Layovers can be a drag when you just want to get from point A to point B; after all, they tack extra time onto your trip and force you to get off an aeroplane (and deal with the chaos of boarding again). Even still, layovers can be beneficial and some fun if you adopt the right mindset and plan a bit before you fly. So go ahead, book that cheap flight and make the most of every minute of your getaway.
Get a room.
You might feel tired even after nodding off during your flight. Per The Points Guy, air travel can make you feel exhausted because of factors like the elevation, oxygen, and compression.
Rather than powering through when you’re still en route to your final destination, use your layover to relax. If you’re not a frequent flier or credit card customer who has access to the lounge for a refreshing shower and a more comfortable spot to relax, consider booking a nearby hotel room – some airlines will even pay for your hotel, according to Thrifty Nomads.
Work it out.
Airports have evolved, and some of the more major hubs have fitness facilities you can use for a sweat session while you’re travelling. London Heathrow Airport, for example, has a center where you can take a class and rent workout gear.
If hitting the gym during your layover isn’t your thing, sneak in some steps by walking around your terminal or the airport a few times; you might be surprised to see that you can actually rack up several miles without needing to break a sweat.
Stretching can make you feel like you have superpowers after a long flight too. Some airports, such as San Francisco, have dedicated yoga/zen spaces. No luck? locate a quiet corner and spend a few minutes moving in a way that will make you feel less stiff. On Brit + Co, yoga pros recommend side bends and spinal twists, along with lower back and thigh/quad stretches to ease the literal pains of flying.
Explore a new locale.
One of the best perks to four-plus hour layover is the opportunity to easily breeze in and out of the airport while enjoying wherever you are for a day or night. Make the most of your time by researching transit options and things you’ll want to see or do ahead of time. Make reservations for popular places, such as restaurants, to avoid wasting extra time.
Remember that while your baggage will be flown to your final destination, you’ll need to go through security again if you leave the airport. If you plan to explore, keep your carry-on light and make sure it’s easily portable; backpacks are always a good bet.
Turn your layover into a stopover.
A layover is classified as waiting time between two flights, which can range from 30 minutes to a full 24 hours. A stopover, on the other hand, means you’ll stay put for more than 24 hours. With a stopover, you get increased time to see the sights – a big benefit if there’s an interesting place en route to your endpoint.
Tools like Skyscanner make it easier to turn a layover into a stopover by adding extra time to an existing route with a bookable fare. Start by searching for flights (non-stop and single-stop) to find the most cost effective route. Next, identify which cities have cheap layovers. Finally, use the multi-city search with your desired date range and add your stop over and click ‘Search flights’ before booking your ticket.
Most airports duty-free shopping options that can save you big bucks on a designer purchase, top-notch eateries worth an indulgence, and exhibits or installations that can capture your attention. According to the World Airport Awards, you might even stumble across awesome leisure amenities such as a movie theatre (Singapore) or beer gardens (Munich).
Whatever your pick, use your time to treat yourself to the things you skip in your regular routine, like an extra glass of wine, novelty dessert, duty-free dream purchase, or even a few hours of quiet.