Long layovers aren’t ideal, but they can sometimes be an inevitable part of travelling. This is especially true if you’re trying to see the world on a budget – because the lowest cost journeys often include layovers.
While spending a few hours in an airport waiting for your next flight might not sound like the best way to spend your time, a layover doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, if you plan your layover carefully, you can actually turn it into a great experience. How? Here are some things you can do on your next layover:
1. Get in some exercise
After sitting on an airplane for hours (and knowing you have another flight ahead of you), the last thing you probably want to do on a layover is sit down on some uncomfortable chairs while you wait for your plane. So take some time out and get in a workout. This could be anything from speed-walking around the concourse to finding a quiet corner to do some yoga. Even better, some airports now have fitness rooms where you can have a workout or do some stretches in peace.
Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport has a free meditation centre, while two yoga rooms are available at San Francisco Airport. A quick online search will also let you see if the airport you’re travelling to has a gym.
2. Go sightseeing
If you have an especially long layover, there might be enough time for you to leave the airport and see some of the local sights. Just be careful and be sure to plan plenty of time, as getting in and out of the airport can take longer than expected and you’ll have to go back through security.
Alternatively, consider planning your journey so that you have a couple of days in your layover location. Iceland, for example, offers visitors the chance to spend a few days exploring the island nation as a long stopover on transatlantic flights.
3. Get some rest
Time differences, recycled air, stress and long flights can all be exhausting. So if you want to feel fresh on arrival at your final destination, it can help to get some sleep during your layover. Many travellers are comfortable finding a spot in the airport where they can curl up with their carry-on item and get in a snooze, but if that’s not something you’re happy doing, then why not see if there are any facilities at the airport? There might be a hotel located near the airport where you can squeeze in a nap, and some airports even have facilities like hotel pods, which you can use for a couple of hours.
4. Explore the airport
Many larger airports have museum-like displays with archaeological artefacts, works of art and other things that allow visitors to learn about the local area. Spend some time looking around to see what you can find, and you might even learn something new!
5. Go shopping
There’s no doubt that many airports can be paradise for shop-o-holics – and you’re likely to find a range of outlets selling everything from souvenirs to electronics, jewellery and designer clothing. International travel also gives you the added benefit of duty-free shopping, so it’s a great time to stock-up.
6. Try some local flavours
Airports aren’t always known for their fine cuisine, but if you look past the sandwich shops and fast food eateries, you might just find some good restaurants offering local specialties. This can be a fabulous way to refuel your body while also giving you the chance to taste some regional favourites.
7. Play catch-up
An airport layover can be the perfect opportunity to get in a bit of work, check the news or see what friends and family are up to on social media. Many airports offer free Wi-Fi throughout, meaning you can go online from your laptop, tablet or mobile phone from anywhere. Sometimes there’s a minimal fee for the service, and occasionally, you might have to visit an internet hotspot, although the latter are becoming increasingly less common.
8. Find the children’s area
If you’re travelling with kids, a layover can be even more of a challenge. But luckily, many airports have soft play areas where kids can run, jump and tumble in safety, without annoying other passengers. If you’re lucky, your youngsters might even get themselves tired enough that they’ll sleep through the next leg of your flight.
9. Do some people watching
Airports are a great place to just sit back and monitor your fellow humans. Find a bench and put your observational skills to the test – or try making up stories about the people who walk past.