Traveling is glamorous; it’s fascinating; it’s life changing. Unfortunately, along with the fabulous food and breathtaking views, there comes an unglamorous side to traveling: the traveling.
If you’re traveling on a budget, you don’t have the luxury of first-class nonstop flights to anywhere in the world. This translates into long layovers or worse—unexpected delays. Unfortunately, for most of us, time in the airport is a necessary evil. And with increased security measures and costcutting airlines, time in the airport is becoming longer.
But what if layovers were as engaging as the trip itself? Let’s be serious—you can watch a movie on your laptop anywhere. But can you play on moving walkways at home? Of course not. Read on for eight ways to make your layover more interesting, more exciting, and just more fun.
1. Strike up a conversation.
Pick a gate that has an interesting destination and sit next to someone. Instead of being yourself, make up a fascinating identity and conduct the conversation accordingly. This is your chance to be anyone you want to be, going anywhere you want to go. Is the flight going to Brazil? Maybe you’re a biologist traveling to study predatory habits of boa constrictors in the rainforest. As soon as you start to run out of answers, move on to the next person and the next identity.
2. Have fun on the moving walkways.
Most airports have them. You can play a statue game: you (and your friends, if you’re traveling with other people) freeze in some sort of strange position (make sure you stay to one side so you don’t block travelers in a hurry) and ride the walkway from end to end. You could also pretend to be on Twilight (think Victoria, James, and Laurent entering the baseball scene). Imagine you’re the most perfect-looking being on earth and you’re out for blood. Stare straight ahead. Put on your sly smirk. Throw your head back a little. Now walk. Just walk.
3. Check out what the airport itself has to offer.
A lot of airports have artwork or other exhibits you can visit. Miami International Airport, among others, has several art pieces displayed in public places. Before traveling, visit the websites of the airports you’ll be in and find out what they have to offer. If culture’s not your thing, find the gadget store (let’s face it, every airport has one) and try out all the massagers and other fun electronic toys.
4. Brush up on your data-collecting skills.
Think the license-plate game, but with people. Talk to as many people as you can and see if you can find someone from all 50 states or from various countries. If you’re traveling with friends, make it a competition. You can choose the winner one of two ways: whoever finds all 50 states or the most countries first, or whoever finds the most in a given amount of time. You could also twist it to focus on languages instead. See how many different languages you hear spoken. If you’re outgoing, approach someone speaking a different language and see if they’ll teach you a few phrases.
5. Improve your people-watching.
When people walk by, think of names they could have and call them out to see if they turn around. Or choose a couple that’s having a conversation and make up what they could be saying to each other. Both of these activities work better when you’re traveling with a friend, but you can easily amuse yourself if you’re traveling alone.
6. Make some money.
Scour the airport for abandoned baggage carts and return them to earn a quarter for each one. If you’ve got hours, you could end up with your pockets full! Or if you don’t want to pay outrageous airport prices for food (and you’d have good reason not to), see what kind of meal you can come up without paying any money. Get a cup of water from a fast food place. Grab some saltine crackers from a soup stand. Be creative!
7. Awaken your inner child.
Find a less-traveled area and play hopscotch or twister on the carpet or tiles. Remember that old elementary school rhyme “step on a crack, break your mother’s back”? Well, here’s the airport version: choose a prominent color in the carpet or tile and avoid stepping on it. This is more fun if you have friends with you, but it can still be entertaining if you’re flying solo.
Bring a tennis ball with you, find an empty wall away from other travelers, and have yourself a nice game of handball. Why not get a little exercise while traveling? If you’re traveling with friends, play the secret-agent game. Send one person to casually hide somewhere in the open. Everyone else then has to go find the person and tag him or her without looking suspicious to other airport patrons.
In all situations, use your best judgment and make sure you are being courteous to other travelers and respectful of airport security restrictions and rules. Even though you will surely encounter some difficulties while traveling, those difficulties don’t need to ruin your trip. Make the most of your situation and have fun!
Why be evasive with your own feelings? You’re waiting. Stuck. Temporarily immobile. You might as well compile a musical selection that sings to your discontented disposition. May we suggest—
“Waiting on the World Change,” by John Mayer
“Killing Time,” by MoZella
“Stay (Wasting Time),” by Dave Matthews Band