On the second day of my business trip to Chicago, I thought I would share another one of my favorite travel trips (remember the first one?). This tip is for those of you who have young children.
A long time ago I used to travel fairly frequently with a co-worker who had several children. Unfortunately for him, he’d gotten into a vicious pattern where his children expected him to bring home trinkets after every journey. He would ransack the airport right up to the final departure searching for key chains, buttons, magnets or whatever memento he could find that happened to be imprinted with the name of the city. Each child had to get an individual gift of approximate equal value and coolness. I vowed to never get caught in this trap. Then I had kids.
However, rather than purchase something materialistic destined to be tossed into a corner a day later in anticipation of the next trip, I decided to give something of value but in a non-monetary sense: photographs and a brief travelogue sent home each day by email. I started carrying an old digital camera that fit neatly into a coat pocket. I used it to capture sites that conveyed a characteristic feature of the location. In Chicago that means its architecture as with this scene along Michigan Avenue. I also sent home the Chicago River photo although I didn’t go into all the gory details as I did in my recent post. Dare I say I sanitized it? (awful pun alert – read the entry and you’ll understand)
There’s also a sense of history on this particular visit regardless of one’s political leanings: as I write this, Barack Obama is President-Elect. He will soon occupy the White House, but today he lives in Chicago and uses a floor of a Federal building as his local transition office. This photograph is quite nice for describing the historic events of the past few weeks and my current proximity to them. The entire block around the building is literally crawling with law enforcement. I made sure to photograph one of the banners on the other side of the street facing away from the building since I was feeling really paranoid about the suspicions I might raise if I pointed a camera in the wrong direction. But it’s an exciting time here and I can use a photo and a little narrative to allow the kids to stretch their imagination and gain a curiosity for new places, and hopefully learn a little in the process.
That’s my latest travel tip and it requires no expense and minimal time. You’re probably going to want to get out of the hotel just to stretch your legs anyway. So take a walk around the block and snap a couple of photos. They don’t have to be perfect. As "they" say, it’s the thought that counts. The kids will enjoy seeing the world through your eyes and it will be a whole lot more authentic than some cheap Chinese-made snow glob from the airport gift shop.