Great Food Options at DFW

Layovers are part of travel. They aren’t much fun, and unless you have a membership in an airline club, such as American’s Admiral’s Club, each airport presents its own challenge to find a good place to pass the time. In a previous post, I introduced readers to Chicago O’Hare’s Urban Garden. This post is about a couple of my favorite options at Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW).

Because I attended college at the University of Oklahoma, I have quite a few trips to Dallas under my belt. Each October, OU and Texas fight it out in the Red River Rivalry, which is undoubtedly one of the greatest college rivalry games. This creates a migration of students from both schools to the DFW area, which is almost exactly halfway between both schools. Starting my freshman year, I made 10 consecutive annual trips to Dallas for the game. During this time, I developed my favorite restaurants that I tried to hit up each trip.

Near Northwest Highway and I-35E, you will find a small collection of restaurants with Pappa in their name. Pappa Bros. Steakhouse, Pappasito’s Cantina, Pappadeaux Seafood and Pappas BBQ all reside in a small area. I discovered these restaurants on my first trip and typically visit at least one of them on each trip to Dallas.

Even though the Pappas story officially began in Houston, the restaurants are a big piece of Dallas to me. That’s why I was thrilled when they opened a Pappasito’s Cantina near Gate A28 at the DFW Airport. It added a quality, known eatery to the airport. Even better, it apparently had enough success that the Pappas Brothers decided to add a second offering, Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen. It opened last year near Gate A24, only a few gates from Pappasito’s Cantina.

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Best iOS Travel Apps

A friend of mine recently lost his company issued Blackberry and it was replaced with an iPhone 4S. He knew I was a pretty advanced user of my iPhone, and a big fan, so he asked me for advice. After I made some setting changes to his phone, I made him a list of my favorite apps. This is a quick rundown of the Travel category.

Note that these are iPhone apps, but most have Android versions available as well.

TripItFree or $3.99 for Ad Free Version 

My love for TripIt runs deep. TripIt is much more than an iPhone App, but its app is what makes it so useful. For a larger review of TripIt, see my earlier post here.

Note that several of the apps in this list integrate with TripIt to improve their usefulness. That makes TripIt both a necessity for convenience, and a great place to start.

GateGuruFree  GateGuru App

GateGuru is one of the most feature rich apps for travel. Its core use is to help you find the right restaurant in over 125 airports worldwide. It lists them by terminal and makes the gates they are near obvious, so they are quick to find. It also integrates with TripIt, so it can notify you of flight status changes and give you quick access to trip details.

It’s also a very social media focused app by integrating with Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. To take it a step further, they have created their own “High Flyers” ranking program globally, and for each airport. They also have a tips section and user reviews for most restaurants.

A distant 2nd is FlySmart, which is also free, but lacking most of the features listed above. It is also pretty difficult to navigate.

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Decoding American Airline’s Elite Rewards for 2012

A fan of the blog sent me the following e-mail that he received from I knew AA had announced the return of their “Elite Rewards,” but this is the first marketing I’ve seen for it.

I decided to dive in and see if I can compare the different offers to determine which is the best to take.

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Culture Shock: Causes and Solutions

This doesn’t seem like it’s going to work very well.

Culture shock is a term that is often used casually, but it’s a very real issue when traveling internationally. You can experience culture shock in any distant location, but there are three factors that I’ve found increase its effect dramatically. These three factors are:

  1. Language
  2. Food
  3. Currency

I have traveled to Europe, Mexico and French Canada, but Asia is the only destination that I’ve visited where all three are a significant challenge. The trip I took with a customer and colleague last June sent us to China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Not only did we spend a week and a half in Asia, but we also experienced 4 cultures, 4 governments, 4 currencies and 4 languages.

During the trip, I dealt with a low level of culture shock, but my colleague was hit with it pretty hard. It’s not as if his personality changed or he freaked out or anything, but his level of comfort was reduced and he wasn’t able to enjoy some of the neat activities that were presented to us.  He preferred to go from the businesses we visited straight back to the hotel until the next day’s visit. No matter how much we encouraged him to get out, he was happier hidden away.

Since I felt enough culture shock to understand and respect it, but kept it from altering my trip, I thought I’d offer some suggestions for dealing with it.

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Fighting Jet Lag

Picture of the island from Hong Kong Harbor

Travel often comes up in conversations with friends. It cracks me up when they tell me they just got back from California and they are “jet lagged.” It’s true that travel is tiring and a 2-hour difference can cost you some sleep, but you haven’t experienced jet lag until you’ve traveled overseas.

