Last updated on October 23, 2022 by Wandering our World
Booking that cheap flight with the eight-hour layover always seems like a good idea when planning your trip in the comfort of your home. But fast forward to your vacation, and suddenly that layover doesn’t seem worth the $100 savings anymore. So you go online and start searching for things to do during an airport layover – and here you are!
Well, we’re glad you stopped by. After all, this is Wandering our World – layovers are second nature to us.
There’s a surprising number of things to do during a layover, and we’re here to share them with you! There’s common sense ideas, weird ideas, fun ones, unique ones and more. There’s so many things to do that we’re sure you’re going to find your remedy for boredom here.
So read on to find 101 things to do on a layover. We start by looking at things to do for shorter layovers, then medium layovers, then longer ones. Enjoy!
101 Things To Do During An Airport Layover: Short Layovers
1. Nap At The Terminal
The first, most convenient, and most realistic way to spend time during an airport layover is to take a quick nap at your departure terminal.
Your body probably feels tired after being on the plane. Don’t be shy to lie down across multiple chairs, that’s totally normal airport behavior.
2. Learn To Juggle
Don’t know how to juggle? Go and look for three apples or oranges at the airport shops and try! You can also use whatever stuff you have with you like your keys or wallet, but it’s probably harder.
3. Go To The Useless Web
This is when you know you’re really bored. The Useless Web is a collection of the world’s most pointless websites.
The purpose of the website is just to take you to one of many websites, some that you probably already know and love, and others that you never imagined existed before. But all of them share one common trait: they’re useless.
4. Grab A Coffee
The fuel you need for your next flight is caffeine! Pop into the next coffee shop you see for a cup of coffee. It’s also a great place to sit and read or work for a bit, instead of doing that in the busy terminal.
5. Explore The Airport
If you have energy, try exploring the airport. Make sure you’re well-informed about all the airport has to offer.
Some airports have unique attractions such as the Changi Airport in Singapore which has an indoor garden with a huge waterfall, whilst the airport in Hong Kong has a golf simulator!
6. Chat With A Flight Attendant
Before exploring the airport, first things first, try talking to a flight attendant.
They know all the best places in and around the airport, such as the best restaurants, shops, or even something as simple as which terminal is the best for having a nap.
7. Smell All The Perfume Samples
Do “perfume tasting” by smelling all the samples of fragrances in a perfume store.
8. Go To The VIP Lounge
Don’t worry, airport lounges aren’t exclusively for first-class flyers. For a bargain price, look for lounge passes on eBay! Many people sell the lounge QR pass they got for free if they didn’t get to use it.
9. Read A Book
Catch up on your TBR! You’ll be surprised how fast you can finish a book when you have nothing better to do.
10. Browse The Airport Bookstore Collection
Got no book on you? There’s always a bookstore at the airport! Even if you’re not gonna buy anything, there’s something oddly satisfying about book browsing.
11. Make Phone Calls
Call your mom and give her updates on your whereabouts. Return missed calls from when you were on the plane.
Randomly call your friend or partner to tell them you miss them. Having spare time is always great for making calls.
12. See The Airport’s Art Exhibits
Did you know that many airports now have art exhibits? Especially international airports. Spend your extra layover time looking at fine and contemporary art without having to go to the museum.
13. Play With Therapy Animals
Another unique service that some airports offer is animal therapy. These therapy animals will walk around the airport to help flyers calm down before their flight. The animals vary from dogs and cats to horses and pigs.
Some airports that have therapy animals are San Francisco Airport, Denver International Airport, and Cincinnati Airport.
14. Watch A Movie
Find a comfortable seat at your terminal and watch a movie on your phone. Remember airport WiFi can suck, so better come prepared with a downloaded movie.
15. Read A True Crime Story
True crime stories are extremely lengthy and very gripping. In no time, you will get absorbed in the story and forget where you are.
16. Play Your Favorite Mobile Game
Another thing you can do on your phone anytime anywhere is to play a game on your phone such as PUBG or Clash of Clans.
17. Wait With Paparazzi For Celebs
If you’re in an airport where a lot of celebs come and go, such as LAX or Incheon Airport, look around to see if there are paparazzi. If so, ask them which celebrity they’re waiting for and wait with them.
18. Finally Watch That Informative YouTube Video You’ve Been Putting On “Watch Later” For Months
We all have those videos that we saved to watch later because we know it’s useful or informative. But the problem is, it’s 20 minutes long! – or more – and you’re mostly just too lazy to watch it. This is your reminder to watch it!
