Looking for what to do during a layover? This post will give you ideas on how to stay occupied and entertained as you wait for your next flight

If you’re like me who’s always looking for cheap flights, you know that it’s inevitable to avoid those long airport layovers. Whether you couldn’t find a direct flight to your destination or it was by choice due to a number of other reasons, you don’t have to feel trapped while waiting for your next connecting flight.

Even when you’re a frequent traveler and you feel like you’ve got the hang of airport layovers, every time tends to be different and you can find yourself bored – just seated on the airport benches doing nothing.

However, airport layovers don’t necessarily have to be boring. There are a number of things to do to kill time and boredom. Whether it’s a one-hour layover or an 8 hours one, you can find something to keep you occupied.

So if you’re looking for what to do during a layover, look no further as in this post, I’ll be showing you some of the things to do at the airport during a long layover to keep you occupied and entertained.

What to do during a layover

1. Treat yourself to a good meal

airport layover

Personally, I don’t mind airplane food. In most cases, I am hungry, so I’ll just eat whatever they serve – but honestly, it’s not always the most delicious food and choices are always very limited unless you buy from their menus (which is also not worth the price sometimes).

However, these days, most airports have upgraded from just having first food restaurants to sophisticated ones where you can have a “proper” meal.

So as you wait for your next flight, why not treat yourself to a nice meal. This will save you from eating the “not-so-good” airplane food.

And if you ever wanted to try out some delicious local cuisine of that particular country but never had a chance, you might get lucky and find a restaurant that serves it.

2. Window shop at the many airport shops.

what to do during your airport layover

If your layover is at a big airport with lots of souvenir shops like the new Istanbul airport in Istanbul, you know you’ve just landed on the perfect airport to exercise your window shopping skills.

I admit I am not one to buy so many things from airport shops (that’s if I buy any) since they always come off pricey – except those that are duty-free.

But what can I do, as soon I reach the airport, it’s like all those shops scream my name to go explore them – and when they call, I always listen.

Exploring airport shops can help you understand a bit more of a country’s culture as a number of them sell locally made unique items on top of the big household brands from all over the world.

However, if you have some money to spare, why not pick up last-minute souvenirs or even shop at the duty-free stores.

Whether it is at Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport in Paris to get the most luxurious french fashion brands, Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) in Singapore for a wide range of duty-free items, Hong Kong (HKG) Airport which boats one of the best shopping malls in the city, or London Heathrow (LHR), you’re bound to be treated to a wide range of high-class shopping. This is honestly one of the best things to do during a layover for all my shopaholic friends!

Related post: How to survive a long haul flight in Economy

3. Go out and explore the city

long layover tips

There is no better way to take advantage of the airport layover than going out to explore the city. Though not everyone can do this – if you have less than 2 hours till your next flight, stay at the airport. You don’t want to create other issues by missing your flight.

But if you have a long layover, say eight hours or so and you can enter that country with no visa issues, this is the perfect time to see the city. I actually know some people that intentionally book flights with long layovers so that they get this window to see the city even if it’s just for a couple of hours.

To visit the nearby cities, you can do it on your own by hopping onto a bus and head to the city or by signing up for city tours that airports normally offer. Some of these are normally free tours organized by the airport as a way of promoting tourism in their country.

If you’re in any of the airports below, just head to the information desk and ask how you can be part of these organized city tours.

  • Singapore Changi Airport, Singapore: If you have 5 or more hours, Singapore Changi Airport offers city tours where travelers are given a 2 and half hours tour of the top sights of the city. You can actually book your free spot with Changi Airport in advance to see this beautiful city in just under 3 hours.
  • Istanbul airport, Istanbul: Are you passing Istanbul airport and have more than 6 hours to spare, join the free tours to see some of the top sights in Istanbul for free in just a couple of hours. From popular sights like the Galata Tower, Bosphorus bridge to the Blue Mosque, you’ll experience this megapolis city of Turkey in just a few hours. However, to qualify for these Instanbul in hours tours, you must be flying with Turkish Airlines.
  • Doha Internationa Airport, Doha Qatar: If your layover at Doha International Airport is more than 5 hours, then you can join the Doha city tour organized by Qatar airlines to see some of the country’s top tourist attractions like Museum of Islamic Art, Katara, or The pearl. And if you have more than 6 hours, you can even get a chance to see the heart of the desert.

Please note: If you’re planning to go out of the airport, you have to plan it before your trip and find out whether you need a visa to enter that particular country or not.


4. Refresh yourself by taking a shower

Was your first flight too long that you got worn out and don’t have any zeal to hop onto the next one? Why not use the airport layover time to refresh yourself by taking a shower.

I know this doesn’t apply to many airports but some of them do have showers where you can refresh for free or pay a couple of bucks.

