For those of us who have been on a budget, traveled far, or just totally blacked out when booking a flight, we’ve experienced a really, really, really, really long layover. And since it’s one of the biggest travel seasons of the year, I decided to write about it of course!
Depending on the location of the layover and the amount of time one has, some dread it and some love it…but how do you make the most of it? Well that’s up to you…but here’s what I would do and have done:
1) Visit old friends
In the last five years, I’ve racked up quite a few friends who live across the pond in (and around) London. On my way to Africa, I had a 12 hour layover in London so I reached out to all of them and was able to spend a lovely day reconnecting with one of my old college roommates! I have to say this is to date the best thing I’ve ever done with a layover and it clearly makes the top of this list!
2) Check off Iconic Sites
Having never actually stepped outside of Heathrow Airport before (I know–), you’d think only having 12 hours would make things really stressful. But it actually released a lot of pressure on myself to see and do everything. I decided that I didn’t want to do or see anything that required waiting in line and buying a ticket so I could make the most of my time (though the London Eye was highly tempting).
Instead, I was able to soak in the city in a way I might not have been able to running from one museum to the next. I got to catch up with an old friend while checking off some iconic sites: Parliament, Big Ben, The London Eye, Liberty Department Store, Soho and Carnaby Street, Piccadilly Circus, Covent Garden, and Trafalgar Square. It feels like we packed quite a lot in now that I look back!
A bit obvious, but I have to thank my mom and dad most of all for letting me crash at home for 6 hours in between flights! Growing up roughly 13 minutes from LAX has it’s perks. If you don’t have any relative or friends living near the airport, it can sometimes be your best option to get out of there and sleep in a bed. Your legs will thank you for it!
4) Grab a local meal
If you only have a few hours outside the airport, one thing I love to do is enjoy a local meal. Experiencing a local meal is one of the best moments of travel in my humble opinion! It will give you a quick little insight to another culture while you avoid exorbitant airport food prices. You may end up paying the difference in transportation, but it could be worth the experience–and hey if it’s a city you’ve never been to before you can check it off!
Duty Free is there for a reason…
5) Catch up on work
If you have a bit of a shorter layover and plan to stay in the airport, grab a coffee and find a cozy spot with an outlet nearby to tuck in for a few hours of work freeing up your time when you get to your destination. This is one of the hardests for me to do, but it really makes a big difference once I get to my final destination. Sometimes I’ll just start organizing all my laptop files or photos which is an easy way for me to feel accomplished! Ha!
6) Catch up with family
Better yet, find a quiet spot to catch up with family and download about your trip via skype. It’s so important to stay connected back home!
If you’re in between two long haul flights and have a bit of time, checkout the airport you’ll be in and see if they have any lounges. Singapore’s airport is well known for their variety of lounges where you can pay to nap, shower, and/or enjoy a small meal away from the hustle and bustle of an international airport. Munich airport has separate “napcabs” and showers you can pay for by the hour depending on your need. You’ll feel refreshed for your next leg of travel and much more ready to enjoy your next destination!
How about you? What’s the longest layover you’ve ever had? Was it intentional? What did you do with your free time?!