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.”

Airport #80/100: Perth (PER)

PER

Perth Airport · Perth, Western Australia, Australia
First visit: 12 February 2018 · https://www.flighthistorian.com/airports/PER

At 11,187 miles (18,004 km) away, Perth is the furthest airport to which you can take commercial flights from DAY (and even then, only with multiple layovers).

map
The only parts of the Earth further from DAY than PER are highlighted by the light circle. (Map created with the Great Circle Mapper)

 

My Airport History: Washington-Dulles (IAD)

flighthistorian.com/airports/IAD

Dulles occupies an awkward place for me. With most of my flights originating in Dayton, Washington’s not a bad location for a hub; with my highest airline status on United, it connects the right airline for me. Yet for the most part, I seem to spend a lot of time going out of my way to avoid it.

At first, it was simply a matter of airline; when I first needed to start visiting Northern Virginia in 2010, my airline status was with American. My job’s contracted rate for DAY–IAD was rather high, so unless I was pressed for time, I much preferred to take the cheaper-than-the-airfare mileage reimbursement and drive a few hundred miles than to fly on an airline I didn’t prefer into an airport I didn’t particularly care for.

In 2012, I started needing to travel to Charleston, South Carolina frequently, and our contracted airline for the Dayton/Charleston city pair was United. I gave in and switched to using United on routes where I had a choice, and Dulles was the most direct United hub between Dayton and Charleston. Yet, as often as not, I ended up booking flights through ORD instead. Though in both cases I was exclusively flying regional jets for both segments, at Dulles, I was guaranteed to have to use the A concourse and walk outside to my jet; at least at ORD, I had a reasonable chance of a jetbridge.

With the possible exception of the mobile lounges, Dulles has always felt like a really bland airport to me. The shops, restaurants, and concourse interiors are nothing special. The main terminal is unique, but when most of my flights through there involve a short connection where I may not even leave the A concourse, I hardly even get to see it. It’s a perfectly functional layover airport, but I just don’t really care for it.

My Airport History: Phoenix (PHX)

2014-06-28 18.03.35

flighthistorian.com/airports/PHX

I don’t end up with too many opportunities to fly through Phoenix. While it’s a large hub for US Airways (now American Airlines), it doesn’t serve Dayton.

As it turns out, In-N-Out Burger is also in Phoenix, and doesn’t serve Dayton.

While I’m sure it’s a trope by now, as someone who doesn’t live in the Southwest, I love when I get to visit cities that have In-N-Out burger. So when my girlfriend and I were taking a trip to Hawaii, we decided to take advantage of our 3.5-hour layover at PHX, and had a taxi take us to Tempe to take us through an In-N-Out. To date, this remains my most expensive trip to a fast food restaurant (a $40 taxi fare to get $10 worth of food), and the only time I’ve taken a taxi through a drive-thru.

Airport #55/100: Little Rock (LIT)

2015-06-26 15.18.01

Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport · Little Rock, Arkansas, United States
First Visit: 21 June 2015 · http://www.flighthistorian.com/airports/LIT


Arriving on a Sunday, I didn’t find Little Rock remarkably different from any other airport of a similar size; a dozen gates with a few small shops and restaurants. The signage could have been a little better – several passengers passed the less-than-obvious, unmarked door to pick up gate checked baggage, and the rental car signs pointed to unmanned counters when the employees were all just operating out of the garage booths directly. Still, it was an airport that it wouldn’t be terrible to be stuck at for a few hours.

I found that out the hard way.

I was originally supposed to travel home on a Friday evening after a full day of work, so my coworker and I had booked a flight departing at about 18:30 local to a 45-minute layover at DFW, and then on to Dayton from there. We’d finished early on Friday, however, so after a late lunch we were done for the day and with nothing better to do, we headed to the airport about four hours early to see if we could get rebooked to an earlier flight.

That didn’t turn out to be possible (our fare didn’t allow same-day same-cost flight changes, and the cost difference wouldn’t have been justifiable), so we each headed our own way to burn a few hours before our flight. Looking to pick up some steps on my Fitbit, I walked around the terminal for a while before passing through security and walking a few laps around the single concourse, before finally settling down to take advantage of the spectacular free wi-fi.

2015-06-26 16.22.43

Then, at about 17:00, I got an alert that my flight was delayed an hour and a half to 20:00, due to incoming aircraft availability. My second flight was still showing as on time, and I would almost certainly miss my connection, so I talked to a gate agent to try to find another way to get home that night. Nothing was available, though, so the best I could do was take my chances with my original flight and hope the flight to Dayton ended up being delayed as well – if not, I’d be spending the night in the Dallas area.

So, watching American Airlines’ app and FlightAware, I finally saw that my incoming flight was at DFW and ready to come to Little Rock to pick me up – right as the weather that had been hovering west of us came right at us.

