Written by Jennifer Doré Dallas, from www.moimessouliers.org

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A weekend in Chicago, an incredible city! Need I say more? I had been daydreaming about it for years, so when the Go Girl Travel Network announced they were going to be holding the Women In Travel Summit there just months after I returned from my RTW trip, I knew it was my chance! (After all, I was itching to leave home again!) 

The flight prices were a little high, but luck was on my side, I had enough Airmiles for the short haul from Montreal to the Windy City. BINGO!

I arrived in Chicago a day before the conference and carefully planned out my stay to make the most of the city, but even more of the first WITS conference!

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My WITS14 Highlights

— The quality of the conference Wi-Fi. What? We ARE bloggers, aren’t we?

— The AMAZING women I met. There were so many great people and the schedule allowed us to take time to get to know each other, which was fun! The two keynote speakers (Jeannie Mark from Nomadic Chick and Evelyn Hannon from Journeywoman) gave such compelling speeches that I even shed a few (ok, buckets full) tears. They both left us asking for more!

— I’ve been to a few conferences and the professionalism and organization shown at WITS14 was of superior quality, especially for a first edition. You could see that the team thought everything through beforehand.

— The Palmer House Hilton was an excellent choice of host. The hotel is breathtaking (especially the lobby), the venue was enormous and well-divided. We had everything we could have possibly needed for the entire conference. The location was very central as well, which enabled us to take advantage of the St. Patrick’s day parade at lunch time.

— A conference is an excellent opportunity to connect with people who share our passion and understand the issues, challenges and pleasures of our art. This is primarily why I attend this kind of event and WITS14 did not disappoint me. I met a lot of people from all areas of the travel world–travelers, bloggers, reps, future bloggers, etc.–and it opened me up to other realities, which is just what I look for!

— I made some amazing contacts, whether business or friendly. I am still in contact with dozens of people I met at WITS.

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— The atmosphere remained human, accessible and inclusive. It was easy to go talk to people and there was no “snobbery” between different levels of bloggers/travelers, as I have experienced elsewhere. Workshops, although structured, were conducted in a relaxed manner to stimulate discussion.

— Several activities were offered to the attendees (free of charge!) to discover more of Chicago.

— I was luck to be part of the mentoring program offered by the organizers. It promotes a monthly meeting with bloggers at different levels. I am very proud to have been matched with Jeannie Mark who has helped me a lot since then.

My WITS14 Schedule at a Glance

Friday Night

— Opening Party at the Potter Room

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Saturday

— Introduction breakfast with our mentors ~7:30

— Opening keynote and session: Beth Santos & Jeannie Mark ~8:30

— Creating a Diversified Income Portfolio: Gillian Duffy ~9:45

— How to be Your Own Everything: Mickela Mallozzi, Courtney Scott, Gariné Tcholakian ~11:00

— Saint Patrick’s Day Parade and Colouring of the Chicago River ~12:00

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— Cultivating Your Personal Brand with Social Media: Panel ~14:00

— How to be a Rock Star: Brooke Roberts ~15:15

— Networking Power Hour and #girlstravel Tweetup ~16:30

— Travel Massive party @ Gallery Bar

Sunday

— Breakfast and opening session ~8:00

— Travel Vlogging: It’s Better Than Just Writing: Bayyina Black ~9:15

— Monetization 101: Quia Querisma ~10:30

— Closing session and keynote: Evelyn Hannon ~11:45

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I would have loved for the conference to go on and on! It didn’t seem like an official event, more like a bunch of girlfriends getting together in a cool and collected location. WITS14 was by for the most organized conference I have ever been to; it flew by and left me wanting more!

Looking forward to Boston in 2015, see you there!