Featured Image: Lauren Kay Sims
Article By: Tess DiNapoli
If you travel a lot – and especially if you tend to travel on a shoestring budget – long airport layovers can be unavoidable. That being said, self-care should be a priority even on the road. If you’re pulling your hair out and sliding into insanity by the end of your 6-hour layover, there’s no way it’s worth the amount of money you’re saving.
I’ve found that as with many difficult tasks, surviving a trip to the airport doldrums is a matter of mind over matter. Try looking on the bright side: the airport is a unique in-between space that provides a fertile setting for doing things and thinking thoughts you may not normally have and think. With these six bite-sized tips to help you out along the way, your next layover might even be productive and fun!
1. Indulge In Food Therapy
Your layover is a great opportunity to engage in basic maintenance in the form of food and water. You can stay well-hydrated by packing a water bottle and refilling it at water fountains, but what about food?
There are many ways to restore your body and mind to their travel-ready states with help from the right food. Perhaps this means eating a balanced meal with copious amounts of veggies and protein. Perhaps you need a morale boost so you treat yourself to a cupcake or other delicious morsel. Long layovers definitely aren’t the time to save money when it comes to food!
As a bonus, most airports will feature restaurants offering local delicacies, so make sure to look up your airport and find out if you can engage in a little food tourism while you’re there. The Philadelphia International Airport, for example, offers great Philly cheesesteaks at Tony Luke’s!
2. Squeeze In Some Exercise
Nutrition isn’t the only thing that gets a tad neglected on flights – all that sitting can leave your energy levels feeling less than ideal, especially if you’re normally pretty disciplined when it comes to exercise.
One airport exercise option is to check if your airport has a gym and to purchase a day pass. This kind of “real” exercise, however, costs money and necessitates a shower afterward. If you want to avoid such things, try going for non-sweaty airport-friendly exercises such as:
- Walking briskly around your terminal. You’ll also get to explore and people-watch!
- Walking up and down a long staircase
- Stretching especially in the legs, neck, and back
- Basic yoga poses
- Do-anywhere drills such as push-ups, crunches, and wall-sits
Just 15 minutes of exercise can leave you feeling invigorated and strong enough to take on the next leg of your journey. Of course, it’s also possible that pulling your suitcase from terminal to terminal will be exercise enough!
3. Splurge On A Seat Or Bed In A Lounge
When you’re truly exhausted, sometimes the only thing that will do is some good old-fashioned R&R. Did you know that airport lounges aren’t just for business and first-class passengers? If you have a membership with a certain airline, check to see if that airline offers a lounge at your airport that you can use. Some airports also provide lounges that anyone can use (for a fee of course).
If you travel a lot but aren’t a member of a major airline, you may want to find an airport lounge pass (such as the Priority Pass) that will get you access to airport lounges around the world. They can be pricey, but you’ll always feel like a VIP no matter which airport you touch down at.
Really on a budget? Nothing wrong with getting a good travel pillow and curling up in a quiet terminal corner to grab some shut-eye!
4. Get Your Gift Shopping Done
With their duty-free shopping and locally-sourced souvenir options, airports can be a great place to complete some last-minute gift shopping. There’s no shame in treating your loved ones with gifts from the airport as long as you put some thought into your choices. This way, you get to kill two birds with one stone: you pass the time AND you do something productive!
The best types of gifts to buy in an airport are classy duty-free goods, travel supplies, and location-specific souvenirs such as food and clothing. If you’re lucky, your airport might also sell creative artisanal products you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else!
5. Work On Something
After recharging on food and snacks galore, it’s time to settle down and do whatever you want, whether that be work, entertainment, or a hobby. The very work-oriented among you will gleam at the opportunity to get some assignments done. The magical thing about airports, though, is that they provide you an excuse NOT to do your work and instead do something you WANT to do, even if it’s not technically essential.
If there’s a book you’ve been wanting to read, read it! If there’s a craft you’ve been wanting to try, try it! Movies, games, phone calls, and playlist-building are also worthy activities (make sure you got a handy charger available to avoid a devastating dead battery!). Working on your social media presence is also a great thing to do at this time.
6. Make An Adventure Out Of It
Want to have an airport experience straight out of a whimsical French film such as Amélie? Get creative and make the airport your stomping grounds for an adventure. Some unusual ideas for airport activities that happen to be very child-friendly include:
- Send a postcard to a friend! Write “Wish you were here” on it!
- People-watch folks from all over the world
- Sketch or take photos
- Play hide-and-seek (but don’t get lost!)
Airports Can Be Heaven
A layover can be the perfect time for work, exploration, and even a little soul-searching, not to mention plenty of relatable #layover selfies – just be sure you allocate enough time to get through the TSA Checkpoint before your next flight!