Yeah, I’ve been there…kind of…

By Brett Battles


I’m writing this blog from 35,000 feet, in aisle 9, seat A of a Southwest flight from Chicago to Las Vegas (where I’ll transfer to a flight to Burbank and home). Sleeping in aisle 9, seat B is our own Robert Gregory Browne. No snoring as of yet, thankfully. It’s Tuesday, two days ago.

We are returning from a week long trip back east, first to Columbus, Ohio, to the RT Booklover’s Conference, and then a couple days in Chicago where we visited good friends Tasha Alexander and Andrew Grant, and had lunch with the wonderful Dana Litoff.

I’m wiped, really and truly wiped. Conferences have a way of doing that to me. They are fun, entertaining, educational, etc., etc., etc. But they can also drain every last ounce of strength from me. I know that going in. I expect it, and yet I’m always surprised by just how tired I feel afterward.

This was my first time at RT, and I have to say it will not be my last. It was an excellent conference, and I got a look at a part of the book world I hadn’t been exposed to before.

Like most conferences, I seldom left the event location. And to make things even easier, the Columbus Conference center is connected directly to the conference hotel, so I seldom even stepped outside.

Sorry, Columbus, my only view of you was basically from the window of my taxi to and from the airport. You looked like a nice place to visit, but I really can’t say that I was there.  If I did, it wouldn’t be fair to you. You’re conference center is nice, though. Good job!

I guess that might be my problem with a lot of conferences. Change the name on the airport, and the building on the ride to the hotel, but otherwise it’s the same location-wise.

Don’t get me wrong I love conferences. I’ll continue going to them. But as a diehard traveler, I like to get to know the places I go. Usually this means wandering around the city, and soaking it in. Unfortunately, conferences take up most of an attendee’s time, and even if there are a few hours here and there, you want that time to rest up, or, as I was forced to do on this past trip, sneak away to your room to get a few hours in on your revisions.

Yeah, I know. I could come in a day or two early, but, often, that would probably be cutting into my writing schedule. And, like it or not, I have deadlines I have to meet. (I like it.) Staying a few days after is not an option as all I would want to do is stay in my room and sleep. (Yeah, I know I stopped off in Chicago this time on the way home, but you can ask the others…we all did a lot of sitting around talking and watching Firefly…which was about all I could handle and exactly what I needed…FYI, I love Firefly…LOVE. IT.)

I’m not complaining. What I’m actually trying to do is apologize to cities like Columbus and Baltimore and Madison and even Chicago. Wish I knew you better, and maybe someday I will. And to all those future conference cities, a little I’m-sorry-ahead-of-time because chances are I’m not going to get to know you either.

Okay, the flight attendants are bringing out the free drinks, and, believe it or not, I need to put in a little mid-air time on my revisions, so I’ll leave you with this image:


 Nighty-night, Rob!


Let’s do a little game of travel ranking: 

A) Favorite/least favorite airline.

B) Best/worst trip you’ve ever taken.

C) Dream vacation spot.


I’ll start –

Airline Favorites: Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways, and domestically I’m going to have to give a nod to Southwest strictly on the no fees for check bag thing alone.

Airline Not-so-favorites: Most of the other U.S. domestic airlines 

Best Trip: Five months traveling around Europe when I was twenty. Outstanding.

Worst: Hmmm…I tend to find something to enjoy on most of my trips…so I don’t actually know.

Dream vacation spot: Phi Phi Islands in Thailand. No cars, no real motor vehicles at all. Just beach and laid-back hotels and open air bars. Bliss.

18 thoughts on “Yeah, I’ve been there…kind of…

  1. Shizuka

    Hi Brett,

    How come there’s no photo of you sleeping? Either you worked really hard or Rob didn’t wake up in time to take one.

    Airline favorites: British Air and Air France. I’d love to say SIngapore Airlines, but I’ve never had the
    chance to experience it.

    Sucky airlines: Most domestic American flights and and NW flights going to Asia

    Best trip: Backpacking across Europe the summer I was 22.

    Worst: Traveling alone in Vietnam about 13 years ago. Very very
    persistent vendors, pedicab drivers, and men. Oh, and food poisoning thrown into the mix.
    I think developing countries (it was at the time) are not my thing. Thailand was also NOT

    Dream vacation spot: So many. Maybe Venice in the off season. No cars, few tourists, beautiful
    buildings, quiet, and great food.

    Now my travel bug is biting me.


  2. PK the Bookeemonster

    You’ll have to tell us more of your adventures at the convention that made you so tired.

    I have to report that its SNOWING right now in Montana. Bah.

    Airline experiences are limited — pretty much only one going out of Billings. Worst trip: Hawaii. It tropical stormed, our room flooded, a crazy guy shut down the airport when we were supposed to leave, all our events were cancelled … ah well. Dream trip: always it has been Ireland but I would now maybe throw in a side trip to the UK to do some book shopping.

  3. Louise Ure

    My apologies to conference cities, too, especially Toronto and Madison. Ah, had we but the time…

    Favorite airline? Singapore. And I was flying it in the days when they really did have ice sculptures in First Class.

    Worst trip? Too many to count.

