Making the Most of your Winter Layovers

Whatever travel plans have you flying during the winter months, you’ll want to be prepared to possibly face some unique challenges. Specifically, winter storms can bring flight delays and cancellations, resulting in airport layovers.

The best way to prepare for what to do during a layover is to anticipate them and plan ahead. For example, you’ll want to find out if you can leave the airport during a layover so you can make the most of your time. While it’s possible to exit and reenter the airport, whether or not you should depend on various factors, such as if you’re traveling internationally or domestically and how much time you have between flights.

Follow our tips below for what to do during a layover, and you won’t have to worry about what to do in the event you find yourself in this situation.

Understanding the Basics: Layover vs. Connecting Flight

While these terms are often used interchangeably, a layover and a connecting flight are not the same thing.

A layover is the time you spend at the airport between two flights, while a connecting flight is the next flight in your itinerary that you're waiting at the airport to take.

Preparing for Your Layover

Layovers don’t have to be a negative experience, especially if you’ve prepared for what to do during a long layover. You can meet new people and see new things or use the time to ramp up your productivity and cross important items off your to-do list. When you prepare in advance, as suggested below, you’ll be able to take advantage of the downtime a layover provides.

Research the Airport

Find out what to do during a layover by researching the airport ahead of time. Find out if there are restaurants, shops, or other activities to pass the time. Some airports in larger cities even have museums, gyms, play areas for kids, and more.

Consider joining the airline’s VIP club too. Most airlines at major airports have VIP clubs or lounges where you can enjoy a relaxing, upscale environment complete with food and drink. These clubs also offer services such as Wi-Fi access and desk-like cubbies where you can set up your laptop and get some work done.

Plan Ahead

What to do on long layovers will greatly depend on the amount of time you have. Research the area around the airport and, time permitting, do some sightseeing and check out some local attractions.

Many airports offer public transportation that will take you straight to the city center. There you can see attractions, visit a museum, have a nice meal and more.

Pack Accordingly

Be sure to pack winter-appropriate clothing and footwear. Dress in clothes you’ll be comfortable in while spending a longer amount of time at the airport. And be sure to have the proper winter outerwear in the event you decide to explore the surrounding city during your layover.

You’ll also want to get a quality layover travel bag or backpack for essentials, giving you convenient access to important items you may need at a moment’s notice. Some ideas for essential items to pack for a long layover include:

  • Portable charger
  • A new book or magazine
  • Comfortable clothes
  • Earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Snacks

Making the Most of Your Layover

To make the most of what to do during a long layover, follow the tips below.

Exploring Outside the Airport

Create and stick to a schedule to avoid missing your flight. Before leaving the airport, create a rough itinerary and plan the best way to navigate the city efficiently during winter, whether on foot or taking public transportation.

Estimate how long it will take to see specific attractions and factor in time for meals and travel time from place to place. Don’t forget to add time for unexpected surprises like traffic so you won’t risk missing your flight.

If you’ll need access to your luggage during your layover, check with the airline in advance to find out how to do this, and then be sure to add this to your time.

Check out our layover guides to help plan your layover if it happens to be in NYC or LA.

Enjoying the Airport's Amenities

If you choose to stay in the airport instead of exploring the area, there’s plenty you can do to make the most of your time. Discover airport lounges and other amenities.

Get a meal, drink, or snack at one of the restaurants or snack bars. Many airports have fitness centers, making it easy to get a workout in.

Leveraging Technology

Take advantage of free Wi-Fi access and whip out your laptop to catch up on email or work tasks. If you’re a student, get started on that paper that’s due next week or try to get through some assigned reading.

To enhance your layover experience both inside and outside the airport, check out some useful travel apps like FLIO and Google Maps.

Create a Positive Experience

While no one would choose to have an airport layover, they can’t always be avoided. So why not plan and be prepared to make the most of your layover experience if you have one? With the right knowledge and travel gear, you can easily turn an unwanted layover into a positive part of your overall travel experience.

Be prepared and make the most of your winter layovers with the right knowledge and Briggs & Riley gear.