Jetting Around with Pola

It’s not always when destiny gives you a chance to meet someone for the first time & you end up becoming a big admirer and friend of that person for the rest of your life. Today I have with me one such person who is a lady with many hats. Our paths crossed in Agra and since then she has been a constant source of inspiration for me day-to-day. Presenting Pola – a much talked about travel blogger from Chicago whose writings and photographs have been published on CNN, Yahoo, Expedia and many others.

In Chicago 

Tell everyone about yourself:

I am Pola, a Chicago-based traveler originally from Krakow, Poland. I run Jetting Around, a blog dedicated to city travel, and I’m also the owner of a communications company JA Media.

What inspired your blog Jetting Around?

Traveling and writing had been a part of my life for many years. However, I didn’t think to combine those interests until a trip to Toronto in 2009.

I was there with a group of friends, but one morning I decided to explore the city alone. Despite the rain and low temperatures, I enjoyed walking around for hours, going from one neighborhood to another, taking photos and notes. I was in my element. Back home a friend casually asked why I don’t write about travel. That soon changed…

Pola - Jetting Around

What inspired your move to Chicago after living in Poland and North Africa?

I married a Chicagoan. We met when Don was an English teacher in Krakow, and decided to move a few years later. Don wanted to make use of his business degree, but didn’t speak enough Polish. Since I knew English, the choice was simple.

Was it easy to settle in Chicago after moving from Poland?

The first few months were tough emotionally, because I had left behind family, friends, and favorite places. But I was familiar with Chicago thanks to a couple of earlier visits, so the transition was fairly smooth. Going back to school and following local sports helped too.

Chicago - my home since 2002

If I were to move again, I’d miss Chicago. It has really become my second home.

How do you stick to a budget when you travel?

I start by looking for flight and hotel deals, which often requires me to be flexible with travel dates. On the road, I have no problem going for street food if that means splurging on one high-end meal later. My favorite activity is walking around – you get to see a lot without spending a dime.

How has travelling changed you as a person?

Travel has made me curious about the world (places, food, culture) and interested in learning languages. But to pinpoint one example – when I volunteered at a day care center in Ecuador last year, I learned how much patience I had and how easily I connect with children.

What is the one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you started traveling?

It’s too bad that didn’t get the right credit card to accumulate airline miles a few years earlier.

Streets in Krakow's Old Town

What is it like traveling with your husband? Did you have any “I’m going to kill you” moments?

Haha! Luckily, we have a similar travel style and interests, but sometimes have to do our own thing for a while… Any misunderstandings blow over quickly, because we know that we rely on each other when traveling.

From all of the countries that you have visited, what is the one place that has fascinated you the most? The place that left you speechless? That place you found most inspiring?

Paris has been my slight obsession since I first visited in 2007. It has that special vibe that energizes me. Maybe it’s the right mix of architectural beauty, cultural activities, and… cafés.

Paris - one of my favorite destinations

The place that recently left me speechless is Big Island, Hawaii. I went to the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park after dark to see lava glow coming out of the Halema’uma’u Crater. As if that wasn’t striking enough, the Milky Way was clearly visible in the sky. It seemed so close you could almost touch the stars… I didn’t want to leave.

Have you ever been cheated or scammed on your trip? What advice you have for others to avoid it?

Sadly, it happened in my home country… On the way to the Warsaw airport, ticket controllers on the bus insisted that we hadn’t paid the right fare. It wasn’t true, but they knew we had a flight to catch and could force us to pay them off. Next time I’ll take a taxi.

Your best travel moment.

A three-day road trip through the Andes Mountains in northwestern Argentina. The views were out of this world and I had to pinch myself many times… Also, it was my first time driving stick in 15 years. I enjoyed it more than I had anticipated.   

Driving through the Andes in Argentina

Your worst travel experience.

Getting food poisoning in Palm Spring, California (out of all places). I spent the whole night in ER, only to get my symptoms back in the morning. It was during a work conference and I had to miss a day.

Pola Henderson is the founder and editor of Jetting Around, a blog dedicated to city travel. Her writing and photography has also been published on CNN, Yahoo, and Expedia, among other outlets. Pola grew up in Krakow, Poland, lived in North Africa, and has called Chicago home since 2002. In addition to writing, Pola hosts a weekly city travel discussion on Twitter called #JAchat and international networking events for travelers, JA Café: Travel Talk Over Coffee. She is also the owner of a communications company JA Media. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.


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