Claire is a writer, editor, and start-up cat-wrangler living in Albany Park, Chicago. She has not driven a car in four years and would like to keep it that way, thank you very much.
Favorite Travel Moment: Waking up early on the first morning in Istanbul to the sound of the muezzin and looking out the window to the sun rising over the Blue Mosque and Aya Sofia.
Where I’m Going Next: If I get my way: Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls. If the boyfriend gets his way: Disneyworld. The power struggle is neverending.
Expert on: Chicago, solo travel, cheap hotels, city breaks
Laura is a recovering artist and a production manager at a small press. She lives in Horner Park West, Chicago, in a falling-down house with her husband, 2 cats, and dog. She drives Claire’s ass around.
Favorite Travel Moment: Sitting in the sun on a park bench, watching people, preferably with a beer in hand. This can be done in many, if not all, places.
Where I’m Going Next: Probably the Grand Canyon, or somewhere “out west.” The next international trip will be to Prague, but who knows when that will be.
Expert on: Photography, staying home, cooking, destroying houses. Intermediate proficiency in putting houses back together.
Brooke Pudar, staff writer
Brooke is a writer and editor living in Wheaton, Illinois, where she alternately tends and neglects her garden. She’d like to move to Bend, Oregon, even though she’s never been there.
Favorite Travel Moment: Standing knee-deep in the Virgin River in the Narrows of Zion National Park, miles from the nearest human being.
Where I’m Going Next: On the short list for 2013 are Nashville, Portland, Ansel Adams Wilderness, and the Canadian Rockies.
Expert on: national parks, hiking, local food
Cary Mele, staff photographer
Cary is a wanna-be photographer, runner, and obsessive list-maker living in Lincoln Square, Chicago. She gets bored if she doesn’t have some ongoing project or goal she’s working toward, and she really loves soup.
Favorite Travel Moment: During a week-long bus tour of Ireland, Cary and some new-found friends broke away from the group one day and decided to take a ferry to the Aran Islands. Despite the bitter cold rain and giving up time in Galway, the view from the edge of the cliff of Dún Aonghasa made the trip worth it and taught her that sometimes the road less traveled really is the better choice.
Where I’m Going Next: Dublin in August to run the half marathon
Expert on: Ireland, destination races, beers and brewery tours