I survived my first day of SMD3! My Houston to Chicago flight was a breeze, and I got to sleep most of the way there. Traveling by yourself is so easy! I was lucky enough to spot a group of 5-6 other attendees in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, and was able to travel via train and bus with them for the hour it took to get to the Park Hyatt Chicago. I was very thankful to be able to follow someone who knew where they were going and just enjoy the ride.
The event at the Park Hyatt was primarily an informal “meet and greet” type event. Open bar and several different food stations. I must say, the bartender was the busiest one in the room all night. One of my favorite comments of the night came from a guy who said that he feels like he “found his people”. I think that was a feeling shared by many. Everyone in the room has a bond because of their love of travel. Incomes vary, backgrounds vary, elite status within the various travel programs vary, but the bond is still there.
On my bus ride back to the hotel, I wax lucky enough to sit next to Daraius from Million Mild Secrets and Gary from View From the Wing. It was so interesting to just sit back and listen to the conversation between us and two other attendees who were also sitting with us. To others, it may sound like a conversation that consisted largely of a secret code of EQMs, certs, and 1Ks, but to those there it is truly a language that helps describe how to best get from Point A to Point B as comfortably and affordably as possible. I feel honored to be able to learn from all of these fantastic and knowledgeable travelers.
I am definitely a different traveler than most of the attendees. They talk of going to Hawaii for the day, and I talk of flights to go to Grandma’s house in Kansas. They talk of flatbed First Class Transatlantic seats and I talk of scoring three “good” seats together in Economy for our two hour domestic flight. But, the where’s, why’s, and how’s of travel aren’t what matter in this case. What matters is the bond over the love of air travel. I have already thoroughly enjoyed getting to know some of these frequent flyers and hearing their very interesting stories of where they have been and how they got there (often for free!).
On deck today is an event at the O’Hare airport followed by a chartered flight to Montreal! I am geekily excited, just like most of the rest of “my people” here!