Posts Tagged ‘travel’

From a logistical standpoint, moving to London wasn’t as difficult as I had imagined. Almost every year since 2004, I’ve packed up my belongings, evaluated my clothes, and moved into a new space. Flying to London is no different than flying to New York, Miami, or St. Louis. International and domestic travelers are together during the TSA screening process, my American Airlines gate was next to a gate for people heading to Tampa, and a bottle of water is still $4 at the newsstand.

Just like writing this blog post, I delayed and ignored the toughest thing on my to-do list: saying goodbye to everyone. I avoided it because as long as I didn’t say goodbye to people, boxing up my apartment was no different than the countless times I’ve moved and packing my bag was just like packing for a long vacation.

Flying over the Atlantic Ocean

When I started to say goodbye to people in my office, it finally hit that I was moving to London. I reminded people that I would still be in the company network and we would even have some overlap in our work days. We said Facebook would keep us connected and agreed that my visit to Chicago during the summer isn’t that far away. At the time, these conversations were “easy” because my apartment was still a mess and I had 1,001 things to do before my flight.

One of the people I spoke with was a person that connected me with my job in London. We celebrated for a moment, she wished me the best, reminded me to work hard, and then told me something no one else had mentioned, “This is going to be tough. It is going to be really difficult and it will take a month or so before it gets better. But hang in there. You can do it.”

She was right. This transition is difficult. Dealing with banks, understanding a new currency, finding a permanent address, learning a new phone system… and accidentally spending more on a sandwich than my temporary phone. (I’m not too frustrated, it was a really good sandwich.)

I'm pretty sure my phone was designed in 2003. It's key features include a "simple design, colourful screen and large, separated keys."

But life here hasn’t been all bad. I have great co-workers, I’m meeting people from around the world (e.g. Last night I went to a party with people from Germany, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, and Russia), I’m excited to travel, and I have great people, like you, supporting me.

Thank you for your support. Thank you for the Facebook messages, wall posts, Tweets, and text messages. This new stage in my life is easier because of friends like you.

I didn’t have time to give a proper goodbye to everyone in the States and I’m sorry. I tried to do small things like coffee, lunch, or drinks at night, but I didn’t have much time between the day my move went public and the morning I left for the UK. If I were to step back a few weeks, I wouldn’t have put off the goodbyes as long as I did. I hope you forgive my poor planning. It was the result of an overwhelmed person trying to pretend everything is normal.

I’d love to know everything going on at home. So feel free to send me an email or drop a note in the comments section below.

Cheers,

Joe

More than two and a half years ago, I moved to Chicago and embraced the city as my own. I’ve eaten some amazing food, watched the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup, survived three football seasons as a Packers fan and met lifelong friends. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start my post-college life.

The corner stone of my Windy City experience  is my office and my co-workers. The environment is challenging but nurturing, our clients are industry leaders, and the people I work with are intelligent, driven, and some of my best friends. I’ll never be able to replicate this group of people and the environment but I’m excited to say:

I’m moving to London.

Source

Where did this come from?

A few months ago I started searching for opportunities to diversify my experience and set myself apart from my peers. After a week in New York, I came back to Chicago and reached out to my mentors and the agency’s leadership for guidance. During one of these conversations, someone pointed out that my plan didn’t exactly line up with the goal. It was during this conversation that we started to talk about opportunities abroad and how to make the most of my skills.

When am I leaving and for how long?

My plane leaves Chicago on Saturday, March 19th, less than two weeks from today, and I’ll start working at Weber’s London office on Wednesday, March 23rd. My apartment in Chicago is already down to the bare minimum, thanks to Mama Piehl, and I’m quickly evaluating everything I own and deciding what will come with me. My work visa is for three years and near the  end of each year, I’ll evaluate my experience and work with the London office to determine if I’ll stay in the UK or move back to the US.

Am I nervous?

You bet! I’ve been looking for new opportunities since September and have been discussing logistics with London since the middle of January. You would think this is enough time to overcome any fear or doubt, however, the reality of my situation didn’t sink in until this past Wednesday when my friend Sami gave me a book about Chicago and wrote on the inside, “Now you get to keep some of Chicago with you!” Like a slap across the face, I finally felt the reality of my transition.

