Tag Archives: chicago

Travel Writing: Know Before You Go

travel writer

by Catherine L. Tully

Good travel writing starts before you get to the destination. If you want to be a travel writer, you’ll need to get in the habit of doing some legwork on the front end of the trip. Here are three things to do before you go that will help you make the most of your time once you are there:

1. Research the destination on the web.

Take the time to do learn as much as you can about the place you are going. Hit sites like TripAdvisor or Yelp to get an idea of what people are saying about the city. Look at the chamber of commerce page to find local businesses. Scout out reastaurant menus and plan some meals. These days there is no excuse to go to a destination cold. Do some homework… Continue reading Travel Writing: Know Before You Go

Top 5 Tips For Writing Restaurant Reviews

Today we have a special treat for Freelance-Zone readers…a post about writing restaurant reviews by someone who knows this market both inside and out. Christine Tully-Aranza is a 20+ year veteran of the restaurant industry.  She has run some of the country’s finest restaurants, including Chicago’s legendary Spiaggia.  Christine owns and operates a consulting business which provides marketing and communications direction to hospitality and retail clients. She is also a published freelance food writer and blogger. For those of you who dream of being paid to review various dining establishments, we give you:

Photo by Jeff Kauck
Photo by Jeff Kauck

5 Key Tips For Writing Fair & Informative Restaurant Reviews

by Christine Tully-Aranza

Much like those who desire to open a restaurant based solely on the fact that they like to eat out, many writers feel qualified to review restaurants based on the same. But we seldom apply this standard to other industries. I like shoes, but that does not mean I should be writing for Women’s Wear Daily.  So while the average Joe should feel free to publish his or her opinion on comment sites, those who wish to undertake the effort more seriously should always keep the following five tips in mind…

  1. Do your homework.  Contact the restaurant to see if you can obtain information about the Chef/Operators of an establishment as well as the restaurant’s brand statement (if possible) so that you can properly evaluate how well succeed at what they are trying to execute.  Thanks to the internet, most of these materials are at your fingertips on the restaurant’s website. 
  2. Do not review a restaurant the first week it is open, and visit more than once.  Most publications recognize that it takes a bit of time to work out the kinks in the imperfect world of food service, and they seldom review a restaurant in its chaotic first week. Additionally, many good reviewers will visit a restaurant more than once before penning their review.  This is one of the best ways to confirm that your initial assessments are correct.  Continue reading Top 5 Tips For Writing Restaurant Reviews

Tips From Travel Betty


If you are looking for a little inspiration and a lot of good travel tips, check out Travel Betty. In her own words, she:

-Will spend two nights in a $7 room in order to offset a splurge in a $200+ room
-Doesn’t do all-inclusive
-Goes where the wind blows
-Won’t eat a still-beating cobra heart unless she really wants to
-Is always on the lookout for other Travel Betties and Boys
-Respects the culture even if she doesn’t agree
-Supports mom-and-pops over corporations
-Can greet and thank people in their native tongue
-Gets her adrenaline pumping
-Likes to be pampered, not gouged
-Doesn’t always do it perfectly, but is grateful to be doing it at all

Intrigued? Good! I really enjoyed reading her entries, and if you travel–or want to write about it–I’d recommend checking her site out. She’s fun and young and just plain cool. And if she ever gets to Chicago, I hope she looks me up.

Travel For The Writer: Oak Park, IL


This is a great place for writers! (And we know from experience–both Joe Wallace and I have lived there.) The photograph is Pleasant Home, a grand house that is owned by the park district and open to the public. The grounds of the home are a great spot to set up camp with your laptop and write on a warm summer day. The village borders the city of Chicago to the west, so endless material for great articles is a short train ride away.

While you are in the town, visit the Frank Lloyd Wright homes in the area (there are many) and make sure you stop in at the Hemingway Museum and take the tour of the famed author’s birthplace home as well. Oak Park has a fantastic selection of dining options, and if you are looking for a recommendation, I’d say check out Mama Thai on Madison. If you want to have a drink and unwind, take your computer with and go to the Avenue Ale House to hit the rooftop bar for some great atmosphere. For more info, check out the Visitor’s Bureau or drop us a line in the comments section and we’ll be happy to give you the skinny on the best hot spots around.