A Decade in Travel: 2010–2019

I started my travel-heavy position at my job in 2009, so the 2010s were the first decade where I really frequently traveled throughout the decade.

Since then, I started tracking my flights in a spreadsheet, then eventually wrote an entire flight logging database website. I learned how to extract history from GPS navigation devices and started logging my driving. I also started tracking hotel stays and a myriad of other travel activities as well.

As a result, I have quite a lot of data built up on my travels over the last decade. For the past seven years, I’ve put together annual end-of-year travel summaries. With the turning of the decade, it seemed to be a good time to make myself a decade travel summary. While there’s a small overlap between the decade and annual summaries, I’ve generally tried to focus the decade summary more on areas that make more sense on a 10-year scale, so even readers of my previous summaries should see some new statistics!

In the Air

From 2010 through 2019, I flew on 824 flights, with a total distance of 555 874 miles (894 590 km).

Flight maps generated by Paul Bogard using the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz

My first international trip of the decade was a business trip to Germany in February 2010, and I finished my international travel with a Nordic vacation in August 2019. In between, I picked another multi-country Europe trip, as well as travel to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.

Within the U.S., I’ve now been to every major hub airport, and a lot of minor airports as well.

I somehow managed to visit four German airports (Frankfurt, Munich, Nuremburg, and Berlin) while visiting no more than one airport in any other European country.

Grid showing all new airports visited between 2010-2019, and highlighting the airports first visited each year. Visited 2010-2019: DAY CVG SFO ATL IND SEA ORD CLE JFK LGA STL DFW CLT CHM FRA SAV MCO. First visit 2010: SLC LAS PHX IAD BWI ABI. First visit 2011: AVP TOL DCA. First visit 2012: LAX HNL CHS OKC PHL EWR MSP RAP. First visit 2013: AUS BOS DTW DEN GRK ITO PDX TUL IAH MHT MDW. First visit 2014: ICT TUS FLG LAW SAN SJU. First visit 2015: LIT YVR YYZ SPS COS BNA. First visit 2016: AMA SAT MUC NUE TXL LHR CDG KEF ONT PWM DSM BUR RDU. First visit 2017: OAJ VPS BFL TPA PIA. First visit 2018: SYD PER MEL CHC DUD AKL LBB PVD. First visit 2019: NRT FLL FAY PIT BHM MCI HEL ARN MIA ILM.

I visited 93 airports this decade, 76 for the first time.

Chart with years 2010–2019 on the x-axis and Flights on the y-axis, showing number of flights each year for airlines with at least 20 flights.

When I’m flying for work, contracts with airlines for particular routes drive which airlines I can fly, which means my most-flown airlines change year to year. I started out the decade flying mostly American, ended up primarily United in the middle of the decade, then went back to American by the end.

Chart with years 2010–2019 on the x-axis and Flights on the y-axis, showing number of flights each year for aircraft families with at least 20 flights.

With Dayton as my primary airport, I fly on a lot of regional jets. At the start of the decade, the 50-seat ERJ-145 dominated my flights. By the end of the decade, I was mostly flying the larger 70–90 seat E-170/175/190 and CRJ-700/900 jets.

Node-edge graph showing the routes between airports

My most traveled routes were by far Dayton to Dallas/Fort Worth or Chicago O’Hare. Dayton requires a layover for most of my trips, and most of my flights were on American or United this decade. DFW is American’s largest hub, and ORD is a large hub for both airlines.

Map of flights within single states
Directed graph of intrastate flights

Not counting my two flights that returned to the same airport, I had 42 flights (18 unique routes) between pairs of airports within in a single U.S. state.

On the Ground

I drove approximately 207 331 miles (333 667 km) this decade.

Personal Vehicles154 363 mi248 423 km
Rental Vehicles52 968 mi85 243 km
Total207 331 mi333 667 km
Chart of hotel nights by year. 2019 shows 24765 total miles (15418 personal cars, 9347 rental cars)

2016 far exceeded all my other years for driving, mostly because of my summer project to visit every one of Ohio’s 88 counties.

Map showing 2010-2019 driving routes in the United States and Canada

My driving in the U.S. has generally connected into two large clusters, with a bunch of smaller areas. The largest cluster is based in my home state of Ohio, and it largely extends to places I’ve driven to from home, although that started to overlap a few places I’ve flown to (particularly in the Carolinas). I also have a Texas-Oklahoma cluster, since I started the decade frequently traveling to Dallas and Abilene TX, and ended the decade with a lot of trips to Tulsa and Altus OK.

