Image by beststuff.com
For many travellers the phrase ‘lay-over' or ‘stop-over' literally means in-transit hell. Don't even get me started on delays! I can deal with an hour or two, but more than this and I am generally an unhappy camper. As I have learned, however, there are ways to beat the boredom and frustration. When you are in for an international flight, or even a local flight, it is useful to ready a few boredom busters, so that you don't hurt any fellow passengers who are stuck in purgatory with you!
Boredom Buster number one: Plan ahead.
A world awaits at Hong Kong International
Image by boredattheairport.com
If you know you are in for a bit of a wait, plan accordingly. Take things to do with, check out the airport online and see what facilities they have and what you will be able to do in this time of twilight. Some airports have gyms, pools, food bazaars and spas especially made for the purpose of making in transit time a bit better. Hong Kong Airport even has a golf course, a 4D cinema and a children's lounge!
This also means that you will know whether your stop over city is worthy of a visit. Honolulu airport is a 15 minute taxi ride away from the world renowned Waikiki beach, while we all know that King Shaka International will just have you stressing about getting back on time if you want to check out North Beach. Don't forget to check those pesky visa regulations, like the UK's pricy in transit visa.
In case you are stuck within the walls of the aero-limbo, most International airports offer a waiting lounge - for a ‘nominal' fee of course. Doha International's Oryx lounge for example, provides weary nomads with "your own quiet haven of tranquillity, complete with complimentary drinks (including alcoholic), snacks, newspapers and magazines." It might sound a bit steep at about R 260 a pop, but with, say, seven hours worth of sand still to pass through the hourglass, I'm sure it will be totally worth it.
Boredom Buster number two: Gadgets - Laptops, phones and tablets.
Image by comicbookresources.com
I wonder what people used to do at work, or anywhere for that matter, without the procrastination tool that is Facebook. Your notebook or other portable entertainment station, can allow you to watch a movie, listen to calming music, catch up on some work, look at your travel photos and even play some games. Most international airports now have Wi-Fi, even though it might be linked with buying a cup of coffee (or Chai tea if you prefer), so you can kill the time online and save your fellow travellers.
Bonus! Most major international airports have charging stations, where both you and your notebook can re-charge. This idea was first pioneered by Dallas Forth Worth International, where you can recharge anything from an IPod to a BlackBerry.
Boredom Buster number three: Exercise and stay fresh.
Image by workoutplanet.com
Don't do trolley lifts or be that guy who terrorizes the air hostesses with your rippling muscles. Rather take advantage of the fact that Airports are huge places. Why not take a brisk walk with a trolley full of luggage through the terminal building. Explore and window shop! You can also stop and stretch anywhere. After sitting for hours, your body is probably craving some blood flow, so lift your water bottle, touch your toes and play with your kids. Dubai International has two open air garden areas and Kuala Lampur International even has sections of Rainforest on its grounds!
If you are worried about sweating, some airports have showers where you can freshen up and leave the stale scent of waiting behind. Singapore's Changi Airport has fully catered showering facilities and a convenient free nap lounge.
Boredom Buster number four: Magazines and books.
Image by rfcafe.com
Nothing new here, reading is a killing time staple. It might also help you gear up for your new destination, especially if you'd rather not spend hours staring at a plasma screen. Your travel pillow and snugly blanket can create the perfect reading corner, especially if you have a riveting, easy reading page turner like the Da Vinci Code. Sudoku and crossword puzzles might seem a bit twentieth century, but your flight call might be just be a few brain teasers away.
For more transitory tips check out Howcast's useful video so that time won't go by so slowly next time.
Keen to read more about South African airports? Check out rate our best Airport article and be sure to share some of your best and worst lay-over stories in our comment section below.