A Fireside chat with Jeanne & Keri from Heels First Travel

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Welcome to a new Sunday series that will be a bit like a fireside chat. I count it a privilege to be a part of an amazing group of Travel bloggers here at BoardingArea.com. But just how well do you know “your” BoardingArea writers? Are you reading all the blogs you should be each day? This series will help you get to know them one by one. Now on to this weeks chat.

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This week is really a fun fireside chat as you get to learn about a team of women bloggers, that is Jeanne and Keri from Heels First Travel! BoardingArea has not just world class travel experts but ones like Jeanne who can give you a perspective on travel that myself, and and many other male bloggers, just can never bring to the table. Jeanne & Keri bring a lively excitement to travel that makes reading their blog a real joy. Lets get started and get to know all about Heels First Travel!

Rene – Hi Jeanne & Keri, thanks so much for taking the time to sit by the fireplace and let us get to know you two. I love your “tag line” under your blog name that is “Sophisticated travel, Uncomplicated advice”. It really does sum up so much of your blog but I would add contagious enthusiasm to the end. What made you two start to blog and why the power duo-team?

Jeanne – I guess you could say that Keri’s enthusiasm was contagious to me!  Both of us traveled pretty often, but we weren’t really that aware of each others interest.  Once we learned the other one had the travel bug, we kept telling stories that were getting us even more excited about traveling.

We took a trip together and learned we had really similar travel preferences and styles (including the heels!)  We’ve discovered a lot about travel together and it just made sense to share what we were learning as a team.  I feel like I’m a better traveler when my “powers” are combined with Keri’s.  She brings a lot of sophistication to my nerdiness!

Keri – I’d been into miles and points for awhile, but I was rather shy about sharing advice beyond my immediate friends. It was only as I saw Jeanne getting into airline and hotel status as part of her travels that I felt like our experiences might have broader appeal.

It can be intimidating when you first start learning, but if you have people encouraging you and sharing tips along the way like we did, it can also be fun. In addition to having similar travel preferences, Jeanne and I also share the ability to laugh at ourselves and our trials and errors. It was on one of our first mileage runs together that we were like, “if we can figure this out, anyone can!” And thus the idea for the blog was born.

Jeanne is better at the more technical, detailed aspects that help me be more disciplined in my strategy and I bring a crazy love of one-day trips across the continent that’s helped boost her EQMs. Together we bring a perspective that I hope makes travel seem more accessible (and entertaining) for anyone.

Rene –  (smile) I love it. You two do bring something so unique that few other blogs have. OK so let’s say someone is new to Heels First Travel. Is your blog focused toward womens travel or just what is it all about?

Jeanne – We cover a lot of topics that are interesting mostly to women–fashion, beauty, and of course, heels!  But I think the overall theme of sophisticated travel applies to a broader audience than just women.  For example, when we reviewed the Birchboxes, we also reviewed the men’s version of the product.  Believe it or not, I received quite a few emails asking me for follow up information about the men’s boxes too (and I ended up sending out the samples I received to readers since, well, I didn’t need them as much!).

I’m speaking for myself right now and not Keri, but I think that we don’t notice how many products on other bloggers sites are geared towards men–the style of luggage or briefcases, or even the types of experience people prefer.  But that makes sense since there are so many male bloggers, and those are items and experiences they prefer!  We’re sharing what we love with our audiences, and I think that appeals to other women.

Keri – I’d say our focus is on enjoying the experience of travel and discovering the many things within easy reach you can do to make a trip far more enjoyable. Getting a hotel room with a great view doesn’t have to rely on luck, nor does getting re-booked on the next flight out. That applies to anyone!

But since we’re all about sharing the things we’ve discovered, some of those insights are going to be more geared toward women — beauty products, comfortable heels, etc. Although, I do think anyone who tries my favorite face cream on a long flight is going to be won over by how much better their skin feels!

