On the road with Brandel: Traveling must-haves and talking Tiger on planes

March 9, 2017

The 54-year-old broadcaster and author of The Anatomy of Greatness on overrated airplane seats and the joys of room service.

I fly just shy of a hundred thousand miles a year. My favorite seat is 2A. The front row is overrated because you can’t stretch out your legs. A window seat keeps me from being woken up or interrupted by someone needing to get up.

I never travel without my backpack. It’s heavy, full of books, magazines, notepads—lots of notepads—pens, highlighters and my laptop.

I’m a movie, book and magazine guy. I usually fall asleep before the plane takes off, wake up an hour into the flight, work for two hours and then read for an hour. I’m always looking for some data or stat that no one else would know or find, which isn’t easy in this metric-centric world. A “top 100 writers of all time” list is always nearby. I let the writer-critic Harold Bloom guide me. I’m also a fan of historical books. I’m currently reading Orwell’s Animal Farm, and I just finished Bush, by Jean Edward Smith. I also read the golf periodicals and blogs by Charles Pierce.

If my row-mate is wearing a golf shirt, I usually get a lot of questions about whatever event just transpired, but it always starts and ends with Tiger. I was once reading Goethe, who wrote Faust, and the man sitting next to me asked how I enjoyed the book. Turns out he was a professor of classic literature. I had been pronouncing it “GO-the,” and as we were saying our good-byes, he said to me in the nicest way possible, “By the way, his name is pronounced “GURT-a.” I don’t want you to ever get that wrong in a golf analogy.” Hard to come up with a Goethe golf analogy, but if the time comes, I’m ready.

Airports without rental cars peeve me. But the clutter and chaos of LaGuardia and JFK are enough to make me go to Newark every time.

I love room service. I use the door tag to order breakfast a lot. I have coffee and toast to wake me up, and I start studying for the day. The best travel trick I know is to call room service when I leave work and have it waiting for me when I walk into my room. I put on a movie and relax, knowing I’ve saved a couple of hours.

Hawaii never disappoints. I’ve been everywhere I want to go except for the Swiss Alps and Russia. Moscow intrigues me in a million ways.