Many people have asked me if female travelers and travel writers really need their own conference - and my answer is a resounding YES. One of my recent experiences illustrates how women face such unique travel conditions.
My most recent trip to Brussels saw me waking up before dawn to catch a flight to Istanbul. Hauling myself out of bed an extra 10 minutes early, I stopped in Grand Place to grab a few shots of its iconic buildings bathed in the low light. It wasn't long until I had some company. From the opposite side of the square I could hear a clearly inebriated gentleman approach. While I was just starting my day, his seemed to just be winding down and his incoherent shouts echoed around the square. While he didn't seem to pay any particular attention to me, an unflattering depiction of the gentler sex peppered his sodden shouts.
Instincts built up from years of travel told me this was the time to make a hasty escape before he realized he had an audience.
Safety, independence, communication, security - all the trademark concerns of female travel had flared up in less than a minute. While these concerns do not dominate my travels they are never entirely silenced either, even in some of safest countries in the world, even with my spouse at my side. Every decision I make - from where to sleep, what route to walk, which flight to catch, even what photos to take - has an extra layer of consideration that few male travelers have to take into account.
I hope to see you all in Chicago!