Flight layovers of the 3-6 hour variety are the worst. You don’t have enough time to leave the airport and explore the local surroundings, nor do you have the sanity to cope with sitting in a boring terminal for half a day, unless you’re Superman, or really love airports. (Although if you’re Superman, what are you doing flying by plane, anyway?)
Most people, however, do not love airports. The air is dry, the surroundings are large and artificial, and the only form of recreation involves spending money at the Duty Free or expensive boutiques. Not all airports have free WiFi, and chances are you’re too weary from your travels to concentrate on a book. The activities left to you for this period of time is pretty much sitting on those uncomfortable metal chairs with the armrests. You know the ones.
Airports are a purgatory. However, you can learn to see airports as a playground, a mere medium upon which to paint your personality and spirit. Here are some creative ways to spend your time during awkwardly timed layovers.
1) Fake your nationality.
Have you been traveling abroad for a while? Have you picked up a new language, accent, or set of mannerism? Have fun with role-playing, with limits of course. The point is believable disguise, not to insult other nationalities. You probably don’t know anyone else around, so play around with the fact that you can reinvent yourself. You can also practice your language and accent skills. Note: Don’t do this in security or while boarding- you may miss your flight. Limit it to small interactions, like chatting with your neighbor or ordering coffee.
2) One word: Treadmills.
You know those long treadmills designed to get you speedily down to the other end of the terminal? If you’re stuck in an airport at a non-busy time, you probably won’t get reprimanded for making them your own personal playground. Ever tried walking backwards in place on one? No gym, no trampoline, no bungee jumping in the world can beat that thrill.
3) Do some yoga.
Traveling cooped-up on a place can really put some kinks in your muscles. If you can get past your inhibitions, use the generous space in an airport terminal to do some yoga or stretches. It will ease the discomfort of travel, help you relax and give you something productive to do while waiting.
4) Do a photography study.
If you’re touring, don’t limit your photography to the regular tourist fare. Be creative. With photography, anything can become an interesting or funny photograph. Yes, bizarre airport “selfies” are perfectly fine if they keep you entertained.
5) Find the multi-faith prayer room.
Many airport terminals have them. Even if you’re not religious, these spaces can provide a calming, quiet atmosphere to offer relief from the rest of the terminal. Even if you just want to sit on the floor and relax, or write in a journal to get out of the busy terminal for a break, a prayer room offers the best space to do this. Just remember to be quiet and respectful of others using this space. If you sit cross-legged, you’ll simply look like your practicing meditation. This space can be what you make of it, just as long as you’re respectful of others.
Layovers are rough. Sometimes there’s simply no getting around them. Rather than being bored while stuck in this truly awful space for an absurd amount of time, see what you can do to ease the boredom and inject a little life into transit purgatory.