Been there or not?

Lisa and I often have this debate: if you fly into a city, but do not leave the airport, have you been there? She says no. I say yes.

This came about during a layover at the Detroit airport. I had never been to Michigan before the flight. I say I was in Michigan, but did not visit the state. Her position is that I cannot claim being there.

My argument is based on the fact that the airport is located in Michigan; thus, I have been there. I could buy a souvenir from a gift shop. If I can do that, I have been there. Lisa says no because I did not leave the airport.

So, I guess I was not in Japan when I changed flights at Tokyo’s Narita airport or at Nagoya airport. If that is the case, how was I able to buy souvenirs that said β€œJapan” on them or get a photo of a sign welcoming visitors to Nagoya, Japan?


I agree that I have not visited the tourist attractions. But, using that logic, we were in northwest Wisconsin (Superior) three years ago. However, does that mean I was not in Wisconsin because I did not go to Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells?

We drove through Delaware, North Carolina and West Virginia years ago on a trip east. Were we not in those states because I did not stop the car and get out?

So, been there or not? Thoughts?


  1. Mallory Trudell says:

    I can see both sides of this argument. I would’ve said yes back in the day- after all, the flight attendants say “Welcome to , where the local time is…” when you land. But, then with Edward Snowden and “The Terminal,” they weren’t really considered there until they left the terminal. So, tough call. I still say yes, though. With the caveat that it was just te airport.

  2. I can see both sides of this too, but unless I’ve stepped foot out of the airport, I don’t count it as being there πŸ™‚ I’ve been to something like 30 states, but if it’s only been via airport where I didn’t at least drive through it or eat local cuisine or something, I don’t count it.

  3. That is a tough one. It really can be either or. Getting out and seeing the city, or place makes you more part of the scene though.

  4. LOL – I love this topic πŸ™‚ I say you WERE there! You saw it out the window when you landed & took off. You mingled with the other folks who might live there & travelling…

  5. Oh, you people are people I need to know! I have this dilemma with myself ALL the time! Generally, I don’t count places I’ve only layed over because what on can I say i learned about that place? That they have the same kitschy trinkets as the last and the next airport. I have started counting places I’ve only driven through, though. If you’ve dealt with the traffic, seen what there is to see or not see, and used a bathroom there, you can check it off the list!

  6. Yes! If I’ve been to the airport, I’ve been there! πŸ™‚ But I do remember a layover in Amsterdam once. Just to make sure I had been there, I walked outside the airport with some friends and had to go back through security!

  7. I can see both sides of it…I don’t travel (but I want to) and because of that I suppose I lean towards Been there just so I could say that I had been more places lol

  8. Interesting concept! I do feel that you “have been there”, even if you didn’t leave the airport. I have gotten gifts from the gift shops as well w/o leaving the airport and do feel I was still there in that state!

  9. Oddly enough this is a question I have thought about from time to time when traveling and catching connecting flights, etc. Both sides of the argument have very valid points, but ultimately, I say yes, you were at that location because technically you were. Now would I scratch a place where I’d been to the airport only off my “to do travels” list? Probably not because even though I’d been there I haven’t really enjoyed what the location has to offer — unless of course checking out every airport in the world or nation is on my to do list….

  10. I also see both sides of this, I would say been there. Airports count to me.Love the topic.

  11. Ha! I love this πŸ™‚ I think you can say you’ve been there, but you have to add the caveat.

    And, glad you came to MI. Come back and visit us again!

  12. Hilarious! My opinion is this: You indeed have BEEN to a place that you drive through, stop over in the airport, pass through by train or other means of travel. I would agree with Lisa on this point: you have not EXPERIENCED anything about that place that gives you any more knowledge than someone who glances at a brochure and even less information about a place than someone who has read an article or watched something about it on public tv or the travel channel. So in that respect her point is validβ€”just passing through doesn’t count as someplace you can give an opinion on. Are you having a contest to see who has “been” to the most places? Because if this is the case, the rules defining ‘being there’ should be set by a neutral third partyβ€”especially if you are and Lisa are ‘attached’.

  13. I was raised in a military family and travels tons. I believe if you haven’t spent sometime walking around and exploring that city you haven’t visited at all. You just stopped in their airport. am I right??

    • In this scenario yes. Lisa believes that if you were even driving through and just stop for gas, or rest stop that that does not count either. She states that it really has be something that shows that you experienced something at that location.

  14. totally think it counts to have passed through the airport! Maybe you could say you have been there, but haven’t experienced all that there is to offer!

    • Danielle, that is exactly what Lisa thinks. If you have only been in the location to stop for gas or at a reststop than you have truly not experienced and can give much if any feedback on it.

  15. In my opinion, you have been there as you have stepped on the ground of the place. It was the ground where the place located. Wherever you are, either in the airport, in the suburb, or in the famous places, you have stepped on the ground.

  16. Been there…

  17. No – if you’ve just been in the airport then you haven’t really been in the place. Airports are like no-man’s-land! πŸ™‚

  18. I travel frequently; however, the destination does not count if I did not leave the airport.
    When asked, I simply say that I have been through that airport.

    Rachel recently posted What Chains Are Holding You Back?

  19. Too funny! Hmm, whereas technically of course you have been there, if I were to name the places that I have been I would not count a place that I had only landed in. Driving through is a tough one because at least you’ve seen a bit more of the place, but if all you got was gas, you still haven’t experienced anything in that place. I don’t think I would count places that I hadn’t at least had a meal at or explored in some minor way as places I’ve been. I used to travel a lot for work, so I can appreciate your debate. Happy travels!

