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10 tips for handling a long layover

Everyone is faced with a long layover at some point or another. Get through it with these tips.

Everyone is faced with a long layover at some point or another. Whether it's because of unsafe flying conditions, budget concerns, or even because it was just the only schedule that made sense, sometimes you're stuck in an airport for an unbearable length of time. When you're traveling in and out of arctic areas, the odds of encountering dangerous weather conditions go up. Fortunately, there are ways to handle even the longest layovers. Here are 10 tips for what to do if you find yourself killing time near the gate:

1. Get to know the airport

Before you do anything else, find out what your gate will be. This way, you can go to the gate and get a feel for how to navigate the airport. Once you know where you're going, you'll have more freedom to explore, confident you'll get back in time. Depending on the length of the layover, the gate might not be assigned yet. That's OK - in this case, however, you'll want to spend a little more time mapping out the airport and give yourself more wiggle room when you do eventually head to your flight.

2. Check out the lounge

It may be worth it to check out the airline's lounge. Many of these VIP areas feature one-day passes, so you can enjoy the quieter, comfier seating and complimentary snacks while you wait even if you're not a member. Moreover, these areas usually include their own Wi-Fi access, which is quicker and more reliable than the airport-wide service.

3. Explore the area

If you're in a large airport, there's probably plenty for you to do right where you are. Bigger airports usually feature lots of restaurants and shops for you to explore. Even if you're only doing a little bit of window shopping, you might find the time flying by without too much trouble. If you're comfortable going through security on your return, you might even consider heading out of the airport and checking out the city you're visiting. See if there are any museums or other sights near the airport you can quickly visit.

4. Grab a book

Reading is a tried and true way to pass the time, but the trick is to find a book that's truly engrossing. Luckily, airport shops are usually full of can't-put-down books. Browse the shelves to see if there's anything you've heard of, or that you've been considering picking up. If you don't spot anything you're already interested in, go ahead and judge a book by it's cover. Buy whatever looks most interesting, and let yourself get lost in the pages.

5. Take a nap - carefully

Long layovers often overlap with jet lag. If you're feeling drowsy, see if there are any hotels in the airport where you can catch some shut-eye. Often, airport hotels will offer hourly rates, so you can check in for just a portion of your layover. This way, you can get some rest without worrying about keeping an eye on your things. Moreover, you might be able to ask the front desk to notify you if anything about your flight changes, or to give you a wake-up call when it's time for you to leave.

6. Consider bumping your flight

If your schedule isn't set in stone, and you're interested in exploring the city you're in, consider asking if you can bump your flight. Many airlines will allow you to give up your seat on one flight and instead take the next flight heading out. This isn't always possible or realistic, but if you can pull it off, you can get to know a whole extra city.

7. Work out

See if your layover airport offers a fitness center or activity room. If it does, you might be able to burn some calories during your wait. Not only will this give you something to do during your layover,but it will also help combat the circulatory issues that can come from long flights.

8. People watch

Find a place to sit in a busy part of the airport, and watch as people rush around. Airports can feel like a microcosm of the human experience, and you'll likely see people in every kind of mood going through every kind of situation right there. If you're with a group, you can even get creative and make up back stories for the people you see.

9. Write

Bring along a journal or pick one up at the airport store so you can spend some time writing while you wait for your flight. Whether you simply journal about your waiting experience, reflect on your life, or write your first big novel, you'll likely be able to dedicate at least an hour or so to the written word.

10. Set an alarm

Even if you're great at keeping an eye on the time, do yourself a favor and set an alarm for when you need to head to your gate. It's easy to let something slip, and now is not the time to make that kind of mistake. If you have the alarm set on your phone, you know for sure you won't miss your flight.

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