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How to Make The Most of a Layover

Last updated: January 27,2021
Originally Published: September 02,2020
by Rosen Valchev

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Travel lovers often find themselves planning the next trip even before their current one is over. Unfortunately, the budget can get pretty tight at a certain point. For that reason, travel hacking to cut costs often becomes a necessity.

Sometimes reducing your flight cost can mean the difference between going on that trip and staying home. Doing a layover can result in a jaw-dropping price difference. And that is not only for regular travelers.

After all, who doesn’t want to pay just half of their usual non- stop flight? However, that often comes with its downsides as well. Many people associate layovers with countless hours of boredom.

Truly, sometimes a layover can seem endless if you are not armed with some good ideas what to do with all that time.

But you don’t have to spend your layover just indifferently scrolling in your social media feed. Or staring at the wall wondering why you did the mistake to do a layover in the first place.

Have a layover plan

The most important part of having a pleasant layover is planning in advance. If you are not strategic you can end up bored to death, not having enough time to do what you want and worst of all – miss your second flight.

Your overall plan depends on many factors. You should take into account your layover duration, the airport that you are having the transfer flight, the airport surroundings, and many more.

Before we get into the meat of the matter we are obliged to warn you. If you are tempted to do a transfer flight with low-cost carriers, especially with a short layover, you might want to reconsider. Typically these transit low fare flights are not codeshared.

That means if the first flight gets canceled or delayed and you miss your second flight you won’t receive reimbursement for it. And nobody guarantees there is a forthcoming flight to the same destination from the same airport.

Ultimately you can get stuck for long hours if not even days and pay more instead of saving. So be mindful and read the terms carefully before you book. Call the airlines if you are not sure. It’s better to be on the safe side rather than ruining your vacation just to save a few bucks.

Also, at the time of writing things are way more complicated with the Coronavirus pandemic and the global shutdown. The COVID-19 restrictions can get you in a lot of trouble and turn your trip into a nightmare if you are not careful.

It is important to check the restrictions country by country when you travel and avoid riskier transit countries and destinations. Even though there is ease on restrictions we’ve witnessed cases where regulations come back suddenly.

In the worst-case scenario, you can get stranded in a foreign country without being able to get home. Governments are still advising travelers to travel within the country preferably. If you travel internationally you are responsible for your decision and for the risk you are taking.

For most countries, you need to have travel insurance and present a negative COVID-19 test on the border. Moreover, there are places where you need to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. On top of that, you may be required to self-quarantine when you come back home as well.

But you don’t have to be alone in this. We as travel advisers follow travel restrictions closely. We have already helped people and families reunite with our Coronavirus travel concierge. Also, we helped many people have a seamless journey amid the Coronavirus pandemic.

In general, we would advise you to have direct flights right now. Still, sometimes a layover is inescapable. When you are traveling to a far-off destination it is likely you won’t have a direct flight. So how to make the most out of your layover? Let’s explore.

How to make the most out of a short layover

Don’t assume that there isn’t much to do on a short layover. There are plenty of things you can do while you wait.

So let’s explore some ideas to entertain yourself during a short layover. As we mentioned, even if you are spending just a few hours at the airport between your flights, you can have some fun. 

Let’s see how.

1. Explore the airport

While there are ample airports that are not very interesting or attractive you have the chance of landing on an interesting airport with modern venues.

Some airports can offer the kind of experience you would have in a mall. It’s a good time for some shopping. There is a high likelihood you will find some brand stores that aren’t present in your local living area. 

Moreover, as all goods at the airport are duty-free you will make some great savings. So it’s not only fun but smart to shop at airports. Just make sure you have enough space in your luggage.

You can also prepare your sportswear. That’s right. Airports like the Toronto Pearson International Airport have a gym. So a few hours may be the perfect time for some fitness.

Feeling too stiff to do that after a long flight? Visit a yoga class instead or get a nice relaxing massage. Yes, there are airports that have these facilities. So you can get rid of all that tension within just thirty minutes to an hour.

woman stretching on ground 3076509 layover

2. Get some sleep

Sleeping at the airport doesn’t seem like the greatest idea at first glance. Many individuals don’t like the idea in general. Still, some airports have luxury sleeping areas that can make you fall asleep with ease.

An example is The Haven By JetQuay located at the Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3.

It’s worth checking if your transit airport has this added convenience. Also, it’s true that during a night layover there isn’t much to do despite sleeping. After all, in most cases, all airport venues will be closed at night.

But sometimes you can have a quick nap during a short day layover as well. If you are the type of person who falls asleep easy this may be the best thing to do.

airport lounge sleep layover

Sadly, not all airports have special areas designated for sleeping or even soft furniture where you can make yourself comfortable.

Furthermore, at certain airports, the guards are not so welcoming. They might wake you up. Some airports don’t like people setting up a night camp at the hub. So they instruct the security not to let that happen.

3. Learn something new

Want to finally start reading that novel your best friend recommended? But you’ve been constantly busy? An airport layover may be the best opportunity to do that.

Also, it can be a great time to learn something new. We usually procrastinate when it comes to studying. But sometimes even a single book or digital course can take your career or business to the next level.

When you are stuck at the airport there is little room for a bailout. So you can use that time efficiently and acquire some new knowledge or develop a new skill.

Is it worth it to leave the airport on a layover?

Generally speaking, if you are having a short layover it is not the best idea to leave the airport.

Above all, you don’t want to risk missing your flight. It’s best if there is a self-checking and baggage drop off at the terminal.

Otherwise, you will have to spare some extra time to go through checking and security when you return. And you can always get confused and lost. Especially in huge airports. So it’s best if you have some extra time to find your gate without having to run like crazy.

As a rule of thumb, we advise you to be back at the airport at least 2 hours before your flight. Even though you checked in and dropped off your baggage if you had to. Just to be on the safe side.

How to make the most out of a long layover

On a long layover, you can do all of the things we mentioned above. However, long layovers give you more options. Here are the best.

1. Explore a new city

Long layovers give you enough time to explore the nearby city. So before you choose your layover airport do some research.

If you have multiple options choose a city you have never been to. In that way, you can add an extra stop to your trip and have a bonus adventure.

Also, a short urban trip can spice up your off the beaten path beach vacation. And it’s always exciting to visit a new place. That is what traveling is about at the end of the day.

woman wearing maroon sweater standing on veranda using 2272940 layover

2. Check into a hotel room

Let’s admit it. Sometimes nothing makes more sense than getting a good rest. Instead of sleeping at the airport check-in a hotel room if your layover duration allows it.

You can check if the airline you are traveling with has some partners. Often there are great discounts. Additionally, you can sign up for a credit card like the Wyndham Rewards Credit Card. By doing this you can usually enjoy premium prices and stack up some points.

Of course, another popular option is to just book an Airbnb if you prefer.

3. Simply Go Back To A favorite destination

Exploring a new place is often amusing. But also a little risky. You can be disappointed and feel like only just lost your time.

So why take an unnecessary risk when you can simply return to a favorite destination? Enjoy a meal in your favorite local restaurant or wander around the city and explore its sightseeings.

layover long short info layover

Is it safe to do layovers right now?

The Coronavirus situation makes travel a lot more complicated than usual. Things change on a daily basis and if you have to do a layover at a certain country you should know what restrictions apply there.

If you are not careful you can even get stuck without being able to leave the airport or the country. Luckily you don’t have to fight that battle on your own. You can take advantage of services like the PointsPanda Coronavirus Travel Concierge.

We as travel experts can take care of the tedious part for you. So your post-pandemic travel is as seamless as possible.

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