  20. It’s like the difference between hearing and listening. You were there but did not experience the sights, the smells, the foods, accents, art or anything memorable! I have to agree that you haven’t “been there” πŸ™‚

  21. Yes. You have been to Michigan. Very funny!

  22. On car trips, we never stopped to sight see. Now I realize that we need to take the time to see things. Our vacation starts when we get in the car- not when we get there. What’s the hurry? Thanks for sharing! Love it:)

  23. The minute were at the airport, you can say you’ve been to “____”. Thats how I see it. Just that only difference is you can’t comment and tell people you went to see the tourist attractions of the city except the airport.

  24. I can definitely see both sides of this argument! My husband and I were driving through Canada (going to NY from Michigan) and I made it a point to get out of the car and have my feet touch the ground πŸ™‚ Now I can say that we were there instead of just driving through!

  25. Been there! I had a layover in Frankfurt Germany once. I stepped my foot on the ground as we moved to a shuttle bus… been there for sure!

  26. I believe your friend is talking about the experience, if you were at the airport of “Japan” then yes you have been there, have you visited the tourist attractions no…

  27. A fun argument. I think, though, that to claim you’ve ‘been’ to a certain state/country it means you’ve had the opportunity to experienced it…and flying through the airport doesn’t give you the opportunity to actually experience the state/country you’re flying through. Sorry πŸ™‚

  28. I have to say I’m with Lisa on this one. πŸ™‚ I however would count driving through the state as “being” there because you witnessed the environment of the state. I feel an airport while having “local” decor and people does not fully represent the country/state/city as actually being outside does. However, it does get a bit grey. So, if you walked thru a state, biked thru a state, drove thru a state, landed in a state…where do you draw the line?

  29. I say you’ve been there! I’m from Michigan! Unfortunately the ‘Detroit’ airport isn’t in Detroit, it’s in Romulus MI, so you can say you’ve been to Romulus Michigan πŸ™‚

  30. I say not, I mean you haven’t experienced the city, right?

  31. I guess that I have never really worried about that aspect. If I haven’t shopped there then I guess I just passed through.

  32. I say it can be either or, also. I guess if you remember something special about that city, you can say you’ve been there, but if you didn’t get to see what the weather was like, I’d say you haven’t. Great post!

  33. Hmmm… I would say… I have been to xyz, but did not visit, because technically, you were *there*. Your body was there in that location therefore you were there, you just didn’t visit. Right? Now if you were to leave the airport and see something other than the inside of said airport, you could say that you visited. Would the same apply if you drive through a state though? I’ve been to Kansas, but I haven’t visited. I drove through?

  34. I say yes. I have nothing to back that up, but if I had been in an airport, but not left it, I would still say I had been in that state.

  35. Technically you have been there, but you can’t really say you’ve seen or experienced the country if you never set foot out of the airport.

  36. That is a great question! My hubby & I had a layover in Chicago on the way to Minneapolis. He, being a life long Bears fan totally counted that as having been in Chicago. πŸ˜‰

  37. Haha…yes, I have struggled with this question as well. When asked if I’ve been to England, I say “Yes, I have.” They reply: “Which part?” I say, “Heathrow Airport.” That’s when they tell me, “No, you have NOT been to England.” In the literal sense…yes, I was in England. But did not leave the airport and immerse myself in the culture? That would be no. I guess it depends on how literal you want to get. πŸ™‚

  38. Sorry, but I think I’m on her side here. If you don’t get out & experience the new place then it’s not really like you’ve been there. I would say it’s just passing through. Passing through via a car or airport is not at all the same as having been there.
    Fun post….will be interesting to read al the comments.

  39. I think technically, yes you’ve crossed the border into that country – you’ve been there. I wouldn’t count it if asked how many countries I’ve been to though.

  40. I want to say yes so I can claim Paris. πŸ™‚

  41. I’m with you, I always count airports.

  42. Hm…sorry, I have to agree with Lisa on this one. Unless you have stepped foot on the ‘soil’ and breathed the air…then you have not been there πŸ™‚

  43. I respect you for using the internet as a way to settle a score, lol. I say you were there! Physically you were there, but were unable to appreciate everything these geographical locations had to offer. One point in your favor, sir!

  44. I usually say that I’ve been THROUGH Chicago. I landed at O’Hare Airport a few times on layovers to other destinations. I have not ever been there to visit or see its attractions.

    Life With Lorelai

  45. I was in Belgium once on the tarmac and the door to the plane was open so I could see outside. I have been known to say I was in Belgium but am usually apologetic about it. LOL. Would like to go back, just so I can stop apologizing!

  46. I always think I have “been there” when I just hit the airport. You ARE there!!! πŸ™‚

  47. I can see both sides to this. My husband and I went to Atlanta for a few days. When it was our day to leave we checked out of our B and B and hung out at the airport for about 5-6 hours…… (draining) but within those hours we saw A LOT.

  48. I think if one leaves DNA somewhere, (i.e. uses the loo) you should be able to say “been there”. However, I really consider “been there” when I’ve eaten local food and learned something about that place. HOWEVER, you can do all three of those things in an airport?! I’ve confused myself and have no answer to your question…

  49. I think airport visits count for a checking off on the list kind of visit, but not a saw and learned it visit. Does that make sense? I too have only been to the Detroit airport, but I count Michigan as a state I’ve visited.

  50. I’ve never been to an airport BUT I’ve gone to Michigan to visit family and the states we went through my family always considered it been there πŸ™‚

  51. Totally been there! We vacationed in California twice and once we went through Nevada quickly. All we did was stop at a bathroom there. I say if you are physically in that state then you were there! Maybe you wouldn’t say you vacationed there, but you definitely were there. πŸ™‚

    ~adAstra @Flexines

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