How to While Away the Time When You're Stuck with an Airport Layover
Though there are hardly any excuses for being bored in the technological and ever-connected world that we live in today, it still happens to the best of us. One place where it is perhaps likelier to occur than others is at the airport terminal, especially if you're stuck with a lengthy layover between flights. But those long layovers don't have to be boring, nor do you need to spend a ton of money on food, drinks, or in the duty-free shop to combat that creeping boredom.
You don't need to rely on your mobile device of choice, either. Even when you get sick of binge-watching Orange is the New Black (unlikely, I know, but stick with me here) or of beating the umpteenth level of Candy Crush, there are still ways to kill time at the airport without emptying your pockets. Setting down the mobile device and potentially saving your eyesight for just a little longer — you heard about that study that concluded blue light from your phone may accelerate blindness, right? — would probably be a positive on its own, anyway.
If you're looking for creative, fun, and free things to do while waiting at the airport, here are just a few suggestions that may help pass the time:
1. Take a Stroll
Obvious, right? Depending on the size of the airport you find yourself in, walking through the entire terminal could just take up a significant amount of time. Plus, for those with fitness on the brain, what a great way to get your steps in for the day, burn some calories, and give the legs a good old stretch before your flight.
2. Play Hide and Seek
If you're traveling with a companion or two, it could be fun to turn the airport into a playground of sorts by initiating what is probably one of the oldest childhood games known to mankind: hide and seek. Aside from feeling like a kid all over again — reason in itself to play this game — this would certainly be a creative way of exploring the terminal. To spice things up even more, maybe you'd consider placing a wager on the game (e.g. "find me in 15 minutes or less and I'll buy you a drink")?
3. Converse with Other Humans
I know walking up to a perfect stranger and initiating conversation is probably the scariest thing you can think of in this digital age, but I can guarantee that 60 percent of the time it will lead to an interesting little bout of chitchat every time. (Did you enjoy that Anchorman reference just now?) Some of the most memorable conversations are the ones you never expected to have, so if that fellow traveler sitting nearby seems amiable and willing to socialize, why not go for it?
4. Take Advantage of the Airport's Free Activities
This may sound vague and slightly unhelpful at first glance, but let me throw some examples your way and then we'll see how you feel. Take, for instance, the free movies that are often screening at Portland International Airport or head on over to the yoga areas at San Francisco International Airport, Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports, or Miami International Airport, among others (you can even grab a complimentary mat). Free museums, exhibits, and live music performances are also a thing at some airports, including in Seattle, where "Experience the City of Music" first got underway in 2012.
5. Find the Airport Therapy Animal
It's becoming more and more common for airport terminals to have therapy animals on hand for stressed-out travelers. Usually this will be a dog, but there are some airports that employ other critters to get the job done. One example of an airport getting a little more creative with its therapy animals would be Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, which introduced two miniature horses last year to help passengers calm down before their flights.
6. And, If All Else Fails...
There are still these mystical objects out there full of pages with words printed on them that are capable of transporting you to far-off worlds. We call them "books," in case you forgot.