International travel, more often than not, includes layovers.
Ahh. The joy of the layover. These nuggets of time range from frantic 15-minute sprints through the terminal to 12-hour timesucks that find you brushing your teeth in an airport sink.
But, if you find yourself stuck in an airport terminal with time to spare, I’ve collected some time-honored tips for making the most of your day! Bring it on, airport.
Upon arrival, I like to scope out the restaurant options. To me, it’s well worth the extra few dollars spent on food in order to have a comfortable table to sit at- especially if I have several hours to kill. Space your food order out, catch a game on one of the TVs, and use the electrical outlets to charge your phone/laptop/tablet for later (you’ll need the juice)!
If you’ve got the time and money, most major airports have spas that offer surprisingly reasonably priced services like massages, facials and haircuts. I once had a day-long layover in Houston on the way to a wedding and I was able to get a manicure and pedicure while I waited! If you plan ahead you can even make an appointment at the airport spa so that you’re pampering is perfectly timed.
As a gal who would rather pay for an airport pedi than internet access, if I’m stuck at an airport that charges for WiFi I like to play what I call “the hotspot game.” You can kill hours meandering around the terminal searching for free networks that people have set up from their own devices (or from cafes that set them up for their customers). And, if you get lucky and find internet, you can check your email or treat yourself to a rerun of a favorite show on Netflix!
Chances are, there are others on your flight with long layovers as well. Don’t be shy! You can make great friends at airports who will help you kill the time. On my way back from Tanzania last month, my friend and I met a super interesting guy who worked for Doctors Without Borders at the Nairobi airport during an 8-hour layover. We ended up playing UNO and Yatzee together and chatting the whole time- the layover flew by!
Catch Some Z’s
Traveling is exhausting, and nobody gets their best sleep on planes. So, if all else fails, you can always take an epic airport nap! I like to find a quiet corner, use my backpack as a pillow, and wrap my purse around my arm so that I don’t wake up wallet-less. IMPORTANT NOTE: Set multiple alarms.