24 hours in Little Rock


Little Rock was a pleasant surprise to me.  I don’t know what I was expecting, but there were cute neighborhoods, a vast waterfront area with shops and food halls, and of course, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library (which I obviously knew about).

The capital city of Arkansas, it is a medical, cultural and financial hub of the state and of the south, due to its presence next to the Arkansas river.  I passed through briefly on a road trip and I thoroughly enjoyed my stay there.  So much so that I want to go back…and go diamond hunting.  Gonna find me lots of “little rocks,” hopefully.

Little Rock wit u…

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know before you go: Reagan (DCA)


DC metro area has a plethora of options transportation wise, being our nation’s capitol, with three major airport allowing for travel to this area.  Dulles, Baltimore and Reagan all feed our nation’s capital.  Reagan National is probably the least chaotic and most convenient. Located in Arlington, VA, it’s a quick Metro ride away from the city center.

As a hub for American Airlines, there are very limited international flights allowed to land here (must be from countries that have pre-clearance US Customs facilities), instead those flights go to Dulles or Baltimore.

Terminal A has 9 gates and operates flights from Air Canada, Frontier, Southwest and Sun Country.  Where it gets a little tricky is that B and C are split into three concourses. Terminal B serves Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue and United with gates 10-22, Terminal B/C gates 23-34 and Terminal C gates 35-45.  Terminal C is used by American and Virgin.

Remember: ✈️ = popcorn jelly belly to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = pear jelly belly

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️ (quick train ride from the city, traffic in DC can be bad so plan accordingly)

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️✈️ (it can be a long haul from the train station to Terminal A, like so long I thought I had crossed into another state)

Convenience of check in/security lines: ✈️✈️ (security is long here, but for good reason)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️ (Starbucks, of course, Chick Fil-A, Legal Seafood, Pinkberry)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️  (not the newest or cleanest)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️ (free wifi available, designated charging areas)

Amenities: ✈️✈️ (lounges available, it is DC after all; Smithsonian and Spanx stores–just in case you forgot your shapewear?)


3 days in Austin


They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and they’re right.  You will have a hugely gratifying experience when you visit Austin.  The capital city is a mix of college town, music hub, antique treasure trove, yuppie wonderland; there are so many facets to it, all enjoyable. Austin is famous for many things, but SXSW and Austin City Limits festivals are held here and are awesome.  I’ve yet to attend SXSW, but ACL is one of the most well run festivals.  Since it’s ACL time soon, this guide takes that into consideration for your plans, from Friday to Sunday.

Austin will always hold a special place in my heart, as I once saw Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers walking around and he gave me a head nod there.  I haven’t washed my eyes since.

the stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas…

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know before you go: Charlotte (CLT)


Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) is a major hub for American Airlines, so if you’re trying to get from the West Coast to anywhere in the South/East, chances are, you’ve had a stop here.  It’s actually a fairly large, aesthetically pleasing airport (trees line atriums where there’s plentiful seating on rocking chairs, all that’s missing is a sweet tea) with one of the only observation decks in the US to watch planes come and go.

A split commercial and military airport, the public side is split into 5 concourses: A-E with about 100 gates total.

A is used for Air Canada, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest and United.  B, C, and E are used by American and American Eagle, and D is International flights.

The dining options in this airport are some of the best fast food fare available: Chick-Fil-A, Papa John’s, Bojangles, Starbucks, Wendy’s, Cinnabon, Brioche Doree, some local Carolina grub, too.  There’s decent sit down fare, both local and chain (Phillips Seafood, CPK).  There’s an abundance of riches in the yogurt department too: Pinkberry, Red Mango, and TCBY.

Remember: ✈️ = Charlotte’s Web to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = “SOME PIG”

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️✈️ (it’s a very large sprawl)

Convenience of check in/security lines: ✈️✈️

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (for the scale of this airport: a lot of different options from BBQ to sushi to seafood and Mexican; get the extra ✈️ for having more than four options for frozen yogurt/ice cream)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️  (free wifi available)

Amenities: ✈️✈️ (regular shopping, a few spas, American Admiral’s Club)


know before you go: San Diego (SAN)


San Diego (SAN) airport is a condundrum to me.  It is beautiful for sure, the weather is always 70 degrees and sunny, but the planning of the airport itself is very strange.

My main gripe about it, is that you have to exit one area of the terminal one to get to another, having to go through security again, if you’re making a connection.  This is the worst.  I’ve done this several times for Southwest.  Once, they actually took me onto the tarmac to get from one terminal to the other to help me catch a flight due to a delay (this was the time I was trying to make a game of the World Series and had to go to Oakland instead of SFO).

There are technically three terminals in this airport (one is a commuter terminal).  Terminal one serves Alaska, Frontier and Southwest and has 19 gates.  Terminal 2 has 32 gates for everything else: Air Canada, American, British Airways, Delta, Hawaiian, Japan, JetBlue, United, Virgin America, etc.  Each terminal is split into East and West which is where the whole confusion of security happens during layovers.

