I have been looking around this site for a few days now and must say I have found it to be user friendly.Also unlike FT I have found it is easy to post pictures.Now I like doing TRs but like to use photos.I have never mastered the art of posting pics on FT so they have missed out.Hopefully I can bring a different perspective to travel.Basically a retired couple(I work part time to finance our travel) who prefer to travel in premium cabins,have become status chasers,love our food from Michelin 3 hat restaurants to street food.We have gone past the stage of having to do everything so often end up doing some very different things in our travels.most of my TRs will have debuted on AFF(an Australian frequent flyer site)so i apologise to all those I recognise from there.I hope others may get something out of my reports.I have left links to hotel reviews on AFF. We have been travelling to the USA for the past 30 years.We have driven and slept in all 50 states plus DC.Our son went to Wharton and lived and worked in NYC for 5 years.So this was our latest trip-4 weeks of driving through 5 states.A bit of travel,shopping advice thrown in.We had spent a month in Europe prior to this. This part of our trip starts with our arrival at ORD after flying AA from FRA.Our plane got to the furthest gate from Immigration just after 1700.It was a long walk but despite our dicky knees we were first from our flight to Immigration.There were only a few left from the previous flight from China.Everyone was getting their photo and 10 digits analysed-I just put my 4 right fingers on the reader and the fellow said OK on your way.Our bags were just coming out as we arrived at the carousel.They were not in the first lot but who cares-the baggage handlers were obviously efficient as it was about 15-20 minutes from deplaning to leaving the airport. So it was off to Dollar rentals.It appears to be an ORD thing but once again we were downgraded getting a Chevvy Malibu as a full size(the last time was with Hertz).It didn't make that much difference as we still had everything in 2 bags.Then it was off to the HGI Oakbrook Terrace-a brand that we enjoy.This one selected as it was close to a Mall with all the major Dept stores plus not far from a major factory outlet mall-Aurora Premium outlets. Here there was absolutely no difference in our treatment as HH gold to when we were diamond-room on top floor on side away from road with complimentary brekkie and 2 waters.As with most HGIs there is a complimentary business centre with 2 computers. The next morning we were off to Aurora along with thousands of others for the Labor Day sales.By the time we left there were long lines of cars waiting just to get into the parking lot.Mrslatrobe was in fine form so we had quite a few parcels to drop back at the HGI before we hit the Department stores.After that we go off to Red Lobster for dinner-one of our favourites. Tips-always take your automobile club or whatever card with you if it is affiliated with AAA.You get lots of discounts-eg an extra 10% off at Gap outlets(not stores) and 20% off at Rockport,Reebok outlets.Sometimes you have to point out the AAA logo on the back of the card.For all discounts look here- Welcome AAA Affiliates If you want to shop at Macy's go to the store office and get a visitor's discount card.You can get this at any Macys store in the States.It usually gives you 10% off but occasionally it is 11%. For chain restaurants go to their website and see if they have a frequent diners program or even just coupons.For example we have both joined up Red Lobster's Fresh Catch club and regularly get coupons for $3-4 off main meals.For the month after your birthday a coupon for a bit extra-and we were in time for mrslatrobe's birthday coupon to be valid. Whilst on shopping though you can also get the shopping discounts at Bloomingdales and also we have got it at Dillards in NYC-other dillards though have denied knowledge of it. The Chicago stay was just to recuperate from Europe and begin the shopping so the next day we were off to SFO.Down to breakfast early but there was a large Chinese tour group having brekkie so we missed the hot breakfast.Then a leisurely drive back to ORD.The Dollar lot is right at the end of a runway so every 20-30 seconds there was a plane overhead- The driver of the courtesy bus,Alvin,was a cheerful fellow who was not a bad singer.He was quick to unload our bags and I was happy to tip him-others didn't.To F checkin.Bags now weigh 38,42 and 46.5lb.An increase of 13kg since arriving 36 hours before!Obviously carry on only is not for us.through the priority security lane quickly and to the Flagship lounge at K18.Now no where near as good as F lounge in SYD but IMHO better than the QF SIN Flounge.Very quiet. AA451.ORD-SFO.ETD-0945.ETA-1230 Actual pushback-1035.At gate-1315. The obligatory foot shot A new B738.Woman captain.Seats 6D,F-changed as change of equipment-though with FEBO these are not a problem.efficient service and meal reasonable- Mrslatrobe's chicken salad. And I had the quesadilla. Amazing flying over Colorado and Utah. Once again we are at furthest gate from baggage carousel.Ours are out first.To get to rental cars you have to take the airtrain to the rental car centre-a bit of a hike and I would prefer the courtesy coach set up.At Dollar we do get the booked car-a Dodge Charger but for the first time we are hit with the bring it back empty line.However i say we are just going to Napa and we are allowed to bring it back full. Heavy traffic on 101 and I80 until we go over the Solano bridge.One of our favourite restaurants,The Dead Fish,is here but we are not feeling hungry.So on to Napa.Bumper to bumper traffic on hway29 into Napa.Maybe should have considered elsewhere on a holiday long weekend. The Napa stay is next.