Airport layovers are some of the most dreaded parts of a vacation. They often instill the traveler with a feeling of powerlessness as well as boredom, a combination rarely seen in day to day life. You need to try and instead look at layovers as an opportunity to be taken advantage of instead of a problem to be solved. Airports have become like small cities in themselves now, so there is plenty that you can find to do. Don’t forget that the technology you carry also brings with it endless opportunity.
Here are some of the best ways you can survive an airport layover:
Netflix and Reading
What do you do at home when you want to pass the time or otherwise want to relax after an otherwise stressful day? Many of you turn to Netflix or your favorite author but if you want a natural aid, you might want to check this product. There isn’t much stopping you from turning to your favorite entertainment at the airport, in fact it’s often encouraged. Just pick a spot near the boarding zone, put your foot through a strap on your luggage, and go binging on the latest season of House of Cards. Others can bring a book with them or buy a popular read at one of a dozen shops on the way to the terminal.
The only thing that might hinder you if you’re trying to watch Netflix is your location. If you’re out of the country you might run into regional restrictions. This means that you will need to enlist the services of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) in order to get yourself past those restrictions. A VPN is a service that connects your computer to an offsite secure server using an encrypted connection. It’s a great idea to have a VPN on your devices anyway while you travel, as the encryption protects you from hackers that lurk on public networks (which you will encounter often at airports).
Take Turns if You Can
If you have a travelling companion with you for the duration of your layover, you are quite fortunate indeed. The simple but important tasks such as watching luggage or getting food for everyone can be done by one person but you can split the workload. That way you won’t have to worry about having stuff stolen away from you or guards asking you why you’re leaving stuff unattended. Work out a light schedule with your partner(s) and let one person set up camp while everyone else takes care of their business. Bathroom trips are much easier that way too.
Taking turns is also great for naps for those long layovers. Sleeping on the flight isn’t always a possibility, so the airport benches are the next best thing. A couple of hours can makes the difference between a great vacation and spending the first day in the hotel. Divide up the time evenly or just go by who is tired. You can even spend some time just talking with your partner or meeting new people together.
Know What You’re in For
Every major airport you could travel through has a website that almost certainly has a map. You will also likely find directories that will send you to the right place if you are looking for a new book, some emergency item you forgot at home, or a decent meal that doesn’t include the words “with cheese” in it. Alternatively, you can use one of the many applications out there that will assist travelers with finding whatever they’re looking for. They often have user ratings so you don’t have to be so suspicious of the app’s recommendations.
It also helps to plan in accordance with the time you know you are going to have to explore the airport. You should prepare to be in the terminal a half-hour early if at all possible, but other than that you shouldn’t feel apprehensive about taking a ten minute rail ride to the other side of the airport to get to the best restaurant (or the most affordable one). Stretching your legs is good when you are flying all day, and perhaps you’ll pass by something interesting on the way. Take those time management skills and put them to good use!
Airports are one of the best places to meet strangers because people travel for completely different reasons. You could meet a former gang member visiting his mother and turn to your right to find a Rabbi returning from a religious retreat. You don’t know who you might meet next, and if you are brave enough striking up a conversation is a fun way to try and spend some time at the airport. Watching Netflix at the airport is fun but it can get a little tiring after hour number four (I speak from experience).
Go to the airport bar and strike up a conversation. People love telling stories, and if you don’t find yourself getting along with someone you can take comfort in the fact that you will likely never meet them again. If you get along swimmingly then you have the opportunity to keep in touch for the rest of time. Perhaps your new friend will be on the same flight as you! It happens more often than you think.
Layovers can be a drag on an otherwise fun vacation, but with some preparation and creativity you can get a lot of work or relaxing done as you wait. Do you have any other opinions on how a lengthy layover can be best handled? Do you have any fun layover adventures to share with us? Please tell us about them in the comments below and join the conversation.