Although flights with layovers are often much cheaper than direct flights, sometimes a layover is unavoidable, and simply just sitting around in an airport isn’t fun at all. However, with a little planning, whether you are staying at the airport or seeing the sights, you can make the most of an airport layover.
At the Airport
1Do some research beforehand. Many airports have more than just your average food court filled with fast food and just a few kiosks. In fact, many of them have fancy restaurants that you may not have back in your city, as well as clothing stores that you’d typically see in a mall. This is why research is important, so you’ll know what you can do in the airport.
- If you forgot to do your research, then airport employees, either general ones that aren’t busy or ones at a nearby store or restaurant that isn’t busy, can come in handy. Ask them what they recommend for you to do, and they may have some ideas.
2Explore the airport in general. Sometimes, just walking around the airport can be fun, in and of itself. You may find a shop you didn’t even think you’d be interested in shopping at, or a restaurant you didn’t think you’d be interested in eating at.
- If you decide to do this, make sure you know the exact location of any new gate if necessary. If you don’t, then that could result in trouble if they start boarding your flight and you aren’t sure where you need to go. If you do get lost, this is another scenario in which airport employees can come in handy.
3Do some people-watching. At airports, especially some of the busier ones, there are usually lots of people from many different areas going to many different places. People-watching subjects from all these walks of life can prove to be an interesting experience, and it is a great way to pass the time and make the most of a layover. You never know who you’ll see.
- If you’re a creative type, consider sketching or making up stories about the scenes around you. Just avoid staring anyone down so much you give off the wrong impression!
4Consider sleeping while you wait. Many people don’t like the idea of sleeping in an airport, but sometimes, especially if you are traveling in the middle of the night, it may be one of the only things that you can do; everything else will most likely be closed in the middle of the night.
5Bring along a new book or game just for this trip. If all else fails, try and set aside a brand new book or a brand new game solely for this trip. If you’re just sitting there, then you can easily sit down and open up a good book, or play a couple rounds of a new game that you haven’t played before.
- Try to pick a game that you can easily play by yourself, especially if you are traveling alone or if you don’t know anyone who would be willing to play a couple rounds of a game with you.
Outside of the Airport
1Do more research beforehand. Again, research will come in handy here. Search for some interesting things to do or attractions to see in the area of your airport. Also, search for what type of transportation may be best to get there, whether it be public transportation, or a cab/ride sharing service.
2Use the brochures or visitor’s center in your airport. Many airports have either a visitor’s center, or a wall with brochures. At a visitor’s center, you’ll usually find an employee who is able to tell you things about the area you’re in.
3Make sure that you know which time your flight is leaving, and when it starts boarding. You’ll want to leave more than enough time for you to get to your gate and be ready to board, and you don’t want to end up missing your flight because you’re stuck in traffic.
- Keep an eye on the airport website, or sign up for text/email alerts from your airline. This way, you’ll be able to know if your flight ends up delayed or cancelled. Some airlines also have a service where they text you about the status of your flight, whether it’s delayed, on time or cancelled. Especially if you’ll be outside of the airport, it may be something to look into.
4Try to stay in the general vicinity of your airport. As stated above, you don’t want to end up missing your flight because you’re stuck in traffic. Therefore, staying in the general vicinity of your airport will help prevent you from getting in a traffic jam and missing your flight.
- If you’re not sure how far it is before you’re considered not in the general vicinity of your airport, a good rule of thumb is usually 15-20 minutes in any given direction.
5Take a free tour. Again, this is where research will come in handy. Multiple airports around the globe offer free layover tours for you and your party to enjoy. It’s a great way to see the city without spending anything.
- Some cities also offer tours that cost money, if your layover airport doesn’t happen to offer a free tour.
- Both types of tours, whether they cost anything or not sometimes require booking in advance, so this is why it is best to plan ahead so you can book online before you go.
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- Many airports offer hotels that are either nearby or directly in the airport. Especially if you’re staying overnight, or even if you’re just staying for a long amount of hours, booking a hotel room may be a good idea. It’s also likely to be way more comfortable than sleeping on a bench in the airport.
- If you do decide to sleep in the airport, and you’re traveling with somebody, sleep in shifts. This way, if an announcement occurs regarding your flight, one of you will be able to hear it and alert the other person. If you decided to sleep in a hotel, and you have text notifications for your flight, then you don’t have to sleep in shifts, but pick a loud enough notification sound so that you’ll hear it.
- If you’re in doubt about how much time you’ll have at the layover, then a good rule of thumb is just to stay at the airport. It may not be as fun as exploring the city, but at least you’ll be a lot less likely to miss your next flight.
- If you’re going to a city where you know a local, they can also be a great source of free city touring if you let them know ahead of time that you’ll have a long layover in their city, and you want to see the sights.
- If you get on your first flight and realise you forgot something back at home, then usually airport stores or small kiosks are good for finding something that you need, especially if it’s something like a pillow, or gum if your ears are prone to popping.
- Although not guaranteed, flight delays and cancellations are possible. Make sure that you’re always keeping an eye on the weather in your layover city so that you’ll know if you have to cancel any tours you may have booked.
- Make sure you know which terminal your next flight is in. Although you won’t have to go through it if your flight is in your current terminal, some airports require you to go through security at every terminal. Therefore, if you need to travel to a different terminal, make sure that you leave yourself plenty of time.
- If you decide to sleep in the airport terminal, there is a chance you could be questioned by airport security as to what you’re doing sleeping there. Therefore, be prepared to explain that you’re on a long layover and couldn’t find another place to sleep.
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