Contrary to popular belief, I think airports are some of the most fun places in the world. I don’t necessarily feel the same way about airplanes, but airports are pretty rad. I know most people find airports to be stressful and overwhelming, but with some changes in how you travel and some adjustments in view the airport experience, you too can love airports!
Arrive Early… Really Early
One of the most stressful things in the whole world to us is arriving at the airport feeling rushed and crunched for time. Though our strategy may be a bit more extreme than others, we like to arrive at the airport no less than three hours before our flight. This gives us ample time to get through security, find our gate, and relax before our flight. Even though three hours may be a bit on the extreme side, arriving at the security line as your flight is boarding will only start your trip on a stressful note. Give yourself at least an extra 30 minutes of cushion.
It’s 5:00 Somewhere
Traveling makes 8am feel like 3pm and 12am feel like 1pm. Your internal clock is going to get really messed up and there isn’t really any way to 100% avoid it. I’m not saying you should start taking shots at 6am before an international flight (unless you want to get kicked off the plane… then go for it!), but there is nothing wrong with a 10am beer during your layover or a 6am mimosa before the first leg of your flight. Getting drunk on a plane will make the experience unpleasant for you and your seat mate, but a drink before your flight could try well help chill you out and set the tone for a relaxing vacation.
Airports hide lots of hidden gems. Many airports have awesome art, restaurants, shops, and music, if you are only okay with going on a little journey. If you have a long layover, don’t be afraid to wander around and see what you can find! You might very well find some amazing and authentic food that is far superior to what is being served on the plane, or maybe a really cool art installation by a local artist. Treat the airport like a destination of its own and explore!
Scout Out Your Gate ASAP
You definitely don’t need to sit at your gate for the entirety of your three hour layover, but at least have a general idea of where it is so you don’t spend the last 5 minutes of your layover in a panic because your gate was changed and you didn’t realize. Be attentive and aware and your experience will be much more seamless.
Get Some Exercise
After being trapped on a flight for several hours, use the airport as a great excuse to go on a nice, climate controlled walk. Stretch your legs and your body will thank you on the next leg of your flight.
Airports have some of the best people watching of any place in the world. Set up camp at a coffee shop and watch people from every country, culture, and walk of life walk by and interact with their family and friends. It never fails to be entertaining and informative.