This might be very rare to hear from a traveler's mouth, but: I love layovers. Yes, layovers are often seen by most travelers as a stressful thing. And, yes, flights with layover are cheaper. But, whenever possible, I prefer to not to take direct flights, because it's just boring. For me, 'sit, get off, and done' just doesn't work. I always think of a layover as a bonus that gives me extra chance to explore new things, like anything in the airport or the city where I'm at. It's always exciting to have such positive experience.
Still, I realize that not all travelers see layovers as a fun thing. In fact, when I Google up the keyword "what to do layover", all the sites related to it would count layover as a painful thing. So here I share some of my favorite activities during long layovers, which I hope would make your lengthy wait more bearable or even enjoyable.
Sleep in peace. This is basically what travelers would go for and probably the first thing that comes in mind. Well, it's the easiest thing to do, but then we know it's practically impossible to get a nice one. First, it's hard to find a space to lay your head or stretch your legs, and second, it's difficult to get a peaceful sleep. I usually head over to arrival gate, where benches to stretch out are often available. Then, I stuff my ears with plugs. However, some airports may provide rented cabins to sleep with a bit of privacy, like Yotel or Napcabs. If you wish for more comfortable place, just opt for airport hotels.
Watch movies or series. Whenever I plan to fly abroad and long layovers are in my itinerary, I would fill my Samsung tablet with some downloaded movies or TV series, or maybe just subscribe to any streaming media provider (i.e. Netflix). My suggestion on where to spend with them: Starbucks - or basically any 24 hours cafe. Just pick a nice sofa or any comfortable seating near an electric socket, and snuggle down with your blanket while enjoying movies or series.
Check out the airport. This is a great thing to do if you happen to spend a long layover in a big airport where connecting flights are. In fact, this is my favorite thing to do! Check out the duty-free shopping area, the food court, the seasonal exhibition, or any activities held by the airport. Singapore Changi usually has many things to offer, from shopping bazaar to seasonal activities. Not to mention that it has nature parks and even movie theater. Be sure to head over to the airport information desk or Google that up.
Wander around the city. If you happen to be able to go out from the airport, check out the free city tour. Airports like Singapore Changi and Istanbul Atatürk offer some-hour city tour for free, while others may charge travelers. If you don't mind to spend the time by exploring yourself, just take the public transportation from the airport to the city center. But always remember your departure schedule and check the flight updates if it's a delay.
Getting Ready for Long Layover
If you're going to take connecting flights with long layovers, then preparing yourself for them is a must. It's obvious, you have to bring along things to entertain yourself and make yourself comfortable while waiting. It can be a book, an iPod, a tablet contains downloaded movies or connected to an active Netflix account. Most importantly, you also have to prepare some basic necessities like pillow, tooth brush, etc. For me, getting ready means packed myself these things in my carry-on (often a regular Jansport backpack):
- Sleeping support: neck-pillow, blanket/sarong/pashmina, eye-mask, ear plugs
- Toiletries: shampoo, body wash, tooth paste, tooth brush, mouthwash/breath mints, towel, disposable wash gloves, perfume, deodorant
- Skincare products or beauty tools: moisturizer, lotion/mosquito repellent, lip balm, simple makeup (bb cream/concealer, powder, lippies), facial wash, beauty sponge
- Comfortable shoes (flats or sandals)
- Extra clothes: pullover/t-shirt, legging, socks, underwear
- Entertainment needs: earphones/headset, tablet/iPad, iPod, portable TV
- Eating tools: spoon, fork, knife, chopsticks
- Plastic bags or foldable shopping bags
- Tissues: both wet and dry
- Charger (if possible, opt for longer cables) and universal adapter
Note that all things packed are travel-friendly (i.e. travel blanket, travel pack toiletries, etc), so that it would all fit in a backpack or any single carry-on.