Traveling for work can be extremely fun and exciting, but sometimes the whole “getting to where you’re going” part can be tough. For many travelers, whether it is for business or for pleasure, long layovers can really put a damper on the trip. Luckily, there are some things that you can do to help make long layovers a lot less tedious.
1. Avoid Long Layovers Altogether
Try to book flights as soon as possible. The earlier you book a flight, the more options you have to choose from. Once a flight is booked, check in with one of your airline’s ticketing agents to see if you can switch the flight for a more convenient layover. You could do this at no extra cost as long as seats are available on an earlier flight.
If you know that you are going to try doing a standby flight, it is best to get to the airport as early as possible to get your name on a standby list; most airlines require you to make this request in person. If you choose to do standby, get to the gate of the earlier flight immediately, otherwise you could miss the airline agents calling your name. If you are not called, you will have to take your originally booked flight.
If you have exhausted these methods, and find yourself with a long layover, don’t fret! You do not have to be stuck at a gate, trapped in a seat by a power strip charging your phone. Here are some tips to keep you entertained.
2. Explore a New Place – Even If It’s Just the Airport
Oftentimes, a layover will be in a place you never thought to visit. Maybe you have a stopover in Chicago or Atlanta or Houston. There are some airports that are near tourist spots as well, so you may have time to check out a local attraction. Right outside of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, CA, you can explore the Flight Path Learning Center which is an aviation museum. It is open from 10 AM to 3 PM Tuesday through Saturday with free admission. If you’re stuck at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) in Minnesota, take the Metro to The Mall of America. It takes approximately 30 minutes to get downtown, and you can ride for just $2.25. Who knows, maybe you could even get a great outfit for your assignment!
Don’t have time to explore the city or nervous to leave the terminal? Many airports have undergone recent renovations playing on their local flavors and are great places to explore. For example, the Las Vegas airport has slot machines and a museum for you to get your Vegas fix. Nashville International is known for live music and lively restaurants, a nod to the city’s rich music history. Take advantage of your layover to experience a new city and culture.
Long layovers can exacerbate an already exhausting trip. Thankfully, many airports have resting areas for you to catch up on a few zzz’s. The Dallas/Fort Worth airport, for example, has “Minute Suites” which travelers can rent to sleep in if they are stuck with a longer layover.
4. Check Off Your To-Do List
Layovers are a great way to check things off of your to-do list. Have you been too busy to work out? Spare a moment to research ahead of time of your airport’s facilities. At the San Francisco International Airport (SFO), in Terminal 2, you can test out the world’s first airport yoga room which is opened to any ticketed passenger (mats provided).
If yoga isn’t your thing, pack a good book you have been meaning to read, or some work that you keep putting off. Always remember your headphones! At the very least, you can take some time to relax and meditate by listening to your favorite tunes or a cool podcast.
5. Take a Stroll
The flights which bookend your layover could be quite long. Studies suggest that sitting for too long without moving around can cause deep vein thrombosis. Pack some walking shoes so that on your layover you can get the blood pumping back through your legs.
Walking around can also be relaxing and will give you a little more energy for your next flight. There are plenty of free exhibits to check out at airports, as well. If you’re wandering around Miami, you could catch an exhibit on ironwork from Haiti.
6. Eat or Drink (My Personal Favorite!)
Take a moment before your flight to check out the airport website and see if there are any cool food stops. Dallas Fort Worth has been rated a top stop for airport food goers. If you’re flying through this airport, you are lucky enough to have four BBQ spots, eight Mexican restaurants, eight bars, and even a cereal restaurant to choose from. If you aren’t into trying new things (although we highly recommend it), they also have some chain restaurants. If you do decide to check out a bar, make sure to stay responsible to not miss your connecting flight!
7. Visit Gift Shops
Traveling while on assignment can get hectic. Use your layover to grab any quick gifts for loved ones you may have forgotten, or grab a post card or keychain for a memory of your travels. You can start a collection, or choose unique souvenirs for every assignment.
At airports, you have the opportunity to see people from every walk of life, which means that airports are the perfect places to people watch. You might even be able to make a new friend to help pass the time while you wait.
A long layover isn’t the end of the world. There are plenty of things to do to occupy your time and make your layover into its own mini vacation. Hopefully you are able to use these ideas to help make your future layovers a bit more eventful!