How to Kill Time During a Layover

No one likes to stay long in an airport. As much as you would love to avoid layovers, they’re inevitable.  They are needed for long trips. Tickets with connecting flights are cheaper. So you might as well embrace it and make the most out of your waiting time.

Here are ways to kill time during a layover. I have divided them into two categories depending on the length of the layover. The layover length dictates the possible activities you can do.

For Layovers Shorter Than Five Hours

Explore the Airport

Without a layover, you will surely hurry to go out of the airport as soon as your plane lands. Since you can’t do that, roam around. Discover the airport. Observe the different structures. Meet people. Make new friends. You never know what will unfold.

The airport might be a tourist-worthy destination in itself. The world’s best airports have Instagram-worthy amenities. It would be a shame if you stepped into these airports without checking them out. Some airports are packed with shopping and dining facilities. Others have giant art installations, observation decks, libraries, spas, movie theaters, and beautiful landscapes.


Use this downtime to make yourself better by reading. Catch up on that novel you’ve been meaning to read. Read how-to articles of skills you want to learn. Stuff your mind with e-books on self-improvement.

You can also read about the basic language of your destination country and their culture. Learn about taboos and local tips.

Bring a book so you won’t have to worry about low batteries. When you’re engrossed in reading, the time will pass without you noticing.

Declutter and Organize Your Laptop and Smartphone

If you still have unsettled messages, now is the time to deal with them. This way, you won’t be disturbed when you reach your destination. Send your “I’m away” email on your work email if you still haven’t done it. Open emails which you haven’t touched for months. Delete, respond, archive, or unsubscribe accordingly.

Delete unused pictures. Organize your home screen. Delete unused apps. Scan all your files. Arrange them in folders. You probably did not have time to do all these at work.

For Layovers Longer Than Five Hours


Sleep is one precious activity you can do. Flights are tiring so go ahead and doze off. Replenish your energy. You need to be fresh when you arrive.

Find a comfortable position anywhere if you don’t mind sleeping in public. Some airports have sleeping quarters, sleeping pods and lounges.


If you’re a digital nomad or a freelancer, this one is for you. Spend more time enjoying your destination by working extra hours during the layover. Find a cozy spot in a coffee shop and claim it as your work zone.

Instead of watching the time tick, you’d rather spend it earning a few bucks right? You can make your presentation, send an invoice, write an article, send a sales pitch, tweak your website, or even make a YouTube video. The possibilities of converting your idle time to cash are endless.

Leave the Airport

When you’re planning a trip, include the layover in your itinerary. Thorough planning will let you squeeze the most out of every minute so that you’ll see as many attractions as possible.

Grab the opportunity to have a sneak peek of that state or country. Visit the famous landmarks if time permits. Go outside and explore! Check out nearby restaurants and attractions. Make the layover a bonus trip.

Some airports offer free layover tours. It’s a deal you shouldn’t question taking. You’ll be able to explore the place with a guide so you won’t get lost. Plus, it’s free!

Airports giving away free layover tours include the following:

  1. Singapore Changi Airport
  2. Incheon Intl Airport in South Korea
  3. Taoyuan Intl Airport in Taiwan
  4. Tokyo Narita Airport in Japan
  5. Ataturk Intl Airport in Turkey
  6. Doha Intl Airport in Qatar
  7. Salt Lake City Intl Airport in Utah

Must Do

Whether your layover is long or short, here are some necessary things to do:

Freshen Up

I bet you look (and maybe smell) terrible after a long flight. So go to the rest room and freshen up! Don’t forget to place your hygiene kit in your hand-carry bag (just be wary of forbidden items).

Charge Your Devices

Prepare for emergencies or delayed flights. Charge your cameras, phones, and laptops so that you’re all ready for your next flight. You don’t want to end up with a dead battery when you need it most.


Plane food has the reputation of being unpalatable. So now is the time to fuel up your tummy. Most Airports have familiar food brands so you can get something you’ll like. If you’re up for a gastronomic adventure, go ahead and try local cuisines they offer at the airport.

Don’t forget to hydrate yourself too. Dehydration worsens the effects of jet lag.  

Ask for Compliments

There’s no shame in asking if there are any complimentary treats.  They offer compliments for you to use so take every chance to have a freebie!

Some Airports offer free hotel accommodations, free meals, or even free spas. You’ll never know if you don’t ask.


Layovers are dreaded by most travelers. But with the right attitude and careful planning, you can turn this seemingly negative situation towards your favor.

For a short layover, explore the airport, read, and clean up your inbox. For longer ones, sleep, work, or go outside. Don’t forget the necessities: freshen up, charge your devices, eat, and ask for compliments.

The joy of traveling doesn’t start when you arrive at your destination. The experience begins as soon as you think about the travel, plan, book your flight, and take your flight. And yes, the layover is a part of it too.  

Pauses in travel may seem tragic, but they are necessary, just like in life. How it turns out is up to you.

Posted in Travel Hacks, Tips, and Advice.

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