Step Back from the Baggage Claim Review and Author Interview

TITLE: Step Back From the Baggage Claim
AUTHOR: Jason Barger
PUB DATE: July 2009


Ever experienced the way small moments impact our lives? Ever wanted to participate in a movement to change our world? Step back, be still, share compassion, live gratefully. Today, travel gracefully along your path! “Step Back from the Baggage Claim”. Jason Barger spent seven straight days flying 6,548 miles to seven different cities living only in the airports the entire time. He studied 10,000 minutes of observations at all four corners of the U.S. and reflected on how our airport experiences can teach us about our lives today. The airport metaphor leaps to life through profound anecdotes about an orphanage in Mexico, a summer camp in Ohio, bamboo, the homeless, climbing Mount Everest, a hot dog grill, and much more. The funny and inspiring stories remind us how to change our daily world through thoughtful and compassionate action! Join the movement.


Thank You to Jason for contacting me about his book and thank you for sending it my way.

I have to say that I don’t read motivational books this hasn’t been a genre that really has interested me until reading this book. I am sure I will be picking up future books in this genre.

I have to also say that Jason was a pleasure to work with when he contacted me about doing this and in the interview. He always answered my emails really quickly. Jason, you were a pleasure to work with.

The premise behind the book was that Jason decided to spend seven days living in various airports from Columbus, Ohio to Boston to Maimi to Chicago to Minneapolis to Seattle to San Diego. He also didn’t leave these airports at all. He ate and slept in them. He also had set a budget of $20 a day to live on.

I really enjoyed the book and I could relate to it because I have experienced what he was talking about all the time. I am not a worldly traveller and I am not in airports all the time. I can actually say I have only flown three times in the last 11 years but I know what he is referring to.

While I was reading the book I can remember from the times I was in an airport that people rush off the plane to get to baggage claim to claim their stake for the best spot to grab their baggage while the people behind them were basically trying to poke and peek through to see if their bag had come down yet.

It always funny to see this and it has actually happened when I take the train that people are in such a rush to get their belongings that they don’t realize that by the time they get to baggage their baggage is still being unloaded.

Also as a society I find that we have become self centered and that its always about me and not those around us. I have witnessed this on several occassion where I have been standing in line for fast food to have someone butt in front of me. Just because I am a stay at home mom my time is just a precious as the person who cut in front of me.

On one occassion when that happened to me I actually spoke up because I was in a rush and had to be somewhere so I said “Excuse me, but I was in front of you.” The guy looked at me and said “Yea well not everyone can be a stay at home parent. Some of us have to work.” I was rather annoyed but thankfully the lady behind the counter served me before him.

The book was a quick read and it was interesting that Jason also included at the end of each chapter a few questions to ask yourself and to write them down. He also includes frequently asked questions that he gets asked with is answers. I was also curious and happy to see how he managed to live on $20 a day at these airports. Surprisingly he managed to do it. I guess something to think about when you are traveling this holiday season.

This book isn’t meant only for stepping back from the baggage claim but as well as stepping back in life. We are now a society that is a rush to get from A to B in the fastest time and we really need to step back and smell the roses as the saying goes and live in the moment and not let things pass us by.

Just remember it takes two seconds to help someone be it helping a mother with her stroller if she is going down stairs, holding the door open for someone it just takes one small act of kindness to make the difference in your day and in your life.


Jason Barger is the author of the book Step Back from the Baggage Claim: Change the World, Start at the Airport – featured in the NY Times, ABC, National Geographic Traveler,, Book TV, the Seattle Times, the International Herald Tribune, and many other wonderful spots.

Before taking off to sleep in airports and observe human behavior, Barger led over 1,700 people to construct 125 houses internationally for families living in poverty. He also implemented the Streets Mission Project to serve the homeless on the streets of Columbus, Ohio. As the former director of First Community Church’s Camp Akita, he designed programming focused on living with joy, love, compassion, faith, and service for over 1,900 campers per summer.

Jason is a graduate of Denison University, where he served as captain of the men’s basketball team, and then received certification from Georgetown University in Nonprofit Executive Management. In 2004, he was one of five people in Columbus, Ohio, to receive a Jefferson Award, a national award given to “ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”

Today, Jason, his wife Amy, and their two sons, Will and Benton, live in Columbus, Ohio. Jason is an author, consultant, servant-leader, creative Think-Tanker, and respected speaker. When not spending time on those things, he is cheering on The Ohio State Buckeyes and leaving the door open for the next opportunity to serve.


I want to thank you Jason for taking the time to sit and answer my questions.

CS- I am sure people are wondering why did you decide to write Step Back From the Baggage Claim?

JB-I’m fascinated by people and the spaces in the world where our lives merge together. I’m inspired by the fact that we all share in the creation of today – wherever we are right now. Our actions ripple to those around us and help to shape the culture of the environments we move in and out of every day.

CS- As a society do you think we are in too much of a rush and we just want to get in and out as quickly as possible?

JB-There’s no doubt that we (generally speaking) are living at a faster pace today than at any other time in our history. We live in a fast-food culture and world of instant communication. There are many positives to this fast-paced, connected world that I enjoy, but the downfall is that when we get moving too quickly, we can find ourselves racing recklessly past those along our path just to get the next thing done.

CS- Being in airports for seven days you must have seen some funny stuff, what was your favorite/funny thing you saw while you were observing people for the book?

JB- I love the phenomenon of when an airplane lands and 80% of the plane immediately leaps out of their seats. It is funny (and interesting) to watch the scurry for the overhead bags, the people who rush to try to get a couple rows ahead, the complaining about why it’s taking so long, and then the awkward wait that comes until the doors open a few minutes later. Everyone is “in a hurry” and “late for their next flight” and then you see the same folks 20 minutes later standing in a long line at Starbucks.

CS- I have to ask this and I am sure you get asked this alot but do you have any future books in the works?

JB-I’ve got a few projects that are marinating right now. Who knows what will emerge!

CS- I have to say that I am really surprised that you could actually live off of $20 / day in an airport. Were you surprised that you actually could do that? Did you find it to be a challenge?

JB-$20 does not go far in the airport! It was a challenge to meet the basic nutritional needs and still have enough money for the gallons of coffee required since I was sleeping only about 4 hours a night. It was a fun challenge.

CS- What surprised you about yourself when you set out to write Step Back?

JB- I was surprised how smooth the writing process was. It was an amazing feeling to see how the stories, lessons and observations emerged along the journey. I felt very grateful that I continued to have trust in what would arise from this unknown process.

CS- What would you want or hope readers would take away from reading your book?

JB- That they are significant in the world…today. That their actions matter more to the envionment around them than they fully realize. That when they put grateful and compassionate actions into motion during the seemingly insignificant moments of every day life – the world is changed. I hope readers feel hopeful, inspired, grateful, and compassionate for others along their path.

Thank you, Cindy! I truly appreciate your help sharing the positive spirit of this project! I hope all is well in your world.

You can check out for more information about joining the movement.

This book was provided for review Jason Barger by. Jason sent me the book to read and review as part of his virtual blog tour. Thank You Jason.

copyright 2010, Cindy (Cindy’s Love Of Books)
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