THE POWER OF THE LONG LAYOVER
Most people dread the layover. It means added travel time, more hassle, and more time at the airport. There is an extremely overlooked part of the layover….. You get the chance to see another city.
Six or more hours at airport is brutal. Unless maybe you are at Singapore Changi Airport. Whenever I have a long layover I like to make the best of it. I could spend the whole time trapped in the airport. I do enjoy the uncomfortable chairs airport chairs as much as the next person. Seeing a new city is just a little more exciting for me. Not every city is made to be seen in six hours, so plan it out beforehand.
Transportation to and from the city is the key detail to make these layovers work. Before you take off to see how far the airport is from the city. This can make such a difference. Paris Vatry Airport is 131 miles from the city. By the time you get yourself situated plus the 2-hour drive, it will be time to go back to the airport. On the other hand, Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is a 15-minute train ride from the airport for only five euro. The trip is so easy you can have a few hours in the city. Plenty of time to wander the canals and have fries with mayonnaise!
These six-hour layovers can be very stressful. Breaking down your time once you land is helpful. The time it takes you to get out of the airport is always longer than you think. If entering a new country you will have to go through customs. Note that you should be back in the airport for an hour and a half before your flight leaves.
Overnight layovers are tough. I think these are the most tiring. The last thing some people want to do after a long day of traveling is having to get their way around a new city.
These layovers have potential though. If you travel with philosophy, sleep when you are dead. Go make the most of the layover! You can sleep in the middle of the city. Spend the night wandering the city and getting a drink. See locals wander home from work or the club. In the morning wake up early to try a local breakfast to fill up before heading on the plane.
If you prefer to sleep, maybe choose either the morning or night to see the city. Some flights landed at 10 pm and take off at 10 am. For these flights, get the sleep you need and take a walk in the morning. You do not necessarily have to be in the city to see a little bit of the country. Walk yourself out of the hotel parking lot and down the street just to see what’s about.
Flights that arrive in the late afternoon can allow you to get in and get dinner, have a stroll, and go to bed. The hard part is waking up early in the morning to make that next flight.
If the place you are going is known for a cool hotel take advantage of it! Japan is known for its capulse hotels. Use your 10 or so hours in a city to check a tourist bucket list item. So take the long layover. For the plane obsessed in Stockholm you can spend the night in Boeing 747.Both of these are really cool options, where you only need one night to get the full experience.
These overnight layovers can be expensive. Pay attention to how expensive hotels, food, and transportation are in the place of your layover. You don’t want to be caught with a layover that costs you more than the nonstop flight.
In my opinion, the most valuable layover is 20 hour plus layover. You can have a trip within a trip. These long layovers are not the easiest to find and often more expensive. The prices can be justifiable. You are getting the chance to see another city on one ticket. It is not a separate ticket that you will take another time. If you are able to find one you have hit gold!
The key to finding these deals is searching by duration. Scroll all the way down to find the longest flight. Unfortunately, you do not get much freedom in where the layover is so be ready to be flexible. You may find an unexpected gem!
Fully take advantage of the day in the city. Spend the day touring the city. The longest time of layover allows you to have time to make plans to meet some. See if you can get a local tour guide to show you around the city. With many different types of tours choose if you want to focus on history, art, or food. Get Your Guide, On The Go tours, and Airbnb experiences are easy ways to find day tours.
Remember to take a deep breath and do not rush yourself through the city. Go in with the flow. If you do not see the whole city in one day don’t panic you can always make your way back there one day.