How To Make The Most Of Your Long Layover at the Airport
Gregg and I are currently dealing with a six hour layover at the Manchester airport. We’re on our way from Los Angeles to Edinburgh for our wedding, and this was the best option we could find for our budget. Since we’ve got some time to hang out, we’re going to make the best of it!
While most of us aim to book a direct flight when it’s time to travel, it doesn’t always work out. Sometimes, the direct option is far more expensive than the flight with the layover. In other cases, there might not be any direct options at all. In any case, most travelers will find themselves faced with an extra long layover at least once or twice – and when it happens to you, you might as well make the best of it!
Instead of spending your layover slumped in a terminal chair, waiting to board your next flight, take advantage of the time you have to explore someplace new – even if that new place is, well, an airport. Here are a handful of things you can do to make the most of your long layover:
1 – Do your research. If you know your layover is particularly long, don’t wait until your flight lands to know what options are available to you. Do a little research before you go. Spend some time on the airport’s website and review the directory to know exactly how you can spend your time. If there are any must-see attractions, you don’t want to miss out!
2 – Get out and explore! If your layover is long enough, and the airport you’re at isn’t too far from the city it serves, see if you can find a way to experience your destination for a couple of hours. This one makes me a little nervous because I’m generally a nervous traveler and I’m always afraid I’ll miss a flight or something will go wrong (hello anxiety brain!). Plus, we’re currently carrying a ton of bags and my wedding dress with us, and we’re exhausted because we took a red eye overnight flight! But for those of you who DON’T have travel anxiety, leaving the airport is a great way to get more sightseeing packed into your trip! Airports in cities like Seoul, Istanbul, Singapore and Doha actually offer free city tours, coordinated directly through the airport, but you’re always free to order an Uber and create your own custom tour – as long as you can make it back through security before your next flight departs!
3 – Freshen up. Spending hours on a plane in the stale, recirculated air can leave you feeling not-so-fresh. To ensure you arrive at your final destination looking and feeling your best, take advantage of your long layover as a time to refresh yourself. Keep your toiletries in your carry on for easy access. While you probably won’t have an opportunity to take a true shower, you can wash your face, brush your teeth, moisturize your skin and touch up your makeup, which can make a world of difference. I brought my Emme Diane, Dermalogica and Hello toothpaste travel sizes, along with a toothbrush, with me in my carry-on bag.
4 – Shop duty free. If shopping is on your travel itinerary, see if it makes sense to make any of your purchases in the duty-free shops at the airport. While not every item in a duty-free store is a good deal – on the contrary, you should do some research and know what to buy before you go – you’ll save on taxes and fees typically tacked onto the purchase price when these items are imported through formal channels.
5 – Treat yourself to a good meal. More and more airports are taking their dining options seriously. Gone are the days when your only option to grab a bite to eat during your layover was McDonalds or Sbarro in the food court. Now, many airports aim to showcase their local cuisine through offshoots of popular restaurants native to the area. See what options come recommended at your destination and make a point to enjoy a nice, slow meal.
6 – Live it up in a lounge. Another great way to make a long layover much more enjoyable is to spend your time in one of the airport lounges. Lounges offer an upscale, relaxing space to escape the chaos of the airport, which can be much needed after a long flight, and you’ll find complimentary food and drinks to refuel while you’re there. If you don’t hold an airline membership that grants you access to lounges, consider splurging on a day pass.
Keep these tips in mind before your next long layover (holidays are coming up – you know what that means!), and you’re guaranteed to have a much more pleasant time between flights. If you’ve ever had to endure a long layover, how did you make the most of your experience? Leave a comment and let me know!