Map showing 2010-2019 driving routes in Germany and Iceland

Within Europe, though I’ve been to other countries, I’ve only driven in Germany and Iceland.

Map showing 2010-2019 driving routes in Australia and New Zealand

Likewise, I’ve visited other cities in Australia and New Zealand, but Perth and Dunedin were the only areas I drove in. Perth was my first experience driving on the left side of the road – I lived in the UK for three years as a child, but I was not old enough to drive.

Geography

Heatmap of the US and the world, showing overnight stays (excluding home) from 2010 to 2019. The ten hottest areas are Tulsa OK, Orlando FL, Altus OK, Seattle WA, Washington DC, St. Louis MO, Charleston SC, Abilene TX, Wichita KS, and Chicago IL.

I visited a good portion of the United States and some of the world, but quite a bit of my travel was focused in Oklahoma and northern Texas.

My top 10 metro areas (excluding home) by number of nights I’ve stayed there this past decade are as follows:

RankMetropolitan AreaTotal Nights Visited
#1Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.97
#2Orlando, Florida, U.S.96
#3Altus, Oklahoma, U.S.71
#4Seattle, Washington, U.S.60
#5Washington, D.C., U.S.55
#6St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.50
#7Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.41
#8Abilene, Texas, U.S.40
Wichita, Kansas, U.S.40
#10Chicago, Illinois, U.S.36

For each year, my most visited metro area (by number of nights stayed):

YearMost Visited Metropolitan Area
2010Washington, D.C., U.S.
2011Washington, D.C., U.S.
2012Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.
2013
(tie)
Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
2014Orlando, Florida, U.S.
2015Orlando, Florida, U.S.
2016Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.
2017Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.
2018Altus, Oklahoma, U.S.
2019Wichita, Kansas, U.S.
World map showing visited countries. First visit in 2010s: Austria, Iceland, France, Australia New Zealand, Japan, Sweden. Visited in 2010s: United States, Germany, United Kingdom, Canada. Home: United States.

I visited 11 countries this past decade, 7 for the first time. (I also had a layover in Finland this year, but since I did not leave the airport, it’s not counted as a visited country on this map.) Every country in the world that I have ever visited, I also visited at some point this decade.

Trivia

My favorite airport restaurant (and the one I’ve eaten at the most) is Tortas Frontera, with three locations at Chicago O’Hare.

Chart of unexpected overnight stays, with six in 2014, one in 2015, and one in 2018

I’ve generally been pretty lucky with avoiding major travel disruptions, but 2014 was not my lucky year – I got stuck overnight six times due to weather or other flight delays and cancellations. Three times were in Chicago, one was in Baltimore, one was in Orlando, and one was in Charlotte.

I also got stuck overnight in Little Rock in 2015 due to a thunderstorm. In 2018, a series of weather and mechanical delays caused me to miss my connection at DFW and spend the night in Dallas.

In 2015, I had a flight from Wichita Falls to Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas which was cancelled, but the flight was a short enough distance that the airline had a taxi company transport us on a fleet of 10-passenger vans. I even received a boarding pass for that “flight.”

2019 Year in Travel

2019 wasn’t quite a record-setting travel year for me, but it was still among my busiest. Internationally, I got to visit Japan in the winter, and Sweden and Iceland in the summer. Domestically, I spent a lot of time on the east coast and in the Midwest, but somehow managed not to ever make it out to the Pacific time zone.

Hotels

Chart of hotel nights by year. 2019 shows 112 total nights (77 business, 35 personal)

Travel was down slightly this year, but I still ended up spending 112 nights away from home – 77 for work, and 35 for myself. The plurality of my personal nights were for my summer trip to Sweden and Iceland; most of the rest consisted of a lot of short weekend trips or visits to friends and family.

Flights

I ended the year with 106 flights, totaling 74 110 miles (119 268 km).

Flight maps generated by Paul Bogard using the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz

This was my first year with two separate international trips. I had a work trip to Tokyo in February, and a vacation to Stockholm and Reykjavík in August.

The Tokyo trip was my first time trying out American Airlines’ 777 premium economy class; my job only pays for economy flights, but I was able to purchase a same-day upgrade with my own money for a reasonable price on my Dallas to Tokyo flight. For a 13–hour flight, it was pretty much exactly what I needed; lots of extra legroom, a little extra width, and a nice side pocket to keep devices while they’re charging.

