Grimsey Island

Tips for Surviving a Long Layover

Guest Contributor|November 7, 2017|Blog Post

Ah, the dreaded long layover… We all love the convenience of direct flights to our destination. But there are times when long layovers are simply unavoidable, especially when you’re traveling internationally.

Thankfully, most airports these days offer plenty of fun and productive things to do while you wait for your next flight to be called, regardless of whether you’ve landed in the middle of the day, or the middle of the night.

With these great tips on what to do during a long layover, you’ll be seeing your next one as an opportunity rather than a hindrance.

 

Daytime Layovers 

Visit Airport Lounges

They may cost a bit, but airport lounges are always worth the expense when you’ve got a long layover. Nothing beats the comfort, service, and amenities that lounges offer. With free food and drinks, showers, sofas, quality magazines and newspapers, and free Wi-Fi, you really can’t go wrong.

One of the best things about airport lounges is they always have much more luxurious bathrooms, which get cleaned more regularly than those in the public terminal. Some lounges you find might even rival the hotel room you have waiting for you! 

Entrance to airport lounges typically requires a high-level frequent flyer status, membership in a loyalty program, or perhaps ownership of a particular credit card. But there are several independent airport lounge access programs that you can subscribe to, some of which offer locations worldwide. And many airport lounges allow access to anyone willing to pay an inflated one-time fee.

 

Explore the Airport

Airports are becoming quite entertaining places to be these days. High quality shopping, incredible restaurants, lively bars, and more all come together to make a rather enjoyable place to be. Should you find yourself traveling with children, you can sometimes find great kid zones that offer games and other activities. Some airports even have aquariums; you just might be amazed at what you can find at airports around the world. Concerts, museums, libraries, art exhibitions, and even ice skating can be found in some airports. Singapore Changi even has a Butterfly Garden; you may find that you wish you could miss your connecting flight!

 

Watch Your Luggage/Belongings

One of the biggest headaches on a long layover is having to lug around your carry-on baggage, especially if you’re traveling solo and have nobody to look after your belongings.

Simple things like going to the bathroom become cumbersome as you try to fit you and your bag inside a stall. Look to see if your airport offers lockers, and make use of them. Some airports may even allow you to place your bag in a “left luggage” office, so ask at a help desk.

If you do decide to carry your bag with you, make sure to keep it near you at all times. The first reason is the obvious security risk involved with an unattended bag at an airport. Should airport officials find it, they’ll likely have it removed and/or destroyed. But theft is another reason. You should always use luggage locks on any zippers, turn pockets towards you, keep your arm or leg through a strap, or go all out and bike lock it to your seat if you decide to take a nap.

 

Head into the City

Long layovers can be a great opportunity to explore a city you might not otherwise visit. There are many hidden gems to discover in places we would least expect. So catch a taxi and ask them for recommendations regarding great restaurants or attractions. Just getting out of the airport to enjoy a nearby park or garden can leave you feeling refreshed, relaxed, and ready for your next flight. Many airports offer free city tours if your layover is an especially long one. But if you’re planning to leave the airport, you should always make sure you have any visas you might need, And make sure to leave plenty of time to get back for your connecting flight, as airport traffic in some cities can be brutal!

 

Get Caught Up on Your To-Do List

Since most things these days can be done online, use your ample free time to pull out your laptop and tackle that list of to-dos. Get caught up on business matters or homework, fire off some emails, pay some bills, or take the time to write a loved one and tell them how much they mean to you. You could also take the time to edit and organize your travel photos, or write about your travels if you’re keeping a journal or blog. Most airports have power stations available throughout, so you won’t have to worry about running out of juice.

 

Binge Watch Your Favorite Show

Pre-plan your long layover and download an unwatched season of that TV show you’ve been dying to watch. Park yourself next to an electric outlet so that you don’t run out of battery, plug in your headphones, and get lost in the escapism that Hollywood is known for.

 

Overnight Layovers 

We’ve all been there: We scored a great deal on red-eye flights, only to realize that it involves an overnight layover. That means hunkering down in the airport until the connecting flight leaves in the early hours of the next day. Though a nice bed would be tempting, it’s often cost-prohibitive to waste money on a hotel and transportation for just a few hours. Most restaurants and shops will have been long closed down for the day, so you can’t head into the city. What to do on a long layover when most of the attractions aren’t open?

 

Head to the International Terminal

If there is an international terminal in the airport, start there! You’ll usually find more comfortable seats, TVs, and electronic charging stations. Domestic terminals often have far fewer amenities than international terminals do.

 

Get Some Food

Be sure to grab your late night dinner and snacks before midnight, as most international airport shops usually shut down by then. It’s always a good idea to pack some emergency food in your carry-on, too.

 

Bring An Overnight Bag

If you know you’re going to be stuck with a long layover overnight, pack your carry-on as if you’re going to a sleepover. It’s always great to feel fresh before and after a flight. So pack things like a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, face cloth, contact lens solution (if you need to take out your contacts before you sleep), and any other toiletries you usually use before turning down for the night.

 

Get Some Sleep

Sleeping in an airport is never going to result in sweet dreams. But there are several things you can do to make it a bit more bearable. First off, be sure to pack an eye mask and ear plugs, or some relaxing, sleep-inducing music to listen to. You can bring your own travel pillow and small blanket, or use your jacket and backpack as a substitute. Many airports have a supply of blankets and pillows they keep on hand for weather-stranded passengers. Just put on your best smile, pick out the friendliest looking employee, and hopefully you’ll score a few precious sleeping comforts! You can also pack a cheap, lightweight blow-up pool float and you’ll have yourself a nice little air mattress.