Thankfully, the timing couldn’t be better! My apartment lease is up at the end of this month, my family is tremendously supportive, and there is nothing permanent connecting me to Chicago. I’m going to miss my friends and it seems weird to move now that I’ve established myself in the city’s different networks and social circles, but my fear is that if I don’t do this now, I never will. As a fun bonus with this change, I’m able to cross off two of my 25 in 25 goals in one move: visit Europe and move some where new.

What’s next?

Packing and partying – but not necessarily in that order. Help packing is always wanted but it’s not expected. However, this upcoming Friday I’m tearing it up and enjoying my last weekend in Chicago. Location: TBD.

Cheers,

Joe

Windy City

It’s the end of Restaurant Week in Chicago and I can’t think of a more appropriate time to write about food. During the last 6 months I’ve been lucky enough to travel around the US and visit some amazing cities. From braised rabbit in the Big Easy and homemade Italian in the Empire State to expensive steaks in Sin City and vegan food back home in the City of Broad Shoulders, I’ve made an effort to go out of my way and try new foods.

With Chiara and her family.

One of my favorite experiences was a cooking demonstration by Chiara Lima, the daughter of legendary Italian chef Mamma Agata, during her cookbook tour. While Chiara captivated the small group with stories about Pierce Brosnan, Jacqueline Kennedy and Humphrey Bogart, she showed us that it doesn’t take a Top Chef-esque kitchen to produce flavorful food. (Fun Fact from Chiara: Parmesan cheese does not belong on every pasta dish… I’m looking at you Olive Garden. On the wrong dish it can mask the chef’s flavors instead of enhancing them.)

Many of my favorite trips and dining experiences have been with male co-workers and college buddies. And while I love sharing a meal in the company of women, I appreciate the bond established with my guy friends over food and drinks. Those experiences becomes less about the conversation and more about the people there and the food we ate. When I think about these trips, I can remember where we’ve eaten, what we had, and who was there more than I can remember the topics we discussed.

Trying a new cuisine is exciting but it took almost a year for me to build up my nerves and try vegan food. The thought of tofu and seitan, appropriately pronounced Satan, masquerading as chicken, beef, and pork frustrated and scared me. Why would I give up real delicious ribs for fake ribs? Thankfully, an expiring Groupon and cute lady friend pushed me out the door and into a well-known vegan restaurant, Karyn’s Cooked. The meal wasn’t great but it opened my mind to idea of vegan food.

At N9NE Steakhouse in Las Vegas after consuming an unhealthy amount of red meat, wine, and whiskey.

Beyond the French menu tasting I went to before Restaurant Week started, I didn’t have time to take advantage of the week’s offerings. However, the idea behind Restaurant Week is for diners to try new menus and go to places they wouldn’t normally visit. This spirit of adventure shouldn’t be limited to just one week of the year and only certain cities. If you live in a city that doesn’t have a Restaurant Week or if you’re schedule didn’t permit you to participate, I hope you find an evening sometime in the next few weeks to try something new or go outside your comfortable level.

Cent Anni!

-Joe

(Cent Anni is an Italian toast Chiara taught my cooking group and it means, “May we have 100 years of life, love, health, and happiness.”)

“Do you remember our first date? It was a little awkward, neither of us knew what to expect, and we kicked around a couple ideas about the future.”

“We’ve had our ups and downs (a.k.a. not posting in over a month), but that’s because I needed a little “me time” to figure out where we’re going.”

“You’re right some things will have to change, but I think we’re moving in the right direction.”

This last month has been a whirlwind of activity everywhere except PeelingOut. Instead of blogging here, I’ve been contributing to other sites and trying to figure out what direction to take my blog. I’ve never been excited about my blogs theme and a few formatting things have been on my nerves… I’m talking to you super small font size and awkward spacing.

On top of that, I’m trying to find a new direction to go and an topic focus. Right now my posts are an awkward mess of public relations, food, travel, and a small slice of social media. To really have fun and be something I’m proud of, I think it needs to be focused on a few topics. I love writing about food and travel but I’m a little nervous because those topics are covered by so many people already.

I’m definitely going to stay away from PR and social media posts because those posts make me feel like I’m writing a text book… and I barely read all of my text books in college. (I’m just kidding mom.)