It is a single runway airport, so taxi times can be long.  There’s also sound ordinances so you won’t be taking many red eye flights from here.  On the plus side, it is pretty close to downtown, and has a very easy pick/up drop off area.  And the weather can’t be beat. Because it is a single runway, the planes land the same every time, so try to get a seat on the left side of the plane from your destination for the dramatic ocean view upon arrival.

There’s some local restaurants in Terminal 2, the usual airport market cafe grab and gos and a decent burger place in Terminal 1.  Not much shopping other than your typical Hudson News and bookstores.  There s a Delta and United lounge and some Be relax spas.  They are undertaken an expansion, so hopefully more shopping and dining options will be available to this very busy airport for both air and cruise travelers.

Remember: ✈️ = San Diego Zoo is less of a zoo than this place to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = stay classy, San Diego

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️

Convenience of check in/security lines: ✈️✈️

Dining: ✈️✈️

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️  (free wifi available)

Amenities: ✈️✈️ (minimal shopping, spas, airline lounges)



3 days in Memphis


“For reasons I cannot explain there’s some part of me wants to see Graceland” –Paul Simon.

Graceland has been on my bucket list since the first time I heard Are You Lonesome Tonight? by the king himself.  That is one of my mom’s favorite songs and she used to play the hell out of it when we were kids, so Elvis has a special place in my heart.

Memphis is a crossroads of music, culture, social consciousness, food.  This is the city of three Kings: Elvis, MLK, and BB.  There’s so much to take in that a weekend isn’t enough, but that did not stop me from trying.  You can’t help falling in love with this town.

everybody let’s rock…

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know before you go: Tokyo Narita (NRT)



Japan is one of my all time favorite traveling destinations; it’s also a busy layover spot to get to the rest of Asia.  It is amazing to me how a country can be universally reserved and orderly while being culturally avante garde.  Japan is an amazing contradiction of tradition and progress.  Unfortunately I’ve only been there twice, but hoping to go back many more times in my life.

Traveling to Japan, the tone is set when you arrive at Narita Tokyo International Airport (NRT).  This airport is huge and awesome and clean.  There are three terminals encompassing somewhere around ~155 gates. Terminal one is split into a North and South wing, with the North serving Delta/SkyTeam carriers (Aeromexico, Air France, China, China Eastern, China Southern, KLM, Korean, Vietnam), Hawaiian.  The South encompasses United/Star Alliance carriers (Air Canada, ANA, Egypt, EVA, Lufthansa, Singapore, South Africa, Swiss, Thai, Turkish) and Etihad.

Terminal 2 is where Japan Airlines operates along with American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, FinnAir, Iberia, Qantas, Tam and a few airlines from other Asian countries.  Terminal 3 is for low cost carriers.  This airport is amazing for layovers as there’s a ton to do, but it is somewhat far from the city, so you can’t just make a quick trip into Edo itself (it’s 40 miles away) if you only have a few hours.

The food here is amazing, but I am biased because if I can get a decent bowl of ramen in an airport, it’s shooting to the top of the list (that’s right, Heathrow ;).  There’s your regular McDonald’s, Starbucks offerings for western food, but if you’re laying over in Japan, enjoy Japanese food! There’s udon, soba, sushi, curry, yakatori, ramen, donburi, tonkatsu shops, and a food bar where you can get ALL of these things.  I spend most of my time here stuffing myself (but if you’re flying on JAL, save your stomach for their snacks and yuzu sky time drink).

There are luxury and duty free shops galore: Ferragamo, Tiffany & Co, Burberry, etc, but I recommend hitting up the Japanese convenience stores, Hello Kitty, and souvenir shops.  Where else are you gonna get your last minute Japanese KitKats for your flight?

Remember: ✈️ = Sayonara, sucker  to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = domo arigato, mr. roboto

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️ (far from city center, BUT there are trains that go directly to the airport)

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️✈️  (it’s very large, but there’s an abundance of clear signs in Japanese and English)

Convenience of check in/security lines: ✈️✈️  (it’s a very busy airport, but they go as efficiently as they can)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️  (Japanese food bonanza)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (like everything in Japan very clean, and has their musical toilets with the automatic seat covers)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️ (free wifi not available, decent amount of charging)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ (lots of things to see, shops, food, japanese culture, kabuki, shower and rooms available to rent, airline lounges, observation deck to watch takeoffs and landings–I want to live here)



3 days in Copenhagen


I can safely report that there is nothing rotten in the state of Denmark.  In fact, I can certify that Denmark is 100% fresh after spending a few days there (rotten tomatoes reference for us nerds).

Danes are known for their convivial spirit as embodied in the trendy term hygge (pronounced who-guh).  There’s no corresponding English word, but it is approximated to cosiness in life, i.e. drinking hot chocolate with your friends by an open fire with a wool blanket while wearing yoga pants.  Hygge is also personal responsibility: the Danish are have a great deal of respect and care for their homeland and fellow man.  They’re said to be one of the happiest peoples in the world and it’s probably because of this trust and friendliness.  People don’t lock their bikes up. This blew my mind.

I spent a culture, food, art, architectural jam packed three days here, and it left me wanting to go back and experience more of that hygge life.  Read my itinerary and tips after the jump.  Hygge down!

