Airports, travel, and delays go hand-in-hand. Here's how top travel bloggers pass the time.
For better or for worse, being stuck in an airport is an inevitable part of most vacations. Whether you have arrived several hours early for an important international flight, have a lot of time to kill between connections, or – worst of all – are stuck because of a delay, chances are you’ll lose anywhere from a few hours to a few days of your vacation staring at an arrival board, eating stale pretzels, and tapping your toes.
Here are some suggestions from top travel bloggers on how to make the most of that wasted time and get the best value for your vacation time.
Sophie from Wonderful Wanderings says:
First of all, let me be clear: I DO NOT like being at the airport. It’s always too hot or too cold, too humid or too dry. They never have the shops you feel like shopping at and bar prices go through the roof.
So, what do I do when I’m stuck at the airport for some considerable time? I read or listen to some music, but mostly I try to get some work done (reading and answering emails etc). When there’s free WiFi, of course. Another typical activity, I think, is going through the pictures I took on my camera or phone. I try to already delete the crappy photos so that I don’t have to do that at home anymore. Oh, and I go ‘window shopping’ anyway, even though I know I cannot get that Longchamp handbag.
Jessica from A Passion and a Passport says:
Being stuck at the airport is never fun. But hey, it means you're off on a glorious adventure, right?! There's no reason why you should sit there miserable in the tiny uncomfortable waiting room seat.
With many airports being like mini malls these days, I have so much fun walking around and admiring all those luxurious items I just cannot afford. I've recently had my eye on a Hermes watch that I found at the airport. I didn't buy it- promise! Although, if you are seriously looking for expensive items, airports are the place to buy them. With many items being duty free, you pay no tax! And lemme tell you, those percentages really do add up!
I also like to browse the nearby stands and check out the souvenirs, and occasionally buy a fancy magazine. There's just something about those glossy pages that ups my mood. :) And oh, the food, how could I forget? My home airport (JFK) is decked out with so many different food options it's unbelievable. I usually spend a while salivating over the yummy goodness at Cinnabon, deciding which pizza to get, and staring at the chocolate chip cookies which are always right in my face. Can't eat too much or I won't fit in my bikini!
I would like to say I don't get stressed or annoyed with plane delays, but I'm like the rest of us. I do, I just find ways to combat it. Most of the time. :)
Megan from Wanderlust Megan says:
I’m always worried about missing my flight. I tend to get to the airport early as you never know if there will be a traffic jam or long security times. Once I clear security, my first goal is to find an electrical outlet and hopefully free WiFi. I don’t always have my laptop and sometimes just my phone so I take the time to catch up on social media, e-mails and write. By that time, I need a break from the screen; the plane is ready to board.
Unfortunately, delays sometimes come into play. If that is the case, I usually will grab a drink at the bar, some food and then continue to work away. I try to make the most of my time in the airport before hopping on the plane.
Noel from NoelMorata.com says:
Lots of downtime at airports gives me an opportunity to do a lot of catch up with my photography and note-taking. Getting photographs uploaded, re-sized, and reworked in photo editors is very time-consuming and is great thing to work on when you are waiting at the airport.
Even taking your notes and transferring them into the computer to start generating solid thoughts and working articles is very productive time spent when you have a lot of free time to focus on these tasks. I also find taking photographs at the airport can be quite stimulating and a creative venue to work on arrival/destination imagery and people photography.
Tracey from The Suitcase Scholar says:
I’ve never understood the airport-as-shopping-mall phenomenon. Most major hubs practically have flagship stores--most recently I’ve seen a Brooks Brothers (Charlotte) and one of those jewelry stores selling those awful charm beads (I don’t remember where, nor do I care). Because to me, airports are not for shopping. They are for productivity.
There’s nothing better than arriving at the gate an hour or so in advance (though anything much more than an hour can get tedious). Once you’ve made it to security and are comfortably in range of the little voice telling you when to board, you don’t have to think about travel anymore. Thus, you are free to spend your time. And I spend my time wisely.
In airports that do not offer free WiFi (to those airports, I say--shame on you), I pull out my laptop and get to work editing photos or jotting down trip notes in Evernote. On a recent trip to Miami, I holed up next to an outlet under a drinking fountain (the charging stations were all filled) and simultaneously: charged both my laptop and iPhone, uploaded all of my trip photos, edited about a quarter of them, and used the 3G on my iPhone to respond to blog comments, text a friend, chat on Facebook, and listen to music. All in the 45 minutes or so before they began boarding people with better seats than me.
Why would you spend that time in a Brooks Brothers?
