Layovers by Length, a Sanity Survival Guide

    World travels

World travels

by Samantha Porter,

No one loves a layover, it’s simply a necessary part of travel. Not every flight can be non-stop and direct to your destination, unfortunately. So what’s a smart traveler to do with all that time between landing and take off? Well, that depends on just how much time you have!

Four or More Hours

If you have hours on your hands, whether due to scheduling or delay, you’ve got time to get back through security— so you can leave the terminal or the airport altogether. Lots of airports are connected to their local metropolitan area by easy to use public transportation. Don’t be afraid to ask for help at ground transportation to make sure you know how to get back on time!

If you’re not comfortable leaving the airport, you can at least get outside and get some fresh air. Also, outside of security, you may find some more comfortable seating, more interesting sights to see or more food choices.

A Few Hours

You don’t really need to be at your departure gate until half an hour or so before boarding. If you’ve got a few hours, you’ve got more than a few options for passing the time!

  • Get up, go for a walk. You’ve been sitting all day, so why not get up and get your blood flowing?
  • Snacks. Or, get a full meal. Either way, you’ll find far more comfortable seating at an eatery than at the gate.
  • Get ready for your next flight. Make sure you have something to read, download games, find the pack of gum that’s fallen to the bottom of your bag.
  • Watch a movie. If you’ve found a comfortable place to hunker down and you have a power outlet at your disposal, take advantage!
  • Catch up with friends and family— Skype— call—email— message— if you can find a relatively quiet place where you won’t disturb anyone, you’re good to go!
  • Try some retail therapy. Most, if not all, airports have lots of places to shop. You can peruse the latest options on the NY Times bestseller list, consider an array of massage chairs at Brookstone, look at the latest in luggage. You don’t have to buy anything and it doesn’t cost to look.
  • Sight seeing! You’d be surprised at what some airports have to look at. At Chicago O’Hare and Detroit you can walk or ride the people movers through fantastic light tunnels. San Francisco has rotating museum exhibits throughout the airport and an aquarium section in terminal one.
Less Than an Hour

With less than an hour between you and your departure time, you’d better head to your gate to prepare for boarding. You do have time to grab food and bring it with you, but we don’t recommend hunkering down outside your gate at this point.

Once you find a place to sit at your departure gate, get ready for boarding. Find your ticket, noting your boarding group, and rearrange your bag so you can access the things you’ll need mid-flight. Don’t get too involved in watching videos or listening to music, because you’ll need to pay attention to the announcements.

Congratulations! You’ve made it through the layover and you’re ready to arrive at your final destination. Do you have any tried and true tips for avoiding boredom at the airport? We’d love to hear them in the comments.

Author:Samantha Porter Samantha is a foodie who chooses her vacation based on Zagat’s top-rated restaurants. She guest posts for several online culinary publications and award-winning magazines

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