Thanks for hanging with me as I figure out a new direction, a new look for the site, and maybe a new name. I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions, so feel free to drop them in the comments section below, send me a Tweet or shoot me an email.

Cheers,

Joe

p.s. You can check out my other work (blog posts, restaurant reviews, and funny videos) on the new “Beyond PeelingOut” tab at the top of every page.

Photo Source (Legs)

Photo Source (Donkeys)

Just before Christmas, I shared a few highlights from my Month at the Museum application and I’m extremely grateful for all of the help and support I received during the process. Even though I didn’t win, I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason.

My month NOT at the museum was filled with travel, challenges, and a couple firsts. Here are some of the things I’m glad I didn’t miss.

Frequent Flier Miles Like You Wouldn’t Believe

A couple months back I mentioned my crazy travel schedule for work and the craziness never would have happened if I was locked in the museum. Instead, I hopped on flights to Charlotte, LA, Portland, San Francisco, Miami, and Milwaukee… Okay it was the Amtrak to Milwaukee but Chicago’s Union Station is just as crazy as O’Hare. From avoiding rush hour on the 405 in California to cruising Ocean Drive in Miami, I’m thankful these back to back trips are happening now, because I think it would be tough to do this with a family.

An End to “Wedding Season”

This year’s wedding season was nothing less than phenomenal. Every month from August through November, I had a chance to watch a two people tell the world how much they love each other.  The final wedding was in November and if I would have won MATM, I would have missed my friends Aaron and Heather tie “the knot.” I’m sure they would have understood my absence but I would have regretted it for years to come. Many congratulations to my married friends and to my cousin Melissa who was proposed to during this year’s wedding season.

  • Mike and Ginny Ogle (August 21)
  • Sean and Cassie Flanagan (September 11)
  • Tyler and Alex Brownfield (September 18 – I wasn’t able to attend this wedding but I received updates via the maid of honor, my little sister Erin.)
  • Jeff and Melissa Snodgrass (October 9)
  • Aaron and Heather Sechler (November 13)

A First for Everything

I’m a huge advocate for experiences over tangible items.  Yes, my memories will fade over time, but hopefully my computer hard drive or one of my two external hard drives will help the memories stay fresh.

My alma mater, Saint Louis University, is responsible for the first forward pass recorded in American football history, but our football program was discontinued in 1949 and I never attended an NCAA football game during college. However, when I could have been packing my bag for MATM, I was taking in a Notre Dame football game with my buddies. Experiencing a Notre Dame win was great but the cherry on top of this experience is that the movie Rudy was the first sports movie I remember seeing.

Another awesome first, and hopefully not last, was driving a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder!  I’m a steadfast supporter of Jeeps but the Lamboghini was amazing! It was the smoothest ride I’ve ever driven and 520 horsepower engine was delightful. My colleague Mark and I rented it for a video shoot in Miami and commented throughout the day how surreal it was to be driving on A1A and Ocean Drive in a car worth about $220,000.

We specifically requested this obnoxiously bright orange color.

I’m glad everything happens for a reason. Applying for MATM pushed me to try something new but the rejection letter was a blessing in disguise. I hope your next “rejection letter” is also a blessing in disguise.

Cheers,

Joe

*If you open your football history books, you’ll learn that the first forward pass ever recorded in American football history was attempted by SLU. The first pass attempt was incomplete but the second attempt resulted in a 20-yard gain. GO Billikens!

The last few months have been filled with trips nearly every week.  From weddings and visiting friends to work trips galore, at the end of this month I will have visited 12 different cities in three months (September – November) and it has been a whirlwind adventure.

Each trip was fun and I’ve always learned something new. In Portland I met the man who started the city’s microbrew culture, in South Bend I attended my first NCAA football game EVER and during several of the trips I had the pleasure watching my friends get married.

The Combos Team with Rob Widmer, one of the founding brothers of the Widmer Brothers Brewing Company and the Portland microbrewing culture.

The majority of my work trips have been on the weekends because two guys in my office and I are creating 10 city profiles for the Combos Facebook page. Earlier this year COMBOS, a client, released a ranking of the Manliest Cities in America and our video profiles highlight the manliness of each city. (The video profiles can be seen here.)