 

Stay in a Pod

Some airports, like Amsterdam’s Schiphol, have the option of booking a pod to relax in. These mini “hotels” within the airport allow you to book a very small cube—75 square feet, to be exact—by the hour. Surprisingly, they are quite cozy. Many manage to fit in en-suite bathrooms with showers and towels, beds that can accommodate 1-4 people, a TV, and more. The best thing is that you can check in and out no matter what time of day or night it is.

 

Get a Free Workout

If you have the airport all to yourself during your long layover, you basically have a free gym at your disposal. So why not work in some exercise! While you may need to get creative, you should usually have a few good stair climbs at your disposal. Walk against the flow of one of those moving walkways and you’ll have yourself a really big treadmill. The lack of people in the airport will give you ample floor room to do your push-ups, sit-ups, and yoga. In the end, surviving a long layover is all about getting creative in the ways you choose to pass your time. 

 

Megan Jerrard is an Australian Journalist and the founder and Senior Editor of Mapping Megan, an award-winning travel blog bringing you the latest in adventure travel from all over the globe.

Related Blog Posts

  • Milford Sound, New Zealand
    Blog Post

    20 Intriguing Christmas Traditions Around the World

    November 20, 2017 | Blog Post

    Christmas has become an almost ubiquitous celebration found all around the world. Nearly every country—even those not traditionally steeped in Christianity—acknowledges the holiday in some fashion.

    Read More

    Gorillas of the Congo
    Blog Post

    How to Plan a Trip: Tips from an Expert Travel Itinerary Planner

    November 15, 2017 | Blog Post

    Jon Nicholson, Zegrahm’s Director of Operations & Itinerary Planning, was becoming an expert on how to plan a trip before he was even old enough to drive.

    Read More

    Zebras at Sunset
    Blog Post

    Why Overland Adventures Rock

    November 13, 2017 | Blog Post

    The best travel adventures do not happen in a flash of instant gratification. Instead, they are the long, meandering journeys that give us more immersive, interactive experiences to savor. Sure, jumbo jets might get you to your destination faster; but once you arrive, I believe that overland adventures are the key to truly exploring the heart and soul of a place.

    Read More

  • Island Sky
    Blog Post

    What Are Expedition Cruises? Proof That Not All Cruises Are Created Equal

    November 10, 2017 | Blog Post

    Cruises have gotten a bad rap lately, and some would argue that’s justifiably so.

    Read More

    Wild Norway & Svalbard
    Blog Post

    Seeds of Humankind

    November 9, 2017 | Blog Post

    Hollywood has produced plenty of doomsday films, usually with a scientist-hero concocting some scheme to prevent an existential disaster from destroying the human race. In reality, our survival is based on something much more elemental: seeds.

    Read More

    Blog Post

    Himalayan Adventure: 9 Reasons Every Traveler Should Visit the Region

    November 1, 2017 | Blog Post

    The Himalayas is a majestic mountain range in every way. One of the youngest mountain ranges, they are home to many of the world’s tallest mountains, including Mount Everest.

    Read More

  • Australia's Kimberley
    Blog Post

    The Nature Conservancy in Australia: Fighting Fire in the Outback

    October 31, 2017 | Blog Post

    Australia’s scenic landscapes have inspired travelers for countless generations. It’s a wild and beautiful land with a diverse array of ecosystems, ranging from lush rainforests and technicolor reefs to the red sands of the Outback and rocky outcrops like Uluru and the Kimberley.

    Read More

    Berber Drummer, Morocco
    Blog Post

    The Importance of Cultural Geography: A Q&A with Zegrahm Expert Ron Wixman

    October 26, 2017 | Blog Post

    It’s tough to know where to start when you’re talking to a guy with a resumé like that of Zegrahm’s cultural geography expert, Ron Wixman.

    Read More

    Tortuguero Canals, Costa Rica
    Infographics

    Costa Rica's Wildlife [Infographic]

    October 23, 2017 | Infographics

    The Wildlife of Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica

    Read More

  • Sapporo, Japan
    Blog Post

    Sapporo Beer Socks It to Sake

    October 19, 2017 | Blog Post

    Sake may be Japan’s national drink, but locals left the rice wine behind long ago in favor of an ice-cold brew. Although Japanese beer consumption has been on the decline in the last few years—as modern tastes migrate to grape wines, whiskeys, and crafted cocktails—beer still accounts for more than half of the alcoholic beverages consumed in the country.

    Read More

    Fish Market, Hokkaido, Japan
    Blog Post

    Hokkaido Seafood: The Best Fish Markets on Japan's Wildest Island

    October 17, 2017 | Blog Post

    Welcome to Hokkaido, the wild side of Japan. The northernmost island in the Japanese archipelago is a place where trees outnumber skyscrapers, and you’re more likely to run into a bear than get stuck in a traffic jam. But the island is probably most famous for its delicious Hokkaido seafood, and the many fish markets where you can taste the local catch at its freshest and finest.

    Read More

    Mountain Gorilla, Rwanda
    Blog Post

    The 10 Best Places to See Animals in the Wild

    October 4, 2017 | Blog Post

    I’ve been a nature-lover my whole life, but I began traveling specifically to see animals in the wild back in the early ’90s. Still in my early 20s then, I was fascinated by watching wildlife. My passion grew exponentially as I took up photography and became more adept at spotting hidden animals.

    Read More