When we booked our Virgin Islands vacation, we immediately had to accept that we would have some lengthy layovers on our return trip. In our case, we had two layovers yesterday, one in Puerto Rico and another in Miami, each lasting approximately four hours. People sometimes choose flights like these in order to save money, since direct flights are often costlier. So how exactly do you avoid boredom and make your airport layover awesome? Here are some of my favorite low impact ways to not just cope with a layover, but to make it a memorable part of your trip.
Have a Local Plant-Based Dish or Cocktail in Each City
Are you a vegan foodie like me? If you appreciate local cuisine or even fun cocktails signature to the region you are visiting, then you’ll be excited about tasting something new during your layovers. We had breakfast in St. Thomas, lunch in San Juan, and enjoyed a nice Cuban dinner in Miami. If your layover is less than 4 hours, opt for trying a cocktail and meal at an upscale airport restaurant or bar. Just remember—all airport cuisine is not created equal, so choose wisely. If 4+ hours, depending on how busy the airport is and what traffic is like in the area, you may have time to venture out to a nearby restaurant outside of the airport. Use the Happy Cow App to find a vegan, vegetarian, or veg-friendly restaurant near you.
Go Sightseeing Using Public Transportation
If your layover is 6+ hours long, consider leaving the airport to do some sightseeing, especially if the city you land in has an efficient public transportation system. Plan your itinerary in advance to save time figuring out where to go, even if you only have time to see one thing. Ideally you will want to be back at the airport a minimum of two hours before your next flight takes off. Also, check to see if the airport has a luggage locker to store your carry-on items.
Explore the Airport
Airports worldwide are constantly introducing new, innovative improvements that help attract more tourists. Singapore’s Changi Airport boasts fascinating amenities, including a rooftop pool, butterfly garden, spas, movie theaters, and even an entertainment deck with gaming console stations and an MTV booth. South Korea’s Inchean Airport offers incredible cultural experiences, such as its “Flying to the Future” sculpture, gardens that showcase Asia’s exotic natural beauty, a traditional craft gallery, and the Cultural Museum of Korea. Do some research and find out if the airport you’ll be visiting offers interesting attractions designed for today’s savvy jet-setters.
You know all those times you just couldn’t find the time to work out? Well, if a layover is in your future, you won’t have that problem! You’ll have quite a bit of time to kill, so why not spend it hitting up an airport gym or practicing some yoga moves? Airport gyms are popping up all across the world for people who want to get fit on the fly. Airportgyms.com is a useful site that lists gyms, workout clubs, and fitness centers that can be found in and around popular U.S. and Canadian airports. No fitness area to be found during your layover? Get creative! Pack some running shorts and jog around your terminal or roll out your yoga mat and get into downward dog position—if you aren’t too shy that is.
Rest and Relax
Traveling is fun, but it can also be exhausting. Use your airport layover as a chance to rest—you’ll want to have a ton of energy for your final destination! I once enjoyed an amazingly restful layover in Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, which had the world’s first indoor airport park, complete with trees, shrubs, logs, grass, and seating areas. A sweet soundtrack of chirping birds and bicycle bells muted the cacophony of typical airport noises. It was a unique experience and a great way to catch some Z’s. Sleepinginairports.net is a site that offers guides and tips to sleeping in airports. They provide a ton of information regarding the best and worst airports to doze off in.