How To Survive An Airport Layover

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For those who truly love travelling, at some point you have to accept that being on the go is equally about the bad as it is the good. Sure, you get to experience wonderful cultures, beautiful places and unique activities, but you also have to spend a lot of your time waiting around. Any good traveller knows that making the most of your waiting time is the key to a truly successful and enjoyable trip.

One of the most poignant examples of the dreaded wait is the airport layover. Long haul flights with stopovers mean you can end up cooped up in a stuffy airport for hours. For many this might seem like a nightmare, but with a bit of resourcefulness the time can be put to good use. Here are five tips on how to turn your layover from a nightmare into a much needed break.

Catch Up on Internet

Let’s face it, we’re all a little bit more addicted to the internet than we’d like to admit. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr or any other social network site, catching up on our notifications or just perusing through other posts is an essential and enjoyable part of our life. Although some choice airlines are offering WiFi on flights now, chances are you won’t have been able to get online for quite some time, so your airport layover is the perfect place to get caught up before you jet off on the next leg of your journey.

Longer layovers also give you the opportunity to watch a film or catch up on your favorite TV series via your preferred streaming sites. A word of warning though, some websites, such as Netflix, geo-block their content, so you might find you can’t access your favorite shows when abroad. Luckily, this can be easily remedied by installing a VPN before you set off. A VPN app works by hiding your IP address, meaning you can access content no matter where you are in the world.

Get Stuck into a Good Book

It’s definitely the case that you can get lost for hours in a good book. Whilst stuck in busy, cramped airports waiting for your flight, there’s nothing better to do than transport yourself to another world through the pages of a gripping story. Like many of us, chances are you have a whole shelf full of books that you’ve been dying to read once you have the time or a list of recommendations you swear you’ll get round to eventually. Airport layovers provide you with the perfect time for this. Simply find yourself a quiet corner and curl up, and the time will pass in an instant.

For those caught unaware with an extended layover, most airports have bookshops that you can peruse and pick something out of. Who knows, you might find yourself a new favorite. For more adventurous readers, you could even try a book in the local language—and, advisably, a pocket translator—to see how far you can get with it.

Get Out and About

This one really only applies for those having to suffer through an extremely long airport layover. Although there are ways you can occupy yourself in the airport, there’s only so long it can provide you with entertainment. Once you’ve exhausted your facilities in the building, the wait becomes tedious and seemingly never-ending. The one solution to this that many never consider is to actually leave the airport.

Chances are you’re in a place you’ve never been before, so why not head into the city to have a quick look around? There are usually plenty of information points in airports so you can easily research things to do and ways to get to and from the airport in the space of time you have. All you need to do is gather a bit of information and you’re good to go. Whether it’s wandering around the local botanical gardens, grabbing a drink at an interesting bar or even just filling up on something that isn’t airport food before you head back, getting out of the airport is always an interesting experience and brings variety to an otherwise monotonous layover.

Catch up on Present Buying

Often when travelling you get so caught up in the experience and are so involved in filling up the limited amount of time you have with new and exciting activities, that you completely forget about picking up souvenirs for loved ones back home. Don’t worry, we’re all guilty of it. Luckily, airport layovers give you the perfect opportunity to remedy this situation.

Most airports are filled with a wide variety of shops and, with so much time on your hands, you have ages to have an in-depth browse and find the perfect present. In many places local vendors are allowed to set up shop in the airport, so there’s even a chance you can pick up some unique, authentic merchandise. Another benefit to present shopping in this way is that many items in airports shops are duty-free, so you could even save a bit of money while filling up your waiting time.

Take a Nap

This tip could be a lifesaver if you’re doing a very long journey. Most people who go on long haul journeys easily sweep away the problem of time difference and night-time flights with a simple “I’ll sleep on the plane.” More often than not this does not go to plan. Whether it’s due to the crying baby in the row behind; the person next to you getting up to use the toilet what seems like every five minutes; or the group of drunk soccer fans en route to an international away game, who keep breaking out into spontaneous chants, very regularly your sleep is disturbed. And that doesn’t even begin to consider the challenge of falling asleep in a straight back seat with no leg room.

It may be possible to catch a quick snooze here and there, but never quite enough not to spend the first day of your holiday deliriously tired. Luckily, airport layovers hold the answer! All you need is to find a quiet spot somewhere, a blanket and possibly a mask to block out the lights and you can get a few decent hours sleep before you board your next flight. Just be sure to set an alarm so you don’t end up missing it!

With just a few simple tips you can turn the dreaded airport layovers into a part of the trip you look forward to! There’s plenty to do in and around an airport as long as you keep an open mind and a willingness to get creative. If you have any more tips of how to pass the time, then be sure to leave a comment below.

By Jess Signet
Edited by L. Gaertner

Wayfaring Student is an alternative media platform that aims to inspire people to take the leap and pursue their dreams, whatever those may be.

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