Planning the perfect trip can sometimes mean it includes a not-so-perfect journey. Connecting flights are sometimes unavoidable depending on where you're going, and for the budget traveller they're all too common; as cheaper flights tend to have more stops than their premium-priced counterparts. So what happens when you have 6 or more hours before your next flight? Images of tired, bored and restless passengers come to mind when we think of 10-hour layovers, for example, but that doesn't have to be the case. Here are a few tips to make the absolute most of a long layover.
Stash Your Bags
No matter what you choose to do, you probably don't want to lug around all of your stuff. Most airlines allow you to check your luggage up to 6 hours before your flight, so you can ditch your non-essentials in a safe place and explore a little. Check beforehand with the airline and airport for other luggage storage options just in case.
Have A Bite
Airports are sometimes home to some of the world's best eateries
, so take some time to check one out before your connecting flight. With those few hours you can try new foods, strike up conversations, people watch and enjoy a savoury dessert all before your next flight.
Take A Nap
Find a good spot in the airport and curl up for a few hours so you can continue your trip refreshed. Make sure you have a blanket and great travel pillow on hand so you don't wake up with a sore neck from leaning during your nap. This is why it's important to inquire about luggage storage options so you can check your bags or place them in lockers so they're safe & sound while you catch some Z's.
Magazines, books, tablet devices, laptops, games; make sure you have any combination of these for a long layover so you don't drive yourself crazy. A good way to pass the time is to write down your experiences starting with the layover, your expectations and personal hopes and goals for the trip. If you're travelling with someone, talk about that same stuff! Hook up to the airport wi-fi to keep in touch with friends, family or whatever might keep you occupied online.
Explore The City
This one requires a bit of time management and a layover of at least 6 hours, but it's possible to see at least a few sights in the city your layover is in, granted you stay relatively close to the airport. Don't be scared to ask the customer service agents how easy (or difficult) it is to get to the city centre for a quick trip, a meal or even a bit of shopping. Popular travel blog Travel+Leisure has a helpful list
of airport connections to nearby cities; all complete with luggage storage. 20 minutes on the subway will take you from Heathrow Airport to the heart of London, while Changi Airport offer free bus tours to downtown Singapore that leave directly from terminals 2 and 3.
For many, being able to see more than just the city they're headed to works out surprisingly well; with some opting to stop over in cities for up to 3 nights on their way elsewhere as a way to see more for less. Some European and Asian airlines actually offer free stopover programs included in the cost of your fare, like Icelandair and Japan Airlines. Others like Turkish Airlines or Air France simply offer the ability to book multi-city trips for in and around the same price as direct flights; something that isn't necessarily advertised but totally doable. Call the airline you plan to travel with to find out some of your options.
No matter what you end up doing, make sure you are realistic about the time you have to spare. You have even more places to see and things to do, after all. Happy Travels!