How to Survive Long Layovers

Travel is something nearly all individuals aspire to at a certain point in their lives – it’s the ability to explore, see new sights and experience new cultures and mannerisms. People like me love every bit of the experience, from clutching your arm rest a little firmer as the plane takes off, to that rollercoaster feeling as the plane touches down in the destination airport. Whether local or international, travel is awesome.

Downsides of Air Travel

However, you have to admit that there are some things that suck about travelling. Long layovers are one of them – being stuck in one place for a while can make you want to scream ‘let’s get there already!’ out loud to nobody in particular.

What is a Layover?

A layover can be defined as a period spent waiting before taking on the next leg of a journey. Layovers are mostly associated with flights – where individuals have to wait in an airport for their connecting flight. For example, you’re travelling to New York from Germany and your journey path is Germany – Ethiopia – New York. At Ethiopia, perhaps you arrive at 4AM and your flight to New York is 4PM. The period between 4AM and 4PM is the layover.

At the end of the day, long layovers are inevitable – there’s no way to escape when you find yourself in one…well, unless you want to walk the rest of the way. There is hope though, I once found myself in this situation, and here are some solutions used to battle the grumps.

Fun Fact: The longest layover in the world was 17 years at Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris. Read all the details here!

Let’s picture you’ve bagged yourself a one of the cheap flights to New York, but you’re faced with a long layover, here’s how you can battle it out:

How to Survive Long Layovers


Isn’t it obvious? – sleep, if you sleep like I do, can easily shed off multiple hours when on a particularly long layover. However, you can only do this when you are with someone else, or someone reliable – perhaps that nice co-passenger you struck up a convo with earlier. However, if you’re not careful, you risk screaming and running on the hot or blistering cold tarmac after a Boeing 737. Sleep not only gets you energized for your next flight, but saves you the boredom from being in the same place for a bit. You have to be careful though, because if you’re alone, you can have your things stolen, and nobody wants that!

Listen to Music

Music is medicine for the soul – and having a robust playlist could never come in more handy at this time! I personally have 400+ songs on my playlist, and you can bet I’d be happy to press play and picture myself in a series of interesting situations – be it being whisked away by Bruno Mars as we dance into the sun set, or busting some hardcore hip hop moves in an imaginary choreography studio.

Having a lot of songs can amount to a total of 24 or more hours of music, so that’s definitely an option you’d want to consider.

Get That Data On

Data and Wi-Fi connection are essential for survival during long wait periods. Once connected to the Internet, you can simply get on a bunch of things – social media, apps that operate with internet, and whatnot. With the Internet, can you really be bored? Platforms like YouTube keep one entertained plenty – watch a makeup tutorial or 10, or if you’re like me, a couple of crime documentaries – trust me, you’ll be plenty entertained. On that note, I recommend Crime Watch Daily. If you’ve grabbed one of the cheap flights to New York offers, perhaps you’d want to read more about New York – though you’ve probably already guzzled down tons of info pre-flight booking out of excitement. Still, maybe you want to check out a few blogs from New Yorkers, or contemplate how to strategically “bump” into Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York (HONY).

Read a Book, or Three

Books are awesome, and you’ll be glad you had a few unopened ones handy when you’re on a long layover. I read fast personally, so I could probably guzzle down 2 or more books on a long layover – how about you? I have tons of eBooks waiting to be read – carrying physical books would be too much, but if you prefer paperback, stash 2 for your travel.


When I was stuck in Dubai Airport for a particularly long time, nothing kept my sanity together more than moving about. I was able to do it because I was with my family members – so I’d recommend this for those not travelling alone. Stretch your legs out by venturing around your waiting area – even if it’s to the toilet.

Perhaps you can inspect the facilities and thank God or shudder in embarrassment at the state of things in the airport of your country of origin. I remember marveling at the awesome facilities at the Dubai Airport, then later pressing my face against a large glass window and watching planes land and take off. It’s a sight I’ll never get tired of, because I love planes so much. According to this source, you can also leave the airport and perhaps explore the place you’re in a little – but with everything else, at the end of the day, you need to be smart and strategic.

Travel is awesome, no doubt, but it can have it’s downtime, even for the most enthusiastic of plane-hoppers. I hope with these tips, you can survive your next long layover, and even enjoy it in the process! You don’t have to pick one, you can combine all of them for ultimate survival, allowing you to be crowned Layover Sovereign.


Places to Visit in New York

If I ever grabbed a nice deal on cheap flights to New York, here are places I’d be rushing to without hesitation:

  • Times Square – are you even in New York if you don’t go here?
  • Empire State Building – So I can belt out off-tune to the lyrics of ‘Empire State of Mind’ by Jay-Z & Alicia Keys
  • Statute of Liberty – Hello? I do it for the history!
  • Coney Island – You can bet I want to get my thrill on while having a sugar hangover from ravaging through several sticks of cotton candy

Ever had a layover before? How did you survive it?

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