Before They Were Famous: Harriet Baskas
Many of you will find yourself stuck at the airport this Thanksgiving holiday wishing you could be anywhere but there. But for writer and radio producer, Harriet Baskas, the airport is her happy place. Her blog, Stuck At The Airport is the perfect resource for anyone who finds themselves with a few hours to kill at an airport. From selling peanut butter surveys door-to-door, to working at a community radio station, to her monthly column with USA Today, Harriet has kept quite busy throughout the years, but we’re so happy she took a minute to chat with us. Here’s the backstory on Harriet Baskas.
Name: Harriet Baskas
Twitter: @hbaskas, @StuckatAirport
What’s new: I’m finishing up my next book: Hidden Museum Treasures, which is all about things museum rarely or never show to the public – and why. Pub date: Oct. 2013.
I grew up in New Rochelle, NY, a suburb of New York City and the TV sitcom home of Rob and Laura Petrie on the Dick Van Dyke Show.
In high school…
I joined the intercollegiate Frisbee team and got involved with a start-up community radio station.
As a teenager…
I was very shy and a bit strange.
My earliest memory of being intrigued by travel…
I met celebrities on my very first airplane ride: ventriloquist and puppeteer Shari Lewis and my favorite puppet, Lamb Chop. Made me want to go to the airport all the time.
The weirdest thing I ever did to pay the bills…
I did door-to-door peanut butter surveys when I first moved to Portland, OR.
Did you ever work in an office or a cubicle?
I worked for many years building, repairing and managing community radio stations in Oregon and Washington. It was exciting, educational, infuriating, frightening and life-changing. Sometimes all at the same time.
My first pad was...
A tiny cottage (actually a converted gas station) on the edge of a lake. Very cold in winter; lovely in the summer time.
Was there a significant event from your past that caused you to hit the road?
In the mid-1990s, I was already traveling around visiting unusual museums for radio stories on NPR and elsewhere. I got homesick one day and went to the airport thinking I’d hop on the next plane home to Seattle. I ended up stuck at the airport for 8 hours and by the time I got home had decided to create a guide to the amenities in every airport – and go visit as a many as possible, which I’m still doing.
What was the turning point when you realized that you could actually make travel a career rather than a hobby or extra side income?
My part-time management job was about to go full-time and I wasn’t willing to give projects that took me traveling. So gave up the regular paycheck in exchange for a wild jumble of freelance projects.
If I were not professional roamer…
Id just be wishing I was.
Who is your travel cohort and why?
My husband is my best and favorite travel companion. For a book project, he accompanied me – in 100 degree weather in an un-air-conditioned car – to a series of 45 very small history museums. He didn’t complain (much) during a cold, rainy day spent searching – in vain – for the Museum of Bread near Paris.