I also upgraded to premium cabins for some of the flights on our vacation; we upgraded to business class at check-in on the Finnair Chicago to Helsinki flight, and won a bid on business class upgrades on the Icelandair Reykjavík to Chicago flight.

The Icelandair 757 business class was closer to a domestic first class flight – lots more room, better service, but no lay-flat bed. Since it was a daytime flight, beds weren’t necessary.

The Finnair A330-300 business class had lay-flat beds, which was nice for the overnight flight. However, at 6′5″ (196 cm), I’m too tall for the bed, so I didn’t really sleep any better in the bed than in my AA premium economy seat. I don’t believe that flight had a premium economy option, but for my future long-haul flights, I’ll probably just upgrade to premium economy rather than business since the beds don’t provide me enough extra benefit for the enormous cost difference.

Domestically, I spent a lot of time in the Great Plains (particularly Oklahoma) and the east coast.

Directed graph with airports as nodes and flights as edges. Airport nodes are sized proportional to the number of visits, and flight edges are color coded by airline.

I decided to try a new visualization of how I flew using a directed graph. I wrote a small module for Flight Historian that could convert flights from my database into a GraphML file, then used yEd Graph Editor to convert it to a radial arrangement.

On this graph, each circle is an airport I visited at least once this year, and each arrow is a flight I took this year. (The circular arrow by OKC shows my flight where we took off from Oklahoma City, and had to return to Oklahoma City due to a mechanical issue.)

My busiest routes were between DAY and DFW or DAY and ORD, with strong showings for DAY ⇄ CLT and DAY ⇄ PHL as well. This makes sense, as Dayton is my home airport, these other airports are all American hubs that serve DAY, and American was my most flown airline this year.

In the last few months of the year, I flew a number of trips on Delta, which brought me a decent number of flights between DAY and ATL.

New Airports

Terminal silhouettes of NRT, FLL, FAY, PIT, BHM, MCI, HEL, ARN, MIA, AND ILM

I visited 10 new airports this year.

#87NRTTokyo–Narita, Japan
#88FLLFort Lauderdale, Florida, United States
#89FAYFayetteville, North Carolina, United States
#90PITPittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
#91BHMBirmingham, Alabama, United States
#92MCIKansas City, Missouri, United States
#93HELHelsinki, Finland
#94ARNStockholm–Arlanda, Sweden
#95MIAMiami, Florida, United States
#96ILMWilmington, North Carolina, United States

By picking up FLL and MIA this year, I finally visited all of the large hubs in the United States.

New Airlines

Finnair was my only new airline in 2019. As they are a Oneworld alliance member, I was able to use my American Airlines miles to book them for my trip to Stockholm (via a layover in Helsinki).

New Aircraft

I did not fly any new aircraft families in 2019.

Driving

I drove approximately 24 765 miles (39 855 km) in 2019.

Personal Car15 418 mi24 813 km
Rental Vehicles9 347 mi15 043 km
Total24 765 mi39 855 km
Map showing 2019 driving and passenger routes in the United States, Japan, Sweden, and Iceland

Altus (in southwestern Oklahoma) contributed to a lot of my rental driving – it’s not possible to drive directly into Altus, so I’ve flown into a variety of airports in the region (largely Oklahoma City, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Amarillo). I also had one trip where I flew into Kansas City to drive to Wichita, rather than flying into ICT directly.

Similarly, I didn’t have the option to fly directly into Portsmouth, New Hampshire on several trips there this year, which lead to some driving to other New England airports.

I visited Key West and drove the Overseas Highway (the southern terminus of U.S. Highway 1) for the first time this year.

States and Countries

Map of the United States. New Mexico, Delaware, Alabama, Minnesota, and Vermont are labeled "first visit in 2009." Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine are labeled as "Visited in 2019." Washington, California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, and DC are labeled "Visited."

I visited 24 states this year, five for the first time – New Mexico, Delaware, Alabama, Minnesota, and Vermont.

Map of the world. Japan and Sweden are labeled "First visit in 2019." Iceland and United States are labeled "Visited in 2019." Canada, UK, France, Germany, Austria, Australia, and New Zealand are labeled "Visited."

I also visited four countries this year, two for the first time – Japan and Sweden. (I also had a layover in Finland, but since I did not leave the airport, I don’t count it as a visited country for the purposes of this map.)

Frequent Traveler Status

Chart of frequent traveler status in various programs by year. For 2019, American AAdvantage Platinum, Hilton Honors Diamond, and IHG Rewards Club Gold were earned.

