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Tips to Maximising Your Long Layover Times

Long layovers don't have to be boring!

· 6 min read

Whether you were forced into the long layover times due to flight schedules and prices, or if it was a strategic choice so that you can take the chance to explore a city, with a little planning and creativity, you can turn these long layover times into valuable opportunities for exploration and relaxation. In this article, we'll guide you through the art of maximizing your long layover times, so that you don't feel like you have wasted your time during the layover. So, grab your boarding pass and get ready to make the most of your next layover adventure!


Assess how much time you have

When planning what to do during your layover, one of the most important factors is to assess how much time you have. This is important in helping you make a decision of whether you should leave the airport, and if so, how far out can you travel.

When assessing how much time you have during your layover, remember to keep in mind:

  • Time to clear immigration and pick up your luggage (if any)
  • You will have to be back at the airport early to check-in for your next flight - it is recommended to be back at the airport at least 2-3 hours ahead of your scheduled departure

After factoring the above time, you will be able to get an estimate of how much time you will have to explore.

Decide if you should leave the airport

Now that you know how much time you have, you can decide if you want to leave the airport. Some of the most important factors to consider include:

  • How much time will you take to travel to the city and back to the airport: This will help you decide how much time you have to explore the city, after factoring transport time. Remember to also take into account possible traffic conditions, especially if you will be traveling during peak hours.
  • Is there anything you can see/explore during your layover time: assuming you will be arriving late at night or early in the morning where everything is closed, perhaps leaving the airport would not make the most sense

Explore the airport

If you decide not to leave the airport, not to worry - there are still different ways that you can maximise your layover time in the airport!

Making the Most Out of Your Transit Airport

Take some time to research your transit airport to discover what facilities and services it offers. This will enable you to make the most of your layover. Look for information on airport lounges, restaurants, shopping options, and any unique amenities that might be available.

For example, if you find out that your transit airport has a luxurious airport lounge, you can plan to spend your layover there. Enjoy complimentary snacks and beverages, comfortable seating, and even spa services to relax and rejuvenate before your next flight. Alternatively, if your transit airport has a variety of restaurants, you can research the local cuisine and plan to indulge in a delicious meal during your layover.

Additionally, some airports offer unique amenities such as art installations, museums, even movie theaters, or even open gardens in case you need to get some fresh air. By researching these options in advance, you can make the most of your layover by immersing yourself in the local culture or catching up on the latest blockbuster.

Finding Quiet Spaces in Airports

Airports are designed to accommodate the needs of travelers, and this includes providing spaces for relaxation and rejuvenation. As you navigate through the terminal, keep an eye out for quiet corners that are tucked away from the hustle and bustle. These secluded areas often have comfortable seating options and are far away from high-traffic zones.

Another option is to look for dedicated relaxation areas within the airport. Many airports now have designated zones where passengers can unwind and recharge. These areas may feature comfortable seating, soothing lighting, and even amenities like massage chairs or yoga mats.

Most airports also have a viewing gallery, where you can watch planes take off and land. The viewing gallery is often quieter, and plane-watching can be rather therapeutic if you wanted some alone time.

Leaving the Airport: Sightseeing and Short Trips

For longer layovers, leaving the airport and exploring the nearby area can provide a delightful change of scenery. Here are a few tips to make the most of your short trip. Depending on the entry requirements of each country, do ensure that you have the necessary visas or documents if you are planning to leave the airport!

Deposit Your Luggage

Most airports will have a service for luggage storage. It is recommended that you deposit your luggage at these storage areas before you head out to explore; but remember to bring your essentials along with you!

Before venturing out, familiarize yourself with the local transportation options. Check if the airport offers convenient connections to the city center and research the most efficient way to reach your desired attractions. Trains, buses, and taxis are often readily available. Trains and buses are often the most affordable, but they usually take a longer time. If you are tight on time, then consider hailing a taxi or a private hire instead.

Plan Your Must-See Attractions

Decide on some of the key attractions that you want to visit or explore, and visit them on priority. Given it is just a layover, it is unlikely that you will be able to finish exploring the entire city, so you will have to make some choices. You can consider visiting other attractions if time permits, but given you will be operating on time constraints, you will want to check off the sites you really want to visit first.

Depending on the city you are at, and how big the city is, it is not always possible to visit the attraction of your choice, if it is too far away from the airport and you don't have that much time to travel out. In such cases, you might have to make the decision to visit other attractions instead.

It would also be good to consider focusing the area of exploration and grouping the attractions based on proximity, so that you don't have to spend too much time (and money) on transit. Just be sure to plan your time wisely and allow for any unexpected delays in your transportation.

Major airports sometimes also have fascinating attractions in its vicinity, that you can consider visiting if you are unable to venture far out into the city.

💡 Tips: Singapore is one of the most common places for a long layover, and the small size of the city-state makes it much more feasible for exploration during a long layover. Check out our guide to how to maximise your layover in Singapore for tips and ideas .

Packing Essentials for a Long Layover

When packing for your long layover, consider including some essential items to keep you comfortable and entertained. Bring a travel pillow, a good book or e-reader, noise-cancelling headphones, and a portable charger to keep your devices powered up.

Having a travel pillow can make a world of difference in terms of comfort during a long layover. It provides support for your neck and allows you to rest and relax while waiting for your next flight. Pair it with noise-cancelling headphones, and you can create your own little oasis of tranquility amidst the hustle and bustle of the airport.

Lastly, a portable charger is a must-have item for any layover. It ensures that your devices stay powered up, allowing you to stay connected, browse the internet, or catch up on work without worrying about running out of battery.

Remember to bring along a backpack (or a carry-on bag) that you can store your essentials in, so that they can be easily accessible.

Staying Connected During Your Layover

In our connected world, staying online and in touch with loved ones is essential, even during layovers.

Wi-Fi and Charging Stations in Airports

If you will be primarily staying in the airport, most airports now offer complimentary Wi-Fi, allowing you to stay connected without using up your mobile data. Look for designated charging stations or plug points to keep your devices powered up throughout your layover.

However, take note that some airports do not have complimentary Wi-Fi, or they might limit the amount of time that you can connect to the complimentary Wi-Fi. In such cases, consider getting a travel eSIM to help you remain connected during your layover.

Get a Travel eSIM

If you will be traveling out to explore the city, you will need to find alternative ways to stay connected, since you wouldn't be able to always have Wi-Fi access. Often, getting a local SIM might not make sense - especially since you wouldn't want to spend the already-limited time that you have buying the SIM card when you arrive; and the data plans offered might not be the most suitable for your layover duration. The other option you could consider would be to activate international roaming - but that's often expensive.

One of the best options to staying connected on a layover is to get a travel eSIM. There are many providers of travel eSIMs, and they each provide a variety of plans. Nomad offers international data eSIMs across over 165 countries, at near-local rates from as low as $1.50/GB. For a long layover, perhaps you could consider getting a low volume plan; or where available, an unlimited day-plan.