Nonstop flights are seemingly the holy grail of travel, but with a little determination and some planning, you can turn your once-undesirable layover into a mini-vacation of its own.
Do Your Research:
If you go in with a game plan, you’ll waste the least amount of time trying to figure out what to do or how to get there. Most airports are located in the middle of nowhere, so getting to an area with attractions might take a bit of time. But with some forethought you can forgo hit-or-miss airport cuisine and delight in a quintessential California meal at In-N-Out (only twenty minutes from SFO in Milbrae) or spend your layover at BWI at the Maryland Science Center catching a show at the planetarium and exploring their exhibits.
Timing is Everything:
Don’t forget to factor in the amount of time it takes to disembark the plane or recheck your bags. You don’t want your layover to turn into the wrong kind of missed connection. If possible, have your connecting flight with the same airline or one of its affiliated lines—this way you won’t have to worry about going through a lengthy security process again, and your bags will already be on the next plane when you return from your layover adventure. If your connecting flight is with a different airline, your best bet is probably keeping your luggage in a baggage locker.
There’s an App for That:
If a delayed flight suddenly turns your short layover into a long one, or if you’re just more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type, technology has got you covered. Smart Layover is an app that will suggest fun activities nearby, snag you discounts at hotels in case of canceled flights, and provide you with all kinds of pertinent airport information. GateGuru is a free comprehensive dining guide that can help you find the exact food you’re craving, and even lets you know which options are presecurity. The Travel Channel’s Cities app is inspired by Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover. You can get reviews and suggestions, plan your own itinerary, and then snyc it across all of your devices.
Short but Sweet:
If your layover window is slim, try to choose a city with an in-airport attraction. Las Vegas’s McCarren Airport has slot machines for you to while away your time (and maybe your money). The Palm Beach International Airport in Florida has an indoor putting green and a kids’ play area to help keep you or your little ones occupied, and the San Diego International Airport can quell any cultural cravings with its world-class art exhibits scattered throughout all terminals for complete accessibility.
Whether you’re tense about a big work-related trip or just anxious from the normal stresses of travel, you now have the ability to spend your layover getting pampered. Newark Liberty International has the renowned d_parture Spa, an eco-friendly, time-conscious establishment that offers everything from a haircut to an Altitude Protection Facial. Xpress Spa has locations throughout many major U.S. airports, including those in Houston, Denver, and Minneapolis, where you can get a mani-pedi, or even freshen up with a luxurious shower before totally nailing that important presentation.