2015-06-26 19.06.35
The storm, heading right for us

It was a bad storm. The concourse windows were shaking violently, and I got to experience my first (thankfully brief) power outage at an airport.

2015-06-26 19.10.34-1

And, just as the storm started to clear, another big thunderstorm hit DFW. A little bit after 20:00, I finally and unsurprisingly got the notice that my flight had been cancelled. I quickly booked a room in Little Rock, called American Airlines to get rebooked on flights the next morning, and finally left the airport to catch a cab to my hotel.

The next morning I headed back into the airport, and was able to depart without much trouble.

Because of all of that fun, Little Rock may now be the airport with my highest average time spent per visit – 9 hours at the airport, with two flights recorded in the flight log.

2015-06-26 16.19.34
Downtown Little Rock as seen from the airport concourse

My Airport History: Columbus, Ohio (CMH)

2013-11-30 12.28.33 HDR

flighthistorian.com/airports/CMH

Port Columbus International Airport is my secondary home airport. While it’s 75 miles away from my home (compared to Dayton’s 20 miles), it offers more flights to more hubs than DAY, while still maintaining very reasonable parking rates.

Unfortunately, the three airside concourses are not connected behind security, so food options are practically a bit more limited than Dayton; it’s not possible to get to every restaurant with a given boarding pass.

My Airport History: Charlotte (CLT)

CLT

flighthistorian.com/airports/CLT

Charlotte is my most visited US Airways hub, and at first, I was often flying to it as a destination when I did a number of visits to some smaller towns in South Carolina. Recently, however, it’s only been a layover for me – and I suspect I’ll travel through it a lot more often now that US Airways is part of American Airlines, as this effectively gives me a new American hub serving Dayton.

My Airport History: Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW)

DFW

flighthistorian.com/airports/DFW

DFW is one of the first airports I became especially familiar with, and it’s now one of my favorite layover airports.

Initially, I wasn’t using DFW for layovers at all; my new job had a contractor near Dallas that we had to visit frequently, and so I made quite a few trips to Dallas as a destination.

American Airlines, with their enormous hub there, was the only airline to offer a direct flight there, and they were my employer’s preferred carrier for DAY – DFW. Thus, my first frequent flier elite status came with American Airlines’ AAdvantage program, and once I earned that, I began to focus on using American when I did have a choice of airlines. Since, at the time, American only served Dallas/Fort Worth and Chicago-O’Hare from Dayton, I ended up with DFW as a layover on a good portion of my westbound flights.

Dallas becomes the first airport at which I have a single flight round trip

In February 2013, I had a trip to Austin, with a layover at DFW in both directions. On my outbound flight from DFW to Austin, our pilot came onto the intercom and nonchalantly informed us that the plane on fire outside the right windows is nothing to be alarmed about.

He was absolutely correct; at DFW, they have a fire department aircraft trainer – what looks like an old aircraft, which can be set on fire so that the fire department can practice putting it out. I’ve seen these trainers at a number of airports, but I hadn’t yet seen one in use.

On the return trip, I boarded what I believed to be my final flight of the day at DFW, expecting to fly back to Dayton. Instead, about a half hour into the flight, the lights flickered; a few minutes later, the crew informed us that the aircraft had experienced a generator failure, and while they had a backup, we were going to return to DFW for safety. When we landed and deplaned, I could see from the concourse that a number of DFW fire trucks had followed us back to our gate.

DFW-Fire-Trucks

I don’t know if the problem was worse than the crew let on, or if all the fire trucks were a precautionary measure, but at least I knew the fire crews were well trained.

My Airport History: St. Louis (STL)

flighthistorian.com/airports/STL

Given that I moved from the UK back to the United States when I was 10 years old via a TWA flight, I’m reasonably certain that I’ve visited St. Louis before my flight log’s scope of all flights since my 16th birthday. But since I don’t 100% know, it’s best to start talking about my visits to St. Louis starting as a layover on the way to my very first work trip.

I hadn’t specifically tried to get a job with frequent travel; at the time, I enjoyed travel, but it wasn’t a goal. So on the first Monday of February 2009, I started a position on a new program; that day, my boss asked me if I could travel to Dallas a week later for a program meeting. Of course I could, and with that, I picked the same flight itinerary as my coworkers – Dayton through St. Louis to Dallas/Fort Worth on American Airlines. I promptly managed to lose my second boarding pass somewhere in the St. Louis airport, proving my travel inexperience. (I’ve since gotten better!)

From then on, I had a few more trips through STL as a layover. I also had business in the St. Louis area, but at the time I usually drove, as the drive was an easy six hours on I-70 each way, unless I had to visit St. Louis as part of a multi-city itinerary.

Nowadays, even though there is no longer a direct flight, I usually fly – with a layover in O’Hare, it generally takes about six hours either way for me to get to St. Louis, but I can get work reading done on a plane, while there’s not much I can safely accomplish while driving.