Having layovers can be hard for many people, but if you look at the bright side of life, you can get a whole new experience out of it.
I had quite a few layovers on my travels so far, and most of the time, it was very interesting to explore yet another different airport.
Every airport is different, and the smaller ones don’t really have much to offer, still you can prepare to kill time before your connecting flight, be it at a tiny or huge airport. Here is how:
1. Freshen up
This is probably the most important thing to do after stepping out of the plane. For this, make sure you always carry around lotion, brush/comb, and a little bit of make-up in your hand-luggage. Body Wipes or roll-on deodorants can also be handy if you feel super disgusting. Some airports even have shower rooms, but I am not sure if they are free or not. Another good idea is to carry extra clothes in your hand luggage. If you were sweating too much, or just wanna feel more comfortable, it’s gonna save your life.
2. Get your gate information
Many times, the gate and time won’t be announced yet, by the time you land. This is pretty common when you have connecting flights, so you would have to make sure to keep yourself updated in front of the departues boards. It’s more relaxing if you have 3 or 4 hours until your flight, but if it’s only 1 or 2 hours, and your gate is still not being announced, make sure to ask someone at the information desk when to expect the announcement. They will be able to tell you more.
Not only gates, but sometimes, you might even have to get your ticket during a layover as well. That happened to us in March when we were flying back from Dubai to Stuttgart with Turkish Airlines. We had to get our connecting tickets at a counter right after landing, and we only had around 1 hour in total until our flight’s departure. That was very stressful, and I’d prefer airlines not doing this at all.
3. Social Networking
Posting your location on Facebook or an Instagram picture of your flight is almost mandatory when travelling. Of course, not only for entertainment, but also to inform your family and friends back home and let them know you’ve landed and are safe and sound.
For this, always make sure to have your battery fully loaded or plug it in at one of the charging stations at the airport. If there is none, take a portable battery with you and make sure that it is fully loaded as well.
In January, during my flight from Taipei to Shanghai, my phone’s battery was so low that I couldn’t text my parents after landing, because I needed to show the address to the taxi driver. My parents were extremely worried by the time I finally got to my hotel. It was already midnight and they thought that something happened. After that hassle, I will make sure in the future to keep my phone fully loaded.
4. Food and Drinks
Sometimes, the food you get on the plane won’t be satisfactory to many of us. How lucky we are that there are food courts even in the smallest airports in the world. It’s nearly impossible to starve on your layover. The higher possibility is that you’ll spend an infinity on deciding where and what to eat. If you don’t wanna opt for fast food on your travels (which I wouldn’t suggest), then there are many beautiful restaurants with great food options as well.
Other than a hot meal, there are lots of cafes, bakeries and shops to get some snacks and drinks for the flight. I personally love to sit in cafes and have a cup of coffee with something sweet to keep me energized.
Some people actually buy a lot of things in those shops at airports since it’s duty free and you can find almost every brand at one place. Especially the cosmetics sections are very popular, and even I stroll through those venues every time I’m having a layover. It’s a nice way to kill some time, but also get freshened up with high-end perfumes (I am looking at you YSL). I even bought a MAC lipstick once on my 6-hour layover in Hong Kong, one that I have been searching for a longer time. And I also bought presents for my cousin’s two kids at the Disney Store at Hong Kong Airport. Usually, I buy magazines or books at airports, but that one time in Hong Kong, I just did some last-minute shopping since I still had some money left :’D
6. Extra Activities
The biggest airports in the world have more to offer than just shopping and food. If you are lucky, you can actually kill some time in an airport cinema (Changi Airport in Singapore, Hong Kong Airport, Schiphool Airport in Amsterdam,…). I would love to try that out once if I have another +4h layover somewhere, but I would think about doing No. 10 instead.
Some airports offer a cultural exhibition. There will be a small section with utensils being exhibited, almost like in a museum. Or even performances to keep the travellers entertained.
In many muslim countries’ airports, there will be prayer rooms offered for free. And I am sure that many more airports around the world will have individual activity programs designated to each airport.
This might be one of the most popular things to do during a layover, since most of the time you won’t be able to strech out on a flight. Plus, if the jetlag hasn’t reached you at your layover airport yet, it will definitely kick in after landing at your destination, so sleeping off during a layover might be the smartest idea.
If you haven’t already packed an exciting read in your hand luggage, then you might as well check out the books at your layover airport. If you are not so much into books, you can also get one or two magazines.
I personally love browsing through bookstores at airports, and I even got myself a great book once at the Taipei International Airport (“Crazy Rich Asians”). I don’t always buy a book, though, since I try to bring my own.
9. People Watching
At an airport, there will be people from all over the world. People you might never ever see again. People who look differently, and talk in different languages. And this is one of the reasons I love airports so much. They are the places where people from almost all nations worldwide meet. I personally love people watching; guessing about their lives, where they are going to, where they are coming from, what language they are talking. I love making stories in my head for just a few minutes.
10. Explore the City
Most of the times, your layover might be around 3 hours maximum, but sometimes, you will have extremely long layovers where a short trip to the city might be actually worth it. Many big airports will have airport expresses which will take you to the city centre in less than an hour (Hong Kong, London,…). Also, airlines like Turkish Airlines will offer a free city tour in Istanbul when you have +5h until your next flight.
Until now, I only had 2 very long layovers, one 6 hours in Hong Kong and one 3 hours in Dubai. The one in Hong Kong passed by almost immediately. I did almost all activities stated above except for Nos 6, 7, and 10. I could have actually gone to the city as well, but I have already been to Hong Kong several times, and I didn’t want to be more stressed than I already was. In Dubai, I had a layover of 3 hours which made it impossible to take a trip downtown, so I just wandered around the airport and looked around most of the time.
What about you guys? What are the things you love to do at airports during a layover? Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!