In the interest of full disclosure, I really dislike traveling. My idea of traveling is making my way 24 miles from my home in midtown Houston to my parents’ house in Katy, TX by way of a decade-old Corolla.
Hardly the jet-setting, 4,800+ miles to London in a Boeing 767.
It’s part of my nature not to want to be away from my home. It makes it so that when I’m in a temporary home (read: hotel) in another city, I start to get antsy. So for me, half of the fun of travel is the literal travel itself. I love being in an airplane, I love airports and taxis, I love airport bars.
When I’m sitting around in San Diego waiting for my layover flight back to Houston, there’s something so engaging about hitting up the crappy Home Turf Sports Bar with a beer and people watching. No need to break out the computer.
So in honor of travel itself, I present to you The Oscars of Literal Travel, my takes on the best of the best in enjoying the trip itself, and not necessarily the destination.
Here’s the deal: Before all you travelers and jet-setters and skip-town-to-Vegas-for-one-day-ers tell me I’m wrong with these, I know that I don’t travel a lot. I’ve hit my fair share of American airports, but no, I haven’t been to Seattle or Portland or to any in Florida. Fair warning.
Best Airport: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
There is nothing better than ATL’s long halls. If you compare airports to malls, most are convoluted and next to impossible to navigate with escalators and floors and gates that you have to take three trams to get to before realizing you still need to go up another level. (Yes, IAH, you’re that bad.)
For such a major city with a major airline hub, Atlanta’s airport gets it right. There’s no mistaking where you need to go: Just walk down the hall. You want to remove some stress from traveling? Just take out all that worry of touching down in a new place and having no clue where to go. In Atlanta, you just walk. Check out that terminal map to the left. Head to Atlanta and the worry about finding your gate will be a thing of the past.
Best Airport Eating: Pappadeaux’s (IAH)
I may be a little partial here, but there is nothing like Pappadeaux’s before catching a flight out of your home town. Sure, it’s a “chain” in the sense that they have more than one location, but the fried alligator is so damn good, you can’t pass it up—and I hate seafood. Combine that with a good draft beer selection and a very close proximity to Terminal D and E, it’s a can’t miss. If you’re not a Houstonian, try to fly Continental and get a gate out of D and hit it up.
Best Airport Bar: The “Restaurant Area” in Columbia Metropolitan Airport
When I’m traveling, I don’t want glitz and glamour. I don’t want to have my attire checked at a door with a dude with an earpiece checking a list like I’m at some uppity club on Washington Ave. I want a beer. I want it cold and I want it fast because we all know the layover isn’t long enough.
So don’t give me Vino Volo. Give me the wide open area in what Columbia Metropolitan calls its “restaurant area.” Familiar with the airport because I went to school there, the airport is so small it’s got only one terminal with two sides, joined together by this “restaurant area” that offers a view of the entire terminal. (Check out the layout for yourself.) Just hop up to the bar, grab a tall cold one and commence to people watching. You get to see all of the comings and goings and there’s no chance you’ll miss your flight because you got held up behind a ridiculously over-sized golf cart.
Best Nap Material: Nothing
After moving and shaking in between (or before) your flight(s), you want to do nothing but nap it up. Don’t reach for those headphones, don’t put on that movie. Just put your head up against the window. Nothing beats the hum of the plane buzzing along thousands of feet above the bustling earth.
Let me know I’m wrong!
If you’re a fan of Schipul and are reading this blog, we know you are most likely a traveler with an opinion. Let us know YOUR favorite travel trip spots—not your favorite destination. Let me know which airport I need to make my layover in so I can hit up that bar—and not even want to leave the airport.