Budget travel doesn’t necessarily include the luxury of direct flights, so what does one do when faced with a long layover in a busy airport? From taking a day trip in your connecting city to renting a “yotel” for ultimate relaxation, the options are endless, and we’re here to help you make the most of your airport downtime with simple tips on what to do during long layovers!
Leave the airport
If your layover happens to be in a city you’ve always wanted to explore (or you have an extremely long stopover ahead of you), why not make the most of your time and leave the airport? Take advantage of luggage counters or lockers at the airport so you won’t have to tow your carry-on with you wherever you decide to go.
TIP: If you have checked baggage, make sure you’ve checked it straight through to your final destination and pack your carry-on with all of your essentials.
To be on the safe side, check with your airline to see your ticket allows you to leave the airport. I also recommend looking into the accommodations of the airport you’re landing in. Some offer free tours of the city, like Changi Airport in Singapore, so take full advantage of them!
TIP: There may be specific entry requirements to enter the destination you’re connecting in. In some countries, you can pay for the visa when you arrive, but it’s best to plan ahead of time! Did you know that you can travel to 172 countries visa-free with your Canadian passport?
Catch up on some sleep
There’s no time like the present to catch up on much needed zzz’s, especially if you’re like me and can’t fall asleep on a plane no matter what! Believe it or not, some airports have “sleep rooms” or “yotels” for rent. The rooms vary from airport to airport, but many of them are inspired by Japanese capsule hotels, and can be rented for a minimum of 4 hours at a time. They’re usually small, 75 sq. ft. rooms complete with a bed, shower, fold-out desk, bathroom, free Wi-Fi and a TV. Talk about a luxury layover!
TIP: If you’re looking to do some work, you may not have to rent a yotel. Some airports have lounges that are quieter than common areas, chock-full of snacks, beverages, and free internet access!
Indulge in a delicious meal
Food should never be taken for granted, and one must satisfy the hunger! You won’t want to eat bad airplane food, so make sure you’re completely full before you board your flight. Airport restaurants usually have plenty of variety, so you won’t have to travel far to find something you like.
TIP: Airports with attached or nearby hotels tend to have more upscale restaurant options if you’re looking for something a little more top-notch.
Spoil yourself at the spa
Too rushed at home to get those nails done before your trip? Airports usually have more than one spa for travellers with extra time. They tend to offer massages, manicures, pedicures, and sometimes even haircuts! If relaxation is for you, I highly recommend taking advantage of your layover with well-deserved “me” time.
TIP: To make sure you get into the spa right away, call ahead to make an appointment for your preferred time slot. That way, you know exactly when your service starts and ends, so you won’t miss your connecting flight!
Treat your body to a workout
Believe it or not, some airports have fitness centres and even yoga rooms for you to destress and let out some sweat while you wait for your next flight. These gyms offer shoes, clothes and showers for rent, so no excuses! If you’re feeling a little run down, a quick workout may be exactly what you need to get your energy back.
TIP: If you’re feeling up to it, you can even opt for your own workout in an unused gate. Your circuit could include dips, squats, push ups, lunges, and maybe even some jumping jacks!
Shop ‘til you drop
If you’re like me, retail therapy definitely has its appeal, especially on vacation! Most airports are full of duty-free options, including everything from liquor to perfume, and designer handbags to high-end cosmetics – some airports even have attached malls. If you have the extra time (and money) to make a stop at a few stores to kill some time, you may as well! You’ll probably even save a few dollars by saving the tax – which is a discount in disguise, right?
TIP: If you’re in Mexico, look for items like hot sauce (Cholula is my absolute favourite), pure vanilla extract, or other pantry items that are usually imported into Canada. Chances are, the airport will have bigger sized bottles, and they’ll cost less than half of what you’d have to pay at home!
And remember, it’s always a good idea to keep your iPad handy just in case you feel like spending your time watching movies, TV shows, surfing the web, reading e-books or playing highly addicting games.
If you’re travelling outside of your home province, travel prepared with travel insurance. Not sure which travel insurance plan is right for you? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. And in the event that you may miss a flight during your adventurous layover, it’s a good idea to look into adding trip cancellation & trip interruption to your emergency medical insurance. Have additional questions or layover tips you’d like to share? Leave a comment below!