While most people glorify travelling, anyone rarely talk about one small aspect, the endless wait for your connecting flight to your destination. A stopover or layover is usually the annoying reminder that you are only about halfway through your destination. However, there are sure-shot ways of dealing with the endless waiting at airports.
Whether you have to spend a couple of hours or 18 hours, we have curated a list of things you can do even when you are on a budget. We’ve even included some of the most popular tourist spots in and around you’re your stopover locations and how you get around in those cities when you are time-bound.
1. Carry your entertainment and/or work along with you for the stopover
You can consider the following: a book, a pack of playing cards, research materials for a particular essay that you were planning on getting through while you were flying. You can pack things which you can carry easily and won’t take up a lot of space so that you can use them when you arrive in your stopover destination.
If you love writing, you can make use of the free WiFi at airports and write something about the journey. Or you can send out work emails, or even start writing your essay (so you won’t have to consider hiring a dissertation writing company in the last moment).
2. Explore the airport art galleries
Many airports have spaces dedicated to art enthusiasts. Get yourself a detailed map of the airport or go through their website to check if there are any galleries in the one that you are stopping over.
The following are some airports that are known for having dedicated art galleries on the premises: Amsterdam, Atlanta, Beijing, Edinburgh, Helsinki, London, San Francisco, Singapore, and Jacksonville etc.
3. Gorge on the local delicacies
If you have some hours to spare during a stopover, you can go ahead and try some local cuisine in the airport. Now those of us who travel frequently would vouch for the fact that in-flight meals don’t quite serve up the gourmet experience and allow you to treat your taste buds like you would imagine. Airports generally consist of many fancy restaurants and cafés, which offer you with many options to indulge in gourmet meals, and even wine-tasting.
However, if you are on a tight budget you can still try the free food samples that are available in various food counters around the airport.
4. Explore the places around while on a layover
If you have more than eight hours during your stopover, you can easily go out exploring. Now this might need a sort of planning, as you will need to know the distance you have to cover to get to the closest tourist attractions, and whether you’ll have time to see everything. Also, you must check if you need a visa to leave the airport. Most of the time, you will be allowed to roam around a city with a “transit without visa”, but it’s always good to be cautious considering visa requirements keeps changing.
To make it convenient for you, we’ve offered some common stopover destinations and a few things you can do while you are there.
Los Angeles: You can take a 10-minute ride to the Manhattan Beach Pier, or if you have more time at hand, you can take a 30-minute ride from LAX to the Venice Boardwalk to check out one of Califonia’s most breathtaking beaches.
Hong Kong: You can call a Ngong Ping Cable Car and go to Big Buddha, which will take around 25 minutes from the airport. Once there, you can enjoy a great view of the South China Sea and the largest outdoor Buddha statue in the world.
Dubai: If you’ve got 4-8 hours to spare in Dubai, take a taxi to Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and go to the observation deck (you need to book a slot prior to your arrival). Right next to Burj Khalifa is the Dubai Mall, which is frequently flocked by the tourists.
Shanghai: Board the Subway Line 2 from the Maglev stop to the Oriental Pearl Tower and check out the brilliant views of the city both during the night and the day.
Singapore: You can go on a free city tour from the airport if you have more than four hours at hand.
5. Get a workout at a stopover
No, don’t get us wrong! You are not likely to get access to any gym equipment at the airport. But so what if you don’t have a treadmill? You can still keep yourself active. You can take a walk through the entire airport and it would take hours to cover the entire premises.
Now while that’s probably not a worthy alternative to a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout, walking from one terminal to another all around the airport for as long as your heart desires is as good as having an aerobic workout for the day, particularly if you have a backpack to carry around.
And if you are a fitness enthusiast and wish to divest off even more calories, you can take the stairs and go up and down for 10-45 minutes. Now this sounds a little crazy, but when you are on a budget, you might as well play along.
6. Catch up on some sleep
It’s possible that you will be tired (or may be jetlagged) during your stopover when you are coming from a different time zone. That’s why the best way to pass the time is to catch up on your sleep. For more comfortable napping, one option is booking a stay at an airport hotel. Another option that’s widely available is the airport sleeping pods that you can access in airports around the world.
7. Practice meditation
This is possibly the most tried and tested (and not to mention amazing) way to recharge your batteries in between flights and get rid of your travel woes.
Some airports feature meditation or prayer rooms specifically for this purpose. But, just in case the airport you’re in doesn’t provide this facility, then it’s best to opt for a self-help strategy. So sit up straight in a chair or crosslegged on the floor, whichever sounds the most convenient for you and keep your hands in your lap, close your eyes and declutter your mind. Concentrate on breathing in and then breathe out.
After 5 to 10 minutes you’ll feel much better than you did before you started.
8. Go for window-shopping
International airports offer a wealth of first-class shopping experience for travelers. As long as you are only keen on checking out the options and not actually buy them, this can turn out to be a great entertainment.
Here are some of the international airports that offer the best window-shopping experience.
- Dubai: Never sleeps!
- Hong Kong: The Airport Skymart has a plethora of options to check out
- Paris: They don’t call it the fashion capital of the world for nothing!
- Singapore: The airport comprises of nearly 160 shops
- London: You will never be disappointed while checking out Heathrow (terminal 5)
9. Make friends with a stranger
When you have a long flight to get through, it would be nice to have a little company. So making friends with your co-passenger isn’t such a bad idea after all. Since both of you are stuck in the airport for hours on end, you can use that time to get to know each other.
Engaging in a conversation can make the time run faster when you have the right partner to talk to. Making new friends at the airport not only ensures you kill the layover time effectively, but you will also get some invaluable travelling tips too if you happen to come across someone who is a frequent traveler.
10. Play a game or two
You can keep board games along with you and get your friendly stranger to join in on the fun. And if you don’t have board games, fret not! You can download the app versions of your favourite board games on your mobile phones and use the WiFi to play them. However, having a board game along with you ensures you indulge in human interactions for some time, that too without relying on technology. Some easy to pack games include Scrabble, Uno etc.
11. Freshen up
When you are traveling long distances and have to get through a stopover, the route is generally broken up so you won’t have to be on the plane the whole time. This allows you the perfect scope to freshen up and make sure you are up and about to catch the next flight.
Almost all airlines come with a help desk or kiosk at each terminal. If you head over to one of those kiosks some of them can provide you with a bag which contains toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash, you can use this kit to freshen up for your next flight. You could also carry your own travel-size sanitation kit as well.
12. Get yourself some magazines to read
One of most tried and tested means to pass time is still applicable in the modern age, i.e. reading. Even though most books aren’t available in hardcover anymore, you can still buy an e-book and catch up on the habit of reading. Whether you’re reading the newspaper, a book, or even a magazine, you’ll be making use of your time. Reading what you enjoy can captivate you, and you can make constructive use of your time.
So there you have it, some budget-friendly ideas you can consider while you’re at a stopover and waiting for your next flight to arrive. How many have you tried?
About the author
Adam Paul is a marketing professional with a substantial experience in the field. He has acquired his MBA from the University of Melbourne. He is also a lifestyle blogger and an avid traveler. He is also a part of Allessaywriter.com as an expert on college entrance essay.