McCool Travel interview with Julie McCool of Fun in Fairfax VA.

5 Minutes With Julie McCool of Fun in Fairfax VA

For McCool Travel’s 144th travel interview, I am happy to introduce you to Julie McCool. Besides helping me a lot on McCool Travel. Julie operates her own website, focusing on funness in and around Fairfax County Virginia (and places Fairfaxians would like to travel to). Oh, since today is my birthday, I take the liberty of taking the day off from writing an article and tell y’all about my wife. Enjoy!

Julie McCool‘s bio:

Julie McCool is a writer, editor, and traveler with a passion for the Virginia, Washington DC, and mid-Atlantic region. She is the co-founder and editor of Fun in Fairfax Va, a travel blog that helps residents and visitors discover fun things to do, places to eat and drink, and events to attend in the Virginia and Washington DC metro area, plus getaways throughout the mid-Atlantic U.S. and beyond. 

McCool Travel interview with Julie McCool of Fun in Fairfax VA.

Julie McCool in Hawaii

Julie McCool of Fun in Fairfax VA

Hometown …

Reston, Virginia, one of the first planned communities in the US and a fantastic place to raise a family.

Always in my luggage …

My iPhone, wallet, and a scarf. If I’m flying, add BOSE noise-canceling headphones and a book.

3 favorite home-away-from-home places …

  1. Lunenburg Massachusetts, a classic small New England town where I grew up.
  2. Brewster, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod where we took a summer vacation for over 25 of my younger years.
  3. Duck, North Carolina, where we vacationed with our twins every year until they graduated high school and moved on to trips with friends.

A favorite travel memory is …

Traveling with my future husband, Charles McCool, before we settled down. What started as a 2 month train trip in Europe turned into nearly 16 months on the road. The freedom of road tripping through the US and Canada was incredible. Our budget was very tight so we did a lot of car camping in our Ford Explorer between nights in budget hotels. It was fun to just look at the map and pick a direction in the pre-mobile phone days.

3 favorite travel brands …

  1. Apple
  2. Airbnb
  3. Viking Cruises

3 money-saving travel tactics I use (before trips) are …

  1. Eat 2 meals a day—a big breakfast and “linner.” Eating late afternoon or early evening let’s you take advantage of happy hour deals. Picnics of a loaf of bread, cheese, and oranges got us through many meals in Spain and Portugal.
  2. Travel light. We never check bags so avoid those fees, and we don’t buy a lot of souvenirs on the road.
  3. Hike and walk to enjoy free sites, parks, and cool neighborhoods. If you’re going to splurge, make it on an experience you’re really excited about.
McCool Travel interview with Julie McCool of Fun in Fairfax VA.

Julie McCool in Shenandoah Virginia. Photo credit: Katherine McCool

3 ways that I have fun while traveling are …

  1. Walk, walk, walk. Hiking is my favorite outdoor activity and I love to wander around cities too.
  2. Spend time in nature. Nothing like a beautiful mountain view, a walk on the beach, or a trail through the woods to make you feel relaxed and happy.
  3. Travel with someone who makes you laugh. Charles has been making my travel happy for over 20 years.

8 word (or less) travel mantra …

“Guess I’ll set a course and go.” (props to Crosby, Stills, and Nash)

favorite non-travel website …

Instagram. Love seeing all the beautiful pictures of places near home. Also, The Onion, for their awesome journalism.

favorite souvenir …

Lobster earrings that I bought on our honeymoon in St. John, USVI. They have hinged segments and separate feelers and claws, so they move a lot and actually show despite my big hair. Earrings are my favorite souvenir because they are inexpensive, small, and can reflect something about the place you’re visiting.

favorite cheap eat …

Tacos, especially carnitas or grilled fish. Yum!

recent discovery …

The incredible beauty of Norway, which we were able to see and explore on a 15-day Viking Ocean Cruise “Into the Midnight Sun.” Looking forward to seeing more of Scandinavia on a future trip.

McCool Travel interview with Julie McCool of Fun in Fairfax VA.

Julie McCool at Nordkapp Norway

I am fortunate to have met …

Charles McCool, my funny, brilliant, and wonderful partner in travel and life.

I would like to meet …

Michelle Obama because she is so incredibly smart, funny, and good-hearted. I’ll take a meeting with Barack if Michelle is too busy. 🙂

P.S. I know I’m breaking the Anthony Bourdain chain, but I was lucky enough to meet him already, shooting video for the Travel Channel Layover app.

McCool Travel interview with Julie McCool of Fun in Fairfax VA.

Julie McCool in suitcase


Thank you so much, Julie, for sharing your travel inspiration and tips.

Follow Julie McCool and Fun in Fairfax VA on FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram , and FuninFairfaxVA.


McCool Travel presents tips from travel experts in our 5 Minutes travel interview series—featuring travel industry giants, super frequent travelers, and adventurous persons. Check out McCool Travel’s previous travel interviews. Previous 5 Minutes travel interview: Jennifer Weatherhead Harrington.


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