BY JESS SIGNET
As someone who’s been to a few places, I’d like to thank Maria for allowing me to share some tips about how to make your trip a bit more enjoyable. If you’re planning a trip on a budget, you may want to consider reading their article 20 Ways to Fly Cheap – How to Save on Airline Tickets? after you finish here.
If you’re traveling, it’s inevitable you’ll eventually end up in an airport waiting for your next flight. It could be because there wasn’t a connecting flight immediately available, or you may be trying to save money by taking a later flight. Whatever the reason behind it, one thing won’t change: you’re stuck for a while.
What to do depends a lot on your interests, willingness to spend money and comfort with public spaces such as airports. I tend to be on the patient end of things, but that doesn’t have to mean staring at the terminal walls until your flight arrives. Let’s look at a few options you can consider to survive the wait.
Take It From Dora
If you’ve got a long layover (several hours, perhaps even a full day), it would behoove you to get up and get moving. That doesn’t mean checking out what’s down by terminal 15 either; consider actually leaving the airport and exploring! Only consider this option if you’ve got at least four hours to spare (or you’re at a very small airport) because you want to be ready for boarding at least an hour before the plane is scheduled.
Many cities and towns centered around airports have sights worth seeing. Public sights such as statues, parks and works of art are typically free to view. You may even find yourself able to visit some museums or art galleries, if those sorts of things work for you.
So long as you’re going for an extended walk, taxi ride or other form of public transportation, you may want to consider checking out the local food. Some airports have really high quality cuisine, but chances are that you’ll find better options in the surrounding city.
Better yet, plan ahead and consider reservations for between the times your flight lands and the connecting flight leaves. If you’re trying to save money, look for hole-in-the-wall cafes or food trucks. Services such as Yelp or TripAdvisor can help you find places worth visiting. A little research can go a long way to making your layover tastier.
For short layovers, camping at the various airport eateries may be preferable. If you have a weak stomach, consider bringing along some Pepto or activated charcoal to help your poor tummy get through the rough times ahead.
Catch Some Z’s
Even though flying is mostly just sitting, it can be mentally and physically taxing. Booking yourself a place to sleep for a longer layover can give you a base to operate from and a warm bed to cozy up. It does add to your costs, so be sure to account for lodging in your budget.
Conversely, you could sleep in the airport. Several modern airports (such as Hong Kong) offer sleeping areas. Just be sure to do some research about how kosher it is in your destination; not all airports take kindly to your public snoozing. It’s also a risk if you’ve got a lot of carry-ons, as sleeping means taking your attention away from your goods.
If you’re traveling frequently, it may be worth paying for VIP access to lounges where you can access food, entertainment and in some cases a much safer area to catch your nap.
Get Mobile, Get Smart
Some of us travel to get away from the regular grind, but many also travel for business purposes. Chances are good you’ve got a mobile phone or tablet; both can be great tools for killing time during a layover.
A good set of headphones with a Netflix subscription can keep you entertained for hours, batteries willing. If you’re traveling abroad, you may run into problems unless you’re running a Virtual Private Network (VPN) app, as Netflix restricts content based on locale. You may want to consider a subscription anyway, so you can safely access airport WiFi without worrying about the risks (if anyone can use it, expect hackers to be on the prowl).
Of course there’s always a mobile game to play. Did you know you can even play Monopoly or Uno with people online? Bringing some board games seems like a bit of an inconvenience, but you can make up for that with your mobile tech.
Virtually all airports will have some way to charge your devices, but it helps to bring an extra battery or backup charger. You may find yourself stuck somewhere without outlets, and it sucks to run out of power while traveling.
There are advantages to traveling alone, but if you’re going to be stuck for a few hours, it makes a world of difference to travel with family or a friend. If you’re stuck on the lonesome, consider making conversation with someone else in a similar situation. While talking with random people at the airport can seem awkward at first, they’re probably just as bored waiting as you.
If you’re a little more reserved, people watching might be more appropriate. Try imagining other travelers’ circumstances; I find it especially entertaining to give people names and backstories. Being an adult doesn’t mean the fun of using your imagination has to go away.
It doesn’t hurt to go low tech now and again. Saddling up with a good book can rapidly pass the time and might let you catch up on a story or series you’ve been behind on for a while. I’ve killed a few novels waiting for planes and enjoyed every minute of it (although my neck has had to pay the piper a few times as a result).
Keep Track of Your Stuff
Long hours waiting can leave you tired and careless. While the first is okay, the latter can leave you stuck in a foreign land. Always make certain you have your passport and tickets on you. Storing them inside a backpack or duffel bag is fine so long as you don’t lose sight of them, but it’s probably better to keep them physically on your person (such as in a jacket pocket).
Though airport security has improved, there are still pickpockets at every corner of the earth. A good rule of thumb is not to bring anything you won’t miss.
Hurry Up and Wait
With all the things you can do during your layover, it isn’t hard to keep yourself from getting bored. As long as you properly budget your time, you’ll soon be on the next flight to wherever it is you’re going. Have a plan and consider what options are most suitable to your tastes and interests.
Don’t get too overwhelmed; it’s easy to end up doing nothing out of sheer indecisiveness because you’ve considered too many options. Remember that flights can be delayed and have a contingency plan outside of your regular schedule in case you need to kill some extra time.
Have you ever been stuck waiting? Share some about your layover and what you did to pass the time below.
About the Author: Jess Signet is an avid traveler and enjoys writing about her adventures. Knowing there’s more to the world than the bubble she lives in makes her want to travel even further and she has no plans to slow down any time soon! She hopes this tips will help make that next airport layover a little less painful for you.
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