Layovers. Usually associated with boredom and inconvenience, these little pit stops can be annoying for travellers worldwide.
But what if I told you that there is a way to love your layover? What if I also told you that not only will you be in love with them, but you’ll be pursuing them and adding them to your itinerary? In this guide, I will show you how to use layovers to your advantage. With these 3 simple steps, you will be adding extra stamps to your passport in no time. The longer your layover, the more you can love it!
Look for 2 one-way tickets instead of a round-trip. Skyscanner (worldwide) and Cleverlayover (US only) are great, just to name a few. I love using Cleverlayover because it was created to find the longest layovers in popular cities to maximise your time outside of the airport, instead of doing nothing inside of it.
For example, if I’m departing from New York (JFK) and my destination is Bangalore, India, I can input that information and flights with long layovers pop up:
The perfect “clever layover” would be the last option for $471 (£375/€445), because I would not have to get a hotel and I would arrive at a convenient time, as I would be able to find public transportation to get into the city. It’s up to you to research to find what popular attractions are nearby and how to get there.
During my trip to Cape Town, I found a clever layover in Dubai. After much research, I saw that there was a metro station in the airport that could take me exactly where I needed to be and back without wasting any time.
After searching for a flight and finding one that can get you to your desired destination, you’ll need to ask yourself the following questions:
Are there any visa fees required to enter the country? – Some countries require a small fee while most do not. It is always good to check so you are not surprised when you arrive.
What are the laws in the country? – It is smart to learn the basic laws of your layover destination. Some countries are stricter than others. Muslim destinations such as Dubai have laws regulating public displays of affection, public intoxication, and eating during Ramadan in certain places. If you are not willing to adapt to the culture in certain countries, you may want to choose elsewhere.
Are you arriving at an optimum time for travel? – You should plan to arrive in country in the morning so you will have lots of time to explore the city. If you land at your layover destination at 9pm, then you will probably need to book accommodation and won’t be able to stick to your planned itinerary. It may also be difficult to find proper transportation.
What do I want to accomplish there? – If you decide to choose a country at random, you need to draw up a plan. You are only given a certain amount of hours and you don’t want to miss your following flight. I recommend layover times of no less than 9 hours and 45 minutes.
Find out what you can do with your luggage. No one wants to lug around a giant suitcase through cobblestone streets in Europe, or through some uneven roads in South America. Normally, when you have a long layover, your checked luggage is flown to your final destination. Other times, you are required to grab your bags from baggage claim, walk through customs, and re-check them again. If so, you won’t be able to check your bags in until 1-2 hours before you board your flight. But don’t fret! Check if your layover airport offers baggage storage. Most airports do and will charge you a fee for 1-24 hours depending on the size of your luggage.
If you have followed all of those steps, it looks like you are layover ready! Just remember to carry a spare change of clothes in your carry-on luggage so you can feel fresh after your first flight. Have fun exploring!