The thing about airports...

…is that you can’t get through security unless you have a boarding pass. So for all those stories where the family/friends go through to the gate with the person, that’s not how it works and hasn’t been since 9/11 (or possibly even before then). Hugs before security, and then the person taking the flight is on their own.

Tampa’s Mac Dill Army Air Base occupied prime real estate on Catfish Point in 1940, the exact spot where a long-debated municipal air field was rejected.  Instead, Peter O. Knight airport was built on Davis Islands, and Mac Dill air base still occupies the tip of Catfish Point. 

Hampton Dunn Postcard Collection, University of South Florida

The Layover

There’s something enchanting about airports. Long layovers have never been an annoyance to me. They’re never boring, never a hassle. I could happily spend hours walking through the never-ending stream of strangers hurrying towards their various gates with eyes straight ahead in absolute fucking determination to get to their destination. They all look so perfectly robotic in their movements. They’re so predictable, but it doesn’t bother me. Airports are probably the only place where the mindless monotony of humanity doesn’t eat away at me. I love the fleeting connection I feel with each person that catches my eye. What are the chances we would have ever crossed paths if it weren’t for these layovers?

I could fall in love here. I honestly believe that there’s something magical in these walls. People rarely surprise me, but when they do, it usually happens in airports. A strawberry blonde haired woman sat down across from me while I was waiting to board the flight during my last trip to Vegas. She complimented my necklace and asked if I was going on vacation or if I lived in Nevada like she did. She told me all about her daughter who had just moved to San Diego for school. She had the most compassionate eyes I’ve ever seen. After the flight, she caught up with me at baggage claim and asked how I was getting back to my apartment. When I told her I was planning on catching a cab, she absolutely insisted I let her give me a ride even though it was completely out of her way. Her husband picked us up in a shiny, black, pickup truck and greeted me enthusiastically without even a blink despite the fact that I was a complete stranger. I climbed into the back seat and sat next to a few grocery bags and a high-end looking sleeping bag in a stuff sac. They pulled into a nearby Fresh & Easy store before dropping me off. I watched as they brought the groceries and sleeping bag over to this homeless man sitting against the building just around the corner. They explained to me later that they met him when they were out shopping a few months ago. He was just a kid in his early twenties. They had persistently tried to persuade him to come stay with them at their house until he could get a job and find his own place to live, but he refused. So, instead, they consistently brought him food and clothes and supplies like below-zero sleeping bags for nights when it was suppose to be cold. I’ve never met two people with bigger hearts.

A little over four years ago, I sat down next to this girl with bright eyes and a giant backpack. She introduced herself almost immediately and I spent the next few hours completely wrapped up in her. She was on her way back from winning the ski jumping world championships. I mean, how cool is that? She told me that her younger brother, who was ranked 64th, was going to be competing in the upcoming Olympics, but even though she was ranked number one, she wouldn’t be able to compete because women’s ski jumping wasn’t an Olympic sport. I signed a petition before she left to board her flight. Four years later, I got to watch her compete in Sochi.

So, I have a special kind of relationship with airports. I’ve slept on their floors, read a library worth of books in their rows of identical seats, sprinted down their hallways for no better reason than to feel that drag force resistance against my cheeks from moving so fast. I’ve even practiced yoga in their secluded corners. I’ve spent a good portion of my life living in airports. Maybe that’s why these chairs at this terminal in this city almost feel like home.

I’m legitimately excited and hopeful right now, which is a combination I haven’t felt in quite a while. If you’re in Newark, look for me and come say hi. I’m the one half walking, half dancing down the concourse with the Little Machines album blasting through my earbuds, and a small, sappy smile on my face. She does that to me.

Confessions Of An Airport Shopaholic

When I go to an airport, I lose my shit. As soon as I enter the building through which I’ll walk to catch a plane to a far-off destination, I’m officially in vAcAtiOn mOdE. Unfortunately, with that blissful feeling of escape from the doldrums of daily life comes the sudden urge to spend, spend, spend. Suddenly, I want to buy enormous liter water bottles to cure my ~dehydration~ and peruse the shelves at Hudson News to fill up my bag with every snack food and chocolate bar I’ve been avoiding over the last few months. I insist that I need an extra-large coffee because it’s so early in the morning, and I rationalize the decision to buy a fat stack of glossy magazines to look through as I wait to board the plane. Before I know it, I’ve spent $50 on crap I don’t need, because I’ve let the sense of excitement get the best of me and my wallet.

Nowadays, I like to be more disciplined about the way I spend (or don’t spend my money) at airports. It’s summer travel season and that means we can all be smarter about how we navigate time spent at airports pre-destination. For me, this means taking a little bit of time ahead of my airport arrival to prepare. Now, I make sure to buy books beforehand that I’ve been meaning to read on websites like, so I’m not tempted to purchase the new must-have bestseller on display in the airport bookstore. I’ll make sure that I’ve eaten a meal before heading to the airport so I’m not hungry as I walk around waiting to board the plane. I like to bring savory AND sweet snack options so all my bases are covered, and I can avoid sitting there feeling like I need to buy a candy bar and chips, because I can’t control myself.

Below are eight suggestions for how you can not spend money at the airport, and keep more of it in your wallet for fun activities while on vacation.

If you are feeling super ambitious and interested in making your own snacks, here are some great (and easy) recipes that can be whipped up to take along.

Let’s all travel smarter and cheaper, and not let our emotions get the best of us, i.e, tempt us to spend unnecessarily! Save you money for the good stuff like meaningful souvenirs or a special cocktail that will make you pause and think, now this is a vacation.