JC Lightcap a RoamRight Blog Author

Key Tips So You Can Ace A Long Layover

Post-travel Depression. The Struggle is Real.

Flying home after an awesome vacation can often be quite depressing. To add insult to injury, you might fly home through a city on your bucket list, which leaves you sitting in the terminal, planning your next vacation as you look out the window. *Le sigh*

Wait a sec… Who says you can’t leave the airport for a long layover adventure?

Did You Know?

  • Amsterdam is a short tram ride from Schiphol International Airport. It's true: Some cities are completely reachable during a long layover. For example:
  • Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris (18 miles): A 10-minute walk and 30-minute train ride (10 euros each way) will land you in the City of Lights.
  • Ataturk Airport to Istanbul (11 miles): Again, 10-15 minute walk to the metro station and a 30-minute train ride (less than $5) will get you to the Blue Mosque in time for tea.
  • Denver International Airport to Denver (23 miles): You’re in luck: Denver International opened their train line to Denver (the A-Line $9 each way) in April 2016!

Case Study: Seven Hours in Barcelona

Heading from Marrakech to the BBK music festival in Bilbao, Spain gave us an overnight layover in Barcelona. We landed at 11 pm, stuffed our bags in a locker, and took a cab into town. Sagrada Familia at 3 am is awe-inspiring (despite the scaffolding) and after walking around for five hours, we headed back to the airport and made our way to the festival. It was the perfect way for us to make the most out of a long and slightly annoying layover.

Acing the Layover: Strategy Basics

  • Time of Arrival: Arrive early to max out your time while the restaurants, monuments, and tourist sites are open. While it’s not always a deal breaker (see Barcelona, above), you should, however, consider safety; it is always best to arrive in a new area during the day.
  • Proximity to Town: Not every city is close to the airport; crosscheck your layover length by the distance from the city before booking.
  • Availability of Transport: Can you even make it to town and back in time? Your calculations should include the time it will take to get from the train station, back into the airport, and through security.
  • Lockers: Many airports have storage lockers that you can use while you get out and explore. Do an Internet search for ‘left luggage’ or ‘luggage locker’ and the airport to see availability and specifics. This is very useful if you have carry-on luggage.
  • Length of Layover: You can often find a similarly (if not cheaper) priced flight that includes a longer layover. If you don’t think you can see a city on the current itinerary, your airline most likely offers alternate flights with longer layovers.
  • Some airlines and airports offer complimentary tours for long layovers. If you’re with a longhaul carrier, check to see what they offer.

Even if planned perfectly, the unexpected can happen, delaying you, causing you to miss work or return home without luggage. Having travel insurance will soften the blow of missed connections or delays, even on a layover. So with that in mind; the next time you are on the way home from a bucket-list trip, instead of booking the shortest flight home, look for a longer layover that allows you to get out and explore one more city as you return home to reality. Ace the layover, schedule that flight through a bucket list town, and spend the day exploring, not sitting in an airport looking wistfully out at the tarmac.

What happens if your flight is cancelled? Skip sleeping in the airport and learn about our Cancellation Insurance

Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.


About the Author

JC Lightcap

JC Lightcap, a RoamRight Blog Author Former travel disaster, now a serial traveler, travel safety advisor, and author of The Travel Safety Handbook. Poster boy for learning from others mistakes. Now I provide travelers with the tools to focus on their travel goals; I advise business travelers,prepare study-abroad students and equip families with the knowledge to return home successful with memories that will last a lifetime, not horror stories. Follow JC on his blog at Travel-Safer.com, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

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