19. Find Your New Favorite TED Talk Episode
Sometimes you just need a little pep talk to lift your spirit. Here are some of everyone’s favorite fun TED Talks that anyone would like: Inside the mind of a master procrastinator and The happy secret to better work.
20. Do Some Online Shopping
Too lazy to explore airport shops? Continue your last browsing on Amazon.
21. Sit And Try Plane Spotting
Appreciate where you are and see giant metal birds taking off. Most terminals have big open windows so you can see planes arriving and taking off.
22. Learn A Language
Stuck in an airport layover on your way to vacation? Use the time you have by learning the language of your destination country.
To make learning easier, download language learning apps like Duolingo or look for short lesson videos.
23. Plan Out Your Trip
You can also plan out your vacation – places to go, money allocation, outfits, etc. That way you won’t waste your vacation searching for what to do and will be able to enjoy the trip better.
24. Organize Photos From Your Trip
Coming home from a trip? Your gallery must have gained some gigabytes worth of photos and videos. Look through those photos and organize them.
This will save you from the pain of having full storage when you desperately need it.
25. Or Plan Your Next Trip…
You can also plan your next future trip instead of being sad that vacation is over. Get inspiration on which place you’re going to go next.
26. Make A Bucket List
On the topic of making plans, why not make the plans of your life? Sit in the terminal, watch planes go by, and think about what you want to do in life.
27. Browse Property Listings
Even if you have no money, there’s nothing wrong with dreaming about your future house. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up buying that private island someday…..
28. Read The News
Nowadays, young people rarely ever read the news even though in this day of age reading the news is easier than ever! Catch up on the latest events at the BBC or CNN.
29. Play Cards With Friends
If you already know you’re gonna have some spare time during a layover, bring some cards with you – Uno, Poker, anything!
30. Get To Know Each Other Better By Playing 20 Questions
A must-do when you have to kill time with a friend is a simple game of 20 questions. Here’s an idea for a question, “Do you think humans have two butts or one butt?”
31. Or Test To See Who Knows The Other Better
Instead of getting to know each other better, play a game of trivia to see who’s the better friend.
Make up 10 questions about yourself and take turns asking them. You can raise the stakes by betting on who gets the window seat.
32. Do An Airport Scavenger Hunt
Hide items around the airport and get your friend to look for them.
33. Play Heads Up
Another easy game to play is Heads Up (using the mobile app). Our personal favorite is the act it out category, and we assume it would be especially fun when people are staring at you.
34. Play A Game Of Sudoku
Even if you’re alone, there are plenty of games on your phone to pass time, such as Sudoku.
35. Do Some Crosswords
Another classic game that you can play on your phone is crosswords. If the airport somehow still has a newspaper stand, you can do the crosswords there, too.
36. Download Doodle Jump
One more boredom-cure game we’re going to recommend
is Doodle Jump. It’s so simple but perfect to kill time.
37. Challenge Yourself To A General Knowledge Trivia
38. Or Test Your Knowledge On Useless Topics By Doing Buzzfeed Quizzes
Play a quiz about your favorite artist or see if Buzzfeed can guess your age by your celebrity knowledge. All in all, Buzzfeed is full of completely useless quizzes that are somehow so fun to do.
Go down a rabbit hole of the weirdest Buzzfeed quizzes – our personal favorite is this how bro are you quiz.
39. Stay On Theme By Playing Geography Trivia Games
You’re in an airport playing trivia, of course you have to play the geography trivia quiz!
Guess the flag and capital of each country or pick out the country from a map to see how good your geography knowledge is. Don’t show your score to other people though cause we bet it’s embarrassing…..
40. Download SongPop 2
Can you recognize a song by listening to it for a few seconds? Don’t say yes if you’ve never played SongPop! It’s a really fun guess-the-song game and you can also invite your friends to play.
Pick a playlist that you’re most confident in and then the app will randomly generate 5 songs for you to guess. Their music collection is really versatile and wide, from 50s music to K-pop to classic piano to film scores.
41. Do Personality Tests
Whether or not you “believe” personality tests, there’s no denying that it’s fun to match your results to your personality traits. The most popular one is of course the MBTI test, you can either try that one for the first time or reattempt to see if your results change.
42. Listen To A Podcast
Catch up on your favorite podcast or find a new podcast to listen to.
43. Write A Journal
Think back to the last few days and write down what you’ve been feeling.
