Tips for Conquering Layovers

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

I did a lot of traveling this past weekend. 

This round trip involved one layover each way. Personally, I’m no stranger to layovers; I don’t hate them, but sometimes, I’m not eager to sit and wait in an airport for my next flight (or run/walk briskly to the next flight depending on how much time I have). It’s sometimes a necessity to have that extra time.

So, how do you conquer that layover? What do you do? Where can you go? What shouldn’t you do?

Here’s my advice.

For the Short Layovers (Less Than One Hour)

The most important thing is to get to your next gate. So, skip food for the moment and make sure that you find your connecting gate first and foremost.

As soon as you get off your plane, go to the nearest departures board and look for your next city and flight number. From there, you should have the most up-to-date gate assignment. Just follow the signs and you should be good to go.

Then, if you have extra time or if your flight is delayed, grab that snack or that paperback.

For the Long Layovers (More That One Hour)

You have a LOT more room to do things before your flight. Finding your gate, while it’s still a priority, isn’t as rushed when your layover is longer.

So what do you do with your time?
  • Grab food. (Some airports have iconic, state or city-specific food that you can pick from, like The Varsity in Atlanta [see above], or Nuts on Clark in Chicago)
  • Read. Peruse the airport bookstore and find that delightful little paperback to pass the time.
  • Grab a cup of coffee. Airport coffee shops are usually less busy during afternoons, but if you have a long layover in the morning, the long line may help burn some of the waiting time. Just keep your boarding time in mind just in case.
  • Souvenir shop. A lot of airports sell food (keep security requirements in mind, as you may have to check these items going back), or sports team merchandise, or state-specific apparel. Long layovers are a great time to pick out goodies for loved ones back home.
  • Catch up on any work. As someone who has worked as an editor on the go for years, this is a great way to pass time.
  • Write! I’m talking to my fellow writers, bloggers, and NaNoWriMo participants here. Getting your word count up or just catching up on posts can burn through layover time easily. Take advantage of coffee shop or gate wifi.
  • Talk to family, friends, and loved ones. This, personally, has helped me feel safer while flying alone. 

Things you should avoid during layovers
  • Restaurants during short layovers. Even if you have a full hour, it’s not worth having to wait for food and risk missing your flight.
  • Not keeping track of time. Make sure your phone or watch matches the time zone you are in. Airports and alerts are pretty good about making sure you’re aware of the time change, but it’s better safe than sorry.
  • Headphones when traveling alone. You need to be completely and totally alert while traveling alone, so make sure you’re paying attention to any PA announcements and what’s going on around you.
  • Sleeping while traveling alone. Again, it’s better to be alert.
  • Accepting luggage, food, or drink from strangers. Yes, it’s okay to accept help (like the wonderful passersby in the Atlanta airport when I spilled my drink who practically showered me with napkins...just one of many reasons why I LOVE traveling in the South). But please use common sense, and don’t accept certain things like luggage or food items. And watch for pickpockets, too.

Do you like layovers? What do you do to pass the time?

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