Souvenir Sunday: panda hats from PEK airport

Happy Souvenir Sunday!


Shopping is always a great way to spend some time when you’re stuck at an airport. You just never know what you’ll find.

That’s why here at Stuck at The Airport we celebrate Souvenir Sunday every week.

PEK - panda hats

This week: cute panda hats from China’s Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK). The photo is courtesy of Michael Crockatt (left), from Canada’s Ottawa International Airport Authority (left) and Carol Hutchins (right), from the Edmonton International Airport.

PEK LOGOPEK airport seems huge  – Terminal 3, which opened for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, is the second largest airport terminal in the world – but not boring.

According the airport Web site, an entertainment center at the airport offers:

“…Chinese tea ceremony, beauty saloon [I think they mean salon, but a beauty saloon seems intriguing],  hairdressers, foot care house and so on. …There is time-meter hotel in the first underground floor,  …You can also go to the cinema hall to enjoy the latest films or go to enjoy Chinese massage.”

All that sounds great, doesn’t it?

But this is Souvenir Sunday, so let’s celebrate those panda hats (and the brave models) and let me invite you to send along your photos of a fun souvenir you’ve found at the airport.

There are just a few rules: to be featured on Souvenir Sunday, an airport souvenir needs to be under $10, “of” a city or region and, if possible, just a wee bit offbeat.

Like those panda hats!

Want a quiet hotel room? Try an airport hotel.

(Image from column courtesy John Brecher / msnbc.com)

What’s the use of battling the crowds at the airport and on the airplane if you end up checking into a hotel where the hallways are noisy and the walls are so thin that it sounds as if the guests next door are having that private conservation in your room?

For some tips on how to get a good night’s sleep on the road, take a look at my Well-Mannered Traveler column: Do not disturb – How to get a quiet hotel room – posted this week on MSNBC.com.

You may be surprised to learn why airport hotels are sometimes your best choice.

Spend on airfare; save on lodging?

The high cost of airfare and the unsteady economy is forcing would-be travelers to get more creative. And chummier. Especially when it comes to finding a place to stay on vacation.

Some folks are befriending – or suddenly reconnecting with – folks who own second homes in hopes of securing a weekend invitation. Others are trying to stretch their travel dollars by renting a condo or an apartment instead of a hotel.

In my Well-Mannered Traveler column on MSNBC.com this week, I share stories about what can go right – or very, very, wrong – when renting or borrowing someone else’s house and offer tips on how to avoid some classic pitfalls.

Skip the airport hotel: try a hostel or couchsurfing

Airfares are up, so lots of travelers are trying to find less expensive places to stay once they’re on the ground. Two options – clearly not for everyone – are hostels and couch surfing. I explore both options in my Well-Mannered Traveler column posted today on MSNBC.com.

(Photo from MSNBC.com column; from AP file)

The couch surfing alternative is especially intriguing. The 710,000 members of the free, informal, and suddenly-very-hip CouchSurfing Network use the Web to both offer up and seek out free places to stay. Hosts and ‘surfers’ create personal profiles and, like buyers and sellers on eBay, check each other out through references and feedback.

That way, surfers will know that there’s a guy in Italy who will let you stay at his house for free only if you wrestle him for who gets which couch.

Airport sleepover: 747 plane to become Jumbo Hostel

Move over Yotel. According to this Wired Autopia report by Dave Demerjian, Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport will soon welcome the Jumbo Hostel – a 25-room hotel located inside a decommissioned 747 and parked just outside airport property.

If it’s true, I’m making my reservation now.

(Courtesy: Jumbo Hostel)

According to the Jumbo Hostel Web site, travelers will be able to choose between “sparkling three-bed rooms with shared shower and toilet in the corridor or the luxury suite in the converted cockpit with its panoramic view of the airport.”

(Graphic: Bjerking Arkitekter Ingenjörer)

Folks who don’t want to stay overnight can stop by for an “excursion” on the walkway out on the left wing of the plane. There, they can “explore the vertiginous feeling of standing on top of a jumbo jet’s wing.”