Not many people like layovers. They keep long hauls incredibly longer, you are stuck in a foreign country that is not even your destination, and you are confined in an airport as your prison. But thing is, layovers are an extension of your travel work, or even home, and can offer experiences that you can never find elsewhere.
Here are seven things you can do to survive, enjoy, and keep your sanity intact during a layover. You’re welcome.
Before you can do anything on this list, you need to keep your luggage safe first. There’s no point to enjoying a layover if you lost your things. In situations like these, luggage get rechecked immediately to the next flight. If your next flight is too far ahead, then you may find another way.
Most airports offer lockers where you can leave your bags protected for a couple of hours. That leaves you light and free and ready to roam the world for a few hours. Make sure you choose the ones nearest to the departure gates. You don’t want go on 100 meter dashes inside the airport because your locker is situated on the other end of the complex.
Traveling from Tokyo to Sydney is an unforgiving 18-hour connecting flight. And no matter how long it is, it is nigh impossible to sleep soundly inside planes, and don’t start with us how unsanitary their rest rooms are. A layover is your chance to keep yourself clean and doze off.
Many airports provide short-term lodging rooms to travelers that you can rent. They are equipped with a shower room, a bed, and even a work table. There you can properly clean yourself and have real good sleep. You can go to Sleeping in Airports and see if such facilities are available on your layover, how much are the rooms are, and how comfortable they are. It is like Trip Advisor, but dedicated for layovers only.
Can you leave the airport during a layover? Of course you can! However, there are catches. First, see if you have the right visa, and second, make sure it is approved by the customs and immigration office to avoid legal mishaps. Once you do, you are free to explore the outside world, given you have the time and extra money to do so.
Eat their food, visit museums, go to the park, shop, or even just stroll around taking Instragram-material pictures. Your goal is to get a breath of fresh, non-airport air. Basically, you are visiting two countries in a single journey. Also, make sure you do not go that far. Travelling to next city to watch a movie if your next flight is within an hour wouldn’t be very wise. Make your plans within safe distances lest you would be missing your flight.
Just because you are on a flight does not mean emails stops coming. A layover would be a perfect time to catch up with them so you won’t be overwhelmed when you return to work. Also, if your presentation needs finishing touches, you may do this in the airport’s lounge rooms. If you are a travel blogger, you may take advantage of this time start your journal, update your website, upload your pictures, or update your fans and or followers on social media.
It is nice to work inside the airport, no sudden meetings to attend, no summons from your boss to go to his office to answer a few questions, and no distractions from coworkers. It’s just you, your latte, and your laptop.
If you are physically active, you know that sitting for six hours straight with very little activity just pulls energy out of your muscle. A layover, no matter how short it is, is a great time to make those blood running and the heart pumping hard again. No, we don’t advise you to make the airport complex your jogging arena (expect the security to come after you). But rather, see if the airport has a fitness center, gym, or workout facilities. If there isn’t any, you can go out and try to find the nearest gym. If you are in the US or Canada, you may check Airport Gyms to see the nearest fitness centers in your airport.
You see, when you are cramped that long, your posture gets ruined, you develop backaches, or worst case, give you swollen legs. Counteract these by doing light stretching, a light cardio, or even light weightlifting to get your proper posture, energy levels, and heart rate back. We advise against doing intense workout. You don’t want to make your plane trip more uncomfortable with muscle soreness.
We all know airplane food is never up to our palate standards, either because your taste buds get muted while flying 3,000 miles in the air or that’s the bane of pre-frozen and pre-packaged foods. Either way, we cannot ceaselessly complain. You are not in a Michelin-star restaurant. And since no one wants to get starved for nine hours straight, a layover is a good opportunity to feast on airport food (which is an entirely different story, taste-wise).
Airports are filled with restaurants, fast food joints, and cafes that cater to people from all over the world. From the ubiquitous McDonalds and KFCs to the more sophisticated French restaurants like La Vie and St. Tropez. Or better, try out the local eats the complex has to offer to give you a taste (literally!) of your temporary destination. Just be sure you have your antidiarrheal meds with you. You don’t want bouts of tummy aches and trips to the rest rooms to ruin your trip.
Board games, specifically. In a time and age where Internet and mobile games is the saving grace of any time spent waiting, a low-tech piece of cardboard with drawings on it can still tremendously entertain anybody. If there’s two or more of you and you know you will have two to three hours to spare for your layover, bring a board game such as Scrabble, Risk, or even Monopoly with you to keep boredom at bay (just be sure to keep relationships intact with Monopoly). All you need is a table and a few chairs you are good. If you are alone, a crossword, fill-it-in, or Sudoku puzzle book will keep you distracted.