What To Do During A Layover: 8 Tips For Surviving Long Layovers

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There’s nothing worse than getting unexpectedly stuck at the airport on a long layover. Eagle Creek’s travel experts walk you through what you can pack in your carry on to make the best of a long layer.    

Ah, the dreaded long layover, that break between flights that seems to last forever. We can probably all agree layovers are one of the more excruciating parts of air travel, so preparation is a no brainer for those who have dealt with long layovers before. Whether you get booted off your flight at the last minute, your flight gets delayed, or you booked it that way to save some money—layovers happen to the best of us. But having the right supplies on hand can help make the situation a little better. In this case, it’s the little things that count—literally, you can fit everything you need in a daypack!

From choosing the right gear to easily survive a layover to eight smart tips, we’ll touch on a little bit of everything you need to help pass the time—an extra phone battery, charger, and adapter can mean the difference between entertainment and hopeless boredom. Plus, find out everything you need to be comfortable if worse comes to worse, and you need to take a snooze at the airport. The video also dives into great tips on how to keep yourself safe, clean, and fed no matter how long your unexpected airport stay. The only thing worse than being stuck at the airport on a long layover is also being cold and hungry, or suddenly finding your bag missing.

Even though you’re stuck in an airport, you don’t have to let those hours of travel purgatory go to waste. Next time you find yourself aching for a way to pass the time before your next flight, here’s exactly what you should so that before you know it, it’ll be boarding time.


Catch Up on Sleep

This one may be a no brainer, but it really is a great option for passing time very quickly while recharging your body. Sure, airports aren’t the most comfortable nap settings, but you can make it happen, especially with the help of a travel blanket and pillow. Just keep in mind that if you’re traveling solo, it’s up to you to make sure your possessions stay safe during your long layover, and that you wake up in time. To avoid a travel nightmare, keep a hand or foot on your bags (or use one as a pillow), use a luggage lock and cable (or carabiner clip will do in a pinch) to secure your luggage to a fixed object, and set a couple alarms. If you want extra security, find a kind-looking stranger on your flight to wake you up if you miss the boarding call. Sweet dreams!


Play a Game

Before you leave for your trip, pick up a few travel-size games for your carry on. These days, everything from Connect Four® to Scrabble® comes in a miniature size. Can’t spare space for even those? Download a couple new games on your phone, or get creative and invent some on the spot. Whether you’re counting how many pink roller bags go by or competing in a sort of travel “I Spy” or dusting off your 20 Questions skills, playing games is a sure-fire way to keep your mind occupied while you wait those long hours for your flight to depart.


Research Your Destination

Make great use of your extended layover by doing some more research on your destination. Confirm restaurant reservations, scour the Internet for excursion ideas, and find pro tips from locals and seasoned travelers. Even if you think you’ve researched thoroughly, you may be surprised at how much new information turns up after another look. Is the long layover on your journey home? Just research for your next trip instead!


Read or Write

Who says you can only write in your travel journal when you’re at your destination? Use the extra time to add more entries or catch up on your book and magazine reading. In our fast-paced modern lives, these are activities that often get neglected in favor of more high-tech entertainment, but once you get started you’ll remember just how relaxing and engaging they can be. Didn’t bring a travel journal on your trip? Your long layover is the perfect time to download a digital travel journal app and record your journey while it’s all fresh in your mind.


Meet New People

The airport is full of people just like you who love to travel and are willing to share their stories. Strike up a conversation with the person next to you at the gate or the terminal bar. There are so many different stories to be heard at the airport, you may actually find yourself disappointed when it’s time to board the plane.


Get Some Work Done

So many people these days can do their jobs from anywhere. Are you one of them? Use your layover to take care of any and all of the work hanging over your head. Just don’t forget to set your out of office reminder before your board your flight so you can enjoy your trip interruption free.



Some airports offer fitness centers and yoga studios on the premises. If you won’t be passing through one of those, try doing a yoga routine, or bring some resistance bands and carry-on friendly fitness gear in your carry-on for low-key strength exercises. Not only will you kill time, but you’ll also burn enough energy to tire yourself out for the next flight, and burn some calories so you can really indulge in local treats on your vacation. Sure, you might get a few funny looks from people walking by, but you probably won’t see them again anyway—just brush it off.


Take a Short Trip Out of the Airport

If your layover is considerably long (longer than a few hours—anything shorter is too much of a time risk) and you’re feeling brave, head out of  the airport for a while and see what you can discover. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to pass through security again when you return, so make sure to leave plenty of time for that.



Equipped with multiple pockets and features to help organization, we chose the modern Converge Backpack for demonstration. Between this daypack, our packing cubes, packing organizers, and travel accessories, layover prep is truly made easy.

What to Pack in Your Carry On for a Long Layover

Stay optimistic travelers, and make the best out of what may seem like a bad situation. The Eagle Creek Travel Expert, Jessica Dodson, gives tips on layover survival.


BONUS: Take your layover kit to the next level with the right backpack and gear. Every backpack and waist pack in Eagle Creek  is equipped with multiple pockets and features to help organization. Between your carry-on backpack, our packing organizers, and travel accessories, layover prep is truly made easy.

No matter what the circumstances, make the best of your long layover and don’t let it ruin your trip. Just remember, when the time comes, it’s all part of the journey into the unknown.


Related Products

Sleep & Comfort:  Sandman Eyeshade, Travel Ear Plugs, Exhale Neck Pillow

Packing Organizers: Silicone Bottle Set (with 3-11 pouch)

Travel Accessories: 3-Dial TSA Lock & Cable


Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):

8 Must-Have Items to Pack in Your Personal Item

TSA Carry On Rules: What Can You Bring on a Plane?

How to Get Through Security Faster

Buying Guide: Choosing Luggage, Travel Packs, and Carry-ons


By Patrick Gensel on November 14, 2019

Patrick Gensel is a world-roaming visual storyteller with a special place in his heart for action sports and the natural world. No matter where Patrick is, you can always find him sharing his stories on Adventuretravelbuzz.com, Instagram and Twitter

Photo by: Rafael Novais, you can follow him on Instagram @raffnovais