Prior to this summer, I’d never thought of layovers as anything but annoying. They delayed me from getting to my destination, or from getting home to my dog. Inconvenient, long, and unnecessary. I’ve always dreaded booking anything other than a non-stop flight. But since non-stop flights are more expensive, I’ve spent more hours than I can count sitting in an airport with a numb butt, waiting for my next plane to arrive.
But it doesn’t have to be like this.
Why not take advantage of these layovers? You have an 8 hour layover in Seattle? That isn’t a tragedy, it’s a blessing.
Here are a few ways to take advantage of your layovers:
1. Venture into a new city/country
This summer I spent some time in Paris. On the way there and the way back, I had layovers that were over 5 hours long. And I left the airport during each one of those hours. Because of this, I was able to experience not only my final destination, Paris, but also Copenhagen, Iceland, and New York City, places I’d never been before. Make sure to plan ahead and check to see how long it will take to get to and from the airport, so you won’t be stuck re-scheduling your flight because you missed it.
2. Take a nap
Sometimes your layover isn’t quite long enough. I have a really hard time sleeping on airplanes. I can’t stretch out, I get muscle cramps in every area of my body, and when I try to lay down on my husband’s lap, my legs fall asleep. If you have a layover, especially if it’s overnight, find some seats and stretch out for a little shut-eye. This way you’ll be ready to explore as soon as you land in your final destination.
3. Get your passport stamped
If you’re out of the country, and you don’t have time to actually leave the airport, you may have time to at least walk through customs and back. This way you can get your passport stamped in that country, and this way you’ll have access to some extra shops and restaurants on the other side of security.
4. People watch
If you don’t have enough time to leave the airport, grab a cup of coffee (preferably from somewhere other than Starbucks, try to get something native to where you are!) and people watch. Make a game out of it with your travel companion, and time will pass quicker than you’d think. Before you know it, it’ll be time to board!
Layovers open up a world of possibilities. Whenever I have the time to have flexible travel arrangements, I try to schedule long layovers now. I get to travel more, I get to see more things, taste more food, and at the very least, it gives you a chance to stretch your legs.