Traveling Through 2020 (Part 1)

Posted by on Jan 3, 2021 in Chicago, England, France, India, New York, USA | No Comments

I thought about making a new “year end” post every year. Even up until today I thought I had only missed on year of these but it looks like the last one was in 2013. Yikes. It’s funny to start this back up again in a year which looked to be my biggest year of travel yet. Until March 2020 I had seven international trips planned—mostly for work. It’s what I had been working toward since I started traveling for business in 2010. In one week in March all of that fell through. I can’t complain though, I’ve been very lucky and even managed to get out of the country three times in 2020 before the US finally figured out what the rest of the world already knew about COVID-19.

January 2020: London, New York City, Mumbai

By January 3rd I was already on a plane to London. I stayed in Shoreditch for the first time, visited the Mary Quant exhibit at the V&A, the Tate Modern (all special exhibits were sold out!), and finally took a stroll through The Barbican where all of my dreams of a brutalists future world came true. Shoreditch is very inconvenient to the museums, but made it easier to catch up with my boyfriend from my days living in Newcastle in the 90s.

My trips to NYC are often short, sometimes only 24 hours. I made it to The Met’s In Pursuit of Fashion and Frank Lloyd Wright Textiles: The Taliesin Line, 1955–60 exhibits and managed to ruin my brand new dress at work while cutting apart foamcore to make a sign.

Toward the end of January I set off to Mumbai with a fancy year-long business visa and an empty suitcase to bring back fabric. The last time I was in Mumbai I stayed at the YMCA, but this time I figured I could do a little better. I flew in a few days before work started and stayed in Cuffe Parade near Colaba so I could walk around to see sights. This business trip was rescheduled so many times that by the time I had a real ticket I only had a week to book a hotel and plan my time and most of the cute places I found were sold out. Hopefully I will get another chance to come here in the coming years. A highlight was fabric shopping in Mangaldas Market and wandering around alone like I used to in my RTW days.

As embarrassing as it to admit on a travel blog where I am known for riding in the back of a cage for 24 hours through bandit country in Africa, when you travel this much for business you become loyal to certain brands. For me, it’s United and Marriott. Once you get to Platinum and Titanium respectfully you get so many perks that it’s worth it to stick with them. However, all of the Marriott properties in Mumbai were an hour in traffic from the sites so I stayed at perfectly fine local hotel.

February 2020: Mumbai, New York City, Paris

My jobs usually last 3-5 days tops so this two week stint was an interesting change for me. Sadly, it was in a suburb called Navi Mumbai so once I checked into the Marriott up here my world became commuting 30 minutes by car, eating thalis in the vegetarian cafeteria, and learning all the differences and similarities in this work from my Indian colleagues.

I was home for a week before heading back out to New York City for five days. Because I go to NYC so much I have had a membership to MOMA for a few years. Obviously my favorite thing to do anywhere is to go to museums, but with the increase in tourism globally they are getting so crowded to be almost unnavigable—and MOMA is one of the worst.

Two days to unpack/repack and off to Paris. So spoiled. Even so, all of us in Paris kept saying “I’ll see it next time” when we felt too tired to go out. We had another trip planned for the summer and we knew we were going to be back for even longer. I had a 3rd trip besides that planned to Paris in June as well. There is plenty of time! Why rush!? This is also when COVID started getting more real—the first time I heard contingency planning come up in a meeting, and when I started hanging back from getting into elevators full of tourists, and when I moved galleries when a woman kept coughing next to me in the Marche et Demarche exhibit at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. We all thought COVID wasn’t really going to affect us, but the day after I flew home the Louvre was shut down.

Traveling Through 2020 is continued in Part 2…

Traveling Through 2013

Posted by on Jan 3, 2014 in Chicago, New York, USA | No Comments

In my travel roundup of 2012 I was hoping to travel a bit more internationally this year. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. It’s funny too, as I finally broke down and was approved for the Global Entry program. A big bonus of the program is qualifying for the TSA Pre-Check line when flying participating airlines.

I stuck with mainly United again this year—once you get status on an airline business travel becomes so much more enjoyable. Last year I made status based on miles (Australia put me over the edge), but this year I made it on segments (New Jersey and Detroit aren’t far, but each flight counts as a segment). Whereas I had two trips booked last year at this time, it’s looking like a Chicago January for me in 2014.

January: Brooklyn, New Jersey, Atlanta, New Jersey, New York

2013_12_1Jan-1My first time in Brooklyn, and a view of the unfinished World Trade Center

2013_12_1Jan-2Another first—Atlanta—where I rode the metro and visited the aquarium

2013_12_1Jan-3After working in New Jersey I stay in Manhattan for a few days

February: Detroit

2013_12_2Feb-1There’s never much to show when working outside of Detroit so here’s a shot of my winter biking adventures

2013_12_2Feb-2The short flight to Detroit does provide for great views of Chicago

March: New Jersey, Minnesota

2013_12_3Mar-1Odd weather left the view of Manhattan fro Jersey City radically different day-to-day

2013_12_3Mar-2Flying in early allows me to meet up with New York friends and draw at the FIT museum

2013_12_3Mar-3Minnesota is still awfully cold in March, the bike up to Chicago’s annual Traveler’s Century Club meeting was much more pleasant

April: Chicago

2013_12_4Apr-1An entire month at home!

