As we see here everyday at Go Girl, travel can often be experienced through the eyes of another.  We live to hear stories of loved ones back from a weekend trip to New Orleans and look through that old photo album of a friends trip to South Africa in 2004.  Reading the National Geographic makes the train ride to work is an adventure in itself, and hosting friends and family can be a kind of vacation too.

There can be quite a bit of planning involved when a guest comes: When/where will they arrive and how will they get to you?  Where will they sleep (futon was my favorite purchase ever)?  What do they like to eat for breakfast?  What will they do when you are away at work?  Are the extra towels clean?

Over the past year, I have been blessed by many visitors to my apartment in Chicago and let me tell you, the planning is well worth it for that first hug of someone you haven’t seen in awhile and catching up between giggles.  Some of my guests made specific trips to see lucky me and the city, and others made stops between other destinations.  These beautiful souls are breathes of fresh air that provide new eyes to see the Chicago.  We walk the same streets and see the same view from our window everyday, but sometimes it takes a visitor to remind you of how special that view is or ask about that thing you cannot remember ever looking at yourself.

I love taking people to the river at night, that is when the Chicago is in it’s full glory; the ‘L’ grumbles over head and the lights from the impossibly tall sky line twinkle over the water.  We might walk to the lake and dip our toes in, or just enjoy a conversation over a cup of tea or a plate of giant pancakes.  Most all of them are budget travelers, so they are okay with spending an evening in working on a puzzle or watching a movie.  Making dinner with a different cook in the kitchen is wonderful for picking up new tricks, too.

I have been the guest a number of times also and I love the insights you get when you visit a friend’s home, especially when it is in a different culture.  Going to the grocery store is always more fun than at home and having that shared reference to talk about when you are apart can make strong connections.  Hosts have always been so kind a gracious to me, opening up their homes and sharing a comfy place to sleep, and I try and do the same for each of my guests.  Visitors are the light between the gaps of adventures to come, so the more I have around, the better.