Layovers can be the most dreaded part of flying – or not-flying. So, we at Anywhere Anytime Journeys put our heads together and came up with a few ideas to pass the time while you’re watching the clock.
Converse – These days, with all of the electronic communications we have, we rarely take the time to develop the lost art of conversation. Have face-to-face conversations with people while you wait, if they are open to it. Conversing with someone waiting near your gate – odds are you’ll both be heading to the same destination – you may find some very useful travel tips or even a new travel companion.
Exercise – You can walk around the airport (while gaining a feel for the layout at the same time). If you have kids along, use this time to get rid of excess energy that can be a problem while on the flight. There is usually a gate or two that is not being used at that moment and this is the perfect place to hop, jump and even have small races (making sure not to bother others, of course!). There are even gyms located in some airports! AirportGyms.com is a useful website where you can search for fitness centers in or around airports in the U.S. and Canada. Some airports with gyms in the terminals are:
- Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
- Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW)
- Las Vegas/McCarran International Airport (LAS)
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
- Miami International Airport (MIA)
- San Diego International Airport (SAN)
- San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
Explore – Discover things to do near the airport, and if you have kids, find out what kid-friendly attractions may be nearby. At any airport, if your layover is long enough for you to leave the airport, ask a local what’s within an easy cab ride that’s worth visiting. Travelers can easily take public transportation from the airport to the city center and spend a half-day exploring. If you don’t have the time to explore the city you’re in, explore the airport. There are shops to shop in, eateries to eat in, and even artwork to admire. And for the kiddies, create a guided treasure hunt.
People Watch – Caroline Costello says it best, “With their hodgepodge of interesting characters from every corner of the globe rushing about, airports are the perfect places to conduct casual anthropological research.” There’s not a website for that … yet. However, someone was creative enough to make a Bingo game out of people watching. Which brings us to the next thing you can do while waiting for your connection.
Play Games – Cards are one of the most travel-friendly games to pack. Some games to play would be Rummy, Spades, or Hearts. For the kids, Old Maid, Crazy 8’s, or Go Fish. If you forgot to pack a game, you can go to one of the shops to purchase one. You can also play “Where In The World?” – using the arrival/departure boards, try to guess which state or country each city is located by looking at the destination cities. Playing this game also helps you to keep an eye on your own flight’s status while learning geography. In a pinch, there is always the smartphone or tablet.
Read – Have you been wanting to finally finish that book (or e-book) you picked up last month? Now’s the time. If you don’t have one, there are bookstores and shops throughout the airport where you can purchase books or magazines that pique your interests. If all else fails, you can read your travel itinerary or catch up on some work e-mails.
Sit in Silence – Some airports have chapels. In fact, more than half of the nation’s busiest airports have dedicated chapels, and many of these facilities offer a variety of worship services for different faith traditions. If chapels aren’t your thing, find a quiet corner of the airport lounge and meditate for a bit. There are different types of airport lounges.
- Pay-per-use are first class lounges that are open to ALL travelers regardless of airline flown – for a relatively small fee.
- First-class (airline-sponsored) lounges have more restrictions for entry. To access these lounges, you must have a first or business class ticket with the airline (or a partner airline) that operates the lounge.
Find out more about airport lounges in Ed Perkins’ article Airport lounges 101: Why to use them and how to get in and Melanie Pinola’s Not Just for VIPs: Everything You Need to Know About Airport Lounges.
Sleep – In general, there’s very little sleep-friendly furniture in airports, especially for the volume of travelers. According to sleepinginairports.net, there are curved S-couches at the connecting hallway between concourses K and H concourses, near Gate K6 and just past security in Concourse K at Chicago’s O’Hare and in LAX’s Terminal 7, Gate 71B, there are faux leather benches with no armrests, and much more seating than the other gates.
Take Pictures – Whether it’s for a souvenir or to document your “casual anthropological research”, taking pictures is one way to pass the time.