6 ways to genuinely enjoy an airport stopover

Is there really any way to enjoy hours of wasted time in an airport during a dreaded layover, waiting for a connecting flight? Actually, yes. Of course, the best case scenario would be to always enjoy smooth travel connections with minimal waiting time between flights. But sometimes, when you're travelling for work or pleasure, a gap is inevitable and you’ll be stuck with two, or four, or maybe even more hours to kill inside an airport terminal.

It might be tempting to find the nearest bar and drown your sorrows until it’s time to fly again but there are lots of much better ways to make the most of a stopover, especially if you’re lucky enough to be in one of the more flashy airports like Qatar’s Hamad International Airport or Singapore’s Changi Airport (pictured above). You might even find you actually enjoy a few hours to yourself.

(Munich Airport is widely considered to be one of the best in the world).

Here are our favourite ways to pass the time during a stopover:

Use it as a chance to freshen up

If you're lucky, you'll have access to a business or even first class lounge. Even if this isn't included with your ticket or frequent flyer status, it's definitely worth paying extra for access (many lounges allow you to purchase a day pass at the door). This generally means great facilities including showers and hair dryers, that will allow you to wash and change clothing and feel human again. Even if you don’t have access to a lounge, a quick trip to the bathroom to change your outfit, wash your face, brush you teeth and comb your hair can transform the way you feel before continuing on the next leg of your journey. A Cloud Nine Global Signature pack is the PERFECT easy way to freshen up and feel more human in just minutes. With everything you need (from eye drops to a dental kit, lip balm to Hydralyte powder), we guarantee it'll make all the difference. 

(One of the stunning fine dining dishes on offer at Restaurant Top Air at Stuttgart Airport)

Grab something to eat

So many airports have incredible dining options available to travellers these days. Transit meals no longer have to be a sad sandwich or greasy burger. You can enjoy amazing sushi (Sushi Kyotatsu at Narita Airport), Michelin-starred Chinese food (Ming Court at Beijing Capital International Airport), tasty international takeaway (Café Vue at Melbourne Airport) and even some fine dining (Restaurant Top Air at Stuttgart Airport).

Be prepared with quality entertainment

Thinking ahead is key, and having an enjoyable way to pass the time can make ALL the difference. Have a really great book on hand. Save the latest issue of your favourite magazine for this very occasion. Load up your ipad or Surface with some films you’ve been wanting to see, or a great TV series to binge on. Trust us, the time will fly.

(Yoga Studio at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport has complimentary practice mats, exercise balls and stretch bands.)

Get moving

One of the best things you can do during a stopover is a bit of exercise to get the blood pumping after all that sitting around on the plane. Some airports actually have fitness clubs built in for a layover work out: Dubai has G-Force Health Club, Dallas-Fort Worth has Yoga Studio, Munich Airport has Bodystreet Fitness Studio and Changi Singapore has workout equipment in their Ambassador Transit Lounge. Even without a gym, you can always still walk, stretch, do some simple squats or sit ups wherever you are. You might feel a little silly, but believe us when we say you'll feel better for it.

Do some retail therapy

If you’re one of those travellers who always cuts things a bit fine when flying and has to rush through duty free to make it to your plane on time, then a stopover is the perfect time to stop and smell the roses (or duty free perfume). There are some fantastic deals to be found in a lot of duty free shops, and taking some time to stroll around and see what’s on offer can be well rewarded. Best of all, lots of airports will deliver your purchases directly to your gate for you, so you don’t have to worry about carrying them around.

(The impressive interior at Zurich Airport.)

Take a day trip

If your stopover is long enough and the city you’re in has quick and easy access to the city, maybe consider a little adventure while you’re waiting for your flight. You want to be super sure you can make it there and back in time to still get your next flight without stress (we’ve heard way too many stories of missed connections due to a long lunch;) but if you can make it work, we say go for it...