May: Pittsburgh

2013_12_5May-1With May came weather good enough for long bike rides, helping out with the local Kidical Mass ride, and outlandish Mexican wrestling matches

2013_12_5May-2I worked in the hotel inside Pittsburgh’s airport for days, but managed to get out and take a bus to the Warhol Museum before flying home

June: New Jersey, Minnesota

2013_12_6Jun-1Every once in a while I’m upgraded to First Class

2013_12_6Jun-2David was in town from Canada, so we managed a Sox game and a concert in Millennium Park

July: New Jersey, New York, New Jersey, Brooklyn


2013_12_7Jul-2The Turrell exhibit at The Guggenheim was excellent, although incredibly crowded

2013_12_7Jul-3This trip was a big museum stop for me—both The Guggenheim for Turrell, and The Met for the Punk Fashion exhibit

2013_12_7Jul-4I saw Belle and Sebastian and Bjork in a rain storm at Pitchfork Music festival but managed to get hit by a car biking home

2013_12_7Jul-5Working in New Jersey 8 times this year, I finally bought myself a MoMA membership. This visit I stayed a few days at the end to visit with a friend in Brooklyn

August: Detroit

2013_12_8Aug1A friend and I took our bikes out to the suburbs to bike the beautiful Fox River Trail

2013_12_8Aug2Detroit again—this place and I don’t get along

2013_12_8Aug3Summertime in Chicago is grand—free concerts, block parties and garage sales

2013_12_8Aug4View of the city on a bike ride past the Planetarium

2013_12_8Aug5The annual seersucker bike ride to Jackson Park

September: Detroit, Denver

2013_12_9Sept-1Sooner or later I knew I’d end up in a Detroit ER…

2013_12_9Sept-2On the bright side, after the ER I headed to visit my sister in Denver for the Tour de Fat

October: New Hampshire, New Jersey, Austin

2013_12_10Oct-1Chicago’s beautiful lakefront

2013_12_10Oct-2New Hampshire was another first for me this year

2013_12_10Oct-3I visited both MoMA and PS1 on this New York visit

2013_12_10Oct-4My first time in Austin was nice, but wasn’t the amazing place everyone had talked up

November: Miami

2013_12_11Nov-1The Guy Fawkes tweed ride is the best ride of the year, but the ride home from Bridgeport is brutal

2013_12_11Nov-2Once in the hotel I didn’t leave, and I managed to kill my computer. Maybe South Beach next time around?

December: Detroit

2013_12_12Dec-1A snowstorm kept me delayed in dreary Detroit an extra day and a half

A Few Days in Midtown

Posted by on Aug 31, 2013 in New York, USA | One Comment
Police in Times Square

Police in Times Square

Every time I am sent to Jersey City for work I try to make the most of it, visiting Manhattan, because I never know when I’ll be back. Somehow I’ve been to New Jersey seven times this year so far but I never run out of things to see. I’ve even bought an out-of-state membership to MoMA on my last trip.

My second visit to New York this year (the second in January) took me to Chinatown for dumplings and a comic exhibition at The Museum of Chinese in America. I decided to stay a few extra days and got a hotel room in midtown. I’m not sure what I was thinking “vacationing” in New York alone in January but it was cold and, honestly, a little miserable.

January in New York

Posted by on Mar 13, 2013 in New York, USA | No Comments

I found myself working in New Jersey twice in January this year. When I’m there I try to make it over to Manhattan for museums and shopping, but this time I visited Brooklyn for the first time. Meeting up with a friend who grew up there he laughed at the fact that I picked Williamsburg, since he doesn’t consider it real Brooklyn. Next time I’m out East with nice weather I’ll try to make it further into Brooklyn.

I Heart NYC but...

I Heart NYC but…

Traveling Through 2012

Despite my lack of updates, I managed to take quite a few trips this year. Only a few were non-work related but I try my best to spend a little time in each city I visit. Both St. Louis and Detroit trips were in and out in one day, but I always arrange extra time in New York and D.C.

Who knows what sort of travel is in store for me in 2013, but I hope for at least one international trip. I’m still toying with the idea of biking around Iceland but, for now, all I know is I’ll be visiting New York and Atlanta.

January: Washington D.C.

Air and Space Annex Museum, VA

Air and Space Annex Museum at Dulles Airport, Virginia

February: St. Louis

Chicago sunrise

Daytrip to St. Louis

March: Virginia, Syracuse

Small plane from D.C. to Syracuse

Small plane from D.C. to Syracuse

Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse

We had Dinosaur BBQ twice in Syracuse

Syracuse cartwheel

Cartwheeling at work in Syracuse

April: NYC, Jersey City

Manhattan by air

Manhattan by air

NYC morning

Visiting with Sema (who I last saw in Kyrgyzstan), cartwheeling on the High Line

Jersey City sunset

Jersey City sunset

May: NYC, Jersey City

NYC park museum afternoon

Afternoon spent in parks and museums in NYC

NYC High Line

Have I mentioned how much I love the New York High Line?