In case you’re not sure of whether the airport offers public showers or not, you can always ask at the information desk at that particular airport and they will give you more information.

Some of the airports that offer free shower facilities include;

  • Auckland Airport (AKL) in New Zealand
  • Hong Kong Airport (HKG) in Hong Kong
  • Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) in Malaysia
  • Dubai International Airport (DXB) in the UAE
  • Incheon International Airport (ICN) in Seoul

However, if your layover airport doesn’t offer free showers, you can look out for paid options which are some times fairly priced.

But also, if you want to know in advance whether your layover airport offers free shower services, you can check on the airport’s website and see the services they offer and how to get there if they do.

More travel tips to help you plan your trip

5. Read a Book

tips to surviving a long lay over

There is nothing that kills time while waiting for your next flight like reading a good book. Every time I travel, I carry a book either to read while waiting at the airport or during that really long flight that I want to survive – it’s like the only time I remember that I actually love reading books.

Have you ever enjoyed a book that you fully immerse yourself into it and forget what’s happening around you? With the noise, the announcements at the airport, immersing yourself in a good book is one of those things to do on a long layover.

Nevertheless, if you’re someone who prefers to travel light without the heavy books adding to your carry-on weight, then you can opt for a Kindle reader where you can have hundreds of books on the go.

Related post: 15 carry on Essentials for a long haul flight

6. Catch some sleep

sleeping at the airport

One of the things to do in an airport on a long layover is to sleep. If you’re like me who can easily sleep regardless of where, then you shouldn’t have issues sleeping on the airport benches.

True, they’re not the most comfortable and also finding a free one especially at busy airports can be tricky, but when you find one, hang onto it and catch some sleep especially if you want to reduce the chances of being extremely jetlagged when you reach your final destination.

However, if you don’t want to struggle sleeping on the hard airport bench and have some bucks to burn, then you can book yourself a room – which brings us to the next point below.

Please note: Even as you sleep, make sure that you don’t leave your bags unattended to. You can choose to use your bag as a pillow, or sleep while holding it. Safety first, then Zzzz later!!

7. Book yourself a room

Ok, if this is not everyone’s dream of spending time during an airport layover then I don’t know what is.

Most airports have in-airport rooms where travelers in transit can book for a couple of hours to rest as they wait for their next fight.

The big plus is that you won’t need to get out of the airport to access these rooms – which means that you won’t go through all the airport security checks. Some of these rooms come with private showers and toilets, which means that you can refresh fully at the same time.

Of course, it’s going to be a stretch on your budget taking you as far behind as $30 or so for just a couple of hours. So if you’re traveling on a shoestring budget, you might wanna pass on this “luxury” and brave it up on the airport benches.

You can actually use the sleeping in airports website for ideas on where to sleep while in different airports around the world.

8. Research your destination

how to survive a long lay over

If you’re headed on a trip and not back home, the layover is the perfect time to make some more research about your destination.

You can research about stuff to do in that destination, available day trips, unmissable restaurants, and general travel tips. It’s also a great way to make those last-minute bookings you weren’t sure of before.

However, not every long layover means you’re headed for adventure, sometimes you’re just going back home after an amazing trip and it’s not always the best feeling.

Instead of using that time to feel bad about an adventure that has just come to an end, how about using it to research your upcoming trip. You might not make a conclusive itinerary but you will get helpful info that will help you plan your future trip.

Related post: Travel related things to do when you’re not traveling

9. Catch up on some work

To some people, this time means chilling and relaxing but to some of us, the work never ends. Actually, I tend to get a number of blog post ideas while seated on the airport benches.

With so many things happening, different kinds of people, some rushing, some walking sluggishly, there is something about that, that brings up so many ideas to my brain that I just can’t let them pass by

I just take out my notebook or laptop and start making drafts. So yeah, if you have some work to do, it might not be writing like me, but just pull out your laptop and get productive as you wait for your next flight.

things to do at the airport during a layover

10. Chill on the internet

It’s soo cool that most airports in the world now have free wifi. This is literally the first thing I check for when I reach any airport.

As soon as I tap the wifi, then the internet browsing starts! From letting my loved ones know how long on my journey I am, keeping updated on Facebook, looking out for travel inspiration photos on Instagram to watching youtube videos – the search never ends.

I always look for a seat where I can access electric sockets so that am not worried about my phone battery running out.

So as you look for what to do during a layover, consider just chilling on the internet with either your phone or laptop.

If you were looking for things to do at the airport during your layover, I hope that this post gave you ideas you can use when that time comes. And if you were also skeptical about taking a flight with a long layover, worry not as there are lots of things to do to keep you busy and entertained while you wait.

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