I’ve made so secret of the fact I love a layover. It’s great way to extend your holiday slightly and visit an additional destination. Of course the length of your layover can vary hugely but I always try to have at least 24 hours for a layover unless I’ve been there before. This gives you enough time to see the sights but is short enough that you don’t interrupt the rest of your holiday. Layovers can be done on the way there or the way home but I find they most naturally fit on the way there.
This post will share with you all the steps I take to plan a layover so that it makes the stop worth while. When you only have 24 hours in a city it is necessary to do a little pre-planning, so that you make the most of your time.
How to Make the Most of a Layover
Research where the airport is
This probably sounds silly but not all airports are super close to the city. You could be planning a layover only to find the airport is over an hour from the main tourist attractions and you’re going to be wasting many of your precious hours travelling to and fro. Before you even book the flights make sure this is something you check!
Book your accommodation in advance
This is something I do for every trip before hand these days but if you’re not keen on booking accommodation far in advance, I’d make an exception for this one. If you’ve only got 24 hours in the city you’ll want to be quite careful with the location you pick to stay too. There are two main options for this, the first to stay by the airport or transport hub you arrive into. This is particularly good if you arrive late at night or are leaving super early. The second option is to stay right in the city centre, this means that you’re on the door step of the things you’re likely to be doing while in the city and will spend less time travelling between them.
Know how to get to and from your accommodation
This might sound silly but if you’ve only got a short time in the city you’ll want to make sure you know how to get from the airport/station to your accommodation easily. This will save you yet more time on the ground and you may even be able to book the transfer in advance. Another reason this is important is because usually there’s more than one option for getting around and you’ll want to pick the quickest.
Research the top attractions
When you’re limited on time there is nothing worse than turning up and not having a clue what there is to do in the city. I find it best to research the top attractions of the city beforehand (I normally use my trusted Lonely Planet guide) and then highlight those that appeal to me. Once I’ve decided on the spots I want to visit I then mark them all on a map so that I can see where they are and if any are close together. You don’t want to be retracing your route later in the day because you missed something that was in the first area you stopped in. Finally, if there is anything on my list that has limited access or needs tickets for I get that sorted. I try to buy tickets a little later in the day leaving me free to head to somewhere that doesn’t do tickets but gets busy first.
Plan where you’re going to eat
For some reason I always find deciding where to eat a tricky decision. It might be slightly due to my food intolerances and my worry that they won’t have anything on the menu that I can eat. Or it might just be because I’m very indecisive. Whatever the reason I always search for a few places to eat in my layover destination, normally in different spots too so that I’m not tied down to having to be in that area for lunch. This just makes the whole getting lunch process a little faster for us.
If flying: Know if you pick your luggage up
This might sound like an odd thing to say but if you’re on a true layover you may find that your checked bags go all the way to your final destination. This happened to us on the way to the Maldives via Sri Lanka but nobody told us this would be the case. We just presumed that because we were spending a night in Colombo we would need to pick our bags up, queue a very long wait at the baggage carousel! When we finally got to the bottom of it we’d wasted nearly an hour at the airport and had no toothbrushes for the night. If you don’t pick up your luggage make sure you have everything you need for your layover.
Is there anything you do to make the most of a layover?
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