Travelers the world over are familiar with the routine: Your flight – the first leg of your trip – arrives at the airport, but your connecting flight doesn’t take off for another four, maybe six hours. This usually doesn’t leave you enough time to actually go anywhere. After all, you’re likely in an unfamiliar city, and airports generally aren’t located all that close to activity centers. Plus, you’d constantly be checking your watch (or phone), for fear that you might miss your plane.
Fortunately, there are ways to pass the time in an airport that can help turn a layover into a more enjoyable, productive part of your journey.
It starts with a little advance planning. Research the airport where you’re going to be holed up; most major airports have their own websites. You may be surprised to discover that some of them have theaters, museums, gyms and play areas for the kids. You may even find that you’re close enough to an attraction or two that will make it worth venturing outside the confines of the airport. For instance, a layover in Orlando likely won’t leave you enough time to hit the big theme parks, but you can get to the Orlando Watersports Complex , Boggy Creek Airboat Rides or Orlando Kart Center in just a few minutes.
And while you’re on the airport website, see if there’s a service that allows you to check your carry-on luggage for the duration of your layover. If you’re going to be on the move, you don’t necessarily want to cart it with you.
Then, once you are in the airport, there are a number of things you can do to make the time go a little faster:
- Take charge. Most major airports provide free charging stations for cell phones, laptops, etc. Since you’re now able to use these devices on planes, you want to be sure you’ve got enough battery power to get to your ultimate destination.
- Practice your art. This is not recommended for someone who is easily embarrassed. However, if you have an art or skill you should be practicing anyway – yoga, a martial art, an instrument – find yourself an uncrowded area and get to it. You never know what fellow travelers will do; you may find yourself in a group singalong or an impromptu jamboree.
- Sample local cuisine. While many airport eateries are chains that can be found just about anywhere, a little detective work might find you in a restaurant – or even at a kiosk – that specializes in local delicacies from whatever city you’re in. If you’re in Boston, scout out some seafood. If you’re in Atlanta, pick up some pralines. Just because you’re only passing through, that doesn’t mean you can’t savor the flavors between flights.
- Take a walk. You should already be wearing comfortable clothes (recommended for a more relaxed flight), so start hoofing it down the corridors and avoid the moving sidewalks! Not only will you burn a few calories, but you might also discover a souvenir stand or kiosk that you would otherwise have missed.
- Read. Is it any wonder that, while bookstores are largely disappearing from the retail landscape, they continue to thrive in airports? A good book is a great way to while away the hours; if you have an electronic reader (Kindle, Nook, etc.), you can carry numerous titles with you without adding bulk to your carry-on items.
- Surf the web. Most airports offer free (or low-cost) WiFi, so fire up the laptop and catch up on work, emails or Facebook. Play a game. Do some writing. Better still, look into activities to pad your itinerary in your destination city – or, if your return trip will leave you with a layover in a different place, see how you spend your time there.
- Sleep. Again, this depends on your level of comfort – in this case, two levels of comfort. Are you comfortable sleeping in public, and can you find a comfortable spot to sack out? In either case, make sure your belongings are secured before you shut your eyes.
Layovers are often an unavoidable part of air travel. But with a little planning and imagination, they don’t have to be an unpleasant part. Looking to take off on your next vacation adventure? Give us a call at (888) 269-0182.