For the first time, I earned status with IHG (from a number of Holiday Inn stays), reaching their gold tier. I also maintained my Diamond status with Hilton, and my Platinum status with American.

Superlatives

Map showing a route between Dallas/Fort Worth and Tokyo, a route between Charlotte and Fayetteville, and a marker for Oklahoma City

Map generated by Paul Bogard using the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz

  • My longest two flights were my 6 414 mile (10 322 km) flight between Dallas and Tokyo, and the same route in reverse coming home.
  • My shortest flight took off from and returned to OKC due to a mechanical issue, traveling a net zero distance.
  • My shortest flights that actually went somewhere were my 117 mile (188 km) flight from Charlotte to Fayetteville, North Carolina, and the same route in reverse.
  • I drove at my highest elevation ever (approximately 14 132 feet or 4 307 meters) by driving up Mount Evans via Colorado State Highway 5 – the highest paved road in North America.
    • That’s a higher elevation than my OKC–OKC flight, which only reached 11 076 feet before returning to the airport.

Terminal Silhouettes: Updated ATL

Terminal silhouette of ATL (Atlanta)

ATL.svg

ATL has undergone some minor construction since I drew my original ATL silhouette in 2015.

I took the opportunity to redraw ATL, since there were a lot of details I was unhappy with on the original drawing. There were a lot of mistakes I’d made in the drawing due to lack of experience, and I never did like having all the emergency exit stairs cluttering the silhouette. The result is a much cleaner silhouette.

Terminal Silhouettes: HEL

Terminal silhouette of HEL (Helsinki)

HEL.svg

HEL is my final new terminal this year which was undergoing significant construction – terminals 1 and 2 were both being expanded.

HEL terminal silhouette with the expansions to Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 highlighted

As with FLL and FAY, I couldn’t solely use imagery in order to do this one; I couldn’t find any high-quality imagery for the above expansion points. For references, I also ended up having to use as many photos and videos of the airport as I could find. YouTube videos of people filming out the window while taking off, landing, and taxiing were particularly helpful.

Screenshot of a YouTube video of taxiing at HEL

My favorite part of this terminal is probably the 7-shaped portion on the right; I like that they chose to effectively create a pair of linear terminals, each parallel to their nearest runway.

Terminal Silhouettes: FAY

Terminal silhouette of FAY (Fayetteville, North Carolina)

FAY.svg

This has apparently been the year where I decided to collect airports under construction – not just FAY, but FLL (and HEL, which I still need to draw). FAY was replacing half of the airside concourse when I first flew through there earlier this year.

I’ve been waiting for aerial image sources showing the new concourse, but with it reaching the end of the year, I had to start looking for other sources, and eventually came across the Fayetteville Airport twitter feed, which had a nice drone video of the terminal construction.

Between that, the outdated imagery, and photos I could find of the project, I was able to piece together enough information to properly draw the terminal.

Terminal Silhouettes: FLL

Terminal silhouette of FLL (Fort Lauderdale)

FLL.svg

Though I first flew through FLL over half a year ago, I’d put off drawing the terminal because Concourse G (the southernmost concourse) was under construction, and all the reference imagery I could find was still pre-construction.

As it’s approaching the end of the year, where I’ll need the silhouettes of all new airports I’ve visited for my year in travel post, I checked again and was able to find enough material to draw Concourse G. I’ll likely have to update the terminal in the future to fully capture the completed construction, but what I’ve drawn is pretty close to the state of FLL earlier this year.

Other than the reference imagery issues, this was a pretty easy terminal to draw; there were very few curves and all but Concourse E (the northwestern concourse) were at right angles to each other. I liked how the sunshades over the landside roadway looked, so I decided to include them.

Terminal Silhouettes: Updated BOS

Terminal silhouette of BOS (Boston)

BOS.svg

After a visit to BOS this week, I noticed that Terminal B had undergone some construction work, making the western half wider. Comparing my BOS terminal silhouette to reference imagery, I could see that a few other changes had been made to various terminals as well, so I updated the terminals and converted the silhouette to my new color scheme.

Since BOS was one of my earlier terminal silhouettes, I also took the opportunity to clean up the entire drawing (mostly ensuring that parallel and collinear lines were, in fact, parallel and collinear).

Comparison of old and updated BOS terminal silhouettes, showing the portions which were unchanged, added, and deleted

I decided to include the landside terminal walkways this time, as they’re reasonably prominent in satellite imagery, and the terminal looked better with them.