It’s been a few years since I’ve had a nice long layover in downtown Chicago, so I’d forgotten what a truly wonderful city it is. You see, whenever I’m visiting the Windy City my crew and I usually get stuck at an airport hotel, if we even leave the airport at all. So when I got an invitation to speak at the travel blog exchange conference, I decided to make it a long weekend. I also decided to bring my mother along.
Our flight from New York departed to Chicago on Friday. Saturday we spent the entire day wandering around and exploring the city. More about that later. Because on Sunday, I, yours truly, actually sat on a panel with some of the most powerful travel bloggers around. In fact, I took a seat right between Sean Keener (co-founder of Bootsnall) and Nomadic Matt. And on the other side of Matt sat Michael Yessis (co-founder and co-editor of WorldHum). Honestly, I’m not even sure what I was doing there, but I was very excited about it and I do hope someone photographed it. Because we were there to discuss how to keep a blog lively, I won’t bore you with the details of “lively” blogging, but I will share a few of the questions and answers I think you might find interesting.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE STORY ON YOUR BLOG AND WHY: I couldn’t narrow it down to just one post, so I shared my three favorite posts…
THAT DAY – 9/11: This is the most serious post I’ve written to date. The best part was AOL featured it on 9/11 last year and it inspired millions of people to share their own stories of that tragic day, a day that not only took so many lives, but also completely changed the way we travel today. Some stories were so emotional they made me cry. Powerful stuff.
- FLIGHT ATTENDANT PET PEEVE #1: ANSWER PLEASE – This is my very first Gadling post. Over 700 people responded and the majority of those comments were not nice…not at all! In fact, it felt like 700 drive by shootings. I learned very quickly I needed a tough skin in order to write about what I do for a living, and to shake things off, and not take the comments personally. That was a huge lesson. I now work hard to show that flight attendants are nice, good people, who are also smart and interesting. Because we are!
- THE HOTTEST TREND ON THE AIRPLANE SINCE THE MILE HIGH CLUB: The laviator post is one of my favorites not just because it was featured on MSNBC and National Geographic, but because so many people responded and joined in the fun. I never expected that! I love including my readers, whether it be by having contests, sharing letters, stories, photographs, whatever, so if you’ve got something to share, let me know!
WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO PROVIDE FOR YOUR READERS: An escape from day to day life. At least that’s what I hope to provide for readers who are unable to travel as often as they’d like. For those who do travel regularly, a chance to see what’s going on behind the galley curtain. Because aviation enthusiasts really are curious. I also enjoy educating my readers by allowing them to “see” what it’s really like to be a flight attendant and letting them know why we do the things they do, because honestly, we really aren’t on a power trip, we’re just enforcing FAA rules, rules that are really quite simple.
HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR BLOG ALIVE WHEN YOU’RE NOT TRAVELING: Thank goodness for readers who inspire posts with their comments and questions.
And now for my quick trip report….
WHERE DID I STAY? Hotel Burnham. We got quite a deal on Hotels.com. For just $129 / night we had an amazing view on the 15th floor in the refurbished, 105 year-old, Reliance Building . Located in the theater district, the pet-friendly, boutique hotel is a short walk from Millennium Park. In the lobby they offer a complimentary wine reception from 5-6 pm. The rooms are plush and tastefully decorated, the beds are comfortable and set against a bay window overlooking the city, and a zebra print bath robe awaits you in the closet. What more could you ask for? A Nordstrom Rack, you say? Right next door.
MY FAVORITE MEAL? Fish and chips at The Gage. They weren’t too crispy or even greasy. They were, however, perfectly flakey. Not only is the food amazing, but the portions are huge. The atmosphere is a mix of cool and contemporary, and while the prices are a tad bit high, it’s totally worth it. Especially if Oliver is your server.
MY FAVORITE THING TO DO? Walk around Millennium Park. I don’t know what I loved more, the Opera singers practicing at Jay Pritzker Pavilion in the middle of the afternoon, the gorgeous gardens at every turn, the kids splashing around in Crown Fountain, or the family fun festival we were lucky enough to run into, all while just wandering around.