Layovers seem like they last forever, so here are some ways to keep yourself busy.
Curling up on the seats at the gate where your next flight departs, trying to settle in for a quick catnap is tempting, but do not do it. You can always sleep on the plane after all. Increase your energy, both mental and physical, and take some of these suggestions with you on your next trip. Your mind and your body will thank you.
Pen, Paper and a Little Creativity
There is no guarantee you will have an electrical outlet available at the airport you are killing time in, so be ready for any eventuality with a notebook and a pen or two. You can make to do lists for when you get home, wish lists for the places you want to see when you get to your destination, or pen a quick letter home to your family letting them know you miss them even before you get off the ground. And don’t forget the simple little activities you can do like make your own word search for your kids at home to use when you get back, or when you mail it to them. As long as there is ink in your pen and space available on your paper your imagination can take it from there.
Music and Movies
A portable DVD player, a handheld device like a smart phone, or a laptop can support your love of movies and music while you are trying to kill some time at the airport, too. These devices may need to be charged however, so make sure to pack your charger in your carry on and find an electrical outlet to plug into so you can get to grooving or immersing yourself in the plot of the newest hot movie. Renting a movie is useful for these types of trips as well. You can visit the local movie rental kiosk if you are bringing your laptop or portable DVD player, or you can just rent a movie and download it to your smart phone. If you are downloading a rented movie, you have 24 hours to view it once you start it on your handheld device. This is convenient if you only want to watch the movie while you are on layovers and if you have more than one person who wants to see the movie because they can take turns as long as it is within the same 24 hour period. When it comes to music, take the time to put together a couple different playlists of your favorite music to wake up to, to energize yourself, or to help mellow you out and get ready for a catnap on the flight you are about to board. Using the tools available to you will help make the travel process more comfortable overall. Plan ahead and you will get to enjoy the spoils of your earlier work while you are trying to navigate your itinerary.
From PSPs, to DSs, and even the iPod series of music and game players all come in handy during travel. These types of devices allow you to play a variety of video games including those that are educationally based for children and adults alike. These games will help keep your brain engaged and firing on all cylinders, which is ideal if you are too tired to get up and move around instead. The most useful option is a handheld device like a smart phone because you can listen to music, watch videos and play games all on one device. Many games are available as free downloads on such devices. Select a few that will keep you entertained and when you get bored, move on to the next option.
Extensive traveling can be tough on your body. There is an increase in Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) among travelers who take long flights across the world in part because of the lack of activity and blood flow you get when belted into an airplane seat. DVT can be life-threatening and there is no real way to know if it is happening until it is too late. To try to mitigate your risk, exercise when you have time. This can mean walking the aisles of the plane for a few minutes on a 12-hour flight, stretching and flexing your muscles while still in your seat, or circling the terminal and people watching while you are waiting for your next flight to arrive. Each airport has a different feel and atmosphere and usually they have some sort of historical displays that are meaningful to the city. Take the time to explore while getting your blood flowing. Walk as fast as you are comfortable with and of course, take your carry on luggage with you as required by security guidelines. Having the extra weight may be annoying, but it is just another way you can increase your activity level during your down time by carrying it intermittently between times of rolling it along behind you.
The written word is becoming more commonly found online via e-reader or other formats, but there is still the beauty of a real, true book in your hand. Whether you are reading a free download on your iPad, Kindle, or Nook, or you are picking up the latest bestseller at the airport book store, take the time you have on your hands at the airport and put it to good use reading. If you have not gotten much activity, try walking around a bit first, then reward yourself by falling into the tale told through the words on the page or screen in front of you. The best part about a real, true book is that it takes no electricity, no charging cords, no passwords to log in. You simply pick it up, read, mark your page and start again later. Many airports are now offering to buy books back after you have read them for half the price you originally paid. This is a great way to get some new reading material for a lower price if you travel a lot, yet do not have time to go to your local book store in-between trips.