Recently I stepped on my first airplane in 15 months. I was one of those people who couldn’t book a trip fast enough after I was fully vaccinated, desperate to get out of town for real, and wear shoes for more than a couple of hours in a row. I clearly wasn’t alone, because the airports were packed, the planes were packed, and—aside from the strictly enforced mask policies—it mostly felt like business as usual.

For me, it was liberating. But I can also see how others might still view the teeming masses (masked or not) and shared armrests with trepidation, if not terror. And to those, I say: Hit the road.

Many of you have probably already been doing that throughout the pandemic, jumping in your car when you just couldn’t take another day at your makeshift desk. Driving somewhere (anywhere!) that felt like it was “away,” even if just for an hour or two. A longer, sweeter summer road trip with the family may already be in your rearview mirror by the time you read this August issue. There’s a lot to be said for car travel’s more relaxed timetable, flexibility, and opportunities for fresh air and personal space.

The Healthcare Design Expo & Conference is in Cleveland this year, which is good news for many of you who prefer to stay grounded for a little while longer. It turns out that Cleveland is a pretty easy drive from some good-sized cities in the Midwest and beyond. My personal guideline for work travel: If I can drive there in six hours or less and there are no direct flights available, just hand me the keys.

When you draw a six-hour-radius around Cleveland, it includes Chicago, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Toronto, and almost everywhere in Michigan and West Virginia. Rochester, N.Y., and Cincinnati (where I live) are just four hours away. Buffalo is three, and both Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio, clock in at around two.

If you live anywhere within this radius, I encourage you to seriously consider a road trip to HCD Expo Oct. 23-26. And I can give you three good incentives beyond the whole fear-of-flying-for-whatever-reason argument:

1. Save money and make the most of your resources. Sending two to four team members together in one car is going to be cheaper than separate flights, and they can then divide and conquer to take in more sessions, meet more people, and see more products on the show floor.

2. Team building! There is no better way for co-workers to get to know one another than through a rousing game of music shuffle “Name That Tune” or old school “I Spy.” If that doesn’t work, then after all that time in a car together, you’ll be less tempted to hang out as a pack once you get there—which will encourage more productive networking. It’s a net win either way.

3. Visit Grandpa’s Cheesebarn. If you’re going to access Cleveland via I-71 North, a stop at Grandpa’s Cheesebarn (and the adjacent Sweeties Chocolates) in nearby Ashland, Ohio, beats a bag of trail mix from Hudson News any day. You literally can’t miss it. Trust me on this one.

However you get to Cleveland, I look forward to meeting many of you at the end of October. If you do end up driving, keep an eye out for Executive Editor Anne DiNardo and me in a Honda CR-V. We’ll be the ones blasting ’80s music with a sign in the window saying “HCD OR BUST.”

HCD Checklist

  • There’s still time to take advantage of advance rates for registration! Check out the session lineup, peek at the exhibitors on the show floor, and then sign up at
  • We continue to remain hypervigilant and are regularly updating our Health & Safety Plan according to the latest evidence and guidelines. You’ll find it under the Show tab at
  • HCD Expo Exhibitors: We have some great sponsorship opportunities still available to provide even more exposure before, during, and after the show. Your account rep has details.