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10 Things to Do During Your Next Airport Layover

You've got time to kill during your layover, so why not make the most of it?

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Seek out the airport amenities

Download GateGuru to research amenities at airports, including restaurants that are worth hiking to another terminal for, spas, children’s play areas, and other insider info. It also has airport maps, info on rental cars, and keeps track of your flight’s departure time and gate for you. Here is your guide for getting into the best airport lounges to kill time in luxury!

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Pack your carry-on smartly

When you know you have a long layover, in addition to the standard items you should always pack in your carry on (think: a toothbrush, change of clothes, and chargers), toss in a good book, playing cards, a journal, or puzzle games to pass the time. These are the 40 things pilots wish you knew.

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Load your entertainment on gadgets

Avoid having to pay fees for Wi-Fi or the headache of slow loading times and download books, TV shows, or movies onto your iPad or tablet ahead of time. Also, take the opportunity to charge all devices so you can continue your entertainment during the second (or third) flight.

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Take advantage of kid-friendly offerings

Some airports have created children’s scavenger hunts and walking “trails” to keep families moving while waiting, shares Lissa Poirot, editor-in-chief of Family Vacation Critic, a site that offers family trip-planning advice and resort reviews. “Familiarize yourself with what your airport has to offer, and be sure to take advantage of as much as your layover allows—you can actually turn the airport into a destination in itself with everything available these days,” she says. For extra-long layovers and delays, check out Minute Suites, like those found at Philadelphia International Airport, she says. “Rent a private room with TV, Internet, charging stations, and places to sleep,” suggests Poirot. Here are 21 secrets from flight attendants for flying with kids.

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Spend your time inside an airport lounge

Your layover will be more pleasant if you can access a lounge where you can wait for your flight and enjoy food, drinks, and free and reliable Wi-Fi, says Patti Geroulis, co-founder of The Travel Sisters. “Some airport lounges even offer showers and daybeds,” she says. “Unless flying first or business class or you have a credit card with airport lounge access as a benefit, you will have to pay a day rate.” It may be worth it if you have an extra long layover.

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Leave the airport and explore your connecting city

If your layover is long, it might be a good use of your time to leave the airport and explore the destination, says Geroulis. Some airports, such as Singapore Changi and Salt Lake City, even offer organized free city tours from the airport. You can also see more of the world by learning the 16 secrets to always get the best airfare.

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Plan a layover in a city you’d like to explore

Shelia Fitzgerald, a Washington, D.C.-based corporate flight attendant, says she often plans long-layovers on purpose. “Plan layovers in countries you want to travel to, to squeeze a free extra stop in. When I was coming back from Spain there was an option for an 18-hour layover in London. I explored London for a day, for free,” she says.

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Exercise and stretch your legs

Susan Pokorny, a yoga teacher, Thai Bodywork practitioner, and Pilates instructor in Milwaukee, advises to move your body, stretch, and exercise during layovers. “Do some specific exercises to keep circulation going in the feet and calves to lessen the chances of swelling from pressure changes,” she says. Walking through terminals can not only pass time, it can loosen muscles from long flights and prevents DVT. Make sure you’re not walking to buy the 15 things you should never purchase at the airport.

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Treat yourself to relaxation

With 56 locations worldwide, XpressSpa‘s offer quickie massages, manis and pedis, and even waxing services, which comes in handy if you didn‘t have time to squeeze in an appointment and are headed to a beach. They even have technicians who can meet you gate-side. Talk about convenient!

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Even if you’re not flying internationally, you can buy last-minute hostess gifts or trinkets to bring home at the airport. Museum stores are always a good option for unique gifts; check out the Smithsonian Museum boutiques in Dulles, Newark, or Reagan National; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art locations in LaGuardia, JFK, Boston, Newark, and Houston. Next up, learn the 16 air travel mistakes to stop making before your next flight.

Erica Lamberg
Erica Lamberg is an experienced travel and business writer based in suburban Philadelphia. Specializing in family travel, cruise experiences, and tips for enriching and affordable vacations. Beyond travel, Erica writes about personal finance, health and parenting topics. Her writing credits include Reader’s Digest, USA Today, Parents Magazine, Oprah Magazine and U.S. News & World Report. Her favorite city is Paris and she dreams about visiting Greece and Israel. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park and is married with two children.