My most recent experience with jet lag was in June when I went to Asia for 10 days. China’s East Coast is exactly 12 hours ahead of EST. That makes it easy to know what time it is back home, but extra hard for your body to adjust.

Discussing jet lag is interesting because everyone seems to have a different strategy to minimize it (it’s impossible to avoid it). Special drink concoctions, herbal medicine, prescription drugs meant for other things, strange sleeping patterns, etc. are all things people have suggested to me. I’m not really one for all the voodoo, so I try to keep it simple and it usually works out. Now, I’m not going to claim that my method is the best option out there, but it is easy and it works for me.

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Tips for Asian Travel

A follower of the blog recently asked me to write a post about travel in Asia. As I started writing, I quickly realized that there was waaaaay too much for one post. I decided to spread it across several posts and try to keep it as condensed as possible. This first post will offer some general tips and advice.

Last June was my first trip to Asia. To say it was an eye opener is an understatement. It was really nothing like I expected and just about everything you might deal with on a trip, hit us on this one. I traveled to China’s East Coast, Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong. These tips apply to those countries.

Fly Business Class
It’s a very long journey, so do what you can to avoid coach. There will be children crying in different languages for 15 hours and that’s not a good start to any trip.

Business Class also gives you a solid entertainment selection with dozens of new release movies, a seat that reclines almost horizontally and special food service.

Don’t Become Road Kill
Pedestrians do not have the right-of-way in Asia, so don’t make that mistake. Further, scooters are everywhere and they travel much faster than the cars. They remind me of a plague of locust coming from all directions in huge groups. Here’s a video I took while in Taiwan – the scooter capital of the world.

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500 AAdvantage Bonus Miles from Avis

Just a quick post about a promotion effective until July 31st from American and Avis. If you rent a car for 2 days with Avis, you’ll receive 500 American AAdvantage bonus miles by using coupon code: MUAA086.

Note that you can also log-in to and modify existing reservations to add the coupon code, as long as the reservation has not yet started.

Thanks to Jason for finding this one and letting me know about it.

Here’s the link to the promotional page:

Blog made possible by Pace Industries: North America’s Best Aluminum Die Casting Company

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My Favorite Travel Tool: TripIt

When it comes to travel, tools can make all the difference in the world. If you’re Bear Grylls, then you don’t need a smartphone, GPS or itinerary, but I’m not that guy…and after the Degree Deodorant commercials, I don’t really want to be.

Without a doubt, my most used travel tool is my iPhone. In fact, I’m not sure how anyone ever traveled without one. It has apps that give turn-by-turn directions, locate restaurants, pass (waste) time and it organizes all of my travel with the help of TripIt.

For those unfamiliar with TripIt, it is a free service that provides one simple function, then adds a lot of bells and whistles to it. My initial attraction to TripIt is that I can book a flight/hotel/car/etc. with anyone I wish. I then take the confirmation e-mail for the booking, forward it to and TripIt will build a beautiful, private, organized itinerary that is viewable online or in their app. That is, in itself, a huge value, but here are some additional features that push TripIt over the top and make it my absolute favorite travel tool.

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O’Hare’s Little Hidden Oasis

There are some really bad airports out there. Near the top of my list sits Chicago O’Hare (ORD). There’s no useful tram system, no moving sidewalks, flights are consistently delayed/canceled and the weather seems to increase the problems exponentially in the winter. To add to the misery of delays, there are really no good restaurant options. Chili’s service is atrocious, O’Hare Bar & Grill is just bar food, Wolfgang Puck will push your expense limit and Macaroni Grill seems to always have a super long line.

In spite of all of these issues, O’Hare has finally struck gold and got one right. It’s called the O’Hare Urban Garden, or OUG according to me (pronounced Uhhhhg). It’s situated between Terminals H and G, in a little hidden upstairs area.

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Lost in translation

I’m sure I’d say some really dumb/disturbing/embarrassing/insulting/ridiculous things if I tried to speak Chinese or Spanish.  However, if you are going to put something in print or launch a product, let’s do a little research and get it right.  These are just a few of the funny things I came across last year.

No matter what country I’m in, I have a strict policy against eating local peasants…even at the low price of 120 pesos. This one is from Monterrey, Mexico.

"Peasant Sandwich...120 pesos"

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