Since it doesn’t take more than an eight hour shoot to create our 2-3 minute profile, most of our trips are around 30 hours from the time we leave for O’Hare to the time I plop down on my bed and avoid laundry. And despite the years of traveling I’ve done with my family, these trips, combined with weddings and other trips, have forced me to hone my travel skills.

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a young professional starting to travel more, below are a couple things I’ve learned from my travels.

1) Learn to sleep on a plane.

According to the Harvard Business Review, sleeping on a plane is one of the keys to corporate success. And from my own experience, learning how to do so will make your 4 hour flight feel like 2 minutes. When you can, throw a small travel pillow in the carry-on you plan to put below your feet. Also, try to snag a window seat.

2) Never check a bag.

Don’t believe me?? Mama Piehl works in the lost baggage office for an airline in Milwaukee and she can talk to you for hours about why you shouldn’t check a bag. If you have to check a bag, keep a spare set of socks, underwear and a shirt in your carry on, along with the essentials you can’t live without (house keys, medication, glasses, etc.).  Everything else, deodorant, tooth paste and a spare shirt, can all be replaced if your bag is lost or delayed.

Source

3) Pay the bills ASAP!

If you’re traveling for work, bring an envelope and at the end of every day put all of your receipts in it. The last thing you want to learn two weeks after your trip is that you lost the receipt for your rental car or one of your meals. If you’re traveling with friends, ask them to bring their checkbooks so everyone can square up before you head to the airport.

4) Prepare for the security line.

Going through TSA stinks, and if you’re following my second tip, you’ll probably have two bags with you. Make TSA breeze by wearing shoes that easily slip on and off, putting your lovely bag of toiletries at the top of your carry-on, and taking off anything you know you’ll have to take off at the front of the line while you’re waiting in line. Imagine how simple screening will be if aren’t fumbling with a watch or trying to jungle your laptop in one bin and everything else in another.  (Hint: Don’t worry about your belt. A certain amount of metal is acceptable in the screen process and you can cheat the system by placing your hand over it when walking through the metal detector.)

5) Act like your trip is a night on the town.

Flying used to be a romantic event categorized by men in suits and fedoras and flight attendants that would make a teenage boy red in the face. Now an airport terminal is filled with men reading the soft core porn they purchased at the Hudson News store and women in velour tracksuits. Guys, use this as an opportunity to throw on a blazer, look sharp and travel like you’re the James Bond of coach. Ladies, nothing will turn heads like a pencil skirt and a pair of pumps walking through O’Hare or JFK – and if you see me at the airport bar, come say hi. Your first drink is on me.

In all seriousness… when you look nice at an airport, you’ll be more inclined to treat the occasion like a formal event and you’ll treat people better than normal. And in return, they’ll show you the same kindness, which might mean the window seat I mention in my first tip.

What are your travel tips / rituals? Any horror stories from TSA or an angry passenger?

Cheers,

Joe

Blogging doesn’t take that much effort, right?

Maybe it doesn’t for some people but I’m the kind of guy that will write multiple drafts and look at my post two or three different times before tossing up it here, The RedEye Wrigleyville Blog, or The Local Tourist.

In an effort to stay active and share what’s going on in my life, I’m trying to write a quick post once a week highlighting what’s going well, where I’m struggling and anything else that’s dominating my time.

Sporting sweet COMBOS blazers in Boston.

The last nine days have been a whirlwind. Earlier this year, COMBOS, the baked snack and a client, released the second annual America’s Manliest City Study – a tongue-in-cheek study that looks at hundreds of metrics to rank the top 50 cities in the US. Now a couple colleagues and I are traveling to 10 different cities and creating a video profile for the COMBOS Facebook page. This week we kicked things off by talking to folks in Chicago, Milwaukee and Boston. I don’t want give too much away about the videos and what you can expect, but end result will be a 2-3 minute video that will give you a good laugh.

Traveling to different cities and talking to locals has been a blast, but it started to make other tasks, like picking up my dry cleaning, tougher to accomplish. However, I still managed to preview / write a review of Rockit Bar and Grill’s “Rocktoberfest” menu for The Local Tourist and the Wrigleyville Blog, attend a Johnnie Walker tasting and swing by “The Cell” for a White Sox game.

What was the highlight of your week?

Cheers,

Joe