The only thing worse than not giving yourself enough time at the airport and having to leg it to the gate is having too much time to spend. Being stuck in the terminal during a long layover or delayed flight is every traveller’s worst nightmare – but it doesn’t have to be. By following some of the tips below, you can turn your layover into the perfect opportunity to get a ton of stuff done and even enjoy yourself in the process. After all, there actually is a lot more to do in an airport than simply spending money shopping in duty free and getting lost (and anti-social) in social media.  

Plan your itinerary

If your layover or delayed flight happens during your outbound journey, you’ve got the perfect opportunity to plan out the itinerary of your dreams for when you reach your destination. Unless you’re super organised, you probably won’t have done much planning beyond where you’re going to stay and the big attractions or events that you want to check out during your trip. Well, with many empty hours ahead of you there really isn’t a better opportunity to get cracking! You could even do a similar thing during your return journey; there’s nothing like returning from a vacation feeling prepared to tackle the week ahead.   

Broaden your (mental) horizons

A chunk of 4, 5 or more spare hours is the perfect time to delve into a new topic by reading an interesting book (or two). Get inspired for success by reading a nonfiction book about people who are the best in their field – Lance Bradley’s The Pursuit of Poker Success is a great one since it contains short interviews with top pros that you can dip in and out of. You could sort your life out with a psychology paperback – Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life is perfect – or finally read a classic novel that you’ve never had the time to before – War and Peace, anyone?

Get productive

If you’re lucky enough to access a free WiFi connection during your lengthy layover then you can really be productive and get stuff done. This is the time to read and reply to those emails that have been stacking up, set up meetings for the weeks ahead or just take care of some housekeeping like clearing out your inbox, rewriting or removing your out-of-office reply and generally getting your brain back into work mode. Think of it as a way to soften the blow of being back at your desk on Monday morning! 

OK, OK, work or anything to do with real life is probably the last thing you want to think about on the way home from a super trip abroad. You can still be productive with your time and live out your holiday for a couple of hours longer by organising your holiday snaps. Edit out the bad ones, move the good ones to a new folder and select a few envy-inducing ones that you can instantly upload to social media. If you’ve got a lot of time to spare, you could even upload your favourite ones as a full album to Facebook. And don’t forget to back them up by saving copies to DropBox, MEGA or any other cloud storage platform. 

Explore your surroundings

If your layover stretches into 10 hours or more, it’s the perfect opportunity to leave the airport and explore the city that you happen to be in. Think of it as a bonus day during your vacation! Whilst we wouldn’t recommend doing this if you only have a couple of hours to spare, if you have enough time to travel to and from the city and you can find something interesting to do there then do it.

If you’re feeling tired from your flight then walking around and seeing some new sights can be both refreshing and energising. You could even just head into the city to grab a bite to eat before heading back to the airport. You don’t even need to do anything when you get there, just find a spot to relax and unwind in order to prepare you for the next part of your journey. Just make sure that you arrive back at the airport with plenty of time before your flight is due to leave – set an alarm on your phone to remind you to be back within a couple of hours of your departure time.