Our 2016 National Conference was held on Carnival Vista which sailed from Miami. The cruise actually began on Saturday December 3rd, but we had a pre-conference reception at Sheraton Miami Airport the night before.
We booked an early flight (6 AM) to Miami so that we'd take advantage of cheap airfare and also get to the hotel in time for the evening event.
That meant we'd need to get to O'Hare airport around 4:30 AM at the latest. We booked the Hampton Inn O'Hare for the night before because they offered a hotel package which included transfers to the airport and parking for the duration of our cruise.
The airport was decorated for the holiday season. As you can see in this picture, the airport is pretty deserted at this time of morning. It didn't take long to get checked in and through security.
One thing to keep in mind if you have an early flight like we did is that most concession stands at the airport don't open until 5:30 or 6:00 AM. Therefore, we had brought some food for breakfast from home.
Staying at a hotel close to the airport prior to departure is a good way to avoid the stress of rushing to the airport early in the morning.