If you’re on your way home after a trip, write down your favorite parts of the trip, up to the smallest moments like the random incidents you saw. If you’re on a business trip, you can write about your excitement or nerves.
44. Knit Or Crochet
Prepare for your next airport layover by bringing your knitting or crocheting kit.
45. Sign Up To Earn Money Online
You know those things that you’ve been wanting to try but you keep putting off because “you have no time”? Well, time is the only thing you have now so no more excuses!
If you’ve been thinking about offering freelance services, use your free time at the airport to sign up for freelance platforms (Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer, etc).
46. Find A New Stock To Invest In
Research for potential stocks to invest your money in. But if you’re new to the world of stock investment, learn all about it. We’re sure it’s going to take hours to even begin to understand the basics.
47. Take Your Children To The Playground Area
For those traveling with kids, see if the airport has a kids’ play area. This way your kids will stop being fussy or bothering strangers.
48. Go To The Airport Observation Deck
Take plane spotting to another level by going to the airport observation deck. You’ll get a front-seat view of airplanes coming and going.
Sadly, many airports have closed off their observation deck for safety reasons, but some airports still have it including San Francisco Airport, Munich Airport, and Tokyo’s Narita Airport.
49. Try Drawing On Random Scraps of Paper
Find a pen and a scrap of paper – receipts, paper bags, anything – and doodle away!
50. Learn New Origami Tricks
Don’t have much skill in drawing? Use the paper to make random origami instead. Search on the internet for easy origami steps.
51. Get Back (Or Get Started) On Writing
If you like to write or would like to write, there’s no better time to do it. Whether it’s a poem, a short story, a blurb to a kickass novel, or just your thoughts. It’s good to just space out and be absorbed in your thoughts.
52. Sit Back And Watch People
The airport seems to be everybody’s favorite place to do people-watching. You can see people running to catch their flight, saying tearful goodbyes, or checking their passports for the 999th time in an hour.
As per today’s trend, there’s also the choice of filming people’s odd airport behaviors and then try to make it viral on TikTok (please ask their permission if you’re gonna show their faces).
53. Go To The Moving Walkway And High Five People Going The Opposite Direction
Moving walkways are something we only encounter at airports and there’s something about it that feels very fun. Expose yourself to the world of potential embarrassment by asking strangers for a high five.
54. Find Outfit Inspos
Other than simply watching them, you can also look for outfit inspo. Some people have great airport fashion while some have the magical ability to pull off the bed look, and it’s fun to get inspiration from them!
55. Talk To Strangers
Take it up a notch and try simply conversing with the people around you. Sure, it can be scary for shy people but remember, they’re just like you – bored people who have to kill time.
Who knows, maybe you’ll end up hitting it off. And if not, you’ll never meet them again anyways so you’ve got nothing to lose.
56. Ask A Local To Teach You A Little Bit Of The Local Language
Instead of just striking up a random conversation, you can also ask somebody to teach you a phrase or two of the local language.
57. Play A Game Involving Strangers
If you’re traveling with a friend, play a game using strangers as characters. For example, pick out a person and guess their name, job, age, relationship status, etc. Then go up to them, get their answers, and see who got it right. For a less personal question, you can guess whether they would prefer A or B (e.g. cats or dogs).
But remember, our goal is to have fun, not to annoy people. Another less-intrusive game is to bet on their next move or destination so you don’t have to disturb them.
58. Buy Snacks For Your Flight
Ran out of snacks during your previous flight? Stock up at the airport convenience store to make sure your next flight is a good one.
59. Hop On To The Terminal Train
Are you bored out of your mind? Large airports have rail links that connect the terminals, and they are free! Get on one for the hell of it, who knows maybe you’ll get a whole car all to yourself.
60. Discover New Music
What better time is there to listen to new bands or genres of music than when you’re bored and waiting around?
Surf Spotify artist radio playlists, listen to the soundtracks of your favorite show, or ask for recommendations from friends.
61. Read A Webtoon
There are many webtoons you can read for free on the internet. We especially recommend horror webtoons – some of them have moving pictures for jumpscares and it will scare the life out of you! A really popular one is the Bongcheon Ghost.
62. Become A Penpal To An Elderly Person
Since you’re bored anyways, try this new and unique activity. Ready To Care has a program where you can write a letter to a senior and make their day.
There’s a great chance that your layover is happening during the night, so why don’t you try stargazing? This can be a bit tricky, but most airports are located away from the city center so it’s possible to get a dark sky.
