This content contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links at no cost to you. Here are all the products that I have recommended in my blog. Most come from my perfect 3-day Chicago travel guide & exploring the Chicago Loop posts. And since I’m not a fan of pop-up ads, I’m taking the affiliate marketing route instead and listing products that I have tested & recommend on this page.
This list has been carefully compiled from my personal research & discoveries from the last 15+ years of being a tour guide. I have tried out, read, applied, worn & carried everything on this page, and I’m sharing these products with you that have helped me stay comfortable (& make it through!) all-day tours.
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must-have gear to survive an all-day tour
Here’s what I use daily:
Just like the buildings on my tours, you need a solid foundation. Good shoes are a must! For most walking tours, I wear my gym shoes (aka sneakers, trainers, etc.). I’m an Asics girl & have been since my running days. And since my visit to a podiatrist earlier this summer because of peroneal tendonitis, I wear them for most of my tours.
When it gets really hot & humid, and I don’t want to wear sneakers and socks, I turn to my Vionics or Birkenstocks. They are cute & comfortable, with great support. Btw these, Vionics are the perfect height when wearing a pneumatic boot. This is important because otherwise, your alignment is off & causes other issues. I also have 2 styles of Birkenstocks, this classic style and also this strappy style. I switch between them & my Vionics.
And when I’m not touring and want a dressier shoe, I go with my Sofft or Danskos. They are both cute with chunky heels & podiatrist approved!
I am always on the lookout for a good water bottle that keeps my water cold and doesn’t sweat or leak in my bag. Love my 40 oz wide-mouth bubba!
Here’s a tour guide trick, freeze plastic bottles of water. They slowly melt, and you’ll have cold water all day on an all-day tour. I do this occasionally on sweltering weather days but mainly stick to using reusable bottles.
While I try to get some vitamin D from the sun, melanoma runs in my family, so I am pretty good about wearing sunscreen. I discovered Supergoop! last year. I use the tinted zinc-based formula for my face, which is 100% mineral, broad-spectrum & reef safe. I love this Supergoop! oil for my body. This broad-spectrum SPF 50 oil has a lightweight & hydrating formula that is reef safe as well. Go with the more economical 5oz bottle, it’ll last you a long time.
I wear sunglasses all the time, even when it’s cloudy. Probably because I wear contacts, but I’m always wearing a pair otherwise, I’m squinting. For that reason, I currently switch between 3 pairs. For bike riding & especially on bright days, I wear my pair from goodr. They are polarized and, offer UV protection at a reasonable price & do a great job. I discovered these while in Texas visiting family and have gone through a few pairs.
My next suggestion is a little more stylish and a little pricier, which is Ray-ban. While I love the aviator style, they get stuck in my hair when I put them on top of my head, so I prefer this Wayfarer style. I have 2 pairs, one basic black and then another brown tortoiseshell. Both are polarized & have UV protection, and offer a lot of color options to choose from.
Another must when on a tour is a good hat. When temps are chillier, or it’s windy, I tend to wear this military-style cap. It has a small brim that keeps the sun off of my face & my naturally curly (sometimes unruly!) hair under control. In the summer, on warm days, I wear this straw hat with a wider brim. It keeps me cool & protected on the sunniest days, and as a bonus, it is packable.
bag for gear
Next is a good-sized bag to put everything in, plus my water, snacks & other stuff I’ll need for the tour. This messenger-style bag works for size & organization and isn’t too heavy since I have to lug it around all day. It’s durable, water-resistant, fits a laptop, and has a lifetime warranty. I also use a backpack and switch off using them. I’m almost due to purchase a new one & am looking at this style.
I grew up in the Midwest & love the change of seasons. Even though winter lingers a bit too long, I know Spring & Summer are inevitably on their way. As the temperatures turn cooler, I’ve discovered the secret to staying warm on the coldest of days. Layers are key. Specifically these layers. A base of silk topped by cashmere. Sounds a little expensive? Typically yes, but I discovered a wonderful brand called Quince that is ethically produced & reasonably priced. They have wonderful natural fiber pieces including linen, silk & cashmere.
I rarely read ‘normal’ books anymore. They pretty much consist of books on Chicago history, not that I actually mind though. Here are a few recommendations.
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. Required reading for Chicago history nerds and docents in training covers the building of the White City (World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893) & murders happening simultaneously. Fascinating & gruesome!
Clara and Mr. Tiffany: A Novel by Susan Vreeland. Historical fiction tells a tale about a talented young woman and her experience working behind the scenes for Louis Comfort Tiffany.
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. A poignant story of a young girl’s experience growing up in Pilsen, a west-side Chicago neighborhood.
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. Not an easy read and you may very well become a vegetarian. A gritty glimpse back in time to the Chicago Stock Yards. Prompted the creation of the FDA.
help a blogger out!
I am constantly looking for great, new products to help me through a full day of touring around this big beautiful city. I intend to add to & update these products often as I make discoveries that I think would be helpful on your travels! Check back often & please help a blogger out & buy something!