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This is one word that can be a huge annoyance and cause a great deal of stress for any traveler. Sometimes layovers leave you wandering through an airport for far too long to be comfortable. At other times, you’re hoping and praying you can channel Usain Bolt to get from one gate to the next.
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Many travelers abhor the idea of just hanging out in an airport for longer than absolutely necessary. There are a few airports in the world that provide enough amenities that make a long layover comfortable or interesting. But let’s be real. We all know that most airports are vast abysses of nothingness, leaving much to be desired. And truthfully, when you’re traveling you usually want to get to the final destination as quickly as possible. I’d much rather hang out at the pool bar than the terminal bar. Wouldn’t you?!
But I have learned the beauty of a long layover. When I say long layover I’m not talking 2 hours. No, I’m talking 12 or more hours. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting you spend half a day trying to fold yourself into a seat that’s not meant to be comfortable, just waiting for your next flight. I’m talking about taking advantage of time in a new city. Think about it. A 12 hour (or more) layover gives you enough time to throw your carry-on in storage (or carry it with you if you’re a light packer), maybe collect a new passport stamp, hop a taxi or train into the closest city, and explore! If you’re savvy enough, you can purposely plan your travel so that a long layover is included. You’ll also discover that a long layover could make your overall flight cost cheaper than a direct flight or flight plan with a quick change.
I’ve had the opportunity to explore Curaçao, Reykjavik, Lima, Amsterdam, and a few other cities due to long layovers. The best thing about it is you can discover whether or not you want to return. If you love the city, you have something to look forward to next time. And if you hate it, you’re not there for long![/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”1765″ img_size=”full”][vc_column_text]You’ll definitely want to do some research on the city you’ll be discovering. Here are a few things you’ll want to look into.
Make sure any checked bags are tagged through to your final destination so you won’t have to pick them up and re-check them. Also, make sure your carry-on is light enough to actually carry with you as you traipse around the city. If not, check into bag storage options at the airport so that you don’t have to lug a heavy carry on with you.
If you choose to use bag storage, DEFINITELY carry your valuables with you. Money, jewelry, camera equipment, etc. There’s nothing worse than spending a day in a cool new city, and discovering that something has been pilfered from your checked/stored bag.
Make sure you know the most efficient way to get from the airport to the city center or whichever part of the city you’ve decided to explore. Train? Bus? Taxi? Shuttle? Make sure you know the distance and the amount of time it should take from the airport to your chosen destination. Also be sure to look into the cost. Public transportation may require a city pass of some sort and taxis may require that you pay in the local currency. Check into these things first so that you can hit the ground running rather than spend too much of your time figuring it out.[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1517516574224-cb692aa7005c4e3f895d6cd0811b7d65-3″ include=”1763,1764,1767″][vc_column_text]There are many airports and airlines that offer free and affordable city tours to passengers who have layovers of a certain number of hours. A few that I know for certain are Ataturk Int’l Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, Tokyo Narita Airport in Tokyo, Japan and Salt Lake City Int’l Airport in Salt Lake City, Utah. If you do a quick Google Search of the airport you’ll be arriving at, you may find a free or very affordable layover tour that suits your needs.
Check into passport and visa requirements. You won’t need a visa for an official airport layover tour but if you’re moving through the city on your own, you’ll need to make sure you know what’s required.
So, the next time you’re in trip planning mode take a look at your flight options and see if there are any long stopovers that pique your interest. Whether domestic or international, you may discover your new favorite city! Let it serve as a reminder; it’s not always about the destination. Quite often, it’s about the journey.
**Tryphena Wade is a professional actor/singer living in New York City. She the creator of the travel blog, wedontsitoncouches.com and a podcast, thewedontsitoncouches