By Travel & Leisure
April 10, 2014

The word “layover” used to be a synonym for boredom, but airports across the globe have upped the ante on food, services, and entertainment options, making some tourist destinations in their own right. Learn how to turn a layover into an early start to your vacation with these tips:

Take a Day Trip
If your layover is long enough, leave the airport to see some sights. (If you have a bag, check it early or use luggage storage.) Singapore’s Changi Airport even offers free two-hour guided tours of the city to passengers with layovers of at least five hours.

Sample Local Flavor
From street food to high-end celebrity chef fare, modern airports are a culinary microcosm of their countries. Enjoy authentic bibimbap in the Seoul Incheon airport, dim sum in Hong Kong, or tuck into a full English breakfast at London’s Heathrow.

Find Souvenirs
Even the most humble newsstand can be a treasure trove of interesting trinkets to bring home as a reminder of your trip. Check out locally made goods, bring some exotic candies home for the kids, or pick up a glossy magazine to get a feel for the native culture and language.

Reconnect With Friends
Use your downtime to check in with family and friends, and send snapshots of your adventures abroad. Verizon offers global coverage in more than 220 countries, making it easy to stay connected while you travel the world. Reliability at home and abroad - That’s powerful.

Fit in a Workout
Yoga studios, fitness centers, meditation rooms, and waking paths are popping up at airports everywhere. At Changi, take a stroll in open-air green spaces including an orchid garden with koi pond, and a tropical habitat filled with butterflies, carnivorous plants and a waterfall grotto. Check airport websites to learn your options ahead of your trip, and pack workout gear in your carry-on bag if needed.

Lounge in Luxury
Lounges have gone luxe, with pampering services and fun activities that will make the time fly. Take the Plaza Premium Lounge in Kuala Lumpur: it offers hot showers, free draught beer, massages, and a putting green. Changi boasts a range of free activities, including craft workshops, movies, video games, music-listening pods, and a four-story slide designed for grownup fun.

Photo © iStock.