Bex from Life Beyond Borders says:
Life needn’t have come to a depressing halt, just because you’re stuck in transit. Of course, this does rather depend on what airport you’re stuck in!
I’ve had the good fortune, in my time, to be stuck in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore airports. Both have excellent facilities such as a transit hotel (Singapore) that is bookable by the hour so you can sleep and shower, a lounge accessible to all with free nibbles, massage chairs and even reflexologists/foot & hand masseurs on hand to pummel away the stress.
And don’t forget the rooftop swimming pool and cinemas – not to mention the range of electrical goods for sale in Duty Free. I mean really, it’s akin to going to a shopping mall!
I’ve also had the unfortunate experience of being stuck in Doha (Qatar) airport – luckily not for long. This airport had hole in the ground toilets, no shopping facilities and barely anywhere to sit. Strange, for such a rich country and fabulous airline. But each experience is exactly that: an experience. I love to people watch, and where better than the transit part of an airport?
My next transit airport will be Moscow in August 2013. I might have changed my mind by then, stay tuned!
Megan from MeganHettwer.com says:
I’m one of those weirdos that really enjoys downtime in airports – it’s a magical time when I don't feel obligated to get work done or be productive, so it’s like a pre-vacation.
I tend to catch up on all of reading that gets neglected in my daily life (I’m pretty sure I’ve knocked out at least two books in the Game of Thrones series while hanging out in those uncomfortable airport chairs so far in 2013). When I get stiff from all that lounging (it’s a rough life) I break out a little airport yoga. It definitely elicits some strange stares, but it’s totally worth it – even if the floors are a bit unsavory. Thankfully, I only travel with a carry on, so I can grab a towel or a spare shirt and create a makeshift yoga mat.
Finally, I’m a huge fan of the “people watch and come up with life stories for them” game. It may be a bit creepy for random passerby, but it keeps my mind occupied. If I stay somewhat occupied it’s easy to stay calm during long waits and throughout irritating flight delays. My yoga practice can use all the help it can get, anyway!
As always, I welcome and encourage your comments. What do you do to pass the time when you're stuck at the airport?
If you enjoyed this article, you'll also like:
The Time Dilemma: Quick Getaways
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Nice piece! And interesting to read a similar theme running thoughout, people watching. And also downtime to plug in and catch up on notes - or how about good ol' pen and paper and just write down what you see? It's never wasted time, observing others. The next "The Terminal" could just be waiting to be penned by any one of us!
16/6/2013 06:41:43 am
Love the idea of a new Terminal based on blogging!!! I think one of the main things I got from everyone's contributions was you're going to be at the airport one way or another, so you might as well enjoy it or make good use of your time.
16/6/2013 03:10:18 pm
thanks so much for featuring me! It's so interesting to see what others do at the airport instead of wasting so much precious time!!!
17/6/2013 03:32:31 pm
So glad to have featured you! Everyone is so inspiring!
17/6/2013 03:33:18 pm
Agreed! I'm either on or off when it comes to work - you either gotta focus and get it done or just have complete relaxation time.
17/6/2013 01:55:23 pm
This is such a great resource, such handy hints. I've been reasonably lucky with flights and transfers and have yet to find myself 'grounded' for very long.
17/6/2013 03:34:23 pm
Me too - feeling lucky I haven't had any horrible delays lately myself!
Great post--it's fun to see how others occupy their time in airports! Long delays can be annoying, but it definitely is nice to use the time being productive. I've had a few horrible delays, one of them I was stuck in the Chicago airport for over 16 hours due to a blizzard, and I'm not even sure what I did to keep myself busy--I think a lot of the time was spent trying to smooth out our messed up travel plans!
22/6/2013 10:45:04 am
There's nothing worse than a lengthy weather delay - everyone is so helpless and there are no clear answers in sight - it's even hard to try to reschedule your travel activities because you have no idea when you'll be getting out of the airport!
I agree with Megan - Being at the airport is a magical "time out"! When I'm traveling for work, it's a great opportunity to be Out of Office even though you're not yet on the plane. Productivity becomes optional - even though that's usually what I do anyway. When I opt not to be productive, I like to explore and enjoy the airport, visit favorite spots at airports I'm in often, or catch up on some personal productivity. Since everyone assumes you're on a plane, it's a great break from interruptions and To Do's.
23/6/2013 02:54:43 am
Great point Rob - how often do we get to be completely unreachable - flying is a great excuse, whether you're on the plane or not!
24/12/2014 01:32:41 am
That's a good thing! That means there's hope for all of us!
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