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How to Survive a Long Airport Layover

A man in an airport
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If you travel a lot, chances are you’ll have to deal with a long airport layover at some point. Waiting for hours on end in an airport can be really boring and frustrating, especially when it’s due to flight delays or long connecting flights. But don’t worry—with a bit of preparation and some clever tricks, you can turn your airport layover into a positive experience. Here are some helpful tips to help you survive (and maybe even enjoy) your long airport layover.

Research Your Airport

A woman looks at a map
Maria Sbytova/Shutterstock.com

When you’re facing a long airport layover, taking some time to research the airport beforehand can make a big difference. Not only will it help you plan how to spend your time, but it will also give you peace of mind knowing what to expect during your stay. Start by checking the airport’s website, where you can usually find a wealth of information on restaurants, shops, and other amenities. Knowing what options are available can help you avoid wandering aimlessly or settling for an expensive meal, overpriced water, or mediocre coffee.

You should also be on the lookout for any free activities, events, or exhibitions that may be happening during your layover. Many large airports offer art displays or even live music performances if you know where to look. Taking advantage of these opportunities can help make your layover more enjoyable and interesting, and you might even learn something new.

Wrangler Hardside Carry-On Spinner Luggage, Black, 20-Inch

If you have a long layover, you'll want a decent-sized carry-on to keep your essentials in.

Get Some Exercise

A man walks through an airport
Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock.com

Sitting for long hours in a cramped airplane can take a toll on your body. Use your layover as an opportunity to stretch your legs and get some exercise. See if your airport has a designated yoga or meditation room, or simply walk around the airport terminal to get your heart rate up. You can also opt for a massage or spa treatment to help you relax and feel refreshed before your next flight.

Kizik Madrid Hands Free Mens and Womens Sneakers

These shoes are comfortable and perfect for airports because they can be slipped on and off with ease.

Think About Leaving

A woman leaves the airport
Olena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock.com

If you’re feeling adventurous and have a long layover, leaving the airport can be a great way to make the most of your time. However, before you take the plunge, it’s important to consider the risks involved. Firstly, leaving the airport means you’ll need to go through security again when you return, which can take up precious time and add stress to your travel experience.

You’ll also need to factor in the possibility of traffic or other unforeseen circumstances that could cause you to miss your connecting flight. If you decide to leave the airport, be sure to plan your itinerary carefully, and give yourself plenty of time to get back and go through security.

That being said, leaving the airport can also be a great way to experience the local culture and make the most of your layover. Many airports offer transportation services or shuttle buses to nearby tourist attractions or shopping centers. Whatever you end up doing, just remember to keep an eye on the time and give yourself enough time to make it back to the airport and catch your connecting flight.

MATEIN Travel Backpack, 40L Flight Approved Carry on Hand Luggage

Travel with this instead of a roller bag and it will be much easier to pop away for some quick sightseeing.

Have Movies Downloaded

A woman on her phone in the airport

If you’re traveling alone, having movies or TV shows downloaded on your phone or tablet can be a great way to pass the time. Many streaming services allow you to download content for offline viewing, so you can watch your favorite shows without needing an internet connection. You can download eBooks, audiobooks, or podcasts to your smartphone to keep you entertained and engaged while you’re waiting for your flight.

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Make sure your phone never runs out of battery.

Rent a Nearby Hotel

Two suitcases near a hotel bed

If you’re facing a long layover and need a break from the airport, renting a nearby hotel room can be a great way to rest and recharge. Many airports have hotels located within walking distance or a short drive from the airport, offering a convenient and comfortable place to stay. Some hotels even offer day rates for travelers who only need a room for a few hours, which can be a great way to save money if you don’t need a full night’s sleep or don’t have an overnight layover.

Renting a hotel room can also give you access to additional amenities such as a gym, pool, or spa. This can be a great way to relax and de-stress during your layover if you have the time to use them without being stressed. Spending a few hours in a hotel will ensure that you’re refreshed and ready for your next flight.

BAGSMART Toiletry Bag Travel Bag

Keep your toiletries organized to make it simple to take a short break.

Shop and Dine

A couple walks through the airport

Airport shopping and dining options have come a long way in recent years, and many airports now have a wide range of stores and restaurants to choose from. Use your layover as an opportunity to explore the airport and try some new foods or buy some souvenirs.

Most airports have duty-free shops, which can offer significant discounts on luxury items like perfume, jewelry, and electronics. Just be sure to check your airline’s baggage policy before loading up on goods—most planes only allow two pieces of baggage per person, including shopping bags. Make sure you can store all of your shopping finds inside your carry-on bag in case you need to consolidate last-minute.

Large Travel Tote Bag

Bought too much in the airport? This travel bag expands so you can consolidate everything before getting on the next plane.

Surviving a long airport layover can be a challenging task, but with a little bit of planning and creativity, you can turn it into a fun and memorable experience. Use these tips the next time you find yourself stuck in an airport for hours and make the most of your time.

Anne Taylor Anne Taylor
Anne Taylor is a writer with a BA in Journalism and a passion for storytelling. Her work has been published on a variety of websites including Mental Floss and Well + Good, and she recently published her first novel, What it Takes to Lose. When she's not writing, Anne loves to travel (19 countries and counting), spend time outside, and play with her dog, Pepper. Read Full Bio »
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