Why are you on the road and how often do you travel?
I travel about 2-3 times per month for both work and pleasure. I am a consultant in emergency management and travel frequently to meet with clients, conduct trainings, or facilitate emergency drills and exercises. I am fortunate that my job takes me all over the US and the world. My most frequent destination is Washington, DC.
Where else do you like to visit and do you use any travel websites to help you?
I love going to places where I have never been—it’s the thrill of discovery! I was in India recently for vacation and travel occasionally to the Middle East for work. San Francisco, Washington, DC, and New York City are perennial favorites for the good food and great running trails.
I am a vegetarian, so I like to research my destinations carefully to find good places to eat. Vegdining.com and HappyCow.net are my go-to sites. I’m also a dedicated runner and Krav Maga enthusiast (Krav Maga is an Israeli-developed hand-to-hand combat system), so I research good running trails on the USA Track and Field web site (USATF.org) and Krav studios (kravmaga.com) for my destination.
What are some of your travel challenges you would like to reduce?
My biggest challenges are finding restaurants with healthy food and safe places to run or workout. Fortunately, the proliferation of Wholes Foods is a godsend. Whole Foods is often my first stop in a new city. Workouts can be tough, though. When traveling, my work days start very early. It is too dark to run in a strange city before dawn, so I cherish hotel gyms that are open 24-hours. I’m the crazy girl on the treadmill at 4:30 AM.
What are some Pearls of Travel Wisdom you would like to share with other women travelers?
I think many women fear traveling alone for safety and security reasons, which is a valid, but not insurmountable, concern. There are a few tips I provide to my female colleagues and my students of the self-defense classes I teach.
1. Be observant
If I could recommend one thing only that would help people stay safe it would be this: be observant. Being observant helps you recognize potentially dangerous situations early, so that you can avoid them or prepare for them. So, put down that cell phone, send the text when you are in a safe location. Observe your surroundings. Know where you are and who is around you. Be aware.
2. Be confident
Pickpockets, muggers, and sexual predators are like lions: they like easy prey. So, don’t be easy prey! Be observant of your surroundings (see tip #1), and most of all be confident! (Fake it if you have to.) Project power and confidence, and you are less likely to be a target. No one wants to mess with a woman who is calm, cool, and collected.
3. Trust your intuition
You know that little feeling in the back of your mind that tells you something is just not right? This feeling is valid. Trust these feelings and learn to act on them.
4. It’s okay to be “mean” when you have to
Know that when someone is trying to hurt you, it is not the time for being sweet and nice. Do not be afraid of hurting someone or being considered “mean.” Use your voice to warn a potential attacker to back off. Use your fists and feet if you have to — make your attacker regret the moment he laid eyes on you.
5. Take a self-defense course
The military has an expression: you fight how you train, so train how you want to fight. In other words, by training soldiers in a way that simulates a real battlefield, they are better prepared to fight in real battle. There are fewer surprises, and they have educated their bodies and minds how to react under the stress of battle. The same is true for personal self-defense and safety. If you take the time to train in self-defense — even if it is only a course or two — you better prepare your body and mind for the real thing. This will make the event less stressful and increase your chances of getting away safely.
Julie Barron Morrill
Milton, MA USA
I love training in Krav Maga (an Israeli hand-to-hand combat system), teaching self-defense to local community groups, and running the wooded trails of Massachusetts with my husband, Jeff.
If you’d like to be a Featured Smart Woman Traveler in an upcoming edition of Pearls of Travel Wisdom and on Smart Women Travelers, get details at Be a Featured Smart Woman Traveler.