Let's face it, unless you have an unlimited cash flow and can book whatever flight that you want (a girl can dream), you are going to get stuck with a long layover at least once in your life. There is just no way around it. Long layovers are almost like a right of passage in my eyes, something to add to your travel stories. By the way, a long layover is not a 3-hour layover, that would be paradise!! I'm talking about those 6 or more hour ones that make you feel like you might as well just stay at the airport forever! But before you roll your eyes, long layovers don't always have to be a bad thing. Some of my easiest travel days have involved 10-hour layovers! No joke! I have even managed to come up with a list of hacks that always help those layover hours just fly by.
10 Tips for Surviving a Long Layover
1. Prepare ahead of time
Nothing will make this experience more painful and never-ending than not being prepared for those airport hours! What if your phone dies and you have no charger in your carry on? Have fun counting ceiling tiles until it is time to board your plane. Or you can save yourself the suffering and make sure to bring chargers, snacks, pillows, eye masks, and comfy clothes. The more prepared you are the more comfortable you will be!
Heres my little layover packing cheat sheet:
- Computer + Charger
- Cellphone + Charger
- Portable Hardrive (so I can edit some pics)
- Giant Sweatshirt
- Pillow (Trtl Pillow Plus by Trtl)
- Socks (Compression socks from Trtl)
- Sleep Mask
- A book
2. Figure out where you need to go
Get to know the airport that you are in and most importantly, the gate you need to go to for the next flight! The last thing you want to do is get comfortable somewhere and then race to your gate because you didn't realize that your flight was departing at the other end of the airport. So check your gate ahead of time!
FYI: if your layover is super long your flight may not have an assigned gate yet! Don't panic! You are just going to have to plan to give yourself some extra time at the end of your layover to find your gate.
3. Get some work done
If you have any busy work that is easy to carry with you, DO IT!! I cannot tell you how many blogs or homework assignments I have gotten done in an airport during a layover. Having literally nothing else to do is the perfect motivation to get some work done.
4. Pamper yourself in a lounge
This one is my personal favorite!!! For a really long time, I didn't understand why people would pay to spend time in lounges at airports but trust me, they are so worth it!!! Not only are they the perfect place to take a nap without worrying about someone stealing your stuff, but they are also almost like an escape from the hustle and bustle of airports. Stepping into a lounge is like stepping into an oasis. They almost always have yummy snacks and comfy places to relax. I personally use my Priority Pass membership to get into lounges in airports but there are tons of different ways for you to get in. You can purchase day passes or see if one of your credit cards offers lounge access. Many lounges are even public, you just need to do some research!
5. Get your nap on… carefully!
Ideally, we all want to sleep through a layover. Just picture it, you get to the gate, sleep 10 hours, wake up fully rested and ready for the next flight. Wouldn't that be a dream come true? Well, it is possible! The key to napping in an airport is finding a relatively safe spot and trying to make it comfortable. If you can find a way to secure your carry on luggage and personal belongings, maybe with a lock, you can sleep calmly.
PS: It also helps if you have a good airplane pillow because those airport seats aren't exactly made for napping. My personal favorite, as you all know, is the TRTL pillow plus! Super convenient and super comfy! Check out the Trtl Pillow Plus by Trtl just $59.99!
6. Check into an airport hotel
I actually just did this on my latest flight to Europe because my layover was 10 hours and I was EXHAUSTED! Most airports will have hotels that offer day rates for people with long layovers but if you are super lucky, there may even be something called a day hotel. During my layover in Zurich, I checked into a day hotel for the 6-hour option. They have a variety of time slots during which you get a small room with a bed, a sink, and a tv. It is super simple but also super convenient if you are just looking for a quiet and safe spot to sleep away the time.
7. Eat away the time
Okay so I don't mean literally eat for 10 hours but why not check out the airport and see if there are any nice restaurants around? Being able to sit down for an actual meal will not only help make the time go by but it will also help your stomach settle and get rid of any air sickness. Plus it can be a good way to get a head start on beating jet lag!
8. People Watch
Don't give me that look, you know we all do it! It's just human nature to observe our surroundings and what better place to do so than at an airport. The variety of people that come through an airport daily is amazing. You literally have people from all around the globe walking past you, why not take the opportunity to sit back and observe.
9. Work Out
You would be surprised how many airports offer a fitness area or workout center. Do a little research and see if your airport has any of these spots. By getting a workout in you will not only pass the time but you will also help your body by getting the blood flowing.
10. Leave the airport
This one I only suggest for LONG long layovers! I had a 12-hour layover in Toronto one year and I decided to make a day trip out of it. Almost all airports have a storage area where you can pay to store your belongings for the day while you leave the airport. Check in your carry on and any personal belongings that you don't want to carry around and head out to explore the city!