Try to find windows that look away from the bright runway and see what stars you can identify (with the help of the internet of course).
64. Browse The Stores At The Airport
From souvenirs to high-end duty-free shops, have a great time browsing and comparing prices. This is also a chance to walk and stretch your legs after being stuck in an airplane.
65. Browse For Something Weird Or Confusing
Weird Or Confusing is a website that generates the weirdest, most random stuff sold online. Find the strangest items on the internet such as celebrity sweat with a simple click.
66. Go Photo Hunting
Aside from their functional purpose for transportation, airports are vast architectural masterpieces used to represent a city or region. This is why they’re made so aesthetically pleasing. Hunt for photos of planes or take a picture with a beautiful interior as the background.
67. Film A TikTok
It’s not the 2020s if you don’t include TikToks. Try out the newest trend or just film some random short videos around the airport.
68. Film Yourself Interviewing People
You know those social media creators that walk up to strangers and conduct a random interview? Try being them for a few hours!
This would be more effective if you’re with someone who can do the recording but even if you’re alone, taking the video with the front camera is fine too. Whether you’re going to actually post the video is a matter for another day.
101 Things To Do During An Airport Layover: Medium Layovers
A medium 4 – 8 hour layover is a considerable amount of time to kill. You may even beable to leave the terminal and do things.
However, we wouldn’t recommend exploring the city yet because going back and forth will take so much time. This of course also depends on the location of the airport, but most airports are pretty far away from downtown where all the attractions are.
69. Finish Your Work At The Airport Coworking Space
Sitting in terminals with a laptop on your lap isn’t the most comfortable position. If you have time to leave the terminal for a bit, the coworking space is a comfortable place to do your work for a couple of hours.
70. Get A Massage
Most big airports have a relaxation room. Get a quick massage for your tense muscles. If you don’t have much time, get a quick chair massage. But if you still have a good few hours, get the full spa package.
71. Do Some Yoga
Another relaxing room that a lot of airports now have is a yoga room. They usually provide yoga equipment so you don’t have to worry about not bringing any.
72. Get In A Little Workout
Find the airport gym and pop in for a quick workout sesh. This can freshen your body and mind before you continue your flight.
73. Take A Shower
Don’t worry about sweats and smells after a workout, just take a shower at the airport! Even if you didn’t just do a session at the gym, taking a shower is a good way to spend your time during a layover.
Wash away all that travel stress, tension, and stickiness and feel brand new with a simple shower.
74. Try Out The Airport Tasting Room
Browse, taste, and buy drinks to get a good buzz before your next flight. Some of the popular airport tasting brands are Westward Whiskey, Vino Volo, and Great Lakes Brewing Co.
75. Sleep In A Nap Pod
Instead of sleeping in the terminal, when you have more than 4 hours of layover time we suggest that you look for nap pods in the airport for better quality sleep. Don’t forget to set an alarm so you don’t miss your flight.
76. Catch Up With Friends Who Live In The Area
Whenever you know you’re going to have a long layover, make some plans to meet friends who live in the area. This might be the only time you’re ever going to be in the area so why not make good use of it?
Call your friends a week before and agree on a time and place (somewhere at the airport).
77. Exchange To The Local Currency
Bring a keepsake of your short time in the city by exchanging a little bit of money for the local currency.
78. Go To The Nearest Salon
Been needing a haircut? Use this free time to go to the salon. Refer to Google Maps to see the nearest salon and get a quick haircut. If you’re traveling on vacation, consider this your fresh vacation haircut.
79. Try Out The Local McDonalds
This one might sound a little strange, but if you’re stuck in an airport in another country, chances are they have a McDonalds at the airport.
This American fast food staple can be very different from country to country so it’s fun for a quick dine-in to see what unique menus the country’s McDonald’s offers.
101 Things To Do During An Airport Layover: Long Layovers
Only if your layover is 8 hours or more, would we recommend leaving the airport to explore the city (if it’s near by). This is because you need to set aside 2 – 4 hours for immigration alone, not to mention the journey from and back to the airport.
Other than the matter of time, make sure you have a valid visa to travel in said country (just ask the flight attendant or airport staff). And also mind the hours – if it’s nighttime most attractions are probably closed.
Before leaving, ask for the best way to get to the city. If the public transit system is good, always take that because it’s cheap. But if the public transportation is problematic, it’s better to take a cab.
80. Try Out Some Local Cuisine
When you’re in an international airport, it’s easy to find local cuisine. But if you have time, we recommend you go out of the airport because airport restaurants are probably more expensive and not as authentic.
