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Long layovers don’t need to be boring — or expensive. 

Andrea Romano
March 06, 2018

If you have ever found yourself alone in the airport overnight, stuck in the terminal for a long layover, or miraculously breezing through the security line faster than expected (yes, it happens), you might be at a loss as to what to do with all that free time before boarding.

After all, there’s only so much pre-flight shopping, eating, and drinking a person can do.

Related: How to Get a Free Stopover in Rome

But there are actually more creative, fun, and free things you can do to make use of your time before you’re expected at your gate. Helpful commenters on an AskReddit thread came up with a few good ideas for passing the time when you’re stuck at the airport.

Related: Here's Everything You Can Get for Free While Stuck at the Airport

Take a walk.

One user had the top suggestion of walking the entire airport while you wait. According to this user, if you “walk every leg of the terminal it's almost exactly a 5k.” This of course varies by airport. But if you have the time, it’s a healthy way to burn some calories and stretch your muscles before a long flight.

Return some loose luggage carts for money.

If you’ve ever seen Tom Hanks in "The Terminal," you’ve probably had this idea. At some airports, you'll get a small refund when you return a loose luggage cart. "One time my families [sic] flight was delayed by a couple hours and my brother and I made like $200," one Redittor wrote. "Usually when I was flying home from somewhere I'd just return a few carts and make a few bucks." 

Play hide and seek.

If you and a travel companion are game, try out the old childhood favorite. It can get very interesting in a massive airport. This, however, is not recommended for people traveling with children.

Take advantage of free airport activities.

As one Reddit user pointed out, Brussels Airport has foosball tables, and there are free movies at Portland International Airport. Plus several airports around the country have museum exhibits.

Find the free Wi-Fi. 

So many airports provide free Wi-Fi these days, so if you have the battery life to spare (or have a smart suitcase or access to an outlet), take advantage of this service and browse the internet. 

Enjoy some time with the airport therapy animal.

Traveling is stressful for anyone. If you’re having a particularly long and terrible travel day, find out if your airport has therapy animals on hand. San Francisco International Airport’s Twitter and Instagram accounts, for example, usually post locations.

Talk to people.

This may be the most surprising yet simple idea, but if you find yourself next to another solo traveler who seems nice, interesting, and willing to socialize, strike up a conversation. Why not?

Play Pokémon Go.

If you’re a fan of the game, you may be able to find some awesome Pokémon while wandering your terminal. "I've traveled a lot since that game launched and every airport I've been to is awesome," one Redditor wrote. "gyms, stops, usually pretty good pokemon selection." [sic] 

Take a free city tour.

Some airports, like Incheon International Airport in South Korea, Narita International Airport in Japan, and Changi Airport in Singapore will take you on a tour of the city while you wait for your flight.

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