There are two types of layover people: the prepared and the unprepared. For us here at AllTheRooms, we’re interested in helping travelers transition from the inexperienced masses wandering the airport aimlessly, to the elite few who know exactly what to do with the eleven hours before their flight to Sydney. Maybe you’ve seen them. Maybe they’re tucked away in the corner with a pillow and a full Netflix lineup. We’re here with some tips on what to do during a layover. So study up, and don’t forget to throw your chargers in your carry-on!
Take a walk
You were just on the plane for six hours. The last things you should do is grab a seat and spend a layover on your butt. Once you get off the plane, go for a reconnaissance walk of the entire terminal. This means scouting food options, shopping, checking out stores that sell your favorite magazines — shoot, walking just to walk. Your legs need to stretch and while you won’t break a sweat, we promise you’ll feel better after 30 minutes exploring on foot.
Don’t settle when it comes to food
Sometimes we get off the plane and grab the first thing in sight or hunt the shortest line. This is a rookie mistake, of course. The burger and fries or the Panda Express might call your name, but we’re encouraging you to look harder. There might just be a Chipotle around the corner or a taco truck at LAX (there really is a taco truck at LAX) or a great ribs spot at Dallas/Ft. Worth. Airports have stepped it up when it comes to food options. Don’t sell yourself short.
You need more than one form of entertainment
We mentioned Netflix earlier, and while it makes time fly, it can’t be your only time-killing weapon. We highly recommend the old-fashioned book. Often air travel comes with headaches, and don’t expect Netflix to ease the aching. Sometimes flipping some pages can be a nice break from flipping episodes. There’s also nothing wrong with exploring Spotify and seeing if your noise-canceling headphones are good enough to block out that airline employee struggling with name pronunciation as she calls guests for final boarding to Shanghai.
Seek out the quiet spots
Personal space is much-needed after a few hours in the middle seat. Seek out the empty gates without flight information posted and if you’re lucky, they’ll have the seats without armrests so you can stretch out and enjoy the closest thing you can get to privacy. If you follow tip one, you’ll usually find a gate or two that will lend you a private space for a few hours.
Think about it this way. People in an airport are from all over and they’re headed to destinations all across the globe. That’s interesting by itself. Step it up a little and find the spy, the James Bond bad guy, the fugitive, and your long-lost family members. Try to pick out first-time flyers. Try to look at the people at a gate and guess where the flight is going without checking the board. Give out airport superlatives like a high school yearbook. People watching and the related games are excellent when the personal entertainment just doesn’t cut it.
Escape the airport
We draw the line at eight hours. If your flight doesn’t leave for another eight hours, you have the green light to exit the airport and do a little city exploring. Cities like Reykjavik, Panama City, and Abu Dhabi are major layover airports and are some of the best cities in the world for layover adventures. Get in a round of golf and some shopping in Abu Dhabi, check out the Panama Canal in Panama City, or fill your lungs with some Icelandic fresh air in Reykjavik.
Tackle the to-do list
Layovers can provide great opportunities to catch up on work, emails, calls to family members that haven’t heard from you in too long, etc. Rarely do you have such large blocks of time to yourself. The experienced traveler knows how to take advantage of this window and do all the catching up he or she needs.