So you’ve made it to the connecting airport on your way to that dream vacation that’s been dancing through your mind for years. But now you’re stuck with four, five hours to kill before you get back in the sky. Try some of these tips to survive that long layover.
1. Explore the airport
You’re going to be at the airport for a while, so might as well see what it has to offer. Usually you shouldn’t have any problems with checking out what’s in a terminal as long as you don’t go straight to the gate. See what shops you can pick up some bobbles for the folks back home. Maybe grab a book to keep yourself company. The walk will do you good to get rid of some stress.
2. See the city
Would you rather kill four hours just twiddling your thumbs or see a little of the city you’re in? If you’ve got the time, step out into the real world for a bit. See local landmarks or get something to eat. Just don’t take long getting back to the airport as you’re going to need to check back in or go through customs once again for an international flight. If you cut it too close you may wind up taking a later flight because some airfields have security measures in place to keep your bags from being on the plane if you aren’t actually in the airport.
3. Freshen up
After spending about 8 hours on a flight from Miami to London, you’re not feeling as spry as you did getting on the plane. Take advantage of the time and splash some water on your face. Even change into comfier clothes or something more appropriate of the weather for wherever you’re heading. This will recharge your batteries better than you’d believe.
4. Keep kids happy
If you’re getting a little agitated at the layover, just imagine how the little ones are handling the wait. Children won’t always understand why they’re not at Disney World already. Keep them entertained with games or shows on your table device. You can also buy coloring books for them or get a travel version of a board game everyone can enjoy. Heck, take ‘em for a walk around the airport – they’ll love to do a little exploring with mom and dad.
5. Head to the chapel
Airports are a bit noisy, so getting some peace and quiet isn’t always easy. Just head over to the chapel to get some quiet time. There could be some folks in there already, but they’re very respectful of others and keeping conversations to a bare minimum.
6. Visit the lounge
Many airlines have lounges at airports around the world. You can either buy into it with your frequent flyer programs or just pay a set price to enter. There’s a lot to enjoy once you’re in – impressive spreads of food and snacks, open bars and some have shower facilities. Not a bad way to kill the time.
7. Take a nap
It isn’t easy to sleep on flights, so laying out over a few seats at the gate for 40 winks always seems like a good option. Only problem with that is trying to keep an eye on your carry-on luggage while you rest. London’s Heathrow & Gatwick Airports have Yotel cabins in Terminal 4 that you can book for four hours or an overnight stay. They’ve got a bed, entertainment, free Internet access and waterfall showers to reinvigorate anyone.
8. People watch
Sometimes all you want to do is sit down and take in all the sights and sounds of the airport. Loads of people walking about, heading to all sorts of points around the globe – perfect to piece together a story of who they are and where they’re heading. Maybe you’ll find the next Vernon Hardapple.
9. Let’s eat!
You’ve taken a cat nap, made the kids happy and even had a chance to freshen up. Only thing left to do is get something to eat. But do yourself a favor and not succumb to the standard chain restaurant fare. Chicago’s O’Hare Airport has great sushi with Wicker Park Sushi Bar. Custom Burgers by Pat La Frieda at La Guardia in New York. Get some Cuban coffee at Café Versailles at Miami International Airport. Just don’t drink the hours away because making a scene really isn’t the way you want to be remembered by other people that might be on the same flight as you.