Nothing like convening with fellow travelers to give your wanderlust a boost

March 15, 2014

Final-Women-in-Travel-Summit-small-copy1Being a freelance Travel writer who’s rarely on the road is like being a swimmer with limited access to a pool. A professional chef without a kitchen. A keyboardist who’s unable to get her hands on a piano or organ. You get the idea. And since I’m no longer living in Europe—or working as a full-time freelance journalist—I miss out on the pure adrenaline rush that comes from leaving home for some other destination. Thankfully, I get short-term fixes thanks to CNN’s Emmy Award-winning “Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown,” the fantasy-inducing “House Hunters International” … and occasional Travel reporting getaways, such as last weekend’s amazing trip with my dad to 5-star The American Club and Kohler Waters Spa in nearby Kohler, Wisconsin.

And that’s why I’m especially psyched to be headed this morning to the Women In Travel Summit in downtown Chicago. The brainchild of entrepreneur Beth Santos, WITS bills itself as “the first and only travel blogging summit by and for women.” And it’s a tangible outgrowth of Go Girl Travel Network, a resource and online community for women travelers, of which Santos is founder and CEO.

I first wrote about Go Girl last year, helping spread the word about a fabulous networking event that Santos and her spirited team were hosting. But this weekend, they’re taking it WAY to the next level with WITS, a March 14-16 fest at Chicago’s historic Palmer House Hilton Hotel that will give attendees a chance to “meet other female travel bloggers, connect with brands, build expertise and engage in the global sisterhood of traveling women.”

Ahhh … nothing like being able to shout hallelujah! along with the already-converted. And although it’s about seven blocks from my downtown Chicago condo, I thoroughly expect it’ll transport me many, many miles away in spirit.

It’s hard to believe, but the last time I went to a Travel blogging conference was the FIRST time I went to one. It was Travel Blog Exchange’s Chicago conference back in 1999, when I was still a newbie blogger. Afterward, I wrote on this blog how “going to events like these helps me remember why I LOVE travel, why I’m willing to spend most of my disposable dollars to see the world – and they remind me of the power of WORDS.” That’s still true today.

I’ll be writing about Women In Travel Summit for “TCW Travel Connection,” the Travel blog I created a few years ago and still maintain for Today’s Chicago Woman Magazine. But I’ll be sure to share it with my UrbanTravelGirls, as well. Santos and her traveling sisterhood plan to make WITS an annual event—and I’ll let you know where they’re heading next.

Until then, my friends—let’s all keep on traveling!

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13 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. Avis  |  March 15, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    Hope the conference was fun! It’s good to reignite your passion for the things that really make you happy. Cheers!

  • 2. Maxime  |  March 15, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    Bonjour Maureen,

    I love reading and sharing your inspiring life and blog! Thank you.

    I lived 2 years in Paris, the beautiful City of Light, following in the steps of James Baldwin, Josephine Baker and many more Black Americans. I was a student studying Fine Arts, painting, drawing and fashion design, I lived 15 minutes from Ave des Champs-Élysées, Ave Mac-Mahon 17e, in a chambre de bonne with 125 stairs with La Tour Eiffel thru my circular window. Je suis né à Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

    What a stunning, growth experience it was! That was my first time living outside of America.

    J’ai vécu deux années à Paris, la belle ville de la lumière, en suivant les étapes de James Baldwin, Joséphine Baker et beaucoup plus de Noirs américains. J’étais un étudiant en beaux-arts, la peinture, le dessin et le design de mode, j’ai vécu 15 minutes de l’avenue des Champs-Élysées, l;avenue Mac-Mahon 17e, dans une chambre de bonne avec 125 escaliers avec La Tour Eiffel à travers ma fenêtre circulaire.

    I’m now living down under in Melbourne, Australia developing my art and writing, poetry and starting my design business.
    I testify that the choice and courage to embrace and live an authentic, expansive life that there are sacrifices; losses, challenges, treasures and serendipitous abundance. A mystical paradox la Vie.

    I have loads of family in Chicago. My favorite uncle, uncle Lee lives in Chicago! I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

    Keep illuminating sistah living the life U choose!


  • 3. Maxime  |  March 15, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    ………and Maureen, I look forward to reading your commentary on the Women In Travel Summit conference.

    Keep making a difference!

    Thank you.


