Long Layover? 10 Ways to Pass the Time

August 31, 2013

long layover

Don’t let untimely delays causing a long layover derail your trip.

As a frequent traveler, few things annoy me more than the tight layovers, which these days can be 35 minutes or less. These short lag times can result in missed flights or lost luggage.  On the other side of the coin, a longer layover can occur because of a mechanical issue.

I now look at long layovers as a better guarantee that I will reach my destination on time (or safely) with luggage in hand, and as an opportunity to take a step out of my overly busy, frazzled world.  You know, to stop and smell the coffee.

If you find yourself with an unexpected delay on your hands, instead of fuming about something that is out of your control, here are some things you can do to fill the void.

  1. Read a book. I seldom find the time for pure pleasure reading during normal work days.  I always make sure to pick up that a good mystery novel and pack it in my carryon.  And if I forget, I can always find one in the airport newsstand.  Some airports have comfy rocking chairs or other special places to read.
  2. Strike up a conversation. Look for another solo traveler who looks a little bored. I’ve met lots of interesting people this way, and once they find out I’m a travel writer, they usually want to continue to follow my tales through social media, so I’ve actually multi-tasked.
  3. Get a message. Many airports are now incorporating high-end massage and spa centers.  I’m not talking about those face-forward contraptions under the glaring lights in the pedestrian pathway, but actual spas offering dim lighting, soothing heat compresses, reclining chairs, hot tea, and a menu of massages and treatments to choose from.
  4. Get a club day pass. If you are not a VIP club member of any airlines, you can still get a one-day pass from some airlines which will allow you to use their lounge where you can relax, have a snack, have a drink, take a shower, etc.
  5. Go shopping. The variety of shops that are now in airports can be a feast for your eyes.  If you find the prices high, then just window shop.  If you are savvy though, you just might spot that unique item that cannot be found in your hometown, and the mark-up is still less than what it would cost to have it shipped online.
  6. Grab a decent meal. I refuse to eat another airline peanut!  Trying to eat anything onboard is just too crowded and inconvenient.  More and more airports are adding decent restaurants to their array of fast food joints.
  7. Take a walk. Being up in the air dehydrates you so it’s important to drink liquids and walk around after deplaning.  Airports are generally pretty expansive, making it easy and interesting to stroll about.
  8. Fire up your laptop. With access to free or low-cost WiFi, if you’re getting anxious that you are missing something important, hooking up and catching up can provide peace of mind.
  9. Go sightseeing. If the layover is long enough, leave the airport for a couple of hours and see the sights.  Most airports will have busses or public transportation to tourist attractions.  But don’t get so distracted that you fail to get back in time for your connecting flight!
  10. People watch. Enough said.  People are fascinating in one way or another, no matter where they are from.

You may also be able to score a free hotel stay if your delay is long enough.

First published in [Yahoo Voices]

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