Rene –  I love it and I think you are being modest. Take your “Travel Tips” tab it is great advice for anyone but I must say many of us “guys” can do well to follow your blog and ideas as many of us have a feminine presence in our lives (we guys seem to have issues understanding women so all the help we can get the better). OK I am way off topic! 🙂 So how in the world did you end up at BoardingArea and your blog looks very different from other “BA” blogs. Tell us about this too.

Jeanne – When we started blogging, we admired Boarding Area and the bloggers that wrote for it.  We hoped to be worthy of its ranks at some point 🙂

But when we started, we had an unusual combination of someone who can build websites (me) and a marketer (Keri).  We thought really long and hard about our brand and how we wanted to tell our stories.  Our posts tend to be more of a narrative style and we rely heavily on pictures.  We based a lot of the front page of our site around this visual and narrative approach to travel.  We wanted people basically to see a quick representation of what trips, deals, and experiences are open to you in the world of travel when you come to our front page.

When we were asked to be on Boarding Area, we were shocked and flattered!  We really wanted to become part of the team, but we also felt sort of like the website was our child.  We put so much time into thinking about the look and our brand–so we were thrilled when Randy said we could keep it!  (Though I do have to admit I’m glad to have more writing time, now that I’m not the one maintaining the site)

Keri – I’m still not quite sure how we got on BoardingArea! Many of the blogs were my inspiration for travel, so I’m still in awe that we’re one of them! But like Jeanne said, when we did get the invitation to join, I wanted to make sure we could keep our layout if we accepted.

We spent a lot of time choosing the layout. Breaking away from the traditional full post layout was a big decision. When you skim a website, pictures can be far more effective at helping you identify the most relevant content. We might not be the world’s best photographers, but a picture of us eating sundaes on a mileage run or squishing into the world’s smallest rental car sometimes conveys alot more than a big block of text.

Rene –  Neat (and for those who don’t know some of BoardingaArea’s sites are “self hosted” and partners with BA and the rest are maintained by BA itself). It is great to have you two blogging at BA and I have to admit I find myself automatically  smiling each time I read your “guys” posts.  So tell us what is next for you two. What amazing trips and tips are on the way from Heels First this year?

Jeanne – Right now I’m in the planning stages for a few leisure trips.  This time of year, I’m doing marathon work travel.  I won’t be home the majority of April which is crazy for me to think about!  So expect a lot of posts during that time period about missed connections and other random things that happen while you are traveling because I travel on a tight schedule when I’m traveling for work.  I could miss out on meetings or events (though please don’t root for that, even IF they would make interesting blog posts 😉 )

I’m working on another trip with my mother this year.  Last year, I surprised her with a trip to Paris [can we link to this?] and that’s really hard to top–so we’re collaborating together this time and bringing our spouses.  My husband would like to see New Zealand, so I’m looking into what sort of trips I can pull off with the New American (I was a US Airways Loyalist!)

 We’re trying to do a strong focus on travel tips this month, so expect February to be filled with tips on traveling comfortably, stylishly, and in first class!

Keri – I’m still working my way through the trips I booked during the Wideroe.no deal, so this month our site is going to have a heavy Ireland focus. That deal is also helping me fulfill a childhood dream to visit Vienna and watch the Lippezaner stallions perform in the Spanish Riding School, so there will probably be exhaustive posts on the “horse ballet.”

Later this year I finally get to stay at the Conrad Koh Samui, a destination I’ve wanted to visit since before it was built. And I’m super excited that I’ve finally gotten my Dad enthused about travel, so there will be random trip reports when we visit my favorite domestic destinations.

Rene – I cannot wait. Jeanne & Keri thank you so much for taking the time to get to know you and to learn about Heels First Travel.

Jeanne – Rene, thanks so much for having me!  Thanks to your blog, flying my non-usual airline doesn’t feel as scary anymore 😉

Keri – Thank you! I do enjoy your posts, although I sometimes worry you might win me over from the dAArk side.:)

You can follow Jeanne & Keri on their blog at BoardingArea, follow them on Twitter and Facebook,  Google+  as well as get post updates via RSS feed. Be sure to check back next week to get to know another of “your” favorite BoardingArea bloggers! – René
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