How To Make The Most Of Your Airport Layover; Don't Get Stuck in A Rut!

Unprepared layovers can feel like an eternity. But fear not, travelers! Learn how to navigate tight connections, conquer extended waits, and uncover hidden airport gems. Get ready to conquer your next layover like a pro!

Surviving Long Layovers At International Airports - WegoPro

The world is a vast and interconnected place, and air travel is often the key to unlocking its wonders. But sometimes, getting from Point A to Point B involves a not-so-wonderful stopover - the dreaded layover.

Airports like Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson, Dubai International, and O'Hare in Chicago consistently rank among the busiest in the world, handling millions of passengers and their layovers every year.

Thankfully, airports are increasingly recognizing the need to make layovers less of an endurance test and more of an opportunity. Many major hubs are investing in improved infrastructure and amenities to cater to stranded travelers. Comfortable seating areas, diverse food options, and even entertainment zones are becoming more commonplace.

However, a little planning and resourcefulness can go a long way in transforming a layover from a frustrating wait into a productive or even enjoyable experience. This guide is packed with tips to help you conquer layovers of all lengths, whether you're a seasoned business traveler or an adventurous backpacker.

Layovers - A Boon for Busy Bees?

While layovers might disrupt leisure travel plans, for corporate travelers on tight schedules, they can be a strategic advantage. Here's how.

Catch Up on Work - A layover can be the perfect opportunity to catch up on emails, edit presentations, or make those important conference calls you missed during the flight.

Prepare for Meetings - Use the downtime to strategize for upcoming meetings, review materials, and mentally prepare to hit the ground running at your destination.

Network with Colleagues - If you're traveling with colleagues, a layover offers a chance to brainstorm, discuss project updates, or simply bond over a cup of coffee.

Adjust to the Time Zone - A long layover can be a good way to ease into a new time zone. Use this time to adjust your sleep schedule gradually, minimizing jet lag upon arrival.

Streamline Your Corporate Travel; Sign Up to WegoPro Today

Conquering the Long Layover - 21 Tips for the Savvy Traveler

A long layover can feel like an eternity, but with a little planning and the right approach, you can transform it into a productive or even enjoyable experience. Here are 21 expanded tips to make the most of your extended airport stay.

Plan Like a Pro

Research your layover airport beforehand. Look for amenities like quiet zones, sleep pods, family rooms, or even on-site gyms and spas. Check for information on luggage storage facilities in case you decide to explore the surrounding city. This will help you plan your activities and prioritize your needs based on what the airport offers.

Pack Smart

Pack a comfortable change of clothes, a travel neck pillow, an eye mask, and earplugs for napping. If you tend to get cold easily, consider bringing a light blanket or scarf. Don't forget essentials like a toothbrush, hand sanitizer, a refillable water bottle, and any medications you require.

Download Entertainment

Download movies, podcasts, audiobooks, or games to your device to keep yourself entertained offline, especially if your chosen airport has limited or spotty Wi-Fi connectivity.

Embrace the Lounge

If your budget or travel rewards program allows, consider splurging on access to an airport lounge. Lounges offer comfortable seating, complimentary food and drinks (often with a wider selection than what's available at general airport restaurants), Wi-Fi, sometimes even showers, and a quieter atmosphere to relax or work. Many lounges also offer business amenities like printers and photocopying services.

Power Up

Many airports offer charging stations throughout the terminal. Alternatively, carry a portable power bank to keep your devices juiced up, especially if you plan on using them extensively to stay connected or entertained during your layover.

Get Some Fresh Air

If security allows and you have ample time, step outside the terminal for a breath of fresh air and a change of scenery. A short walk can do wonders for rejuvenating your mind and body, especially after a long flight. Be sure to factor in security checks and any distance to your connecting gate when calculating how much time you have for venturing outside.

Stretch It Out

Long layovers are a perfect opportunity to combat stiffness from cramped airplane seats. Do some simple stretches or take a walk around the terminal to improve circulation and prevent aches. Consider incorporating some light yoga or bodyweight exercises into your routine for a more invigorating refresh.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Airplane cabins are notoriously dehydrating. Make up for lost fluids by drinking plenty of water during your layover. Avoid sugary drinks and excessive caffeine, which can contribute to dehydration and restlessness. Opt for herbal tea or water with lemon for a refreshing and healthy alternative.

Explore the Airport

Many airports boast impressive architecture, art installations, or even museums. Take a self-guided tour and discover hidden gems within the terminal. Some airports even have children's play areas to keep young travelers entertained. Utilize this downtime to experience a unique aspect of your layover airport.

