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The Roaming Gnome Interviews Harriet Baskas on The Window Seat

Editor’s Note: This holiday season, the Roaming Gnome will interview a few of his favorite travel writers about their holiday plans and travel tips. Please welcome them to The Window Seat.

Harriet Baskas is an award-winning writer and radio producer who writes about airports and travel for, and Bing Travel. See more of her work on her blog, and follow her on Twitter.

RG: Where are you off to this holiday season? New York City? Tahiti? Poughkeepsie?
Our family gathers in a suburb of Washington, D.C., where Christmas morning comes fast on the heels of that age-old holiday tradition: Christmas Eve poker.
RG: As the expert – if you had to be stuck at an airport during the holidays – which one would you choose? (I’d go wherever there’s frozen yogurt!)
As an airport aficionado and creator of, nothing pleases me more than being stuck at an airport during the holidays. For people-watching, any airport would fit the bill, but beyond that, I’d want to be somewhere such as Philadelphia International Airport, where there are plenty of shops and usually a good schedule of planned holiday entertainment,

RG: What’s the one thing you can’t travel without? Me- my wit and good looks of course!
I always pack a lightweight silk sleep sack, because especially during the holiday travel season, you just never know where you might end up sleeping. Two other lightweight must-haves: my patience and my sense of humor.

RG: What’s your favorite travel tip? I always say leave early in case there is a line at the airport bar.
I keep an extra $20 bill tucked into a corner of my wallet. It’s my “mad money:” If I get really irritated or weary – or mad – while traveling, I use that $20 to buy myself a frivolous treat.

RG: Brilliant! Mad money could come in handy for my favorite guilty pleasure – airport and travel shopping. (I own a neck pillow in every color.) How many gifts will you be purchasing from SkyMall and/or Hudson News this year?
Oh! For years, I’ve done all my holiday shopping at airports. That used to mean everyone got a shot glass and a pack of gum. The shopping scene at most airports is much better these days, so friends and family no longer heckle my gifts. 

RG: Fun travel fact: I easily fit in overhead compartment bins. What’s your fun travel fact
I’ve been touring and writing about airports for more than 15 years, so can tell you where the best restaurants – and restrooms – are at almost any airport.

And… I too would fit easily into overhead airplane bins, but flight attendants don’t usually let short people travel that way.

RG: No, I don’t suggest it for humans – it’s a bit stuffy.  I’ve traveled at various times of the year, but holidays are my favorite times. When else can you see holiday sweaters and poodles on layovers? What’s your best holiday travel story?

HB: Unable to sleep while on a Christmas weekend get-a-away at a park lodge in Washington state, I grabbed a book and settled in by the grand fireplace in the lobby. About 5 a.m. I was joined by a slow moving, somewhat-Santa-looking fellow who poured me a cup of hot coffee from his thermos and then took off. Not sure if he left by the chimney..
RG: That was either my friend Santa, or one of my fellow garden gnomes.  Santa and gnomes have similar beards.  Shall we spend Spring Break together? I do a wicked cannonball.
And I once won second place in an oyster-eating contest where the goal was to be the fasted to eat a dozen oysters- with your hands behind your back.

RG: I’d like to try that!  My hands are cemented to my sides, and I love to eat!


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My name: The Travelocity Roaming Gnome

How I earn my keep: I roam the world finding great deals, upholding the Travelocity Guarantee, and looking rather handsome while doing it.

What kind of traveler I am: A small and perfectly-formed one.

Greatest travel lesson learned: Just because you can climb into the overhead baggage compartment and stay there for the rest of the flight, doesn’t mean you should.

Travel ambition: To never again miss my plane because I’ve stopped to take a photo with a fellow traveler who’s spotted me. Ah, it’s tough work being a charmingly lovable travel mascot, I’ll tell you that.

First thing I do in a new place: Make friends.

When I’m not traveling: I’m browsing the SkyMall catalogue, toasting crumpets, testing beard conditioners, and planning my next trip.



I have found that SkyMall gifts are actually pretty fun to give! Thanks for the tip on the Philadelphia airport. I will try to make my connection through their airport so if I get stranded there during the holidays I’ll have something to do :).


I would nominate PDX for a good airport to be at, if stuck.

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