Feb 3, 2022 at 7:00 AM
In Praise of Small Airports: Part One
Albany International Airport and Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport
Map Geek is back! It has been a while since Map Geek posted a blog. Let’s just say that the pandemic put parts of this map aficionado’s life on hold but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any traveling or travel planning going on with this map-centric whizz. Perhaps this has been the case for you as well.
At first, most of the traveling since March 2020 involved road tripping; but it didn’t take long for this passionate traveler to wander farther, which meant taking to the skies. Of course flying since spring of 2020 has become even more stressful–between all of the mask wearing, social distancing, excessive hand washing, airline seat wiping and such–but it’s hard to keep a die-hard traveler away and many of us have just sallied forth braving each inconvenience as we went. Long lines at the TSA, airport restaurants, and restrooms have become as commonplace as flight delays and cancellations. Still, we keep on traveling.
The most travel savvy among us have found ways to skirt much of this added stress. A good attitude and lightness of being helps as much as a smart strategy. Map Geek has found that a good place to start (and end for that matter) is your choice of airport. This is how most of us at Discovery Map have come to sing the praises of small airports. You may, in fact, want to choose your next travel destination based on a nice little airport that’s near to it. You’ve likely already discovered that here at Discovery Map we like small towns, so it makes sense that we’re over the moon about small airports, too.
Why are small airports so special? Their reduced size makes most everything about the airport experience much more manageable. They are faster to get in and out of–you just don’t find the crazy long lines at the airline counters, TSA or the restrooms that you do in airline hubs such as DIA, Hartsfield or O’Hare. Plus, they are easier to navigate; everything from parking to walking to the gate takes a fraction of the time. You’ll notice, too, that a lot of budget carriers fly in and out of the smaller airports, so you can find some great deals by maybe driving an extra half hour or so to an airport instead of choosing the larger one closer to your home or destination.
Are there drawbacks to smaller airports? Map Geek says just a few–aside from the wide variety of flights and carriers offered from the larger hubs. You’ll find that dining and shopping options are more limited in smaller airports but since you’ll likely be spending less time there that doesn’t matter much in any event.
So in addition to lining up your criteria (such as beach, mountain, family friendly or other) of how to pick the right destination for your next adventure, add must be near a small airport. To help you think along those lines, below is a highlight of smallish airports and the corresponding list of DM destinations they serve.
Don’t let the international in Albany International Airport daunt you. This is still the sort of airport you can arrive at about an hour before your flight and still have time to grab a coffee before you board. (Although don’t tell them Map Geek said so and it’s always a good idea to allow yourself even more time.) The airport has continued to expand over the decades; it’s more alluring than ever and is servicing the Northeast better and better every year. (It seems as though the international part is largely due to this upstate New York airport’s proximity to Canada.) DM destinations near ALB include Saratoga Springs, Lake George and Lake Placid, New York as well as the Berkshires in Massachusetts and Mount Snow Valley & Southern Vermont and Manchester, Vermont. The drive to these destinations from Albany is lovely, so count that as an added bonus.
Serving Georgia and South Carolina, SAV has been voted one of the top ten domestic airports in the United States. They do lots of great posts on social media, so follow them there for added inspiration to the DM destinations of Savannah & Tybee Island, Hilton Head-Bluffton and Charleston, South Carolina.
Check back here soon for many more small airport/small town highlights!