Shop 'Til You Drop (Within Reason)

Duty-free shops offer a wide variety of products at potentially lower prices, especially for items like fragrances, liquor, and tobacco. However, stick to a budget and avoid impulse purchases. Window shopping can be a fun way to pass the time, but prioritize practical needs over souvenirs unless you have significant wiggle room in your budget.

Indulge in Local Flavors

Sample the local cuisine at airport restaurants. This is a great way to experience a taste of your destination without venturing outside the terminal. Look for restaurants offering dishes specific to the region served by the airport. You might discover a new favorite dish!

Catch Up on Reading

A layover is the perfect time to get lost in a good book. Pack a paperback or download an e-book to your device. If you're indecisive about what to read, many airports have bookstores where you can browse the latest releases or find a travel-themed book to inspire your next adventure.

Connect with Loved Ones

Use the free Wi-Fi at the airport (or paid Wi-Fi if the free connection is weak) to video chat with family and friends back home. Catching up with loved ones can help you feel less isolated during a long layover.

Organize Your Travel Chaos

Use the downtime to sort through photos from your previous destinations, update your travel journal, or plan your itinerary for your final destination. This way, you arrive feeling organized and ready to hit the ground running upon arrival.

Take a Power Nap

If you're feeling tired, find a quiet spot in the airport, whether it's a designated quiet zone, a sleeping pod (if available at your chosen airport), or even a secluded corner of a gate area with minimal foot traffic. Set a timer for 20-30 minutes to avoid sleep inertia, that groggy feeling that comes with waking up from deep sleep. Having an eye mask and earplugs can further enhance your sleep experience in a busy airport environment.

Get a Massage

Some airports offer on-site spa services, including massages. A relaxing massage can help relieve tension and improve circulation, leaving you feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of your journey. Explore the spa menu beforehand to see if there are express treatments available that fit comfortably within your layover timeframe.

Meditate or Practice Mindfulness

Airports can be chaotic places. Take some time to meditate or practice mindfulness exercises to de-stress and find inner peace. Meditation apps can be a helpful tool for guided meditations, or you can simply find a quiet corner and focus on your breath.

Learn a New Language

Use downtime to learn a few basic phrases in the language spoken at your destination. This can be a fun way to enhance your travel experience and break the ice with locals upon arrival. There are many language learning apps available for download that offer beginner lessons and focus on conversational phrases.

Take a Yoga/Fitness Class

Some airports offer complimentary yoga or fitness classes for passengers. This is a great way to stay active and unwind during your layover. Explore the airport website or ask airport information staff about any scheduled classes or wellness programs offered during your layover time.

Explore the City (if Time Permits)

For very long layovers (typically exceeding six hours and with visa restrictions permitting), some airports offer luggage storage facilities. If your layover is long enough, you might consider venturing out to explore the city surrounding the airport.
Check out local attractions or grab a meal at a nearby restaurant. Factor in travel time to and from the airport, security checks, and any potential delays when considering whether venturing outside the airport is feasible for your layover duration.

Be Flexible and Embrace the Unexpected

Sometimes, flight delays or schedule changes are inevitable. Remain calm, adjust your plans accordingly, and try to see the unexpected as an opportunity for adventure. Download a book with multiple storylines so you can easily pick up and put it down if your layover time changes unexpectedly.

Don't Let Expenses Derail Your Adventure! Sign up for free to explore the WegoPro Expense Management Tool and simplify your travel finances.

Short Layovers - Making the Most of Tight Connections

While a well-planned long layover can be an opportunity to unwind or explore, a tight connection requires a different strategy. Even a short delay can mean missing your connecting flight, causing major disruptions to your travel itinerary.  Here are some expanded tips to navigate tight connections efficiently and ensure you arrive at your final destination on time.

Plan Your Route

Familiarize yourself with the airport layout beforehand. Download a map of the airport from the airport's website or utilize a travel app that provides interactive terminal maps. Know where your arrival and departure gates are located, and plan the most efficient walking route between them, taking into consideration moving walkways or trams that may be available to expedite your connection.

Pre-Board the First Flight

Whenever possible, try to pre-board your first flight. This gives you a slight edge in disembarking quickly and getting to your connecting gate, especially if overhead bin space is limited and the fight is likely to disembark through the back door.

Pack Light

Avoid checking in luggage if possible. Having only carry-on baggage eliminates the need to wait for checked bags and allows for a faster exit from the arrival terminal. If you must check a bag, inquire about the airport's baggage reclaim process and consider using priority tags to expedite retrieval of your checked luggage.

