For the avid and amateur traveler alike, a long layover where you are stuck in the airport can be a real drag. Once you've made the obligatory phone calls, often there is not much left to do but sit and wait. Airports, however, are some of the most fascinating places you will ever enter, and you should soak up your experiences while you have the time. You may not be able to see the whole city, but you can definitely get a feel of the place by just exploring the airport. Take advantage of this time, and you will have a travel experience worthy of writing home about.
Do Some Research
When you find out where your layover will be, do some research about the airport. With a simple Internet search, you can probably find out all sorts of information about the airport itself, including a map that details what you can find and where it is in relation to your terminal. With this research, you will be ready to see the sights that the airport has to offer.
The best source of information is the people who work at the airport. Airport employees are generally very friendly, and want you to explore all that the space has to offer, so don't be afraid to ask around and see what they think are the best places to visit. You can also use this time to upgrade your seat or see if you can get on an earlier flight. You never know; if you get to the counter early enough, they may just have some seats available.
Do Some Walking
After sitting and being cramped in the airplane, it can be a good idea to get those legs moving again. Briskly walking around the airport while toting your carry-on luggage can be a great way to burn some calories and get the blood flowing in your legs. If you sit still for too long, blood clots can form in your legs, and you don't burn many calories while you're seated anyway, so take advantage of the time you have on hand to stretch and walk.
Airports have great shopping because they know people who need things will have to buy them from the airport itself, since they can't leave once they've passed security. Did you forget a souvenir or do you need some reading material? Visit the stores in the airport to stock up. You can also get food, sanitary items, medicine, and some souvenir-type clothing from there. Go ahead, splurge a little. You can get gifts for everyone on your list right from the comfort of the airport.
Meet New People
Everyone at an airport has the same goal in mind; they want to get to where they are going. If you are the outgoing type, go ahead and try to make a few new friends. Who knows, you might find someone who has the same interests as you, or a possible job contact, or even a pen pal. At worst, they will think you are weird, but you'll never have to see them again, so why not strike up a conversation?
For the Kids
Fewer things could be more daunting than being stuck in an airport with your kids. To keep them occupied, try doing a scavenger hunt. Make a list of things you can generally find in airports, and have each adult take a kid to find them. The first person back with their filled-out list wins.
In today's face-paced life, rarely do we get the time to sit back and think of doing something different. An airport layover offers that very chance to us, so instead of just sitting around and waiting, use this spare time in the best way possible.