Have you booked a flight with a long layover and are you now wondering what to do during a layover?
I’ve had many flight layovers at airports all over the world. My longest layover was a very unexpected one in Las Vegas. But there have been many others including a really fun layover that gave me almost 24 hours to explore Rome, and a long layover in Stockholm.
Flight layovers are a common experience that many travelers struggle to cope with. Layovers can feel uncomfortable and boring because you have no idea where to go or what to do. But, there are ways to actually make layovers enjoyable.
Here are some tips for things to do during a layover. From making your layover more comfortable to actually turning a long layover into a memorable part of your travels.
Take advantage of the free internet at the airport. If you’ve been eyeing new shows, now is your chance to stream them.
Streaming movies or shows is a great way to pass the time. It’s so easy to get lost in what you’re watching. Hours can go by without you even noticing.
Make sure that you find a spot near a charging station. This way, you can charge your device and save your battery.
But ok, you might have already watched a few movies on your flight, so let’s continue with some other things to do during your layover.
Every airport is unique and they often give a glimpse of the local culture.
They offer different restaurants, cafes, and shops. Some airports even have art galleries and leisure spots.
If you’re a food lover, try some local food or food you have never tried before. Check out the souvenir shops, get duty free deals or, as I’ve done several times, use your long layover to shop for some extra outfits for your final destination.
I’m often too busy to go shopping in my daily life, so layovers at larger airports have actually been useful to get some shopping done.
But even if you don’t want to buy anything, exploring the airport is a great way to kill some time.
We all know that sitting too long is bad for us.
And since you’ve probably already had to sit for several hours on your first flight, a layover is the perfect time to get some exercise in, or at least a walk and some stretching.
Make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes and comfortable clothes.
A bit of exercise after sitting still for so long is not just good for your body, it will also give you more energy to prepare you for your next flight.
Slowly more and more airports around the world are offering exercise facilities. A gym, a yoga room, or even a swimming pool… If you’d like to exercise during a layover it’s worth checking beforehand if the airport or any of the airport hotels offer exercise facilities you can use.
Also Read: How to Stay Fit and Healthy While Traveling
Passing the time by playing a game is enjoyable. You can play all sorts of games if you’re in good company. This is also great if you’re traveling with kids. Here are some ideas:
If you’re a solo traveler, there are games you can play on your phone. If you’re into casual games, you can play anything from FreeCell to Yahtzee. You can play first-person shooting games or battle arena games if you’re into action.
There are so many online games these days that I’m sure you can find one to keep you entertained during a long layover.
Travelling can be exhausting — especially if you are experiencing jet lag. Having a long layover gives you an excellent opportunity to get some rest.
Explore the airport first to find the best place to rest. I like to find a quiet part of the airport, and see if there are any comfortable seats.
Of course do make sure you feel safe where you are, although I’d say airports are generally safe places to rest and even sleep for a few hours.
If you are a solo traveler, it might be best to sleep near other travelers.
Another thing to think about is how to keep your belongings safe. You wouldn’t want to get anything stolen while you are asleep. Some airports offer lockers and luggage counters. If you plan to sleep for long hours, this may be a good option.
But, if you don’t have access to those, find a way to make sure that no one can access your valuables. Sleep with the zippers facing yourself to make access difficult and noisy. Or sleep on top of your bag; use it as a pillow if it is comfortable enough.
If you are not comfortable sleeping in public, you can search for a lounge or a hotel.
Most major airports all over the world have lounges that can make a long layover a lot more comfortable.
If you fly first class or business class you’ll have free access to the airline’s lounge. But, there are other ways to get access to a lounge as well.
Many lounges sell lounge passes. And although the price of a lounge pass might at first sound high, keep in mind that it generally comes with free food and drinks. So especially on a long layover that can make it a good deal!
And relaxing in comfortable seats, in a quiet space with some food and drinks will definitely make your layover a lot more enjoyable!
Some credit cards offer lounge access as well so it’s worth checking if that is the case for you.
I’ve spent plenty of broken nights trying to sleep on uncomfortable airport seats. Of course, that’s totally possible and as I mentioned before, airports are generally safe places to sleep. But, it’s definitely not the best way to get a good night’s sleep!
