Whether you show up super early to not miss your flight, or get caught with a long layover, spending time at the airport often means sitting in a chair for hours on end simply waiting for your next plane. Sure, you may browse the shops or walk around, but what about those late-night flights or overnight layovers where everything in the airport is closed? Sure, you can always create a short video to entertain yourself (see what this awesome guy did here!), but there are actually a number a ways to occupy your time during those seemingly never-ending airport hours.
1. Get In Your Exercise
If I have lots of time at an airport, I’ll often walk from terminal to terminal to explore and check out what’s around. This allows me to see various food options if I’m hungry (no such luck if it’s super late at night, though), discover neat views of the runways, and just see what planes are arriving and from where. I usually end up walking a couple miles this way, which is perfect since the next few hours are generally followed by sitting in a cramped airplane seat. If you’re a bit more adventurous, you can find a space at an empty gate and actually do your workout routine – I’ve seen people jog in place, break out yoga mats, do squats, etc. Some airports even have free yoga/exercise areas you can take advantage of!
2. Tackle That Book
Bringing something to read normally tops every list of “things to do on an airplane” or in an airport, but that’s because it’s truly really good advice. If you’re like me, you probably have a mental list of books you’ve told yourself you’d like to read that has only gotten longer and longer over the years. I take my time at the airport (and on the plane) to knock out some of this list as often as possible (I’ve finished Heart of Darkness, The Revenant, and a book about Ernest Shackleton this way). So, bring that always-wanted-to-read-book with you and settle in for a page-turning adventure!
3. Find A Place To Sleep
If you happen to have a lengthy overnight layover, this may be for you. Sleeping in the seats at your gate is usually uncomfortable (unless the seats don’t have armrests and you can spread out!), so securing a comfy spot elsewhere is usually a good option. Lots of airports have public “lounge areas” with larger (comfier) seats and tables (that you can put your feet up on!). If you are a lounge/club member with a certain airline, take advantage and use their amenities. Otherwise, find a corner or comfy area (some even have TVs! The joy!) and rest up. Remember to set an alarm to get to your gate on time!
4. Plane Spotting
If you are not familiar with this phrase, plane spotting is seeking out airplanes and tracking their take-offs, landings, and general movements. I love to find great plane spotting locations at airports (which usually involves walking around the different terminals to find views of the runway) and watch the planes come and go. If you’ve never seen a double-decker A380 take off – you’re in for treat! It’s a great way to pass the time and enjoy a view of the planes. Lots of people consider photography a large part of plane spotting, too. Finding the perfect viewing location can result in some fantastic photos! Plus, you may find new areas of the airport to explore and get some great views!
5. Catch Up On Some Work
It may sound mundane, but layovers and early arrivals are excellent times to get some work done. Even if it has nothing to do with your actual job, there are probably “household” work things you can catch up on – sending e-mails, calling family members, paying online bills, editing travel photos, etc. I often catch up on actual work as well as “household” work. It saves me a lot of time later on!
6. Do A Food and/or Drink Tour of the Terminals
If you are with a group of people (or can find one!), this is even better. Dining options vary wildly by terminal and you might be surprised what yummy treats are hiding at a terminal different than your own! I found my favorite new sandwich place, for example, when I flew out of a different terminal than the one I usually do at the Orlando airport. If you’re one for drinks at the airport, try the different bars!
7. Make Friends
Some people are naturally better at this than others, but it never hurts to be friendly to someone! Sometimes the last thing many people want is someone else bothering them with conversation in the midst of their travel stresses and worries, but I’ve found that this is the exact time I’m more thankful to have a stranger strike up a conversation with me. After almost missing a connection, a girl about my age boarding the same plane began speaking with me at the gate. We happened to end up seated together, too, and it was nice to welcome the cool discussion we had going. It’s never a bad thing to have friends in different corners of the world! You never know when one of those friendly connections could turn into your next trip, place to stay, or party partner!
8. Work on Your Hobby/Interest
I think it’s safe to say we all have hobbies and interests that we somehow never end up having as much time for as we want. For me, that’s writing. If I’m sitting at the airport, I may as well break out my computer and start working on that novel! It’s a great way to spend time doing something that you really love and could potentially help alleviate that airport stress that can creep in!
There are so many things to do at airports! Leave a comment if you have something in particular that you do to pass the time! 🙂