It’s Okay to Skip the Dan Dan Noodles

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If you are a regular reader of mileage-oriented blogs and frequent flyer websites, sooner or later you pick up all manners of advice about how to maximize your travel experience.  Some of these tips pertain to what to go see at your destination, where to eat, or how to maximize your visit.  Others are more about the travel consumables.  How to experience the benefits available at the airport before your flight.  What to do in flight to take advantage of every possible amenity.  Where to maximize your hotel status to gain suite upgrades and lounge access.

That advice can be good.  I’m all about knowing that hidden special order food options are available in an elite lounge.  I like knowing that an airline will make my bed up and let me go straight to sleep.  And how to pre-reserve my dinner entrée to eat later in the flight.  I’ve been known to use a hotel lounge happy hour spread as a substitute for a light dinner when I’m jetlagged.  Or to hop into an airline lounge for a quick shower so that I can board my flight clean and refreshed.  But I personally draw the line to not allow time in airline or hotel lounges to keep me away from the real reasons that I travel – spending time in the cities I visit and enjoying local food.

But there always seems to be a stream of internet criticism about travel choices.  Others have different ideals about maximizing the travel experience.  Those are often derived from too much time studying the experiences of others on blogs or social media.

As an example, I don’t particularly like the “cooked to order” dan dan noodles that Cathay Pacific serves at the noodle bars in some of their airport lounges.  I don’t find them to be particularly authentic.  I would rather use the calories for something else.  But mention a visit to a Cathay lounge in travel circles and someone will insist that you need to have dan dan noodles.  Likewise, they seem to be an obligatory mention in any blogger’s lounge review.  Skip them and your experience is somehow incomplete.  (See also: “beef curry” in the Japan Airlines NRT first class lounge.)

It's okay to skip the dan dan noodles - and frankly, I've never gotten a bowl in the CX Lounge that looks this good anyway.

It’s okay to skip the dan dan noodles – and frankly, I’ve never gotten a bowl in the CX Lounge that looks this good anyway.

I’m guilty of missing many hotel lounge breakfasts and cocktail hours.  They just don’t align with my travel plans to catch up on sleep or to be out visiting with friends.  I’ll admit that planning around the lounge hours is not high on my priority list.  My flight experience is not diminished because I didn’t order the most popular dish.  I may only get to the airport an hour before my flight.  Therefore I will skip the airline lounge (or use the less desirable location closest to my gate).  But my trip is not ruined.  I might pick a hotel without the best lounge benefits.  It just means I’m closer to where I need to be.

And for me, its okay to skip the dan dan noodles.  I’ll just fill up on the Krug and caviar instead.  But I won’t judge you if you choose differently.

About Jennifer Moody

Jennifer is a management consultant and avid volunteer. Her career and volunteer duty travels have helped her log top-tier airline and hotel status annually for the last nineteen years. In addition, she embraces the opportunity to maximize her vacation time by planning extracurricular trips that have taken her to over 60 countries and 48.5 US states. Once an "every week" road warrior, she now only travels around 100 days a year. She resides in her native Fort Worth, Texas where she enjoys cooking, gardening, sewing, needlepoint, wine, and playing with her Border Collie/Great Pyreness mix puppy Harley Quinn.

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    • I’ve done literal “drive-bys” the last couple times I’ve been in London. I’ve fallen under the spell of the T5 Sofitrl and the extra sleep that affords me!

  1. Thanks for sharing this perspective – I agree!
    A variation is (or maybe that should be, was) the tip to book your award ticket to Asia via Europe to maximize the time spent in first class…..which made no sense to me as that would mean losing time at my destination……

    • I get it! I’ll only book a longer flight or unusual routing if it gives me more productive time and:or helps me adjust to jet lag better.

  2. Bravo. I find this kind of attitude refreshing. It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to experience it all and therefore one can have the tendency to indulge too much at the expense of more important things. These days, with two kids and a wfe in tow, my primary objective is for the trip to be as efficient as possible. I’ll fly Y on long trips if it saves me lots of times before I consider flying convoluted trips in J with misconnect possibilities. I skip lounges often and I book whatever airline gives me the best routing and price.

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