The Ultimate Guide to Airport Survival: 10 Fun Things to Do When Stuck

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Traveling can be an exhilarating adventure, but let's be real, sometimes, it comes with unexpected delays that leave you stranded in an airport.

Whether it's due to weather, technical issues, or missed connections, being stuck at an airport doesn't have to be a drag. In fact, with a little creativity and a positive mindset, you can turn this waiting period into a mini-adventure of its own. Here’s a guide to making the most out of your airport layover, keeping boredom at bay and maybe even having a bit of fun along the way.

Explore the Terminal

Airports are like little cities, bustling with activity and filled with hidden gems. Take this opportunity to explore every nook and cranny of your terminal. You might find unique shops selling local crafts, high-end boutiques, or quirky souvenir stalls. I once found this tiny shop in Singapore Changi Airport that sold beautiful handmade jewelry, I ended up chatting with the owner for an hour about her craft. You never know what treasures you'll stumble upon.

Indulge in a Culinary Adventure

Gone are the days when airport food was synonymous with soggy sandwiches and overpriced snacks. Nowadays, many airports boast a variety of dining options, from gourmet restaurants to fast food chains. Treat yourself to a culinary adventure by trying out different foods. Sample a local delicacy if you’re in a foreign country, or simply enjoy a hearty meal at a restaurant you’ve never been to before. I remember being stuck in Munich Airport once and discovering a little Bavarian restaurant. The pretzels and sausages were a delightful surprise!

Pamper Yourself

Traveling can be exhausting, so why not take this time to relax and rejuvenate? Many airports offer spa services where you can get a massage, a manicure, or a facial. Some even have nap pods or sleeping lounges where you can catch up on some much-needed rest. Pampering yourself is a great way to reduce stress and make the wait much more pleasant. One time, I indulged in a foot massage at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport, it was just what I needed after a long flight.

Get Moving

Sitting for long periods can be uncomfortable and unhealthy. Stretch your legs and get your blood flowing by taking a brisk walk around the terminal. Some airports have designated walking paths or even mini-gym areas where you can exercise. If you’re a yoga enthusiast, find a quiet corner and do a few stretches. Physical activity can boost your mood and energy levels, making the waiting time fly by.

Dive into a Good Book or Movie

A long layover is the perfect excuse to catch up on your reading or binge-watch a new series. Make sure to pack a good book or download some movies and shows onto your devices before you travel. Airports also have bookstores where you can pick up something new to read. Lose yourself in a thrilling novel or an engaging film, and before you know it, hours will have passed. I always keep a list of books I want to read, just in case of layovers like the one I had in Tokyo Narita Airport. It turned a dull wait into a relaxing escape.


Airports are prime spots for people-watching, offering a fascinating glimpse into the diverse tapestry of humanity. Find a comfortable seat, grab a coffee, and observe the hustle and bustle around you. Imagine the stories behind the travelers you see, where they’re going, who they’re meeting, what adventures await them. It’s a simple yet endlessly entertaining way to pass the time. During a particularly long delay in Amsterdam, I found myself captivated by the sheer variety of people, from hurried business travelers to excited vacationers.

Connect with Fellow Travelers

Striking up a conversation with fellow travelers can be incredibly rewarding. You never know who you might meet, a fellow adventurer, a local with insider tips, or someone from a completely different background. Sharing travel stories and experiences can make the time fly by and might even lead to new friendships. Don’t be shy; airports are full of people in the same boat as you, looking to pass the time. I once met a fascinating photographer in Dubai Airport who gave me some great tips for my own travels.

Play a Game on Your Phone

Your smartphone can be a great source of entertainment while waiting at the airport. Classic games like Hearts, FreeCell Solitaire, or Snake can provide hours of fun and help the time pass quickly. These games are easy to play, require minimal setup, and can be quite addictive. Plus, they’re a great way to challenge yourself and keep your mind engaged. During a long layover in New York's JFK Airport, I got so engrossed in a game of FreeCell that I almost missed my boarding call!

Get Some Work Done

If you’re a digital nomad or just have some pending tasks, use this downtime to get some work done. Most airports have Wi-Fi and charging stations, so find a quiet spot and catch up on emails, write that report, or brainstorm your next big project. Being productive can give you a sense of accomplishment and make the waiting time feel more worthwhile. I’ve knocked out entire presentations while waiting for flights, turning potential wasted time into productive sessions.

Learn Something New

Many airports offer free Wi-Fi, and there’s a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips. Use this time to learn something new, maybe pick up a few phrases in the language of your destination, take an online course, or watch tutorial videos on a topic that interests you. Turning your layover into a learning opportunity can be both fun and fulfilling. I once used a layover in Seoul to start learning Korean, by the time my flight boarded, I could greet the flight attendants in their language, which brought a smile to their faces.

Reflect and Plan

Sometimes, the best thing to do is simply take a moment to breathe and reflect. Use this unexpected pause to think about your journey, plan your next steps, or just meditate and relax. Write in a journal, make a to-do list, or map out your travel itinerary. This quiet time can be a great opportunity to gather your thoughts and prepare for the adventures ahead. A memorable layover in Sydney gave me the chance to journal about my trip and plan my next moves, making me feel more grounded and prepared.


Being stuck at an airport doesn’t have to be a tedious ordeal. With a bit of creativity and a positive attitude, you can transform your layover into an enjoyable and productive experience. From exploring the terminal and indulging in good food to pampering yourself and connecting with fellow travelers, there are plenty of ways to make the most out of your time. So, the next time you find yourself facing a long wait at the airport, remember these tips and turn that layover into a mini-adventure of its own. Happy travels!

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