Mobile Boarding Passes

Download your boarding passes for both flights electronically to your smartphone or mobile device. This saves time spent waiting in line at kiosks or ticket counters to print boarding passes.

Utilize Airport Assistance

If you have limited mobility or require special assistance, notify the airline beforehand and request assistance at the airport. This can help you navigate the terminal and make your connection smoothly. Many airports offer golf cart or wheelchair assistance for passengers with mobility limitations.

Keep Track of Time

Constantly monitor the flight information boards for any updates or gate changes. Download a flight tracking app to receive real-time notifications about your flight status and any potential delays.

Inform Airline Staff

If your incoming flight is delayed, inform the gate staff or airline personnel immediately. They may be able to re-book you on a later flight to your destination or help you expedite your connection by notifying ground staff at your connecting gate to hold the flight for a few minutes if possible (depending on airline policies and the overall delay).

Follow the Signs

Airports are generally well-marked with clear signage. Follow the directional signs to your connecting gate, paying attention to overhead signs and floor markings. Look for signs specifically indicating connecting flights to avoid inadvertently following signage for arriving passengers.

Use Airport Maps

Many airports offer downloadable or interactive maps on their websites or through mobile apps. Utilize these resources to help you navigate the terminal, especially if the airport has a complex layout or multiple levels.

Be Prepared for Security

Have your travel documents and boarding passes readily available for security checks. Place any liquids, gels, or aerosols under 100ml in a resealable clear plastic bag to comply with security regulations. If you have checked luggage, ensure you understand the security screening process for connecting passengers to avoid unnecessary delays.

Stay Calm and Ask for Help

If you feel overwhelmed or unsure of your way, don't hesitate to ask airport staff or airline personnel for assistance. Look for staff members in uniforms or inquire at information booths. Explain your situation and ask for directions to your connecting gate or inquire about any available assistance programs for tight connections.

Focus on What Matters For Your Business; Sign Up for Free and Simplify Your Travel.

7 Things to Avoid During Layovers at Airports

While we've explored strategies to maximize your time and comfort during layovers, it's also important to be aware of potential pitfalls. Here are 7 things to avoid during airport layovers to ensure a smooth and stress-free travel experience.

Overindulging in Food and Drinks

Airport food can be expensive and unhealthy. Opt for lighter fare like salads, sandwiches, or fruits. Avoid excessive sugary drinks or caffeine, which can contribute to dehydration and restlessness. Consider bringing refillable water bottles and packing healthy snacks from home to avoid relying solely on airport food options.

Forgetting Essentials

Double-check your belongings before leaving the security checkpoint to ensure you haven't forgotten anything important. Create a checklist beforehand to include essentials like your passport, boarding pass, medications, phone charger, and any other critical items you might need during your layover or flight.

Losing Track of Time

Getting engrossed in a book, phone, or game can make you lose track of time. Set alarms or reminders on your phone to ensure you don't miss your connecting flight, especially for short layovers.

Procrastinating on Bathroom Breaks

Use the restroom facilities before boarding your flight, especially if your layover is short. Avoid waiting until the last minute, as you might miss your flight if there are long queues, especially during peak travel times.

Not Checking for Gate Changes

Flight gate assignments can change unexpectedly. Regularly check the flight information boards or download a flight tracking app to receive real-time notifications about your gate and any potential changes.

Leaving Valuables Unattended

Airports can be crowded places. Keep your belongings close at hand and avoid leaving them unattended, even for a short moment. Consider using a crossbody bag or a money belt to keep your valuables secure while you navigate the airport.

Not Taking Advantage of Free Amenities

Many airports offer free Wi-Fi (though speeds may vary), charging stations, and even water bottle refill stations. Take advantage of these amenities to save money and stay connected during your layover. Download any entertainment or reading materials you might need beforehand if Wi-Fi connectivity is unreliable at your layover airport.


Layovers don't have to be a travel nightmare. With a little planning, the right approach, and the expanded tips provided in this guide, you can transform them into productive or even enjoyable experiences.

Whether you have a long layover that allows for exploration or a short connection that requires efficiency, you can now navigate airports with confidence.

So, the next time you find yourself with a layover, relax, take a deep breath, and get ready to conquer the airport! Remember, a positive attitude and a little resourcefulness can go a long way in making the most of your layover, no matter the duration.

Must Read

Bahrain International Airport Layover Guide
Riyadh King Khaled International Airport Layover Guide
Dubai International Airport Layover Guide
Doha International Airport Layover Guide

Stay tuned to WegoPro for the latest corporate travel and expense management news and updates!