Reader Tips for Long Layovers

SmarterTravel readers know a thing or two about making the most of long airport layovers. Back in November, I posted some suggestions of ways to prepare for those lengthy airport delays between flights, and asked you for your best layover tips.

Readers responded with great ideas ranging from the best places to catch some airport Zzzs to tips for exploring a new city during the delay.

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Get Some Sleep

An airport nap may be just the thing if you've just gotten off a long flight.

After flying from Bangkok to Detroit, CrystalW checked "into the airport Marriott to have a much-needed six-hour sleep for a day rate of $50." And Lulley 766 shares this secret: "If the layover is very long I go in search of the airport chapel. As a rule, there's never anyone there. You can stretch out in more comfortable chairs, nap, or read a book in peace and quiet."

Get Out of the Airport

Really long layovers can offer the chance to leave the airport and explore the surrounding city. Just remember to budget enough time to get back through security before your flight.

Faced with a 12-hour layover in Bogota, Colombia, reader panam decided to take the chance to see the city. "We hired a car and driver to pick us up at the airport and see the city. It was absolutely great. If we know were going to be stuck somewhere we ask to be stuck there longer in order to actually do something."

If you find yourself with a long layover at Narita International Airport in Japan, reader nnsinc suggests, "exit the airport, obtaining a free day visa, take either of the two trains heading to Tokyo and get off at the first stop, Naritasan. Walk down the hill and enjoy the large temple complex, which I think has about 400 temples in it. Many are active and you can join the ongoing ceremony by removing your shoes and entering. Enjoy fresh air and a little look at Japanese culture!"

Closer to home, Hellgramite suggests turning a three-plus hour layover in Atlanta into a chance to eat and shop: "Catch a taxi to the Farmers Market. It is really fun to stroll through it and there is a good restaurant there also. You will wish you had more luggage space."

Get Comfy, or Get Organized

Readers have plenty of ways to get comfortable and pass the time while waiting out a long layover.

Hitting the airline lounge is the preferred layover coping technique of LenfromMac, who says, "My Alaska Board Room card has been a great investment for years. I fly twice a month, with an average of two hours each spent waiting on a plane. When weather delays me further, I say bring it on." Even if you don't have membership into a particular airline's lounge, you can often buy a day pass. Sccmstl says that about $25 will get you "a more comfortable place to wait, clean toilets and even showers, free soft drinks, beer and spirits at reasonable prices, free (usually) internet access, and better information about delays and departure times."

Make the time pass faster by staying busy. That's what travlinbyflex does by packing the game Bananagrams as a carry-on: "It is a small game that is easy to pack and provides lots of fun while you wait. All you need to do is find a table to play it on." Reader MissD uses layover downtime to get organized, suggesting, "How about using that time to update your palm pilot and cell phone address book? Get rid of contacts you don't call and reorganize!"

And when faced with a layover, reader bdeviller logs onto the site LayoverLink.com, using it to find out what sort of amenities the airport offers and checking "for other LayoverLink members who will be at the airport at the same time. Find friends as well as folks who work for the same employer, attended the same college, etc."

How do spend long airport layovers? Submit your comments below!

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