Travel Cheat Sheet of the Month: 8 Productive Tips for Long Layovers


Long layovers…<insert sigh here>. We’ve all heard the saying, “good things come to those who wait,” and when it comes to finally arriving at your destination after a long business travel day, that couldn’t be more true. However, that doesn’t mean your layover needs to be “lost” time. We’re here to help with some creative ways to pass the hours. So before you settle in to play Angry Birds while waiting for your flight, check out our ideas for a more productive (and dare we say enjoyable?) business trip layover.

1. Find a lounge: Many airports as well as specific airlines offer private lounge access to their guests for a nominal fee. Lounges can be great places to get some work done, but do your research ahead of time—you want to also make sure you’re comfortable with the price as well as the amenities (some lounges even go as far to offer showers and beds!). There are also membership programs for frequent business travelers, like Priority Pass, that offer unlimited access to their airport lounges around the world.

2. Think strategically: Often when we’re immersed in the office daily grind, it’s hard to make time for big picture thinking. A layover is a great time to brainstorm and gather inspiration for improving your work—and your business (be sure to save your new ideas on your computer or smartphone!). For inspiration, take Mind Tool’s How Creative Are You? quiz and check out their corresponding tips for boosting your creative aptitude.

3. Exercise your brain: A sharp brain not only improves your focus, but also helps you get your work done better and faster. One way to sharpen your skills is through one of these “brain training apps.” While we can’t guarantee they’ll immediately improve your IQ score, you can’t go wrong with engaging in any new, cognitively demanding task. Another great way to stimulate those brain cells…take a city tour! Not only will you be able to network with fellow passengers, but sometimes taking a mental break is the best way to garner some fresh ideas.

4. Stay on top of your workload: Be proactive and check if your airline offers Wi-Fi on board—if not, use your layover time to work on projects that require Internet access. We know what you’re thinking: emails, emails and more emails—but not so fast! Unless someone needs an immediate response, getting caught up on emails can actually be a great offline project—simply save them as drafts and hit send once you’re online again. It’s that easy!

5. Get some exercise: Working out is not only a key component of weight management, but it also boosts immunity, reduces stress levels and even helps you sleep better. Staying active also can give you the energy and stamina you need to help you through those long days on the road. Lucky for you, more airport fitness centers (and airport yoga and meditation rooms) are popping up all over the world—and in addition to that, fitness resources are even being integrated into the terminals. For instance, the American Heart Association’s Start! Walking program has teamed up with various U.S. airports to promote walking paths within terminals.  Even if you can’t find a walking program, who says you can’t take a few brisk walks through the airport yourself? Be resourceful and your waistline will thank you.

6. Get familiar with your destination: A layover is a perfect time to get a handle on where things like restaurantsATMs, public transportation terminals, parks and shops are located in relation to your hotel and business commitments. Knowing this information from the get-go saves you valuable time so you can focus on your work once you arrive. Another bonus: If you know where you’re going, you’ll appear more confident, which helps reduce your chances of getting hassled by pickpockets or others that are up to no good.

7. Brush up on etiquette: Good manners are prized in any business situation, but if you don’t know your destination country’s etiquette when it comes to things like dining, clothing and negotiations, you may find yourself in some embarrassing situations. Read our general guide for avoiding culture shock while you’re traveling—and while you’re at it, check out our location-specific etiquette guides for popular business destinations like the UAE, China, India, Brazil, and Russia. Traveling with your boss? We have a guide for that too.

8. Learn some key words: While you don’t need to be fluent or have perfect pronunciation, learning a few key phrases in your destination’s language makes a great impression and could also make your travels much smoother. One options is use an online tool like Google Translate (they have a mobile app too) for instant translations in 64 different languages. You’ll not only be able to hear the audio pronunciation of the word or phrase, but you’ll also see the phonetic pronunciation if you’re trying to translate something into a language with a non-Roman alphabet (Greek or Chinese, for example).

What’s your favorite way to spend a long layover?


Safe Travels!



Photo Credit: ‘Winged’ from Flickr Rob