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Fight Airport Boredom

May 27, 2010

I mentioned earlier today that I love airports.
I love people watching. I love hearing other people’s stories. I love being somewhere with no where to go, and no choice but to do whateverthehelliwantto while I sit at the gate, coffee shop, or in the large comfy chairs in the lobby.  No sink full of dishes waiting for me, no looming contact information in Portuguese for me to try to translate with no real knowledge of the language, no laundry to fold, no place to be other than the gate a few minutes before boarding. I can catch up on Google Reader, watch television programs on Hulu, read an actual book, make friends with cute boys, watch CNN, tweet like a madwoman, take a nap: all with out feeling like I should be doing something else. 

To me, the airport is my “free zone.”  Especially when I am traveling alone.  It’s the first few hours, or last few hours of vacation and I am going to use that to my full advantage. If you ask me, the airport is a guilt free zone.


For tonight’s flight to Madison, I left my apartment at 1:45 PM.
My flight is scheduled to depart at 7:15 PM.
The airport is 15 minutes away….see where this is going?
”Five plus hours at the airport, all alone – but don’t you get bored?”


My home airport, Albany International, offers free wi-fi.  Even when I’m visiting an airport that doesn’t offer free wireless, I have the awesome blackberry tether which allows my netbook internet to be powered through my blackberry. [side note plug: it’s super fast, considering it’s my blackberry sending magical internet vibes to my computer.  I don’t try to watch Hulu or open 10 windows at once: but I am able to read blogs, gchat with several people, stalk facebook, and be on Tweetdeck simultaneously.  If you have a blackberry and a laptop/netbook I HIGHLY suggest it.  Totally worth the price and they have great customer service!]

Awesome internet access anywhere I have cell service aside, I’ve never been bored in the airport.  Even that time I was at the Atlanta airport for over 14 hours on pain meds, I wasn’t bored. [you guys are learning all about my crazy luck with flights, today, aren’t you?]


When I am in the airport for several hours, I always have something to do.  Of course, there is the normal – Read. Shop. Get Tipsy on $12 drinks at the Chili’s too. Duh.  But when I travel by airplane, I like to be prepared. [maybe it’s my history of long days in airports, maybe it’s my multitasking nature…who knows.]


A Few Suggestions for Fighting Airport Boredom:

Say It: Stick 2-3 thank you notes or blank cards in the book you plan on taking in your carry on.  Take a moment to jot down a note of gratitude for someone in your life. I always keep a book of stamps in my wallet, but most airports have places you can purchase stamps and a drop box (or several!) for outgoing mail. You can also splurge on a postcard from the gift shop to drop a note to a loved one.  One of my favorite habits is to send “Thank You” post cards from the city I’m visiting to the person who hosted me.  It’s as simple as a line that says, “I truly enjoyed my time in Chicago!  Thank you for providing me a loving place to stay.  I understand the lyrics “Sweet home, Chicago” in a whole new way after spending time in your home!”  Small details make a large impact!

Ace It: Most of the time I travel with a deck of cards, even if I’m traveling by myself. You have no idea how much of a traveling superhero you are to the mom traveling alone with her 7 year old, 9 year old, and baby when your 3 hour delay becomes a few dozen games of go fish. One time when traveling to a conference for an old job, I ended up playing war with a 72 year old man for a good hour or so, listening to his stories as we flipped our cards was more entertainment than any in-flight movie could ever offer.

Create It: If you don’t travel with a notebook, I’m sorry for you. But a napkin, back of a Hudson News receipt, or an extra paper bag you ask the cashier in the food court for will do: make a list. (or two or three) You have time to sit and gaze out the window and dream for a while, why not take advantage. Airports are great places to start To Do lists: bucket, 101 in 1001, summer goals, places to travel in my lifetime – sure. But you have also landed (hardy har har) in a great location for reflection. Words would best describe me. Favorite travel memories. Every song I’ve ever called my favorite in my lifetime. Maybe instead of listing you could sketch what you see around you? Don’t think your any good at drawing? When’s the last time you tried?

Listen, Learn, Laugh It: Podcast your heart out. Have you seen my guest post on Abby Normally? I have several podcasts downloaded that I plan on moving to my iPod in the next few days.

View It: Many airports have art work on display.  Some have galleries, some have huge exhibits that lend history lessons on the city you are departing. When I am in full travel planning mode, I check out the airport website and see what it has to offer.  Earlier this week I was pretty excited when I found out that Madison’s Dane County Airport currently has display of Brothers Grimm work, entitled "Once Upon a Time, The Brothers Grimm Life and Work."  Upon learning this, I may have also downloaded a podcast from Stuff You Missed in History Class on the Brothers Grimm, as well.


Does that make me a travel nerd?

8 Comments leave one →
  1. May 27, 2010 8:19 pm

    Aw I love this post. Good for you for taking some much needed “me” time. I love the idea of showing up to the airport way early to chill and DO nothing, or anything you want. Have a safe flight!

  2. Kelly permalink
    May 27, 2010 8:48 pm

    The ability to Tether might be the one reason that I am sad that I have an iPhone and not a Blackberry.

    Loving your travel tips. 🙂

  3. May 27, 2010 9:38 pm

    I went and read your gallbladder story and it brought back crazy memories of my back surgery.

    I love airports and love to arrive early to explore and enjoy. And free wifi at Albany international is the best. I love it when I have to fly.

  4. May 28, 2010 6:34 am

    I love the card tip! It seems like we all get a little busy in our every day lives and using flight time to tell those around us thank you is wonderful!

  5. May 28, 2010 8:05 am

    HA–I love this 🙂 I spend a ton of time in airports too!!

    So happy to have found your blog.

  6. kirsten permalink
    May 29, 2010 9:10 am

    hey heather, I just started reading your blog and realized that you live in albany! I went to school upstate NY (in Oneonta, about an hour from Albany) and I was wondering what brought you to the area? I live in “downstate” ny now (Westchester county) but I will always love upstate NY and its small town feel. I miss it so much, especially during the fall.

  7. Jenn permalink
    June 1, 2010 2:45 pm

    Noooo…. I love your suggestions and I take notes and journal and all kinds of stuff like that when I am traveling by air. I love getting my nails done, or a massage, having a couple of GOOD glasses of wine in the new wine bar in Seatac! I have had some of my more insightful note taking sessions while on an airplane! So go you!


  1. Sweet Home, Chicago « Then Heather Said

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