A Travel Photography Blog

Tag: Chicago

Takeaways from my first Travel Show

Chicago Skyline

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This past weekend we took a last-minute trip to Chicago for their annual Travel and Adventure show. When I saw that Samantha Brown was speaking, I knew I had to go. Without much notice, we bought train tickets and reserved a hotel for the following weekend.

Samantha Brown at the Travel and Adventure Show

Samantha Brown at the Travel and Adventure Show

The Travel and Adventure Show features a few big-name speakers including the aforementioned Samantha Brown along with Brian Kelly (The Points Guy), Pauline Frommer, and Peter Greenberg of CBS News. At the Savvy Travel Theater, experts shared their tips and tricks to get the most out of travel and the Destination Theater highlighted trips that could be booked through the featured exhibitors. Hundreds of exhibitors shared information about destinations and allowed you to book your next trip right then and there.

While I enjoyed browsing the exhibits, some of the intense sales pitches were offputting. I much preferred the booths from locations that just shared their love of their town and encouraged you to visit over the travel agencies and timeshare salespeople who needed you to commit to booking a trip right then and there.

I like to think of myself as a savvy traveler who knows how to find deals, but I really did walk away from the show with some new tricks. Probably my favorite presenter (besides Samantha Brown, of course) was Russell Hannon the author of Stop Dreaming Start Traveling. He shared 99 tips to save money while traveling, some of which I was familiar with and I have shared with you, but many of them were new to me. For example, I had no idea you could get money back by buying Groupons through Rakuten. You can read many of his tips for yourself at BreaktheTravelBarrier.com.

One thing all of the experts at the show seemed to agree on was to use search engines to find the best price for a flight but to purchase airfare direct from the airline. With all the flight disruptions lately, you don’t want to have to go through an intermediary (like Expedia or a cruise line) if you need to get rebooked. Samantha Brown took it a step further and suggested that for each flight you take, you should have two backups so if the one you are booked on is canceled, you can call the airline and say “My name is Jane Doe and I was booked on flight 123 which was canceled can you rebook me on flight 147?” instead of having to wait in line to talk to customer service with everyone else.

They also all suggested downloading the airline’s app. While this lets you skip the desk if you don’t have to check luggage, it also gives you up-to-date information if your gate changes or if your flight is delayed (this was not our experience on Frontier, but more on that later).

For international travel, I learned that there is now a Mobile Passport app that allows you to use a much shorter line at customs if you fill out your information on your phone when you land. While this is available at most airports, I was disappointed to learn that the Detroit airport has not yet implemented it.

If you are like me and love getting new ideas from other people who love to travel, definitely check out the Travel and Adventure Show. There are several more around the country over the next few months. The speakers vary at each show. Samantha Brown will be at the New York Show. Rick Steves is coming to Los Angeles. Dates, locations, and pricing can be found at TravelShows.com.

Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! For my list of gadgets to make your travels easier, click here. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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Chicago Skyline

Chicago Skyline

On my last trip to Chicago, I was very excited to go to the top of the Sears (Willis) Tower Skydeck and get some cool shots of the city, although I was quite terrified of the elevator. On this trip, we elected to try the CityPass, which saved us a little bit of time, I would imagine it would be a lifesaver during busy times. When I got up to the Skydeck I noticed two things: 1.) There were a lot of people up there, all trying to do the same thing I was trying to do and 2.) I was not going to get the skyline shot I had in mind. Luckily it was a beautiful day and I was able to get a few shots that I could work with.

About the Photo: 
As I eluded to, I had to do a little more editing on this photo than I usually do. Shooting through (dirty) glass is an added challenge; I had to take out some of the grime and reflection that I got from the windows. It was edited from a JPG with Photoshop Elements.
Camera Gear:
Nikon D3100 with 18.0-55.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens handheld
Date Taken:
January 1, 2015

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Windy City at Dusk

Windy City at Dusk *EXPLORED*

My most recent vacation was a weekend trip to Chicago after New Years. It was a busy, museum-filled trip with my favorite being a traveling Disney Archives Exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. We got the CityPass for this trip and it really paid off! It didn’t make much of a difference at the SkyDeck or The Field Museum (although we did arrive at the Field in the afternoon when there was no line at all) but it really paid off at the Shedd Aquarium where the line was down the steps and people were waiting out in the open with slush falling from the sky. If you are planning on visiting Chicago and you want to see the sights without worrying about arriving early to avoid lines, the CityPass is definitely worth it! For more information visit http://www.citypass.com/!

This photo was taken near dusk on the steps of the Field Museum looking out at the city. I really like how the statue stands taller than the skyscrapers in the distance.

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