I wanna Dansk with somebody…

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know before you go: Orlando (MCO)

With the devastation of Hurricane Irma hitting our friends in Florida, a tribute to one of the most family friendly airports seems appropriate.  It’ll take time to rebuild the cities affected by the hurricane, but again, Floridians and those from all over who are drawn to this vibrant community will be heading back into Orlando to enjoy all of the sights it has to offer in no time.

It’s no surprise that this is one of the busiest airports in the US.  I feel like every person I know has been here at least once, if not with your parents on your way to Disney World, then as a parent on your way to Disney World.  Only 6 miles from the city, MCO features one main terminal split into two concourses, A and B.  Each concourse is split into two airsides, 1 and 2 in A and 3 and 4 in B, totaling about 130 gates (it’s huge).  Confused yet?

A services flights from Alaska, JetBlue, Southwest, Virgin as well as Aer Lingus, Aeromexico, Azul, Copa, Norwegian and Westjet.  B contains flights from America, Delta, Spiriti, United.  International flights on Air Canada, British Airways, Emirates, IcelandAir, Lufthansa, and Virgin operate out of airside 4 in this terminal.

That may sound like a conundrum, but everything is connected to the main hub by people movers, which makes things pretty simple.   The whole central part of airport is like a huge mall with a big food court.  There’s a ton of things to see and eat here and the majority of food is before security, which is nice for variety sake.  There’s 7 places where you can get frozen treats including 2 Carvels, 2 Pinkberrys.  There’s almost every type of fast food option (Chick Fil-A, Burger King, McDonald’s, Chipotle, Jersey Mike’s) and a few sit downs: Cask & Larder, Macaroni Grill, McCoy’s, On the Border, Outback Steakhouse.  There are also several airline lounges and spas in the event that you need some me time after having a theme park bonanza during your stay in FL.

If you forgot to buy your mouse ears or Harry Potter wand, don’t despair, there’s Disney Store, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld and all sort of toy stores to get your last bit of money spent before you leave this magical land of attractions.  The main thing is that this airport was designed to occupy your kids during layovers.  It makes this airport an attraction on its own, not to be missed.

Remember: ✈️ = animal kingdom to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = happiest place on earth

Convenience from city: ✈️✈️✈️ (a lot of direct transportation options if you’re staying at any of the resorts, but a bus line travels to the city)

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️✈️ (people movers are a plus, but navigating through strollers and children can be like a mini-obstacle course)

Convenience of check in/security lines: ✈️✈️ (lines can be very long and there’s no fast pass here, but there’s precheck/clear to help)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (may not have the most upscale dining, but there’s a ton of variety)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️ (many family restrooms available)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️  (free wifi)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (lots of mall type stores, Disney, Universal, SeaWorld, Kennedy Space Center store, onsite Hyatt, play areas, United/Delta/American lounges, XPress Spas)


famous local celebrity spotted in airport

know before you go: Denver (DEN)


Denver is a fantastic airport.  A lot of connections (3rd most in US) happen here, since it’s middle adjacent.  Basically it’s a gateway to the West.  That being said, I try to avoid it as much as possible in the winter (unless it’s my destination), as I have been stranded before at the airport Marriott for almost 2 days.  You will be delayed here in the winter, so just calculate that in your plans if you can be flexible–after all, it’s not completely horrible to be stuck having to ski another day in Vail or Breckenridge.

If you’re driving the 25 miles from downtown Denver to the airport, you notice its striking architecture, it literally looks like a small range of snowy peaked mountains.  By acreage area, DEN is the largest airport in America.  It’s got 3 concourses that are interconnected, with a total of 135 gates.  It’s a hub for United and Frontier, and there’s a ton of regional flights connecting out of here.

The main terminal is split into two separate security screening areas, and the A concourse is connected directly.  The B and C concourses can be reached by a train. A includes international arrivals, American, Delta and Frontier flights.  B is United and C houses Alaska, Allegiant, and Southwest.

One of the features I appreciate most is that it is an environmentally friendly airport that partially runs on solar power.  There’s free wifi and a lot of food choices, with many before security (shout out to the fine people at the Panda Express).  Overall, a nice place to spend a few hours.


Remember: ✈️ =  Mile low to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = Mile high

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️✈️✈️  (the trains help, a lot of moving walkways, it’s a large airport with 6 floors!)

Convenience of check in/security lines: ✈️✈️✈️ (it’s huge, it’s busy, it flows)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (all types of fast food, but a lot of sit down places/breweries, which I appreciate during a long layover.  Timberline grill makes a nice salmon, and Root Down has a decently hipster brunch.  And there’s a Magic Pan! Those have pretty much died out, but getting a good crepe is HUGE on the go.  And there’s Caribou, Coffee Bean, Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks.  Plus there’s a DD in the cell phone lot, which is just plain nice)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️ (there could be more for the size of the airport)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️  (free wifi available)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️ (American, Delta and United lounges, B-list mall quality shopping–random Victoria’s Secret?, there’s a bridge where you can watch planes taxi underneath you which is cool, the architecture and art are cool features)