31 July 2016

Layover Survival Guide

By In Travel

Traveling = Layovers

Our first trip abroad was in 2011 and to say we got the cheap seats would be an understatement. Passing through multiple airports all the way to the USA and back we did around 60 hours of flying and a surprising 22 hours of layovers.

It was on the way back from this that we did the New York stopover, if you missed it.

Clearly there is a lot of hurrying up and waiting and therefore the following tips are not based on theory but actual patience, funny odours, sprinting with suitcases, pillow face and real life experience.

1. Long distance travel isn’t sexy

It is not what you see on Instagram and Facebook, you feel tired, have bags (not Gucci or Chanel) the kind under your eyes, smell suspicious and end up bloated and groggy. The best advice is, do what makes you comfortable. Wear those silly sweatpants, walk in your socks and stretch in public.

2. Hurry up, then wait.

Get to the terminal then relax and look around, rather be early and have time to browse once you know where you need to be. The alternative is receiving your boarding ticket at the airplane door and having to find an open seat, running around like a headless chicken. This happens, while everyone obviously gives you the evil eye.

3. Duty Free is a scam

Do not fall for this one, duty free on the airport is not cheap. You can even have a look at OR Tambo, the liquor is way more expensive than in the shops, so don’t do it, unless you really have to buy that gift for some friend or relative that you forgot.

4. Free stuff

Besides for the obvious 30 minutes of wifi and some promotional stuff this is a bit more complex but certain airports and  airlines provide benefits if you have extra long layovers. For example Emirates offers a free meal at Dubai for stops longer than 4 hours. (Thanks Iga for this top tip)

5. Sleeping in those awkward seats

Yes, it is possible, depending on your level of exhaustion and flexibility it might even be comfortable. Ensure your locked hand luggage is placed underneath your legs then just intertwine the handles or straps so you can nap without concern.

6. Please air hostess, may I have some more

To ensure a good night’s rest and peace of mind (especially when you are a little scared of flying) you can ask the air hostess for wine, whisky and liqueur to round off your dinner. Now since it’s not their booze don’t be shy, ask for more it’s actually good to thin out your blood while flying and it saves you money when waiting on ground for the next flight. Just remember to add some water to the mix otherwise you’re going to hurt.

7. Showering is not cheating

Most of the International airports have a shower facility for the long layovers, you will feel new and refreshed and ready to take on the few hours ahead and not smell like something the cat dragged in. Your neighbour in the airplane will thank us!

8. Perfume it up.

This is the best alternative way to smell fresh, try out the perfume testers at the duty free shops, but as previously mentioned this is not the place to strike a bargain, you can just test it out and smell wonderful at the same time and walk away.

9. When a layover becomes a stopover

In the event where it is seriously long and you either have or do not need an additional Visa get out of there! Go explore the closest city. Just don’t miss your flight.

10. Gear up

You’ll need the following gadgets to be a smooth operator on your layover;

  • an airplane earphone plug adapter
  • Cool socks
  • Earplugs, or in ear earphones
  • Pillow thingy, the blow up kind
  • Anti bacterial wipes
  • A fresh set of clothes
  • A Buff, scarf or shawl for covering your face if all else fails

This video, made on the way back from India earlier this year, puts theory into practice.

Do let us know if you have any tips to add for surviving the delays of a layover.


Written by The Louwkuls

a guy, a girl & an old land rover
1 Comment
  1. Ina Louw 1 August 2016

    Qatar gives you a hotel room for the night if your stopover is longer than 6 hours.

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