Enterprising Austin and its Travel Agency/Bar Hybrid

Departure LoungeDrinking fine wine is an important part of many of our travels (especially if you’re a Napa and Sonoma junkie like I am), but how about sipping your favorite varietal as a way to make the actual planning of the trip easier to swallow? And no, I’m not talking about pouring yourself some cheap Pinot Grigio while you sit on kayak.com. Leave it to enterprising Austin to open the first ever travel agency / bar hybrid — and I just happened to be in town for its grand opening. The bar was fun enough (and the treats tasty enough) to hang out at even if your Next Big Trip isn’t around the corner, and I love the idea of attracting like-minded travel folk to one locale, regardless of actual trip-planning needs. But while you’re there, why not flip through some guidebooks to see what luxury travel might entice you?

Allow me to introduce you to Departure Lounge.

Everything about Departure Lounge is expertly curated to attract big-time travelers. It’s just the kind of place where I’d love to hang out! They have an excellent happy hour with wines and snacks from around the world, and there is plenty to entertain the travel-intrigued imbiber.

Departure Lounge decorations

At Departure Lounge, even the smallest decorations were made in far-away countries — and sold by the non-profit Ten Thousand Villages.


Departure Lounge is the first of its kind, but owner Keith Waldon promises that it won’t be the last. The native Texan worked for the luxury travel agency Virtuoso for 25 years before leaving to start his lounges, and Departure Lounge remains a member of the prestigious network.

Wine with your travel agency

The wines on the menu come from some great countries to travel to — including Argentina, Morocco, France and Chile.

Departure Lounge Wines


While you’re sipping wine or coffee at Departure Lounge, the international menu will get you in the mood to flip through some guidebooks. See something you like? Travel agents are on call at all times to come down to the bar and help you. (Hours are 7 am – 11 pm Mon-Thurs, 7 am-midnight Fri, 8 am-midnight Sat, 8 am-10 pm Sun.)

Travel Agency Guidebook

Is all of this travel planning and sipping international beverages revving up your appetite? In addition to snacks such as Turkish fig salad and a Persian pita plate, Departure Lounge serves up sweets such as cake balls and fruit tarts.

Departure Lounge Cake

I see endless possibilities for events, parties and shows at a place like this. What sort of themed hang-out appeals to you?


Departure Lounge Check-Out Departure Lounge

 311 W. 5th St.

 Austin, TX


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I'm a life-long travel junkie journalist who works hard to find adventure in everyday life after two years of travel and expat living.

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  1. What an awesome place, I want a giraffe!!!!

  2. You and I would totally hang out there! And throw parties there…

  3. Love this idea/concept and want more to open everywhere.

    thanks for the tip

  4. I also hope he does so well that these open everywhere!

  5. What a fabulous concoction of ideas – travel agency, local traveller mecca and watering hole, and a brilliant place to share information on the food & culture of the destinations they are promoting!

  6. This is so cool. What a great idea. Travel, wine and tasty treats are right up my alley.

  7. That is a really interesting business concept. I wonder if the wine has any influence on the amount of trips that people purchase :). Anyways good to know about this, thanks for sharing.

  8. Right? It could turn out to be an expensive glass of wine!

  9. I just heard about this the other day!

  10. I saw this last weekend, and I suppose I’d be interested to poke my head in and check it out. Maybe next weekend when I’m back in Austin.

  11. Yes, do! In addition to wanting to hang out there all the time (lol), I’d love to use it as a meeting place.

  12. “And no, I’m not talking about pouring yourself some cheap Pinot Grigio while you sit on kayak.com.” — I died. This place looks awesome! Hoping to head to Austin in April and this is so on my list.

  13. Filing this under “Why the Hell Didn’t I Think of That”. Great idea… I’m going to have to visit Austin soon and check it out.

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