The layover is the most double-edged sword in the world of travel.
On the one hand, you just want to get to your destination (or home), and the hours spent waiting in the airport present an annoying hurdle to your end goal.
On the other hand, having a lengthy layover in a city you’ve always wanted to explore can feel like the luckiest thing that’s happened to you since you found $20 in an old pair of jeans.
So is your layover glass half-full or half-empty? That depends on a bunch of factors.
Do I go or do I stay?
Probably the most annoying types of layovers are ones that are too short to leave the airport but too long to sit there without getting seriously bored. To figure out if your layover is long enough for you to get out there and explore, you need to figure out a few factors.
Firstly, how long it will take you to clear customs? What are you going to do with your luggage? How far away from the airport is the place you want to explore? Will you be able to see what you want to see and still be back in time to go through security all over again (at least two to three hours before your flight leaves)?
Look into airport hotels
If you’re on an awkwardly-timed overnight layover, consider booking yourself into one of the nearby airport hotels. It’s not worth going all the way into the city for a hotel room if you don’t have time, and there will often be a better rate by the airport anyway.
Hello, outside world
If you’ve done your calculations and realized you’re not confined to just the world of duty-free perfume, moving walkways, and carpeted lounges. Hooray!
Take in these tips to make the most of your time exploring. Just make sure you have a visa if the country you’re visiting requires one.
Stash your luggage
If you’re heading out to see a new city, the last thing you want to be towing around is a giant suitcase. Most airlines will let you check your bags through to your next connecting flight, but if your layover is too long, you’re going to have to look at other options.
Some airports have lockers where you can stash your bags on your layover, but due to security risks, this isn’t as common anymore. See if you can find a nearby bellhop at an airport hotel to take your bags off your hands for a few hours. Most of them will be happy to abide in exchange for a thoughtful tip.
You’re doing it. You’re getting out of the airport, and you only have a few hours. You want to make the most of the city. Depending on how much time you’ve had to organize your travel, trying to think of an itinerary for your bonus layover destination on top of your original destination can seem like a lot of work.
One of the best ways to see a city in a short amount of time is to book a tour. Whether it’s by foot, bus, car, a bus that looks like a duck, or boat, talk to a travel expert like the ones at Flight Centre to see what tours your layover city has to offer.
Opt for a stopover
Getting to explore a new city on a layover is an unexpected bonus for a lot of travellers. But what a lot of people don’t know is that certain airlines actually have specific stopover programs where you can spend a few days in a certain city, with no extra fees on top of your original flight. It sounds like an even better idea than trying to cram everything into a few hours if you ask us.
If having a particularly lengthy layover was not your choice simply due to airline schedules, it’s worth noting that some airlines offer free accommodation during that transit to make your time between flights more comfortable. Look into programs from airlines like Air China, China Eastern, Emirates, and Etihad to see if this might be an option for you.
Can’t wait to see which destination you could be making the most out of in your next layover? Visit Flight Centre to see what itineraries the travel experts can line up for you.