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11 Pro Tips to Surviving a Long Layover

survive long layover

Did you know that there were over 4 billion airline passengers in 2017 alone? Every day, millions of people are flying to and from destinations all over the world. 

And while air travel is a miracle of modern engineering, it isn't perfect. From mile-long lines through security to cramped seats to the dreaded long layover, there are certain things that are simply unavoidable, especially if you're a frequent flyer.

Being stuck in an airport for hours on end probably isn't anyone's first choice of place to spend the day. But with a little bit of creativity, you can make the most of your time while you're there!

Listed below are 11 of the best tips for tackling even the longest of layovers with ease. 

1. Plan Ahead

Handling a long layover is easiest if you're prepared to do so. Even if your itinerary doesn't include a great deal of time at the airport, it's best to be ready for anything.

Flights are delaid and canceled all the time, so don't assume that your flight schedule is set in stone. Now, you don't want to overstuff your carry-on and risk being forced to check it. But it's a good idea to bring a few essentials in case of an unexpected layover.

Here are some items to include in your carry-on packing list:

  • Laptop and charger
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Sweater
  • Snacks
  • Headphones
  • Book or magazine
  • Sleep mask

2. Spend Time in the Lounge

Most airport lounges aren't free, but they can be a lifesaver if you have a lengthy layover! The first step is to do some research or ask an airport employee if there are any public lounges available.

If not, there are a few ways that you can gain access to a lounge. If you're traveling first or business class, your ticket might come with complimentary lounge access. Additionally, certain travel rewards credit cards offer a limited number of lounge passes per year.

You can also purchase a day pass, which usually costs between 30 and 75 dollars per person. Yes, this isn't cheap! However, most lounges include amenities such as premium drinks and snacks, complimentary WiFi, and comfortable areas away from the hustle and bustle of the terminals.

If you take full advantage of these amenities, your day pass will pay for itself! 

3. Get Productive

You don't have to let a layover become a waste of time. Use your time at the airport to be productive - you're not going anywhere anytime soon!

Have you been wanting to start a blog? Use the time to plan your first few posts! Still haven't finished that book you meant to read a month ago? Get reading!

If the airport offers free WiFi, or your budget allows you to purchase it, your options are virtually endless. Why not take the first steps in learning a new skill? A quick Google search will reveal anything you want to know about any given topic.

There's also a sea of free apps you can download to your phone or computer that will teach you anything from a new language to an instrument to preparing that dish from your favorite restaurant.

4. Take a Nap

A large percentage of Americans don't get enough sleep to begin with, and traveling is tiring! If you're long overdue for some rest, set your timer and get some shut-eye.

This is a little easier to do if you have access to a lounge, but there's no shame in curling up on a chair or even a spot on the floor, as long as it's out of the way of foot traffic.

A backpack or soft bag can double as a pillow, and give you peace of mind knowing your belongings are safe beneath your head. If you have a hard shell carry-on, be sure to keep it close and consider locking it if you don't have someone you trust to look after it while you're asleep.

5. Treat Yourself to a Nice Meal

Airports are full of restaurants, any type of food or drink you could want is only a short walk away. Start your vacation early by treating yourself to a nice meal while you wait for your next flight!

Not only is eating a meal a great way to pass the time, but it can also help fight jet lag and airsickness. You can even indulge in an alcoholic beverage or two - just be careful not to go overboard!

6. Catch Up with Loved Ones

For many of us, day-to-day life is incredibly busy, and getting busier. Has it been a while since you last called your parents or your best friend? It's time to pick up the phone!

Not everyone is comfortable talking on the phone in public, but this problem can be solved by using text messaging, email, or even going old fashioned a writing a letter instead.

If the time of day isn't phone call friendly and you're on the outgoing side, you could also consider making friends with a fellow traveler. You never know, your new best friend could be a few seats away from you! Strike up a conversation and if you hit it off, grab drinks or a snack together.

7. Indulge in a Veg Out

If nothing else, being stuck in an airport affords the opportunity for the ultimate lazy day. Use the many stores and restaurants to collect a variety of your favorite treats, whether that be a giant cinnamon roll and a bar of chocolate or a set of colored pencils and a coloring book.

Then find a cozy corner to set up shop! Wrap yourself in a sweater or blanket and binge-watch that new show on Netflix or watch a few movies while enjoying your treats. Before you know it, it will be time to board the flight.

8. Check Into the Airport Hotel

For those marathon layovers, consider checking into the airport hotel. Many airport hotels offer day rates at a lower cost than a full night.

If you go with this option, don't expect anything extravagant. But if you have an extremely long layover ahead of you, a bed, sink, and TV can make all the difference. Sleeping in a bed for 6 hours is much more comfortable than the airport floor!

9. Get Some Exercise

Though they're not offered everywhere, certain airports have 24-hour fitness areas available. Do some research before your trip to determine whether or not your connecting airport has a fitness center and if it does, throw some athletic wear into your carry-on!

Getting a workout in will make sitting through your next flight easier, along with boosting your mood and helping you pass the time. Not to mention you can enjoy your airport treats guilt-free knowing you burned a few calories as well.

10. Take a Day Trip

Leaving the airport isn't recommended if your layover isn't uncommonly long. Remember, leaving the airport means checking in and going through security all over again.

However, if you're facing a 10 or 12-hour layover, it might be worth it to get out and enjoy the city! Most airports offer a storage service for your luggage that you can use while you explore and airport transportation that can take you wherever you want to go.

Just be very strict with your time. The last thing you want is to miss your flight and have to wait even longer! Give yourself an hour or two to get back through the check-in process. 

11. Don't Lose Perspective

In a world where air travel is a common occurrence, it's easy to take it for granted. But it's important to remember that traveling by plane is a privilege, even if you're stuck in a "bad" seat or have a 10-hour layover.

Before air travel, people would travel for days, even months, to get to their destination!

And if you're taking a plane to get to a vacation destination, you're even more fortunate. Almost 30% of full-time workers in the United States didn't take any time off from work last year, let alone travel to a faraway place for a few days of fun.

Use These Tips to Make the Most Out of a Long Layover

A long layover can be tough, but with a bit of preparation and a positive attitude, you can turn your time in the airport into an enjoyable day!

The best thing you can do is keep your cool, even in the most undesirable of situations. Perspective is everything! If you view your layover as an opportunity to relax or get productive rather than a misfortune, you'll be surprised by how much better you feel.

Long layovers and delaid or canceled flights are no one's fault, especially not the gate attendants and other airport employees. Be kind to employees and your fellow travelers and always be mindful that traveling is a privilege.

Looking for more tips and tricks to become an expert traveler? Be sure to check out our blog!

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