On my layover in Sweden my connecting flight wasn’t until early the next morning and that made me decide to book an airport hotel. What a difference that made! Even though it was a short night, being able to sleep in a comfortable bed for a few hours made the rest of my travels a lot more manageable.
And, if your layover is only a few hours, you might not even have to pay for a whole night in a hotel.
Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, for example, has a new hotel concept where you can book a small hotel room for only four hours (or longer).
I do recommend booking a room before you arrive though. Check online which airport hotels are available and what potential offers they have for short stays. Or, if you want to save some money, check for cheaper hotels outside of the airport that are easy to get to.
If your layover is long enough, why not explore the city!
I’ve done this many times and have really enjoyed seeing places I might otherwise have never visited.
Just make sure you research beforehand how to get from the airport to the city and how much time that will take. This way you know how much time you’ll have to explore the city and at what time you’ll have to make your way back to the airport.
Most airports offer luggage storage which I tend to use to store the bulk of my hand luggage so that I don’t have to drag that into the city.
Well, it depends.
On a domestic flight you can always leave the airport during a layover.
But, if you are flying internationally it depends on your visa.
For example, I once thought my layover in Russia would be a great way to visit Moscow for a few hours. But, it turned out I needed to apply for a visa to enter Russia. Something I wasn’t willing to do for a short 5-hour layover.
So just check if you are allowed to enter the country you are traveling through.
If you want more time to explore the destination you are traveling through, you might be able to turn your layover into a real stopover.
What is a stopover? Basically, it means extending your layover for one or more nights to have more time to see the area.
Icelandair became popular for their free stopovers. They offer a lot of flights between the USA and Europe, with a layover in Iceland. Without paying anything extra you can change your short layover into a multi-day stopover to explore Iceland.
More airlines have since followed Icelandair’s example. Therefore, if you want to add an extra destination to your trip, it’s worth checking if you can extend your layover.
If not, you could of course still decide to buy separate flights with a few days in between, this way creating the stopover yourself.
Reading is another good way to keep yourself busy on a layover.
Whether you like books, comics, magazines, or just want to read today’s newspaper, you can purchase some at the airport. And buying a local magazine or newspaper, assuming they are in a language you can read, might even give you a glimpse into the local culture.
Or of course, just bring your e-reader.
If you’re anything like me you’ll probably have plenty of messages left to answer or even a long to-do list.
I find dedicating a couple of hours of my longer layovers to getting things done works really well.
I have fewer distractions at an airport than in normal life which makes it easier for me to be productive.
Planning beforehand what I want to get done during my layover helps, and I always try to find a quiet place to sit. Airport lounges are great for this, but a coffee shop at a far corner of the airport also works.
Bring earphones if airport noises might distract you.
Note: do use a VPN if you connect to public wifi networks. A VPN makes sure you can browse securely and keeps your personal details and passwords private.
One of the great things about traveling is meeting new people.
If you’re up for socializing at the airport, make friends. Don’t hesitate to start a conversation with a fellow traveler. Chances are, they are stuck on a layover as well and happy to pass the time by talking to someone.
I’ve had some great conversations at airports and even made some lifelong friends!
Why not use your layover to make some phone calls/video calls to people back home?
I’m sure there are friends or family members you haven’t spoken to for a while.
In my day-to-day life I’m often too busy to keep in touch with everyone as much as I’d like. Having some time to kill at an airport is therefore a great time for me to catch up with people.
Ok, a bit of a splurge, but what better way to relax than by getting a spa treatment!
Some airports offer spas inside the terminal, and at other airports you can use the spa at airport hotels.
Check beforehand what’s available at the airport you are going to and book a treatment. A great thing to look forward to!
And not only is it relaxing, getting a massage also loosens up your muscles and boosts blood flow. This is beneficial when you travel and will help you feel more relaxed and comfortable on your next flight.
Layovers can be annoying and exhausting.
But, I hope this article has shown that you can make your flight layover a lot more comfortable, relaxing, or even productive.
And if your layover is long enough, my favorite recommendation will always be to leave the airport and explore the city!
Do you have any other tips for things to do during a layover? Leave a comment below!
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