Again, our tip is to ask the flight crews to recommend you the best places. Seriously, they know their way around.
81. Take Pictures In Front Of The City’s Iconic Landmark
Did you really go to a city if you didn’t take a picture in front of the city’s iconic places? Since you’re only there for a few hours, skip to the most basic touristy spots to take a memento of the city.
82. Visit The Nearest Museum
Another iconic spot in a city is of course the museums. Go to the closest museum to the airport, and bonus points if you can find a unique and out-of-the-box museum.
83. Go On A Layover Tour To The City
Save a considerable amount of time by exploring the city on a tour created specifically for people stuck in an airport layover. No need to fret about planning and transportation because all that is sorted out for you.
The best thing is that some airports offer a FREE layover tour to promote tourism, including Singapore Airport, Tokyo Airport, Incheon Airport, Istanbul Airport, Abu Dhabi Airport, Taipei Airport, and Salt Lake City Airport.
84. Go To A Karaoke Bar
For those who aren’t really interested in exploring the city but want to get out of the airport to do something fun, try going to the nearest karaoke place.
It’s a fun way to kill time without draining your energy. This is especially recommended if you’re traveling with friends, but if you go to karaoke alone we won’t judge you either.
85. Go To The Shopping District
Are the airport shops not enough for you? Look for the best malls in the city that are still within a half-hour drive.
86. Hang Out At The Downtown Area
See what the city is like, catch what’s going on, eat some food from food trucks, and just see the vibe of the locals.
87. Find An Arcade
Play Ms. Pacman, Pinball, or Donkey Kong if there is an arcade close by. This is more recommended if you’re waiting out a layover with friends. We’re afraid if you play arcades alone you’ll feel like time is passing by slowly out of loneliness.
88. Catch A Movie At The Nearest Cinema
If you still have 3 hours to kill after allocating time for immigration and transport, why not watch a movie at the nearest theater? This can be the best way to pass time if you’re traveling alone since your focus will entirely be on the movie.
89. Go To The Local Old Town
Most cities have an Old Town area and they’re always iconic. Take a walk and take pictures of the city’s Old Town.
90. Treat Yourself To A Spa
Melt your worries away by getting your body pampered and tended to by professionals. This will relieve you from travel sores.
91. Go Down To The Beach
This depends on the location of the airport, but if there’s a beach less than an hour away, going there is a must. It’s a great way to relax and get a change of scenery from the monotone airport.
92. Check Out The Local Aquarium
Another attraction you should consider going to is the aquarium. It’s very fun to look at fish swimming around and it doesn’t require much energy.
93. Meet Animals At The Zoo
Still on the topic of animals, we’re pretty sure every big city has a zoo. It would make an even more awesome experience if the local zoo has a unique animal or unique attraction.
94. Go To The Local Theme Park
If you’ve got endless energy then why not? In our book, theme parks and fairs always mean fun. We’d steer clear of the extreme rides though to prevent unwanted queasiness when re-boarding the plane.
95. Find An Escape Room
This is especially a must-do if you’ve never done it before. Find an escape room with great reviews with an estimated duration of 1 hour to make sure it’s fun and not too easy to solve.
96. Or A Skating Arena
Looking for more fun game places? A skating arena is always a great choice. Whether it’s a roller skate or ice skate arena, it’s a guaranteed few hours of fun before you have to board your next flight.
97. Look For Live Music
Find a place where there’s live music going on, whether it’s a festival, cafe, or bar. As always, ask around for the hottest events in the city.
98. Catch A Stand-Up Comedy Show
For those of you looking for things to do during a layover at night, we recommend going to comedy clubs. Laughter is the best medicine as they say.
On top of that, you will spend one or two hours without having to exert energy at all, so you won’t be too tired for the flight.
99. Find A Rooftop Bar
Another activity recommendation if your layover is at nighttime is to go to a rooftop bar. Become acquainted with the city in a different way by viewing it from above while having a drink or two.
100. Go For A Walk Or Hike
Many airports are outside of the city in the countryside, so there may be several trails to explore. So why not get your legs moving for a few hours before boarding your next flight!
101. Check Into The Airport Hotel
We started the list with sleep and now we’re gonna end it with sleep again. If you have an overnight airport layover, the best thing you can do is of course get a hotel room and rest for the night.
Many airports now have attached hotels with services like a shuttle to the airport and even a wake up call! You don’t ever have to worry about missing a flight again.