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Tips for Short Layovers

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Black airport screen displaying departure and arrival timetable

Layovers aren’t the most fun way to spend an afternoon, but they don’t have to be miserable. Like anything else in life, layovers are what you make of them. Here are a few tips on how to keep yourself busy during an airport layover.

  • Tour the airport. When we were kids, the only reason to do this was to try to find forgotten coins in the payphones. In the age of cell phones, this isn’t an option anymore, but fortunately there are a lot better things to see. A lot of airports have museums or other points of interest. I spent several hours in the Atlanta airport hunting down every display in their ceramics museum. I’ve found that Pokemon Go (don’t judge me) is actually a great way to find things like this. The app’s Pokestops lead players to all sorts of interesting places that you might otherwise miss, like historic plaques and student art tucked into a remote terminal.

  • Read a book. Remember those? Airports are a great place to sit and read, especially if you can’t justify taking time to do it on other days. Airport stores usually have a decent selection, and a new book is a nice little indulgence for a long trip.

Black and white photo of a person sitting on a wooden table reading a book and drinking a cup of coffee

  • Tackle your to-do list. Without outside distractions, the airport is a great place to read that blog post you told your coworker you’d take a look at. Or write that email to your aunt. Or plan that research article you have to write. You have no way to talk yourself out of it now, so get productive!
  • Practice your foreign language skills. Duolingo is one of many portable language-learning tools that you can use to brush up on (or finally begin) your second language. I’ve been on seven planes in the last month, and I spend most of the time waiting to board on my Duolingo phone app. Needless to say, after all that practice, my Spanish skills are getting pretty impressive. If you don’t mind speaking to me strictly in present and past perfect tense, that is.

  • Black and white photo of a man standing in front of a airport window looking at a parked airplane

  • Talk to people. You might even meet someone famous—my husband was on a flight with Tim Tebow recently (For those of you who don’t follow American football, he’s one of the most talented and well-liked pro players out there). But you don’t have to limit yourself to meeting celebrities. Regular, everyday people are just as interesting to talk to. Besides, you don’t already follow their Twitter feeds and know everything about them! I love meeting people on the go. Recently, on the bus, I sat next to a New York millionaire with a fascinating life story. The week before, I chatted with an older gentleman in an airport who has traveled all over the world. Of course, I never saw either of them again, but it was nice to get to hear the life and perspectives of people who I would otherwise have never met. People are often surprised when you strike up conversation, but I’ve never met someone who didn’t like it.

What do you like to do on short airport layovers? Have you ever had an interesting layover experience? Let us know in the comments!

Breana is an American expat living in the Dutch Caribbean. Graphic Designer and writer from sunny Arizona, she has travelled around the Caribbean, Mexico, Tanzania, Burundi, Kenya and most of the U.S. You can also follow Breana and her adventures together with her husband, at