Layovers Can Actually Be Fun!
Layovers do not have to be boring! Here’s a list of ways to enjoy your layover whether you want to stay inside the terminal or get out and explore the city!
Get Out and Explore the City
Airports are located near major cities for a reason: there are lots of people and a variety of things to do. Many of the airports you are likely to have a long layover in are connected to public transit lines. Hello Chicago, London, New York (JFK), Paris, Seattle, etc! And then there’s the fact that public transit lines tend to run right through areas that you’ll want to visit. For example, with public transit, you can be in downtown Boston, Chicago or Seattle in 30 minutes without having to worry about rush hour traffic or getting stuck in an accident. Many international travelers are taking layovers in China due to lower costs. You can explore many of their major cities for up to 72 hours without a visa. In cities like Seoul and Taipei, you can even arrange day tours from the airport’s help desk. Use your layover time to get out and explore. Just be sure to note your commute time into the city and allow at least double that amount of time to get back.
Fine Tune Your Plans at Your Destination
If you are on your way to an exciting destination, you can do some last minute research. Many travelers are spontaneous by nature and therefore don’t do a lot of planning until the last minute. Use your layover time to make sure you know how to get into the city. You can also figure out where you are going to eat, sleep, day trip, etc.
Catch up on Work
Most airports offer free wifi. Even if the airport itself does not, most cafes inside the terminals do. Instead of waiting impatiently for your next flight to board, you can fine tune that proposal you’ve been working on or finish that story that’s due the evening your flight lands. Once you are inside the plane, if you need to get on the internet, you’ll have no choice but to use the airline’s overpriced and often spotty wifi.
Read for Fun
Reading is much more exciting than people watching while you sit there and hope that your next flight will depart on time. Even if you forgot your iPad and have nothing interesting to read on your smartphone, you can buy paper books in any airport, regardless of the size. It may not be as comfortable as sitting poolside or lying in bed, but it beats listening to other complaining passengers and repetitive airline announcements. Bring your earplugs too!
Online streaming apps like Amazon Prime and Netflix allow you to download movies and TV shows directly to your smart device. This comes in handy when you are up in the air or going through a subway tunnel, but it’s also a way to pass time during a layover. You can put your earbuds in or your headphones on and binge watch Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown on Netflix or relive your favorite episodes of The Sopranos on Amazon Prime. It sure beats watching the news, but you insist, isn’t it better to watch the news on your smart device instead?
Get Some Exercise
Sitting in a confined space is bad for your blood circulation. Eating in a seated position and then not being able to move more than the length of an airplane is not good for your health either. You can spend your layover time walking around the terminal(s). Jogging may garner some unwanted attention, but you can walk inconspicuously from terminal to terminal during your layover, which is likely to be in a larger airport, which means more room to walk. To make it more fun, listen to some music or podcasts at the same time.
Make New Friends
You are not the only traveler who would rather be doing something other than sitting in an airport terminal, waiting for your next flight. There are plenty of others you can connect with. While most travelers have made at least a friend or two during layovers, you can head to the airport lounge to increase the odds. At Newark International Airport, which is a hub for United Airlines, they have a controversial, but interesting CBGB Lounge and Bar. Los Angeles (LAX) has the Rolling Stone Bar & Grill. Head to places like these to start conversations and turn the misery of a layover into potentially lifelong friendships. And if it doesn’t work out, you are unlikely to run into the same transient airline passengers again. If you don’t want to buy overpriced drinks, you can always ask for tap water.
Layovers go by Faster if you are Asleep
Hourly hotels and GoSleep pods are becoming more and more popular at larger international airports. Without necessarily having to leave the airport, you can sleep in a pod and pay by the hour or get an hourly hotel with a toilet and shower. The shower option is particularly appealing for anyone who wants to rush to the shower as soon as they get home from the airport. It’s a good way to freshen up for another flight or prepare for a night on the town if your layover is long enough.
Plan Your Next Trip
Regardless of where you just visited, chances are you learned things about that place or somewhere nearby that piqued your curiosity and made you want to return. Or maybe you met someone from a really exciting destination that you are dying to visit while you were traveling? You can use your layover to research a future destination.
This post was sponsored by Travelstart, which is a Cape Town-based online travel booking website. With locations in Nigeria and South Africa, they offer flights, hotel bookings, car rentals, vacation packages, and other travel services. Check them out for cheap flights to New York and other cities around the world.