Flying can be an awesome experience. You get to travel to new places, meet new people, and take time off to relax and enjoy your vacation! Having a layover is an inevitable part of flying, unless you’re lucky enough to find a direct flight to your destination, or you have your own private plane!
For the rest of us, layovers are just part of the flying experience. Whether your layover is a few hours or overnight, there are tips and tricks for all of us to pass the time and keep ourselves occupied until our next flight.
I was recently inspired to write this post because I am going to be flying to Europe next month (May 2018) and I have an 8 hour layover in Philadelphia. I’ve had connections before with 3 hours in between flights, but never 8 hours! I could have chosen a different route and had an hour between flights, but my flight home only gave me an hour to get through customs in Charlotte and I know that is not enough time to make it through customs. Been there, done that! Last time it took over 2 hours to get through customs and go through another security check, so I decided to opt for a more time-friendly route (and I’ve never been to Pennsylvania!)
Explore the City
If you have the time for it, go explore the city! Long layovers are the perfect opportunity for you to add another stop to your vacation. If you would like to leave the airport and visit the city you’ll be in, make sure you give yourself plenty of time. You don’t want to venture out and end up missing your flight because you were much shorter on time than you thought you would be. Remember that you’ll have to account for the time it takes the plane to land, taxi to the gate and for you to actually get off the plane. Account for travel time to and from the city. If I were you, I would definitely add onto the expected time just to err on the side of caution. If it typically takes a half hour to go from the airport to the city, add on 20 minutes to a half hour. It’s best to just assume it will take about an hour to get there and an hour to get back if average times are 30 minutes.
You’ll also want to make sure that you will be back to the airport in time for boarding your next flight. If you leave the airport, you will have to go through security again, so you’ll have to set aside time to account for security screening. It’s best to be at the airport and ready to go 2-3 hours before your flight, depending on whether it’s domestic or international.
If you’re in a different country, check to see if you’ll need a visa to leave the airport or if you’ll have to go through customs and immigration upon leaving/returning the airport. You don’t want to leave and then be told that you cannot go back or be detained for not having proper documents. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
If you don’t want to leave the airport, there are other things you can do to occupy your time.
Catch Up on Work
Take some time to catch up on any work you have, or even get ahead of your work so you have more time to relax on your vacation! Check your emails, update your calendar, get a head start on any projects you’re working on or future deadlines you’ll have to meet when you get back from your vacation. Utilize the time you have at the airport to work on things or create a plan for the work you’ll do during your trip. If you’re a blogger (like me!) take this time to prep posts and content you plan to write about during your trip. It will make things a lot easier if you have a plan, and what better time to focus on setting up a posting schedule than when you’re stuck at an airport for the equivalent of a work day!
Review Travel Plans
Take a look at your travel itinerary and travel plans. Do some more research on places you would like to go, things you’d like to do, and restaurants you would like to eat at. Make sure that your hotels are booked and things are all set and ready to go for when you arrive! If you have to, this is the perfect opportunity to make any changes to your travel plans.
Do some reading! Listen to some music or podcasts. Watch a movie or catch up on your favorite TV shows. Journal and write about your experience up until that point and the plans you have for your trip. You could even sketch or color if you brought colored pencils and a coloring book! Find something to keep you entertained so you can pass the time in an enjoyable way.
Take a Nap
If you have the time and you know you’re going to be exhausted, take a nap! Post up in a quiet place. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your luggage out in the open while you snooze, some airports have luggage lockers you can rent so you can catch up on some Z’s.
Another option some airports have are rooms you can rent to sleep in. Check out Minute Suites to see if they have rooms available at the airport you’ll be at. Minute Suites offer small rooms you can rent for a half hour up to 8 hours. Some cities even have hotels located right at the airport that you can rent, but they can get pretty pricey!
Double Check Luggage
Double check your carry on items and make sure you packed everything that you needed. Even if you’ve checked your bags, take a mental note and think about anything you might have forgotten that you can purchase at the airport or at the very least, jot down so you can get it when you land. This is also the perfect time to make sure all your devices are fully charged so you won’t have to worry about your phone dying before you make it to the next stop.
Take a Walk
Take a walk through the airport and browse around the different shops there. Some airports have little museums or exhibits and artwork you can check out. Moving around and stretching your legs will be a relief from sitting all day.
Go get a massage or relax in a spa if there is one available. If neither of those options are available to you, take some time in the bathroom to freshen up. Wash your face, spritz some body spray, brush your teeth or even do a face mask if you don’t mind getting awkward stares from strangers. Traveling can be stressful and can really wreak havoc on your skin, so take advantage of your extra time and show your skin some love!
Sit Down for Meals
Whether your layover is in the morning, afternoon or evening, sit down at a restaurant and eat a delicious meal! Take your time, relax, order a couple drinks and enjoy your food. Time always passes quickly at a restaurant!
Sometimes layovers can really suck, but they don’t have to be exhausting and boring! There are lots of things you can do to keep yourself occupied and pass the time until your next flight.