As someone who loves to travel, I’ve come around to the fact that to get to where I want to go, I might have to spend a few hours here and there in airport limbo land. So, until someone cracks the knack of teleportation, I’ve come up with a few ways to make the most of this tedious travel time. Think Tom Hanks in The Terminal, but with fewer bathrobes and way more fun. Here is our list of 10 airport hacks:
1. Pack Savvy
When a long delay looms, there’s no better feeling than knowing that you’re armed with the perfect time-passing items. Always pack the right chargers, an adaptor and a battery pack and you’ll be transported from airport hell to Netflix heaven in no time. Take a reusable water bottle with you and not only will you be saving the planet, you’ll also be saving your bank balance. Most airports now have water fountains and I’ve never been refused a refill when asking politely at a bar or restaurant.
2. Make the Most of the Make-up
Two things are true of airports: they contain an absurd number of cosmetics and a lot of salespeople who are on hand (and willing) to pamper you. For us weary travellers, the beauty hall is an untapped resource; a pick-me-up palace for a time when you might not be feeling your best. Start with the skincare: airport air-conditioning and the plane will play havoc with your skin, so moisturiser will be your best friend. Then, take those testers to town and live your best airport life with a free makeover.
3. Savour the Samples
After your makeover, take yourself on a date to duty-free to fill up on M&M tasters and beverages of the alcoholic kind. Nothing brings me more joy in an airport than sampling the latest, David Beckham endorsed whiskey. To go for another round, pop on your jumper, throw on your shades and step right up!
4. Namaste Your Way Through
Travelling can leave you feeling a little out of sorts: long spells crammed into tiny seats and all those free shots can take their toll. But one thing airports have in abundance is space: long, wide corridors that can perfectly accommodate a spot of airport yoga. With heaps of yoga tutorials online, why don’t you give downward dog a go on your next layover? Your body will thank you for it when you arrive in your next destination with your chakras aligned.
5. Take Advantage of the Time
I’ve been ‘writing a book’ for about a year now, but my word count is still sitting at a solid 12. The daily grind keeps getting in the way and I often wish that I could cut off from the rest of the world, with semi-decent WiFi and tons of fast food to fuel my creativity. Sound familiar? Use this time to make a dent in your passion project, whether it’s writing the next War and Peace, or just trying to read War and Peace (good luck to you). Make the most of this period of seclusion from real life and it won’t feel like wasted time.
6. Learn a Language
You might have intended to take some language classes before your big trip abroad, but if you haven’t, now is the time to get cracking! If you’re on your way overseas, get to grips with a few key phrases: numbers, food, and ‘where is the toilet?’ are the most useful. On the way home? Revisit what you’ve learned. Even if it was only how to order a beer, that’s a precious skill you don’t want to forget. The Speak the World feature on the Hostelworld App can help you to harness your new-found skills: with 43 different languages and hilarious filters, you’ll be chatting away in your new language in no time.
7. Plan Your Next Trip
Park yourself in front of the departures board, close your eyes and point at a destination: yes, you’ll look weird, but you’ll also have just selected your next travel destination! You’re allowed one do-over if you’ve already been there but keep an open mind. You’ll be surprised by the number of destinations you’ve never have heard of! Use the rest of the time researching your next trip – it’s the perfect remedy for when the holiday blues hit!
8. Step Up
It’s a two-mile walk from the entrance of Beijing’s main terminal to the furthest gate, and I once saw a man in Frankfurt airport with a scooter built into his carry-on luggage, because the terminal was that huge. Epic distances make airports a step-counter’s dream! Challenge yourself to set a new personal best or take on your travelling companions in a walk-off. You don’t need a special device to do this as many phones now have built in step-counters. If you’re up for a mental challenge as well as a physical one, count the steps yourself. Let the challenge commence!
9. Touch Base
Sometimes, when you’re far off the beaten track or you’re simply having too much fun, you forget to check in with friends and family. To stop your mum sending out a search party, use your time at the airport to touch base. If you’re feeling generous, hit up a gift shop and send a postcard. You’ll win major brownie points when it arrives, and all the previous communication breakdowns will be long forgotten.
10. Spread the Love
Airports can be lonely, transient places, but they don’t have to be. You can use your time to make other travellers smile, long after you’ve departed for your next destination. Leave notes with uplifting quotes, drawings, or thought-provoking questions around the airport for others to find and ask them to do the same. After a long day of travel, stumbling across a few kind words can really make the world of difference.
About the author
Elyse is a writer from Dublin, currently hanging out in London where she’s eating all the food. She’s on a mission to perfect the balance of hand luggage only travel with the need to pack enough SPF to protect her pale Irish skin. Stalk her on Instagram