Air travel is still the fastest place to get from one place to another and is one of the most commonly select modes of travel today. Whether you are traveling across the country or across the globe, one thing is most likely to happen during your travels- the layover. While a short layover can give you a chance to stretch, move around, visit the restroom, and grab a drink before catching the next leg of the flight, long layover for some can be nightmares.
In my travels I have has layover so short I missed a connecting flight and I have had layovers that stretched past the 7 hour marker. When facing long layovers it is important to keep your sanity. The airport and air travel can be stressful with the security checks, long lines, cramped seating, and crappy food. Being stressed about a layover doesn’t have to happen. So I present to you some of the helpful tips that have helped me keep my sanity while dealing with long airport layovers.
Layovers are a welcomed break from flying. Think of a layover as a good thing and try to view it in a positive light. Look at it as an extra travel bonus where you can get off the plane and explore, even if it is only the inside of the airport. Look at it as a positive experience. I have seen some interesting stores and fellow travelers while walking around airports and killing time between flights.
Research the layover airport before you leave home. Find out what restaurants, shops, or other activities and entertainment there may be at the airport. Some have theaters, gyms, or play areas for the kids. Larger airports will generally have more things to offer. The region you are in will also impact what they have to offer. Once when I have a layover in Las Vegas, there were slot machines in the main terminals of the airport. It was a nice way to spend some time before my flight left. So check it out and make a list of what you want to see and do in the airport.
Some are located close enough to the main center of town to take advantage of tours and attractions. If you have a layover exceeding three to four hours then there may be time for you to take an hour long bus tour, or hit the local shops around the airport. Maybe you and the family could grab some real food at a restaurant then head back to the airport. If you do go with this option be sure to ask an airport representative if there are special policies or protocol for re-entry in a situation like yours.
Join the VIP club for access to exclusive lounges, bars, waiting areas, and other amenities. Most VIP clubs for airlines are not overly expensive and if you are a frequent flyer, the little extra money may be worth it for the added comfort it can provide during an extended layover.
Be sure that you carry on what you will need during the layover. I always keep a change of clothes in my carry-on bag and I have needed them after turbulence caused my coffee to end up down the front of my shirt. I also try to keep paper and pencil handy for writing and I always have a book tucked away somewhere for when I want to read. Another thing I learned was to always have some cash on me as sometimes a store may not take a card or their machines may be down.
Keeping the kids entertained in the airport for the layover is one of the biggest challenges parents face. Kids can easily get restless and when that happens, they can make the layover time almost unbearable. Bring things to keep them entertained and occupied to help time pass faster and more peacefully, Good items to keep on hand are coloring books and crayons, paper and pencils, video games, headphone set, laptops, a deck of playing cards or other easy to carry toys and games.
Freshening up is a simple yet great little thing you can do to help yourself feel better while waiting for your flight to leave. Just washing your hands and face can wake you up reinvigorate you. Take a walk around the terminal if you have a short layover. If you are there for a few hours, then wander around to the other gates and terminals and explore the entire airport.One of my favorite ways to pass the time when I am stuck in the airport for a long layover is to people watch. Airports have lots of very, very interesting people to watch. Have a seat in a public area and just sit back and observe. I have played the game before with my travel companions of airport bingo. Basically you come up with different categories and try to find people that match. For example some of the categories we commonly use are – man with suite- woman with blue rolling suitcase- family with three kids- baby in a stroller- and – old man with a red vest-. The categories can be as wild and crazy as you want and you will be surprised, you may just find someone for that insane category you came up with.
Talk to people, but only if they seem open to it. A good conversation can help the time fly, and you might find some surprising similarities and end up making a lasting connection with someone.
Make use of the airport’s free internet and surf the web while waiting for the next plane. Get some work done so you do not feel like you are just sitting there wasting time. Put some last touches on that business proposal you are giving tomorrow or finish hat school report you were suppose to have done before you got back home. I enjoy writing some of my articles and working on my online journal while sitting in the airport. There is a lot to do online and it is a great way to keep yourself entertained and busy on a long layover.