Q&A with a ChicagoNow blogger: Alisa Jordan of No Bags to Check

ChicagoNow bloggers were assigned other ChicagoNow bloggers to interview. I got Alisa Jordan of No Bags to Check, which is generally a travel blog except for this month when she is promoting Alzheimer's awareness.

I'm not sure how our community manager decided which blogger should interview whom. Perhaps he assigned Alisa to me because he knew we live close to each other, so meeting up wouldn't be difficult. Or, perhaps he knew that she is a Baltimore Ravens fan and I am a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, so he thought that might add some dramatic tension to the discussion.

Perhaps, although probably unlikely, he knew the bizarre coincidence that we discovered through the magic of Facebook showing mutual friends. That is how Alisa and I discovered a while back that her close friend who she has known since they were kids was my husband's roommate in Washington, D.C. for several years.

Maybe the assignments were random.

Regardless it was fun to meet up with Alisa at one of our mutually favorite neighborhood spots, Norse Bar, and ask her a few questions.

When did you first realize you love to travel?
It’s been since I was really little. I grew up in Baltimore, and most of our family lived on the west coast. Growing up we’d travel all time to visit them or just road trips to places like Disney World, upstate New York, Connecticut, or camping. We’d take these epic two week long vacations.

I just grew up traveling. I’ve always loved to go on airplanes. I still really enjoy it even though a lot has changed about it. It’s always exciting to me.

What’s your favorite place you’ve been?
My favorite city always and forever will be London, particularly after living there. I went there first when I was 14. I didn’t go again until I moved there when I was 25 and lived there for two years. I’ve been back every year or two since.

Why did you move to London?
It was just something I really wanted to do in terms of living abroad. And I don’t speak any foreign languages, so England was it. Plus, I wanted to be able to travel to Europe, so it worked for that. Luckily, being an Occupational Therapist moving was something I could do.

Is there a place that surprised you?
I like the Midwest a lot more than I thought I would. I never in a million years thought I’d move away from the coast. It’s been really good for me because I’ve seen some parts of the country I might not have seen otherwise. Midwest national parks and outdoors stuff are very different from the rest of the country.

My family moved to Omaha. At first I wasn’t happy about it, but I like it more and more each time I go. There is some lovely stuff there.

I was in Milwaukee last weekend. I really enjoyed how friendly the people were and how relaxed everything was. It’s a nice contrast to the hustle-bustle of the northeast.

What are some places you haven’t been but really want to see?
I want to see more of Asia. I went to South Korea a few years ago and loved it. I’d like to get to Hong Kong, China, Thailand, Indonesia.

I really want to go the South Africa too. I have several South African friends from my time in London, and I want to see where they are from.

What have been your favorite blog posts so far?
I really like putting together the road trip playlists. Those are a lot of fun.

I’ve been surprised about the ones when I wrote about my parotid gland tumor. I still get emails and comments from people going through the same thing. That’s been a really nice side effect of the blog.

It’s always cool when something gets really popular. “10 Awesome Things from Norway Besides Ylvis” was a fun one. It got picked up by a news site in Bergen, where Ylvis is from, and I got a lot of emails from people in Norway thanking me for saying nice things about their country. One guy thought he knew the house where my great grandfather was born, which I had included in the post.

Norway was another favorite trip to be able to meet a bunch of extended family.

What is your best travel tip?
Expect the unexpected. Planning ahead is important, but you always have to be prepared that something won’t go right and not let that ruin your trip. As a planner I actually plan for things that can go wrong. I have to.

I’ve had that moment when I was freaking out because my plane was delayed and I thought I might miss a connection or something wasn’t going to go right, but I’ve learned to get past that.

Aisle or window?
It depends. If it’s a long flight and I want to sleep, window. If it’s a shorter flight and there’s a good chance I’ll have to go to the bathroom, aisle.

Closer to home, what are your favorite neighborhood spots?
This stretch here: Sauce & Bread Kitchen and the Norse Bar. The Norse is my favorite bar, and I go to Sauce & Bread for lunch at least once a week.

If you like desserts, the bakery at Misericordia is amazing.

I love the Euphoria consignment shop. I love Metropolis. Annapurna is my favorite place to go for Indian food. It’s vegetarian and really good. Devon Market is great for all its cheapness.

That was a lot of food. I also go to spin class at Know No Limits.

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Be sure to check out Alisa's blog No Bags to Check here on ChicagoNow.

Although this is far from a travel blog I did write a poem about TSA airport security, which you can read here.

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Tags: Edgewater, Interview

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