How to take full advantage of your next layover

Ways to make the best of a layover when stuck at the airport

Flying isn't easy, but it gets worse when you have to split your trip into two. And then have a decently sized layover in between. How annoying. But layovers don't have to be just hours of boredom. There are ways to take advantage of the time you're waiting out until you can board your next flight.

Short layover (2-5 hours)

Short layovers are usually the most awkward in terms of time. If it's only an hour or two, you're probably better off just waiting it out inside the airport. Grab a meal and settle in with one of your in-flight entertainment options while you wait to board. Brush up on your people watching skills.

Three hours or more can also be tricky. If you want to leave the airport, consider how much time you'll need to re-enter through the security line. If it's an early morning flight, you can probably whiz through security fairly quickly. This might give you time to eat at a nice restaurant in the city. But the placement of the airport also matters. If it's a good distance away from the city, you might as well just settle down at one of the sit-down in-airport restaurants. After eating, you can add a Yelp review for that location if you feel like it.

Unfortunately, there isn't much short layovers can offer in terms of extra sightseeing or exploring. It's all because of that security line.

Medium layover (5-10 hours)

In terms of layovers, this is the sweet spot. It does kinda suck that you have to wait over five hours for your next flight. But the extra time gives you plenty of wiggle room to leave the airport and explore the city you landed in. Eat at a local restaurant, visit some popular sights, or even see a movie if you feel like it. If you're stuck in town during nighttime hours, you could go clubbing or enjoy other aspects of the nightlife scene. If that's not your thing, just stick with the airport.

Things start to get awkward again on the longer side of this timeframe. Once you near 10 hours, the wait can be overwhelming. But if you land early in the morning, you can spend basically a full day in the city. Take advantage of it. Get lost in an art museum. Find the best pizza in town. Chill for a bit at a local park.

The city is your oyster — until you have to make it back to your flight.

Long layover (15-24 hours)

Long layovers put you back on the awkward side of the bell graph again. Once you've had your day of fun in the city, you still have way too much time until you're due to board. Thankfully, these layovers (unless planned purposefully) are not common. When you're around 15 hours, the layover can still be a fun little stint in town. It's a big enough window that you'll have something to do in the city during the day. No need to worry about closed shops and restaurants you might face during a nighttime layover.

However, when your layover approaches 24 hours, you'll likely want to book a hotel or Airbnb for the night. Sleeping in the airport is doable, but most definitely not comfortable or fun. But you do get a perk with a room. You can drop off your carry-on luggage before heading out into the city. When you're only carrying the necessities, your urban exploring will be that much more enjoyable.

Long layovers have the most potential when you're aiming to explore the city you're stuck in for the next day or so.

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