign Service Officers frantically research the list of projected vacancies, hoping to find the perfect at-grade, in-cone job at a post that suits their personal lifestyle. When a post profile says that a post is "great for families," it describes good schools and fun things to do for kids. When a post profile says that a post is "great for singles," it usually means there are a lot of bars and clubs and an active dating scene.

This may come as a surprise, but I don't particularly enjoy crowded bars and I'm not desperately seeking a husband. I don't claim to speak for all single female FSOs, but I can't imagine that I'm alone. So, here is what I consider to be a better set of criteria for a post that is "good for singles."

  • There are plenty of things to do on your own. There are festivals and museums. Hiking. Bicycling. Shopping. There are opportunities to pursue your hobbies.
  • You can go to a coffee shop, wine bar, or restaurant by yourself with a book and not feel awkward or completely ignored by the wait staff.
  • There are activities to do that don't require a partner and where you can meet non-work people. You can find a yoga or Zumba class. Join a book club. There are expat groups.
  • A single woman can walk around the city by herself without fear of being mugged or grabbed. 
  • The city is someplace your friends and family will want to visit.


I had started to write that I didn't think it was possible for a post report to describe a post in such a way to be useful for every possible variation of FSO. But then I deleted the sentence. Sure, it's possible. The first step would be for the Department to stop thinking about the diplomatic corps in outdated generalizations. Maybe that's a revolutionary idea for another blog post. For now, I'd be happy if we could update our thinking on what makes a "great post for singles."

Sunday, August 28, 2016

I Can't Stop this Feeling

While settling in to my new post in Vilnius, there have been multiple times when I realized how long it's been since I was at a "normal" overseas post. I left Nepal over four years ago, so that's how long it's been. My security in-brief here was considerably less onerous and scary than, say, the security in-brief in Kabul. It feels great to have a spacious living area, instead of a tiny apartment in Dupont Circle or a converted storage container in Kabul.

Adjusting to life overseas in Vilnius has been easy. I love everything about Vilnius. My apartment is in old town and there is so much within walking distance. Work is great. Vilnius is great. So, naturally, I'm just waiting for something to go horribly wrong. I mean, things can't stay this great, can they?

A few shots that capture the feel of old town Vilnius.