  4. Brett Battles

    Shizuka…I think we probably have the opposite in travel tastes (to some extent)…I absolutely LOVE both Vietnam and Thailand. The food is awesome, and I think I’m drawn to the potential for chaos at the drop of a hat. And I will say Singapore Airlines rocks. I should have added that one. But I’m also with you on your European locations!

    PK…sorry about the Hawaiian disaster. My suggestion would be to give the islands another chance. I’ve always had a great time there. Still, I get it if you don’t. 🙂

  5. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Man, I should have gone to RT. Next year.
    Funny that you should be talking about Columbus. I love that town. Been there twice now. There’s a great main street area with cool cafes and tattoo parlors. I’ve done some good writing there.
    And, oddly enough, I was in Columbus during 911. I was stuck there for a week when all the planes were grounded. I rented a car and drove around Ohio, finding myself in Amish country. It was the best thing in the world to do. I felt like the Amish had no idea what had happened–their lives continued as it had always been. It was very peaceful, observing their lives against a backdrop of rolling hills and big, red barns. Long horse-and-buggy caravans along longer stretches of highway. It was like a moving David Hockney painting.
    Other favorite trips and cities: Vancouver, Toronto, Annapolis, Kalispel (Montana). Any place in New England. (I swam in Waldon Pond and visited Kerouac’s gravesite).
    Favorite airline…the one that doesn’t lose my bags.
    Did you tell Rob he’d find his sleeping face in your blog, or will it be a surprise? You’re a devilish little prankster, Mister Battles. I’ll have to remember that when we room together next.

  6. Nancy Laughlin

    Hi Brett,

    First, I LOVED Firefly! What a terrific series. The movie was fairly good too (except he killed off one of my favorite characters!)
    1a. Favorite airline: I’m going with Stephen here. The one that doesn’t lose my bags. I do have a soft spot for Southwest though, as I’ve taken it to many fun conferences.
    1b. Least favorite airline: The really expensive ones. 🙂
    2a. Wow, I’ve taken so many great trips I don’t think I could choose. Italy, Germany, New Orleans, Maui, Cancun, Vancouver. These top my list.
    2b. I can’t think of any bad trips I’ve taken. The closest to a bad trip I took was to Portland, ME. The first leg of my flight got diverted due to bad whether. I eventually got in and to my hotel about 3:30 in the morning and have to get up at 6 am for my nieces college graduation.
    3. Dream vacation spot. Those used to be Hawaii and Cancun. I’ll keep Hawaii on the list since I have so much more to see there. I’d also like to see more of Great Britian, all of it!


  7. Pop Culture Nerd

    A) Fave airlines: Thai Airways (the flight attendants are SO nice!) and Virgin American for domestic. The mood lighting makes me feel like I’m in a disco and that’s always a good thing.

    B) I love to travel, even when things don’t go well, so I don’t really have a worst trip. If pushed, I might mention the time I drove to San Diego at night, somehow got lost, went the wrong way on a one-way street, then found myself on railroad tracks facing an oncoming train. It was WEIRD.

    C) Dream vacation: the Greek islands. Breathtakingly beautiful. But Phi Phi is gorgeous, too! I guess I like island living.

  8. Karen in Ohio

    A) Favorite/least favorite airline: Favorite: LAN and AeroGal Least favorite: American

    B) Best/worst trip you’ve ever taken: Best: The one I just returned from, to Peru–Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu and Ecuador–Quito and the Galapagos. Wonderful. If you ever get a chance, do go. Worst trip: Any time I’ve had to be squeezed into a seat with too many other humans on a plane. Yuck.

    C) Dream vacation spot: Lots of places. The British Isles; Capri; Greek Islands (I’m content to wait until their economy stabilizes, though); Nova Scotia.

  9. Cornelia Read

    Brett, I’m totally with you on Cathay Pacific, Thai, and Southwest. Also on my dream vacation being to get back to the Phi Phi islands someday–spent Xmas of ’87 there.

  10. toni mcgee causey

    Can I go with least favorite airport? kthx. Houston. I really truly deeply loathe flying through Houston. The people there are always nice, and they try hard, but I don’t know what it is, if something is going to go wrong on a trip for me, it’s going to happen in Houston.

    One of our favorite cities to visit was Chicago. We’d love to go back stay a while.

    Dream destinations? Too many to count, probably, starting with New Zealand, Australia, Italy, Scottland/Ireland/London, etc. etc.

  11. pari noskin taichert

    You’d ALL had better visit Santa Fe if you come to LCC. It’d be a crime not to.

    Fav airline: SW
    Least Fav: either American or Delta

    Best trip: Antibes/Nice when I turned 30; bought the trip for my bday present.
    Worst trip: Ruidoso when EVERYTHING went wrong . . . don’t get me started

    Best vacation spot so far is Antibes. Loved it there.


  12. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Favorite airline – Southwest. Because I can endlessly change my travel plans, and compared to everyone else, there are very few delays.

    Favorite airports – Phoenix, because you can actually see the desert out the windows. Ontario and Burbank in LA – for the sheer convenience. Least favorite? Atlanta.

  13. Ed

    For what my family has told me I am the worst snoring person. I have had this problem most of my life and I am hypersensitive and unable to use any medication. Ive been looking for an alternative and I was reading on "kiwi drug" news about Aveotsd. I was wondering if anyone has used this product before? Its cheat and has good reviews but Id still like some feed back before i go ahead and buy the thing.


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