Friday, May 19, 2017

Jean's Awesome Personal Travel Tips - Chicago, Anywhere

Travel is like money, or beauty.  If you judge yourself based on others, you often fail.

Just when I am feeling like a hot shit for, say, driving New England on my own - or carrying out my arbitrary goal of “leaving the state once per month” -  I meet someone who has been to Dubai,  Reykjavik and/or Costa Rica….recently!  While it’s true, sticking to domestic destinations is a conscious choice right now for me, I admit to some “travel envy” and a feeling of competitiveness.  Muttering the proverbial “I’ll get there next year.”  In the meantime, I pick their brains for ideas.

It is in that context that I offer you, in no particular order, my top tips for comfortable travel.  Not sure they are revolutionary, but they are personally tried and true.  I hope you find something here that makes your next trip just a bit more comfortable.

   - Peppermint Oil.  While some inconvenience and discomfort are integral to travel, airplane odors sometimes get to me – even jet fuel smell is a bit nauseating.  Putting peppermint oil under your nose, behind your ears, etc can really help.  Don’t worry about the person next to you complaining.  It seems to be universally appealing, and does not hang in the air.  It is also excellent for keeping cool in hot climates.  Just apply liberally at the back of your neck before heading out for the day.   Here is a good quality one on Amazon:

    -Conditioner.  It’s not just for your hair.  Whether you pack yours, or use what the hotel gives, conditioner has lots of uses.  One of my favorite is in place of shaving cream.  Please stop buying that ridiculous metal dispenser full of fluffy cream.  Men’s beards and women’s leg/underarm hair can be softened with ordinary hair conditioner.  Then, after shower, many of them are formulated to not feel sticky or greasy when used on feet and hands as lotion.  Or banish static cling by rubbing a tiny bit on your hands and separating yourself from your garments.

     -Forgot your phone charger?  Most hotels have a huge lost and found box full of them.  Even if you are not near your own hotel, the nearest one will likely be happy to rummage through and find one that will work.  Take a break in the lobby, and juice up for the day.

   -Germ freaks unite!  Before leaving for the airport, I have adopted the custom of liberally coating my nasal passages with Vaseline or other heavy lotion.  The nose is a major pathway of entry for all of those mysterious coughs you hear.  The eyes too.  Consider leaving out your contacts and wearing glasses during transit as yet another buffer.  Yes, I am serious.

And now for some Chicago specific ideas…..

-Try the L Train from either airport.  Don’t make your friends and family have the distinct displeasure of circling the airport to pick you up – especially at heavy traffic times.  You could take a Lyft or Cab (I do recommend Lyft over Uber, by far), but the blue line from O’Hare, and the orange line from Midway straight into the loop works great.  Even if your destination is too far from the loop stop, a cab from there will be much cheaper.  Don’t believe the crime hype you read.  Use the trains. 

-Regarding site seeing, bigger isn’t always better.  Okay, this is purely opinion.  But the obvious places don’t always yield the best experience.  For example, everyone sees the Art Institute.  It is beautiful, world class, and right in the middle of everything.  But go a bit north, and see the Contemporary Art Museum instead.  Less exhausting, more intimate, and the gift shop has lots of unique items.

or this one in a gorgeous neighborhood historic mansion if you are into science….

I could go on and on.  But, that’s plenty from me.  Please feel free to comment with YOUR best travel tips.  Tell us what you’ve learned from experience. 

As always, wishing you safe journeys.




  1. Good tips but you should make sure to get TSA Pre-Check. That alone can cut a deal of time and frustration from your journey. You don’t have to unpack your laptop and you can leave your shoes on when going through.

  2. Okay, great idea. Provided you are not a foreign spy or felon, this should be available to everyone.