A couple months back, we discussed traveling for beer. But how do we prepare for these trips? And what’s our airport routine? Today, we’re talking beers and airplanes. There’s a lot that goes into a trip before it even begins. It can be important to set the proper tone. You want to plan some, of course, but maybe not too much. What do you drink before taking flight? What do you have at cruising speed? And how do you tackle all the must-visits once you land? This is how the Fervent Few prepares for take off.
Dave Riddile: “Most of my airport excursions begin with a Bloody Mary at the weekday-themed chain that we’re all thankful to god for in terminal E at DFW airport. It can be 7am or 7pm and I’ll probably only have 10 minutes to get my mind right with that delicious, peppery liquid, but it’s worth it every time.
In regards to packing, things a beer traveler should never leave home without:
- Water bottle
- Sturdy backpack (for carrying the inevitable bottles you’ll buy in whatever town)
- Close-toed comfortable shoes
- A friendly demeanor”
Threefrenchs: “Grab a beer and relax while you wait for the journey to begin. Try hard to arrive with a good attitude and be ready for delays, change of plans, and weather. Some of my best beer trips have been when original plans got disrupted.”
Kris Kazaks: “My beercation protips:
+2 on the friendly demeanor
A friendly email or a DM on social media to a local brewery can literally open doors
Chat up the locals as soon as you get to your first bar or brewery. Often, you’ll have way more adventures/discoveries listening to a local than just following ideas you find online.
DripDrop for hangovers and flight dehydration (it's medical-grade gatorade)
VinniBags for transporting a small number of bottles back in your suitcase
Download your GBH podcasts!”
Austin L. Ray: “My travel routine always begins with pizza and beer at Hartsfield Jackson here in Atlanta. Check the bags, do the security thing, find a spot at Varasano's in the A concourse. They have some of the best pizza in town (the airport spot is the extension of the original in Buckhead, but the owner has said the pizza's better at the airport, which is hilarious to me), and they've got a solid selection of beers—good local stuff on tap, plus Fat Tire and a couple national standbys, and the bottle selection is deeper than it should be for an airport place. I pretty much have to do this or I feel weird and incomplete while traveling. After that stop, I'm ready to get on a plane.”
Melissa Jones: “If your first checked bag is free, pay for a second bag and bring along a bottle shipper—filled, of course, with your local beer. This way you can bring home the beer you’ve found along your journey and it’s much more cost effective than trying to ship it home or worry about it in your suitcase. I always find that sharing local beers with brewers and breweries I’ve been admiring from afar helps break the ice and sometimes gets you a behind-the-scenes tour.”
Carla Jean Lauter: “I really enjoy the act of packing and preparing for a beer trip. I take up multiple outlets in the house charging all my gear (cell phone, camera, etc.) and backup USB battery banks, and make extra sure I have my good headphones (and a backup pair) packed. I have a favorite light jacket that I save for travel. It has all kinds of pockets, but is also tiny enough to be rolled up and shoved into a bag. I travel so much now that I have a pocket for everything that I need for security, always know where my boarding pass is, and I'm starting to feel like a semi-pro. I usually pack a small day-bag and a carry-on so I don't have to check any luggage on the way out, but I make sure to pack light enough to bring some beer back if I want to. Weight limits are always a challenge, though! Once at the airport, if I have time to spare because I've gotten there obsessively early, I walk laps in terminal—yes, I'm that weirdo—while listening to some tunes or an audio book. I figure there's no point in sitting idle in the terminal for an hour before sitting idle for even longer on the plane.”
Maia Kazaks: “On many quick flights on the West Coast/Pacific NW, Alaska/Horizon offers a complimentary cup of regional beer or wine. More than once I have joked to the flight attendant that, ‘If nobody finishes that 22oz bottle you're pouring from, I'd be happy to help!’ They swing by for a refill!”
Nick Yoder: “I put in a ton of research before I leave. I usually try to make a Google Map with every brewery in the vicinity, along with any restaurants and bottle shops I’m interested in. That makes it really easy to see where there are groupings that can easily be visited at the same time. I put together a separate document with operating hours. That can eliminate options right away, plus helps me plan where to visit on each day. From there, it's narrowing it down with recommendations and scoping out each brewery's website to get a feel for which ones interest me the most. And I'll scan Beermenus and Untappd for bar draft lists in case I'm looking for something specific. Of course, all that planning can end up thrown out the window when I get to my first stop and ask the bartender for recommendations.”
Zack Rothman: “Planning. Lots and lots of planning. When I’m preparing for beer travel, I do a lot of research. I look up local breweries, beer bars, and bottle shops. I look to see what kind of events or releases may be going on while I will be wherever I’m going. I try to see which restaurants have the best tap lists, preferably featuring local brewers. This not only makes me feel prepared, but gets me even more excited about the trip itself. It’s nice to have many things to look forward to!”
Steve Rimmington: “See if I know anyone in the area and get insight or recommendations beforehand. Search out local breweries ahead of time. Make sure that the beer case is empty (perhaps fill with a couple of bottles from the UK for bottle shares). Battery packs and adaptors. Plenty of both. Currency. I know I know. A bit old school! Walking shoes. I love to walk around a new city and explore. Decide on whether it’s full-on camera bag or just the iPhone.”
Melissa Jones: “Uber drivers and Airbnb hosts have been a huge influence in my navigation of a city and its beer and food scene. I do a significant amount of planning in advance of any craft beer journey, but it has always been my interaction with the locals that led me to some of the coolest experiences.”
Bill Kuhn: “Until about a year ago, I never really put much thought into travel and generally didn’t venture out much once I got to the hotel. I took a new approach when I visited Chicago in February of last year. I flew into O’Hare and then took the subway toward town. I planned out a good path where I could hop off the train and hit a few stops (walking a bit between), then catch the train a couple stops down. I was able to visit Piece, The Map Room, Bangers & Lace, and then ended with dinner at Rock Bottom downtown. The next day, I took the same approach back out of River North and hit Half Acre, Begyle, Dovetail, and ended back near the hotel for dinner at Howells & Hood. I really enjoyed the unique perspective you get on a city by taking public transit and walking. Coming from Manhattan, it was fun to get to know an entirely different kind of city. The experience completely changed my approach to travel.”
Tori Mason: “I like to keep a small book of essential phrases in the language of whatever country I travel to. The basics of bar and restaurant language can go a long way, and even if your pronunciation is terrible, people usually appreciate the effort. It’s also a great feeling to emphatically ‘cheers’ in the native language before taking your first sip.”
Maia Kazaks: “Certainly make inquiries of the beertenders as to what they are excited about or what news they may have about their regional brew scene. Often they can point you to little-known breweries, beer bars, or beverage events that the bar flies may not have heard of yet. I also make sure to snap a steady pic of beer menus and taps to peruse for intriguing options later on public transportation or at my leisure at accommodations. Taking photos is nothing to be embarrassed about!”
How do you prepare for a big trip? Are you plotting out the path to the most bars and breweries, or do you let the locals guide you? Join our incredible subscriber community and let us know how you travel. Cheers!