How to enjoy an extended layover

The layover is often seen as the last obstacle to travel adventures.  You’ve come all this way and you have to stand in limbo for several hours before you’re able to continue your journey onward.  But you can actually enjoy these little purgatorical stays if you put a tiny bit of effort into it!

Turn your layover into a mini holiday

Stuck in London for a while before our connecting flight?  Grab a tube ticket and head into town!  Making the ever-so-common stop in Dublin before arriving in continental Europe?   Venture out into town!

On layovers I’ve explored the Roman Forum, Colosseum and Vatican in Rome.  My fiance and I drank Sangria in the Plaza Mayor of Madrid before celebrating the San Isidro festival at the Plaza de Toros and catching a flight out 2 days later.

You can do a lot on your layovers if you have the time.

Plan ahead!

More often than not, this will require you to have at least 7-10 hours in the country you’ll have a layover in. If you know you’re set up for a layover in a particular area you wouldn’t mind exploring, consider extending that layover even further and taking that connecting flight the next day.  You’ll have time for a mini-holiday before the main event even takes place!

What about the cost?

The costs of a layover can actually quite minimal.  I found when booking a flight to Chicago from London, that it was actually the same price to have a 2 day layover in Rome.  The only additional price is whatever you choose for your accommodation and food.  Be smart about these two factors and you can keep costs low.

Check AirBnB for cheap places to stay.

Anticipate the queues

Immigration can be a pain when traveling. Even moreso when you’re on a tight schedule to cram as much fun into a layover as possible.  Consider this when making plans.  I spent about an hour in the immigration queue in Rome.  Heathrow is often 30-45 minutes if you’re not an EU citizen.

This is a major reason why you should not embark on a layover adventure unless you are sure you have allotted time for customs and the journey to and from the city from the airport into the equation.

Bonus Tip

Doing Dublin?  If the immigration queue is long to get out of the airport, hang a left and pass through the connecting flights hallway.  Dublin is special and you’ll end up clearing immigration to even catch your connecting flight, so you’ll get into the country quicker.

Your second favorite party of vacationing

I’ve come to love my layovers.  Every time I go on a long-haul flight now, I look to see what sorts of connecting flights exist that would end up costing the same or similar prices.  It adds a pre- or post-vacation that can provide for amazing memories and give you just the taste of the city you need to give you the itch to want to return.


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