How To Make The Best Of Long Layovers


Long Layovers are actually something that I love – especially while traveling internationally.  When booking long flights, I usually only book ones with a layover greater than 6 hours.

After all, who wouldn’t like the opportunity to get a glimpse at a new city and not have to pay extra to get there?

Some long layovers that I have benefitted from were:

Paris, France – 22 hours
London, England – 10 hours
Dublin, Ireland – 6 hours

Now I’m not saying you can get everything on your bucket list crossed off during a layover, that would be extremely unrealistic. However, you can definitely leave the airport, find a coffee shop or park, see a tourist attraction, visit a museum, etc, to get a quick glimpse of the culture and feel the vibe of the city.

Here are some suggestions I have for making the most out of your layover city:

1. Plan ahead!

So you book a flight and you see that you have a long layover, do a little research on the city.  Make a list of sights that you want to see, things that you want to do, places you want to shop, etc.  Then narrow down the list to just two or three things – depending on how long you will be in town.

2. Transportation

After I figure out exactly where I want to go in a new city, I then spend time researching how far the airport is from the center of town?  What forms of transportation do they have?  Would a train or an Uber be quicker / cheaper?  How long does it usually take to get through customs and the border?

3. Money

I never suggest changing currency in the airport anyways, but if you plan on leaving the airport during a layover, then I HIGHLY suggest already having some of the currency on you.  It will save you time on having to exchange it there, and you’ll have some money to spend in town!

4. Packing

Since you will be leaving the airport, pretty much any bag you have as a carry-on is coming with you too.  I usually try to just take a small duffle bag, or a backpack with me on the flight, and check the rest of my stuff.  In my carry-on, I always have at least 1 change of clothes, deodorant, tooth brush and my makeup.  Pretty much anything you can’t live without if they lose your bag and you have to wait a day for it.  But since you’ll be exploring the city in a short amount of time, make sure you take that into account while deciding which carry-on to bring.

5. Jet lag

The number one reason I hear why people would rather sit in the airport for 8 hours then leave, is that they are tired.  “It’s 3 am for me,” “My body is still on New York time,” etc.  My suggestion – sleep all day before your flight!  Say you’re taking off at 6pm, I would stay up super late the night before, and then sleep until 3pm.  That way you’re already starting to get your body ready for the time change.  Just make sure to get your last minute errands run the day before so that you can sleep late and then head straight to the airport.

6. Time Management

An important thing to remember is that you still have another flight to catch, so you have to be sure that you keep a track of time!  If one things runs a little late, then you may have to rethink you’re itinerary to ensure that you don’t miss your next flight.  I usually give myself 3 hours.  1 hour for transportation back to the airport, and then 2 hours to get through security / to the gate.

So next time you are booking a flight, take the option with a long layover!  You won’t regret it 🙂

What are some of your favorite layover stories?


  1. shesatripblog

    These are great tips! I hate just waiting around the airport not knowing what to do, so I’ll be sure to follow these.

  2. Reading the Book

    I love to do this too! I’ve had a few long layovers including Paris and Istanbul, but also love to just add 24 hours on – most airlines don’t charge you extra for delaying the second leg of your flight by a day or two. I’ve seen some fantastic places that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, so I totally agree that you should make the most of layovers!

  3. Monica

    This is a great post Angelina. I have to be honest, I’ve been thinking about doing a long layover to start my next holiday, just so I could be able to see more places, but I’m afraid it will be exhausting.

  4. Different Frame of Mind

    Sometimes I really love layovers. But I’m actually super jealous of the long layovers that you have benefited from! Wow! I went to Mall of America during one of my biggest layovers. The research and plan ahead was my favorite, I do that quite often, as I hate to sit at the airport forever!

  5. amit

    As a long-term traveler, I’ve had some incredibly long overs in some countries and I agree with all the points you’ve made in this post, especially the money one – Trying to change money in an airport is almost criminal. I really don’t understand when I see people changing money, it just makes me wince knowing they are getting ripped off. Also the planning ahead is so true too.

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