Podcast #73 – Eating Alone on The Road, More Things You Never Want to Hear

Recorded somewhere over the Atlantic in the business class toilet of a South African Airways A340 and the Rosebank Hotel in Johannesburg at the start of a week’s stay in South Africa. We talk about inconsistent rules for mobile devices on planes, the value of renewing my CLEAR registered traveler membership, the three things that make a restaurant a great place to eat solo, and listener suggestions on the one thing you never want to hear on a flight. Here’s a direct link to the podcast file. 

Here are the show notes from TravelCommons podcast #73:

  • Intro music — Warmth by Makkina
  • Recorded in the business class toilet of a South African Airways A340 and the Rosebank Hotel in Johannesburg
  • En route to a week’s business trip in South Africa
  • Trips earlier this month saw very empty airports — right up to Spring Break time, when they filled up with families and strollers
  • Bridge Music — Stinky Dog by Music Inside

Following Up

  • Denrael commented on Twitter that there are at least 5 iPhone apps available to keep track of your hotel room number — free ones like Room and paid ones like Zimmer
  • Reached new heights of electronics inconsistency on my JFK-JNB SAA flight. After the stop in Dakar, Senegal, the purser announced that all smart phones – and he specifically named iPhones, Nokia E-series, Blackberries – were not allowed to be used in flight – even when put in Airplane mode
  • Returning from SFO, one passenger decided that he was the electronics “hall monitor” and started yelling across the cabin at another passenger to turn off his “crackberry” as we were approaching ORD
  • My CLEAR registered traveler card came in handy when in JFK’s Terminal 4, but still haven’t used it enough to justify the $179/yr fee
  • Bridge Music — Locovenido by Falik

Eating on the Road

  • Eating a great dinner by myself at the bar of Tinto in Philadelphia got me thinking about what makes for a good place to eat solo while on the road
  • The sports bar might as well have been created just for solo guy travelers
  • Outside the sports bar genre, what makes for a good place for a solo traveler? Taking “good food” and “cleanliness” as table stakes, there are 3 things — availability, small plates, and bar seating
  • Two nice-to-haves — ability to make a reservation on Open Table and a web site built with something other than Flash so I can read the menu on my iPhone
  • Bridge Music — Just Don’t by Lie Big

More Things You Never Want To Hear

  • In last month’s episode, we featured a listener’s question – “What is the one thing you never want to hear on a flight?” and asked for your input
  • Dawn Owens offered “God, I should NOT have eaten that!”
  • Steve Frick said “I don’t ever want to hear the pilot say ‘I’m so tired I could just crash’”
  • Greg B said the “one thing that I never want to hear at any stage of the flight … ‘BRACE FOR IMPACT’”
  • Steve F gave two suggestions – “The smoke in the cabin is nothing to be concerned about” and “We have an FAA inspection team riding along with us, so we will doing everything by the book”
  • Michael Golden offers a non verbal thing you don’t want to hear – shutting down an engine while taxiing out


  • Closing music — iTunes link to iconPictures of You by Evangeline
  • Bridge music from Magnatune
  • Feedback at comments@travelcommons.com or right here in the comments section below
  • Follow me on Twitter
  • Direct link to the show
Leave a comment


  1. Mark,

    I am sure about a gazillion people have pointed this out to you but what I never want to hear from a pilot is “I’m not qualified to land the plane.” It was reported recently that a Flybe flight from Bristol to Paris had to “turn around” because the pilot stated the airport was “asking for a level two qualification and I only have a level five.”

    I guess this might be the only thing I can think of worse that hearing that engine shut down while taxiing out to the runway,

    As reported by Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,469547,00.html

    Really enjoy the podcast and enjoyed the intro in th eloo on your way to j-burg SA.

    Travel safe

  2. Hi

    The thing about electronics and what it emmits. All electronics is tested and approved, so it can receive a certain amount of radio energy and still function. I am sure the rules for airplane electronics are tough!

    Two good reasons to turn off stuff are:
    1. It is hard to test for unknown stuff, so better turn it off. Some chip may just happend to send out a nasty frequency in some special case.

    2. Cell phones with no signal will crank out radio energy louder than any crying baby in any flight. Let’s not challenge the electronics during critical periods.

    Both are also the reasons that you can offer wireless internet: It is known and tested, so you can protect the airplanes electronics, and because there are good access points inside the cabin, the wireless cards will emmit very little energy.

    The reason the rules may vary is probably, that when you makes rules about the unknown it may vary. Some airports does not want to be the first to really find out if a cell phone signal can crash a plain landing on auto pilot.

    Thank you for the podcast and have a happy day!
    Simon Mikkelsen, Aarhus, Denmark

  3. In my own quest for good solo dining, my criteria are similar to yours. Good food, reasonably priced, served quickly.

    My near obsession in avoiding the chains (manufactured food, after all) I have found that Indian and Thai food restaurants fit the bill very well.

    Any town of more than 30,000 residents will have one or both, and I have been rarely disappointed in the quality. The prices are reasonable (nice for the client) and the service is very fast, especially for curried dishes. No need to bring a book, you won’t have time. And the food tends to be more authentic, unlike “americanized” chinese.

    For listeners and readers reluctant to try those cuisines, there are very basic dishes of each that you can start out with and then you can expand your reach from there.

  4. Lynn in San Clemente

    I’m currently at a conference in Las Vegas, staying at the Bellagio, and went down to the Cafe for a solo dinner. After being seated next to a window (a good place to ignore the other diners) and placing my order, I plugged into my iPod and was delighted to find this episode. Unfortunately, when it started with “coming to you from the loo of a South Africa Airbus”, I was reminded of another pitfall of dining alone – laughing out loud when you have no companion can be very embarassing!

    I also listened to your 4th anniversary podcast tonight. I have been listening since episode #1, and can’t believe it has been four years! Thanks for all of the entertaining episodes and your hard work, Mark.

    Cheers, Lynn