When you’re a student with limited funds and a serious case of wanderlust, layovers are pretty much always guaranteed since these flights are always going to be the cheapest. And sometimes these layovers will be brutal and over three hours. For example, on my way to Bahrain the cheapest flight was through Pegasus airlines which had a 14 hour layover in Istanbul. Now, this was an amazing opportunity because I had the chance to explore the city without any extra cost and actually saved £200 since I didn’t have to book the more expensive, direct flight. But it doesn’t always work out this way. Maybe the layover is overnight or there isn’t enough time to actually make it out the airport for it to be worth it. Or if you’re unlucky like me, you can be denied a visa at Delhi airport in India simply because of a Pakistani origin (shit gets real when you have an India-Pakistan mix). In this case, I ended up having to spend 20 hours at the airport on my way back from Japan. As a result, I think I’ve learnt quite a few tips and tricks to make a layover a much more manageable and maybe even enjoyable experience.
RESEARCH THE AIRPORT
I really can’t stress how important it is to research the airport you’ll be at during a layover. There are certain aspects I would consider first before booking a flight with an epically long layover, and the most notable is WIFI. I’m an internet addict; I use it for social media, work, streaming movies etc., so if the airport has bad reviews for WiFi access and slow speeds it could be make or break for me. Websites such as TripAdvisor or FIND OUT are great for reading reviews from other travellers and their experiences. Generally, if an airport sounds like a nightmare and there is very poor internet access then your layover may not be worth it.
FIND YOUR SPOT
So, you’ve landed, made it through transfers and wandered the shops. Now, would be the ideal time to find a place which will be your temporary home. Try find out if there are any lounge type chairs (which they had in Delhi airport - absolute lifesavers) or simply nab a few standard airport seats so theres space to stretch out. Other aspects I found helpful was to be located close by bathrooms, and also in a busy-ish area - busy enough that you’re not worried about safety but not so busy that its super loud. It may sound like common sense, but you’d be surprised at how many people just grab the first seats they see.
SPLURGE A LITTLE
Airport lounges can be a godsend. Before you travel, do a little research on the different lounges and their prices; if there are any that are relatively cheap for a few hours I would go for it, since you get food and a quiet place to chill (as long as it doesn’t make the money you saved on the cheaper flight useless!). Unfortunately, this was not the case in India where everything was pretty expensive, but something that helped immensely was paying for shower amenities. For a couple pounds I could have a shower and clean myself up after a 10 hour flight from London. Even the simple act of brushing your teeth can make a world of difference to your layover experience.
BRING EVERY FORM OF ENTERTAINMENT
An obvious one, but seriously, bring everything you can think of that might entertain you. From a laptop with loads of TV shows, movies to books and games. I found that after a few hours I’d get bored of watching a TV show so I’d switch to reading a book. Variety is key, because boredom when you can’t go anywhere else is the worst.
A BLANKET GOES A LONG WAY
I may be stupid for writing this, but once I landed in India, I sorta ‘borrowed’ the airplane blankets they provide during the flight, which I totally returned once I got on my connecting flight which was the same airline. But it was the best thing I could have done as it helped keep me warm, or acted as a pillow when I wanted to sleep with the added benefit of not having to carry around a blanket once I actually got to my final destination.