New York afternoon

I managed to get my client to go with a Star Trek theme this trip

Chicago Twilight

Chicago Twilight

July: Washington D.C., Detroit

Modern art in D.C.

Modern art, including “The Art of the Video Game” exhibition, in D.C.

Seeing friends in D.C.

Museum hopping and seeing friends in D.C.

One day in Detroit

My first time in Detroit – one day in the suburbs

August: Denver

Overcast Denver

My first ever overcast day in Denver, visiting my sister

September: Connecticut, Houston

Connecting flights to Connecticut

Connecting flights to Connecticut

Sunrise on the way to Houston

Sunrise on the way to Houston

November: Sydney, Pittsburgh

Gorgeous Sydney

Who knew Sydney was so gorgeous? I can’t wait to go back.


My time in Sydney was way too short, and the flight way too long with no TV in my seatback



Dreary Pittsburgh

A dreary first visit to Pittsburgh, testing the limits of my carryon with a 16-day trip

United status

I finally reached the lowest level of status on United, halving my boarding number and scoring me an exit row

December: Boston

Boston business

Business trips to Boston mean cookie cutter hotels and plenty of lobster

Boston by air

Boston’s topography is totally different than I thought

Chicago fog

Flying home to Chicago for the last time in 2012

Jersey City Cartwheel

Posted by on Jul 7, 2011 in New York, USA | One Comment

The “Where I Slept” series will return, I promise. In the meantime I’ve been working and recently spent a week in New Jersey. Despite walking by a PATH station to NYC twice a day I never made it to Manhattan. However, I did manage a new cartwheel in front of the financial district and new “Freedom Tower” under construction.

Jersey City Cartwheel

Jersey City Cartwheel by Mary Scanlan Smith

All I Could Jet 2010

After more than 39 hours in the air and nearly 19,000 miles flown across 15 flights I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of Jet Blue’s All You Can Jet promotion. With that much flying I had the in-flight commercials memorized and had no problem deciding what snacks to choose (plantain chips are interesting but you can’t go wrong with the Munchies Mix).

I touched down in eight states and three countries over the course of 29 days this fall. Although it could be argued that this promotion is environmentally irresponsible, I’ve been consoling my guilt by remembering that these flights would have left even without the additional AYCJ passengers. You can see my route below—highlights were definitely Washington D.C. and Colombia but I enjoyed seeing family, friends and sights in all of my destinations.

All You Can Jet 2010 Route

All You Can Jet Layovers at JFK

Posted by on Sep 24, 2010 in New York | No Comments

There is a reason I haven’t flown jetBlue before—it has very few direct flights from Chicago. I’ve already connected through Boston and New York a number of times and I will admit that the jetBlue terminal at JFK is gorgeous. I certainly didn’t mind waiting for an hour surrounded by modern design, an extraordinary number of electrical outlets and free wifi. If I have my choice of connections in the future I’m definitely choosing JFK.

The jetBlue terminal at JFK

NYC for a Day

Posted by on Sep 24, 2010 in New York | No Comments

Originally I planned to spend a day in Baltimore and fly to Chicago in the late morning. Once I decided to spend that day in D.C. another plan presented itself—New York City. Although this trip was meant to be about seeing new places flying out of Dulles gave me the option to connect through JFK instead of Boston. The friend I was staying with was flying out early in the morning so everything fell into place and I switched myself to a 6am flight to JFK.

Megan in the NYC metro

I needed to get back to Chicago that night for the Meet, Plan, Go! talk the following day but flying through New York allowed me almost 14 hours before my connecting flight to Chicago. After checking my bag for the day in the international terminal I took the metro into the city. I’ve been to NYC a few times so the aim of my day was not to visit Times Square or Central Park, but just to walk around and take in the city for the day.

My first stop was the new High Line Park, one thing that has opened since my last visit. It was beautifully designed with modern architecture, native plantings and great spaces to sit and eat a bagel. Coincidently, David happened to be in NYC for the week and although we had just spent time together in D.C. we decided it would be funny to meet up in a 5th city. He was aghast that I had never had dim sum so we made our way to Chinatown for my first dim sum experience. If I could eat party appetizers for every meal I would so I instantly loved the concept of dim sum. Women in orange uniforms wheeled carts full of steaming food around us and we chose what we felt like at the moment—everything from shrimp dumplings to custard deserts.

Most museums were closed the day I was in town so after a bit of shopping and a beer with David we said goodbye and I headed back to JFK for my flight home. If you’d like to see more, I’ve added a few photos from my day in New York to my gallery here.

Jetting on jetBlue

Posted by on Sep 15, 2010 in New York, Travel Talk, Washington D.C. | No Comments

My first leg of jetBlue’s All You Can Jet is finished and it was pretty exciting. Washington D.C. was so amazing that I changed my flight at the last minute to skip Baltimore and stay in D.C. another day. Since my friend was flying out at 6am on an adventure of her own I ended up arriving in New York City at 7am with nearly 13 hours before my flight to Chicago. One-way tickets are my preference on RTW trips and I have to say that it’s much more fun flying this way.

All You Can Jet