  • 4. UrbanTravelGirl  |  March 16, 2014 at 6:48 am

    Salut, Avis — and thanks so much for your note!! The conference was truly impressive — especially when you consider the event was the fabulous idea of 27-year-old CEO Beth Santos. (I certainly feel like an underachiever behind that!)

    You’re so right — we need to reignite our passions every now and then. And as I said, nothing does it like being in the presence of those who share your joy. Hope you can make the next WITS! :-)


  • 5. UrbanTravelGirl  |  March 16, 2014 at 6:52 am

    @MaximeBanks, MERCI BEAUCOUP pour votre message!! How totally cool that we’ve got the France connection in common … and how INSPIRING to know that your taste of life abroad in Paris has taken you FAR beyond that. From Milwaukee to Melbourne, eh? LOVE THAT!!!

    When I finally make it to Australia, I’ll have to look you up. It would be great to meet a sister from the Midwest who’s living her own authentic, expansive life on her own terms on the other side of the world. I’d LOVE — and I’m sure my readers — would love to know more about what you’re doing. If you don’t have a blog of your own, perhaps you’d consider a guest post on UrbanTravelGirl? :-)

    Keep on doing your thing, Ms. Maxime!


  • 6. Maxime  |  March 16, 2014 at 9:14 am

    Bonjour again Maureen,

    Yes, let’s do keep in touch.
    Merci for your message.

    I think that would be super, I’d love to share some of my journey with your audience in a guest post!

    Please allow me to below to share a few of my paintings from my solo exhibition, “The Sand and Stars of Timbuktu” that closed last month here in Melbourne.

    We must hookup when you come to Melbourne,
    to Australia! That would be wonderful!

    “‘No Genuine Effort is Ever Wasted,”
    which will be included in my upcoming book
    of original life affirmations.

    Keep illuminating!
    Metta x Namaste.

    Mademoiselle Maxime
    Yes, Oui from Milwaukee to Melbourne!

  • 7. Monique  |  March 16, 2014 at 11:21 am

    Greetings Ladies,

    I love that you all are doing your thing and yes living an expansive life! Maxime, fantastic that you are living your authentic self. There is so much life to live out here. i would also be honored to read about your amazing experiences living abroad. Thus far my big move is from Atlanta to Southern California that I will be doing in May. Ha,ha, ha, ha not as huge as Australia, however, whew it took me four years to say ‘yes’ to me…

    Many blessings to you Maxime and all the women of color who are living their authentic truth! :-)


  • 8. UrbanTravelGirl  |  March 19, 2014 at 5:02 am

    MERCI ENCORE, Maxime — and thanks for sharing your paintings via e-mail! We’ll have to keep in touch … and while I don’t currently have plans to be in Australia, one never knows when the opportunity may present itself!!


  • 9. UrbanTravelGirl  |  March 19, 2014 at 5:04 am

    Monique, thanks to YOU for your note! And don’t discount your move from the ATL to SoCal — that’s a huge move culturally (not to mention from one end of the country to the other). Getting comfortable with major life changes like that can be a springboard to other moves — physical and otherwise — later in life.

    We’re all on our own individual journeys … and they all begin with a single step. Here’s to celebrating them all!


  • 10. T. Michelle  |  March 25, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    Looking forward to your next post about the Women In Travel Summit. I’m a relatively new blogger trying to connect with other women who love to travel. You inspire me to take the big plunge and spend some time living abroad. I just need to figure how to make money while doing it.

  • 11. Kristen Noelle  |  June 10, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    I’ve been toying with the idea of creating a travel blog for the longest now. The only reason I didn’t is because I was in school and only got to travel on occasion. However, it’s never to late to start! My best friend and I just launched a blog where will be discussing our post-collegiate lives in new cities and our travel tale, and I’m excited to finally be able to call myself a real blogger. This post makes me want to take the extra step and find travel summits for women in LA; I’d love to meet other travelistas and hear their stories. It’s so inspiring to see women taking advantage of the world, which is what I dream of!!


  • 12. UrbanTravelGirl  |  June 10, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    Ciao, Kristen — and CONGRATS for launching your own Travel blog! We all learn and benefit from others’ experiences and perspectives … I’ll look forward to checking out Peaches, Beaches & Urbanistas (LOVE that name!)!

    Happy Travels,

  • 13. valcinea  |  March 25, 2015 at 7:49 am

    quero arrumar um marido

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