5 Ways to Survive a Long Layover

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Spending 10+ hours in a congested airport doesn’t have to be a miserable time. In fact, some of the best travel experiences occur in the time between departing and boarding another flight. Whether you’re traveling across the country or between countries, chances are, a layover will pop up during your excursions, especially if you’re a frequent flier. Here’s a tried and true list to mitigate grueling wait times and enjoy your time on the ground between destinations. 

5 Ways to Survive a Long Layover

A day spent in the airport doesn't have to be all bad. 

Two woman at the airport with luggage.
Image credit: Deposit Photos.

1. Take a Day Trip

Whenever I try to book a flight from Florida to anywhere on the West Coast, an option pops up with an extended layover in the Denver airport. For some reason, the mighty flight scheduler decided a trip between Florida and California would benefit from a 27-hour layover in Colorado. This option usually falls on the cheaper side, though it costs the airline more fuel and resources to send me on two planes. I ponder it every time it pops up. Why not set out from the airport for an 18-hour excursion into a new place? Explore the novel location, try the local cuisine, and master a new skill in the narrow time frame.

2. relax in an airport lounge

Airport lounges supply fliers an area to work, relax, and, in many cases, eat and drink. Activating lounge access varies between passengers. Some individuals tap into credit card benefits for lounge access, while others find it with their ticket purchase, depending on their seating arrangements. Globetrotters can purchase day passes for nominal fees, those with elite airline status can enter the lounge, and military members get in for free. 

Every lounge has different rules for entry so if this is something you plan to do, check the requirements ahead of time.

3. Exercise

Several airports have designated workout areas like gyms or yoga rooms that allow travelers to clear their headspace and get their sweat on. One airport with a gym inside an airport hotel is Chicago O’Hare, and granted, it’s one of the busiest and most stressful airports, a place to unwind aids jet setters. Across from terminal 2 stands the Hilton Airport Hotel, equipped with a gym—a pool, a sauna, weight machines, treadmills, and ellipticals—and a yoga room for elongating yin. 

Miami International Airport lends customers a miniature gym inside the airport and a lounge on top of the Airport’s Marriott hotel with an overhead shade of the state’s native palm trees. 

Other international locations stocked with fitness centers or yoga rooms include San Francisco International Airport (Yoga Room), London Heathrow Airport (gym and pool), and Dubai International Airport (gym, steam room, and sauna). Can’t find a gym in your layover airport? Go for a couple of laps through the terminals to increase your heart rate and endorphins before remaining stationary for several hours. 

4. Check Out the Dining Options

Say you’re trekking from the U.S. to London. Last year, my friend and I boarded a flight from Boston to London, yet our layover took us to the land of fire and ice for a six-hour layover. We didn’t have enough time to venture out into Reykjavik or dip into the Blue Lagoon, so we strolled through the Keflavik airport, searching for local cuisine. 

We touched down in Iceland around 2 a.m. their time, meaning our dining options dwindled from staple Icelandic dishes ranging from lava-infused pizza and fish and chips to mere portions of skyr and slabs of haddock in vacuum-sealed plastic. We opted for the skyr and stumbled upon some local Icelandic cheese and the cleanest water we’ve ever tasted. 

Always peruse airport restaurants for unique local cuisine and staple meals. 

5. Relax and pamper

Many airports offer massage or spa treatments. In the Amsterdam Schipol airport, I deposited a couple of euros into a massage machine and enjoyed a relaxing mechanical massage before a lengthy flight. A popular airport spa chain, found in four countries with numerous locations worldwide, is Xpres Spa. The relaxation station provides comfort for all levels of interest and time slots. 

Only have 15 minutes? That’s okay; check out a 15-minute in-depth foot massage targeting built-up tension. If you have a longer layover, peruse the touchless massage options featuring zero-gravity, or robotic massage chairs divvied up between 30-minute, 20-minute, and shorter 15-minute sessions. 

Other services include 45-minute chakra bed treatments to realign your seven chakras, LED mask massages, brightening and tightening your tired, travel-affected skin, virtual reality massages, and hydro massages. Not a fan of massage? Flip through the manicure and pedicure options. (Xpres Spa also offers robotic manicures for those hoping to avoid human interaction).

About Gabrielle Reeder

Gabrielle Reeder is a travel enthusiast from St. Petersburg Florida. She boarded her first plane at six months old and blamed her love for jet-setting on her mom’s background as a travel agent. She’s been to 41 states and six countries, hoping to up that number to 50 states and 10 countries by her 26th birthday. She loves to find the best vegetarian food, desserts, and music venues during her trips. 

Follow her on Twitter and Instagram

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