How to Pass Time During Airport Layovers


I’m no world traveler but I’ve had my share of trips and of course the long airport layovers which come with the territory of traveling. My longest and worst layover was in Doha, Qatar and I found myself wandering in circles for 25 god damn hours. To make matters worse, they have a pretty tiny airport so there is not very much to explore. So how does one keep themselves busy at an airport?

These days, most decent airports have complementary WiFi and we can stayed connected and keep ourselves entertained but even that gets old real fast. So I’ll share a few tips based on my own personal experience and I would also be interested in hearing your tips and tricks regarding this topic in the comments section below.

Stranded airport passengers

Pre-trip Preparation

Once your flights are booked and you know the details of all the stops and layovers, think about the things you’ll need to stay busy. But before you even get to the airport, make sure you don’t forget to look over minor details such as parking at the airport. Thankfully my friend found some airport parking in advance, well before we headed out to Melbourne, Australia.

I’m actually typing this and staring out the gate as the crews prepare the monstrous 747-400 jumbo jet. Besides laptops, items that can keep you busy can include books, magazines, tablet computers, and crosswords. If you have children, better bring along some coloring books or card games that they enjoy. Oh and don’t forget their portable game consoles. That usually shuts them up pretty nicely.

People Watching And Plane Watching

Being creepy people watching is a normal thing and we do it everyday but it’s even better at an airport where there are people from all over the world. It’s a great way to observe how people interact from other parts of the world. My favorite part of people watching is to see and guess who will go in for “random” screenings. It’s also pretty cool to see the people wearing their traditional clothing with bright color patterns. One thing I avoid during people watching is those overly emotional greetings and goodbyes, just not my thing.

Besides people watching, plane watching is also one of my favorite activities as the airport. I love anything aviation related so watching the planes come in for landings as well as taking off is a real treat for me.

Window Shopping

Airport shopping can be quite pricey but who says you have to purchase? There are lots of great shops at the airports even if you don’t buy anything. It’s cool to see the finer things in life that you hopefully will own one day. But until that day arrives, you can window shop and at least get samples of the latest fragrances. It’s also fun to see how much these suckers pay for a leather bag at Gucci or Prada.

If you really want to shop, there are also Duty Free shops which may be priced around the same as retail but without the taxes.

Airport Dining

Just like shopping, getting some grub at an airport is on the pricey side. But when you have to eat, you have to eat. The selection of restaurants at airports is great these days offering food from all over the world. From fast food chains to fine dining, major airports have them. They also have bars and wine bars if you you’re into that.

Explore The City

If you happen to miss a flight or you have a longer than usual layover, checking out some hot spots in the city is a great way to kill some time. If you did some window shopping earlier at the airport, you certainly won’t feel guilty about grabbing your wallet at the local shops once the prices are compared. This is also a good way to get a feel for the city prior to booking a vacation.

Making Friends

Airports and planes are a great way to make new friends. Whether they end up being a temporary friend for that day, long distance pen pal, or a potential hookup in the near future – it’s up to you. I have definitely met my share of interesting characters over the years. It’s a great way to learn about new cultures, cities, and a good overall learning experience. It’s amazing what you can learn from a complete stranger you may never cross paths with again.

Treat Yourself

After all these fights and layovers, you are probably pretty tired and just want to crash. Airports have lounges and spas to take care of almost all of your needs. Massages, manicures, pedicures, lounging, showers and much more can be available …for a fee.

These are just a few of the things I do and probably a few more which were not mentioned. What about you guys? How do you keep yourself busy during an airport layover?

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