Before we discuss everyone’s least favorite part of traveling, I’d like to thank Mark Crone for the opportunity to reach out to his blog’s readers! If you’re new around here, your next destination should be How To Make Hotel WiFi Work For You or The Only Primer on Airplane Etiquette You’ll Ever Need.
Airport layovers are obviously stressful, but if you try to view it as an opportunity to relax before or after your busy vacation, positive thinking may win out!
Give yourself a chance to have a great time by planning ahead for your airport layover. Here are some ideas for ways to spend the time that won’t break the bank or stress you out!
Bring your own food
You may want to bring some snacks to avoid the overpriced (and generally terrible) airport food.
Obviously, plan around what is and isn’t allowed in airports and what you can keep unrefrigerated during your flight. Sandwiches, trail mix, fruit and vegetables with dip, and granola bars can all go in your carry-on luggage.
Remember to stay hydrated, too! Most people aren’t as hydrated as they should be, and it’s especially important when you’re traveling.
Stretch your legs
If your carry-on bag isn’t too bulky, shouldering it and taking a walk around the airport will help you burn off some calories and help prevent you from getting restless during your next flight.
Plus, there’s lots of people-watching to be done!
Take the opportunity to learn about your destination and its language
You can watch movies in a different language on Netflix or practice with vocabulary tools such as Memrise.
If you are already an expert in your destination’s language, you can research attractions to include in your itinerary or finalize hotel plans.
Take a book!
Unfortunately, airports will sometimes limit the time you can spend connected to their WiFi, so it may pay off to bring something to do that doesn’t require an internet connection. If you’re a quick reader, you may want to consider an e-reader or tablet rather than a traditional book so you can take multiple books without occupying your entire carry-on with reading material.
The subscription service Scribd is a lot like Netflix for books, and you can browse a huge variety of titles. Your books can then be saved on your device for the times that you can’t access WiFi, and there’s no need to finish them within a time limit like some other e-book services.
If you’re not much of a reader, drawing or coloring can be a nice alternative. Coloring is not just for children. The New York Times has recently released a coloring book complex and beautiful enough to hold the attention of adults.
A long airport layover is a perfect time to catch up on your favorite shows. If you’re not working during your trip, swapping your laptop for a tablet, iPad or Kindle Fire might help you take up less space on your carry-on bag.
As a security note, if you’re using unsecured public WiFi, such as the kind usually found at airports, make sure to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). When you use unsecured WiFi, others connected to the same network can see your information as easily as they could eavesdrop from the next table at a restaurant. If you plan on signing into any online account, especially online banking, this can pose a real risk.
A VPN creates a secure tunnel from the source of information to its destination and also encrypts the data passing through it, meaning your passwords and credit card numbers will remain secure and confidential. A VPN will also allow you to mask your IP address from Netflix and watch what’s available in other countries!
Play a card game or board game
If you’re traveling with other people, a card game can give you something less solitary to do.
Finding a game that is small enough for your carry-on luggage isn’t as much of a challenge as it may seem to be. A regular, old-fashioned deck of cards is very versatile, and if poker is your thing, you can use the change in your pockets rather than bringing chips. Other options are Meuterer, Oltre Mare, Decktet, Magnate, Cards Against Humanity (for adults only!), Boggle, Fluxx or Uno.
Some games will sell a special pocket or travel edition, so it’s worth checking for small versions of your favorite games on Amazon before you head out.
Take your hobbies with you in any way you can
A lot of hobbies require equipment or space that you won’t have in an airport, but if you think outside the box, you can bring your hobbies with you. Browse a book of knitting patterns, sketch out a new woodworking project or watch YouTube videos about your favorite video game.
Take a nap
Not everybody is comfortable sleeping in an airport, but if you feel safe enough it might be the perfect time for a nap.
Remember to set an alarm well before your next flight leaves!
Catch up with friends
If you have internet access, you can update your Facebook status with news about your trip, or message friends.
If you don’t have internet access…when was the last time you called your mother? If she’s particularly talkative, you may be able to while away the hours in a really meaningful way.
Play a hand-held game
Hand-held gaming systems, such as the Nintendo DS, are more popular with kids, but even adults can get caught up in Bejeweled. Before you know it, it will be time to board your next flight!
What are your favorite airport layover activities? What games and activities would you recommend? Let us know in the comments below!
Author Bio: Jess Signet is an avid traveler and enjoys writing about her adventures. Knowing there’s more to the world than the bubble she lives in makes her want to travel even further. Traveling is her drug, and she’s addicted. (Please, no intervention!)